HON. H. ROBERT FOWLER, of Elizabethtown, is a son of Josiah W. Fowler, originally from Virginia, and later a farmer in Tennessee, who came to Illinois in 1850, and settled in Pope County. Here he bought one hundred and twenty acres of unimproved timber land, built a house upon it and proceeded to improve it. In Tennessee he was married to Penelope Jennings, a native of North Carolina, whose father was from Dublin, Ireland. Mr. Fowler improved the farm he bought in Pope County, and resided upon it until his death, in 1874, his widow surviving him until 1892, dying in Pope County. By his marriage with Miss Jennings, Mr. Fowler became the father of twelve children. viz: Nancy A., wife of William Walters; George W.; and Sarah J., wife of James Lockaby, of Eddyville, all of Pope County; H. Robert; John C., County Superintendent of education of Stewart County, Tenn.; Joseph A., Attorney-at-law, of Denver, Colo.; Martha L., who married Fields Rumsey, a farmer of Pope County; Francis and Newton L., students at Nashville Medical College; and three others, who died in infancy.
H. Robert Fowler was the fourth child, was born in Pope County, and was brought up on the farm, receiving a good common-school education when a boy. He subsequently attended the Normal State University, at Normal, Ill., graduating in 1877, after which he began the practice of law in 1884, having graduated from the law school of the Michigan University. Previous to all this, however, he was a successful school teacher, having been Principal of the schools at Elizabethtown and Cave in Rock, serving in the latter place in this capacity five years. In 1888 he was elected State's Attorney, and at the election of 1892 he was chosen to represent his district in the State Legislature. Politically, Mr. Fowler is a Democrat, and a member of the Masonic fraternity.
Our subject was married February 12, 1892, to Mary E. Griffith, who was originally from Indiana, thence removed to Kentucky, and from that State came to Illinois. Her father and mother are both living in Hardin County. The former served in the Mexican War, and the latter was Catherine C. Bryant, from Kentucky. During Mr. Fowler's term as State's Attorney he sent Edward C. Kelley to the penitentiary for life, for the murder of Gus A. Craiger, and also sentenced Kelley's wife to the penitentiary for fourteen years. She was the only woman ever sent to the penitentiary from Hardin County, and Kelley is the only man ever sent from the county for life. Mr. Fowler convicted more men of crime during his term of office than had any prior State's Attorney. He is a very strong and active Democrat and is very useful to his party, especially during campaigns, since he is an effective stump orator, a logical reasoner and a genial gentleman. During the campaign of 1892 he made fifty speeches, stumping a district of fifteen counties. He is also an unusually successful lawyer, as his career as State's Attorney testifies, and it is not too much to say that he has made his district a creditable and useful Representative in the Legislature of the State. He was previous to his career as lawyer a most successful teacher, and drilled numerous classes of teachers in normal work, many of whom were employed in Hardin and surrounding counties, and were made efficient under his instruction. As a member of the Legislature he has steadily fought for honest legislation, and has ably advocated the cause of the common people. He was made Chairman of the Committee to investigate the railroad disaster at Warren, Ill., and prepared four bills to prevent similar disasters, among which was a Co-employe Bill, which has attracted the attention of the public. His bill for uniformity of schoolbooks is one of the most important bills of the session, and has given Mr. Fowler a State reputation. He is an able advocate of economy, and has been styled by the Legislature the "watchdog of the State treasury."
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 386-387.
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