Born in 1764 in New Jersey and brought by his parents, Edward and Rachel (Piatt) Fowler to Kentucky while the Revolution was raging, he participated in his first military action at age 18 when he fought in George Rogers Clark's campaign of 1782 against the Shawnee. George Rogers Clark, as senior militia officer, was widely condemned in Kentucky for the Blue Licks disaster. In response to the criticism, Clark launched a retaliatory raid into the Ohio Country. In November 1782, he led more than 1,000 men, including Benjamin Logan and Daniel Boone, on an expedition that destroyed five Shawnee villages on the Great Miami River, the last major offensive of the Revolutionary war. No battles were fought in that engagement because the Shawnees declined to engage the Kentuckians, instead pulling back to their villages on the Mad River.
Jacob served in all major expeditions against Little Turtle's confederacy from Harmar's Defeat in 1789 to Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers in 1794. His closest brush with death came at St. Clair's Defeat in 1791, when he accompanied the army as its surveyor. In the pandemonium of that battle, Fowler raced by two Natives who shot at him within such close range that he felt hot gun smoke envelope his body, but escaped being hit. Running at full speed with hundreds of warriors barely twenty yards behind him, he sped through an open meadow full of dead soldiers.
Jacob's father's family were among Campbell County's earliest settlers at Leitch's Station. Edward and Rachel later moved into Boone County where they lived several years before they died. Edward died in 1809.
When Hubbard Taylor came to Kentucky to lay out
the town of Newport in October 1791, he found that Jacob Fowler had already
built the first cabin for his family at Newport in 1789 on Taylor's property.
They must have known each other and gotten along for Taylor allowed Fowler to
continue living at Newport another year without purchasing a lot. In fact when
the lots were later being sold, Jacob bought the lot from the Taylors.
This illustration is typical of what men like Jacob Fowler would have worn.
In October 1793 Fowler and others went to Big Bone Lick where they shot and salted 23 buffalo, which they sold to the residents of Newport. The first meeting of Newport trustees was held at Fowler's Tavern in his home on May 16, 1796. The trustees appointed James Taylor as clerk. Fowler's Tavern became the place for the County Court and the Newport Board of Trustees.
In 1799 Fowler was appointed as a school board trustee to replace the resigning Richard Southgate. The legislature had chartered the Newport Academy and a twelve-man board of trustees to manage its affairs. The board was to obtain land and money for the construction of the one-story stone house.
In November 1810 the citizens were encouraged by the military to conceive a proposal for a bridge across the Liking River for the Newport Barracks. The county court paid Jacob Fowler, Daniel Mayo and Thomas Kennedy $360 to begin erecting a covered bridge. Bids by contractors exceeded this estimate and the court cancelled the project March 25, 1811. Had the it been built, it would have been the first covered bridge beyond the Appalachians.
Fowler had another business by 1817, the Jacob Fowler & Co bagging factory.
Fowler was appointed deputy sheriff of Campbell County in 1796; he lived in Newport until 1820 when he moved to Covington. In 1821 the US Army hired him as a surveyor, with rank of second in command, to accompany Colonel Hugh Glenn up the Arkansas River to the northern Rio Grande. At age 57, he crossed the plains with his slave, Paul, who was also from Newport.
When the party split up in January 1822, Fowler was assigned to build a habitable house and horse corral at modern Pueblo, Colorado. Because he occupied the site for a month, he ranks as that city's first settler. The nearby town of Fowler was named after him. After reaching Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they enjoyed a Spanish fandango in their honor, Fowler and the others headed home. The expedition wavered on the edge of starvation by February 24, 1822 when Fowler wrote "nothing to eat but look at each other with hungrey faces" Two days later, they killed a horse for food.
The Glenn and Fowler Expedition was one of the earliest parties to discover and to reconnoiter the terrain over which the Santa Fe Trail would pass. Fowler and Paul returned to northern Kentucky on July 27, 1822, after an absence of 13 months and 13 days. A reporter for Cist's Cincinnati Advisor described the aged pathfinder two decades later as follows:
"He is now-July 1844-at the age of 80-his eye has not waxed dim, nor his natural force abated. He can still pick off a squirrel with his rifle at 100 yards distance. He can walk as firmly and as fast as most men at 50, and I cannot perceive a gray hair in his head. His mind and memory are as vigorous as his physical functions."
Jacob Fowler died Oct 16, 1849 in Covington at
age 82. This was listed in the Covington Journal
on October 19, 1849, page 2 with no other information. He was most likely buried
in the Linden Grove Cemetery which had opened in 1843, but no record has been
found for this burial.
Children of Jacob Fowler
1. Benjamin D Fowler b-1802 in Newport;
m-Elizabeth Goodridge 11 May 1826 in Boone Co; (bondsman was Edward F Fowler)
2. Edward F Fowler b-1805 in Newport; m-Katherine Goodridge 3 Oct 1822 in Boone Co; (consent given by father Jacob Fowler)
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