Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Joseph Fowlie

Joseph Fowlie Death and burial record
This is the death and burial record for my 2nd great grand uncle, Joseph Fowlie. He was the brother of my 2nd great grandfather, Alexander Brown Fowlie. The record is from Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, Iowa.

Based on census records, Joseph must have been quite close to my 2nd great grandfather, Alexander Fowlie. At the time of the 1870 census, they were living together in Dayton Township, Cedar County, Iowa and working as farm laborers. At the time of the 1880 census, Joseph was living with the Alex and Mary Fowlie and their children in Jackson Township, Benton County, Iowa. In 1890, they were living in the vicinity of Rockwell City, Iowa and "A.B. Fowlie" (Alexander Brown Fowlie) was listed as correspondent at the time of Joseph's admission to the mental hospital at Independence, Iowa.

According to this record he died March 21, 1909 at 6:16PM from Lobar Pneumonia. He was buried at the hospital cemetery in grave #83. I am not certain what the other columns represent, one looks like age, but he was about 80, not 57. I also don't know what "No." 54 meant. So there are a few questions that remain, but this answers the question of burial.

On a rather lengthy side-note... I'm having some doubts about the birth year. The family group sheets passed down to me say he was born in 1829. The obituary says age 80 in 1909, so that would also point to about 1929. The 1900 US Census states that he was born in 1842, age 58. His hospital admission record indicates he was age 48 in 1890, born around 1842. The 1895 Iowa census says he was age 50, indicating he was born around 1845. His marriage record from 1888 says that he was age 36, born in 1852. The 1885 Iowa census says he was age 44, born about 1841. The 1880 US Census says he was age 38, born about 1838. The 1870 census says he was age 27, born about 1843. Joesph probably came to the US in the 1860s from Scotland, so the 1870 census is the earliest one he is likely to be listed on. I stumbled on the 1841 census of New deer, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Our family appears to be listed in this record, George and Margaret Fowlie and 6 children. Joseph is said to be age 3, born about 1838. This age is probably not right either, but at least it eliminates the ones that say he was born after 1841.

So how do I figure out which date is correct? At this point I have no idea. I know that census documents are notoriously inaccurate. I also know that Joseph was a pretty common name, perhaps these sources are not the right Joseph. The only trouble with that is the documents match the names of other family members, so I think the ones I have listed are the correct documents.

I normally include a photo of the tombstone, but I have not visited the hospital cemetery. Apparently the cemetery was in disrepair for decades, but the hospital has improved it greatly in the past 15 or so years. 831 patients were buried at the hospital cemetery starting in 1902 when the hospital first opened. Graves 1 to 361 have above ground markers with simply a number and no name, but now there is a large memorial with names and dates on a memorial plaque for each of the 831 people buried there.

You can see some photos of the cemetery at the following web sites: