ROBERT FOWLER, 1812-1874
State Treasurer, 1862-1870
Portrait attributed to Meredith Janvier (c.1910)
MSA SC 1545-1167
Robert Fowler was born on the fourth of July 1812 near Urbana in Frederick County. The son of Henry Fowler, a Frederick County farmer, he was educated in the school of his neighborhood. As a young man he moved to Washington County and married Susan Keedy whose family was of German ancestry and owned a considerable amount of land near Boonsboro. Susan, the youngest of eleven children of John and Martha (Furry) Keedy, was born on July 23, 1814. The Fowlers were the parents of seven children who survived infancy: John H., David, Celeste, Robert S., Laura, Frederick, and Albert.
Mr. Fowler served as a Washington County commissioner before being elected to the state House of Delegates on the Whig ticket in 1846. As a Delegate he was proud to introduce the law establishing public schools in his county. During this period he was involved in planning and building turnpikes in Washington County and was active in promoting the western line of the B & O Railroad.
By 1850 Robert Fowler had left farming for a position as miller, and in 1853 he established the firm of Fowler & Zeigler with Frederick K. Zeigler. Mr. Zeigler remained in Washington County to manage the firm's flour mill and distillery; Mr. Fowler moved to Baltimore City where he arranged for the marketing of their products, including the famous "Zeigler" whiskey. A few years after his arrival in Baltimore, he purchased an estate, which he named "Harvest Home," near Catonsville.
Mr. Fowler was selected to be a Director on the part of the State in the B & O Railroad in 1859, 1860, and 1861. In 1862 he was elected Treasurer of the State, a position he held until 1870. During his tenure as Treasurer he was able to successfully meet the state's temporary financial emergencies by making a personal appeal to Baltimore banks and businessmen for loans. It was said of him that "his record (as Treasurer) bore testimony to the strict integrity which characterized all his public and social relations in life."
In addition to his flour and grain business, later known as Fowler, Zeigler & Co., Mr. Fowler held an interest in the Maryland Hotel in Annapolis and Barnum's Hotel in Baltimore City and was a stockholder in companies in Maryland, Wyoming and Missouri. He also owned land in Caroline County. At the time of his death his personal estate was valued at over $389,000, but he had borrowed heavily from banks in Baltimore City, Annapolis, and Hagerstown causing the estate to be overpaid by more than $42,000.
Mr. Fowler was reelected to the House of Delegates from the 13th District of Baltimore County in November 1873 and was stricken by pneumonia during the session. He died, after an illness of several weeks, at midnight on March 3, 1874, at Barnum's Hotel where his family had rooms for the winter. His body was interred in Loudon Park Cemetery.
On March 6, 1874, the House passed a resolution stating "we feel that the death of no member of this body could have been a greater loss to itself or the public of this State."
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