Tuesday May 15 2012
It's a gold apple for the Fowler Family
By: Dr. Lyndell Grey Special to The News Messenger
The Fruitvale School Association board of directors will award the Fowler family with the first gold apple of acknowledgement and appreciation to the ancestors of our area, and specifically, to contributors of the Fruitvale School. The award will be given at 5 p.m. June 3. This acknowledgement will be part of the Fruitvale School?s annual program of a barbecue dinner and historic play as well as a Celebrity Dessert Chef?s Auction. Jeremiah and Elizabeth Fowler provided the land for the school in 1888 and, along with their sons, Wallace and H.P., were instrumental in its founding. Jeremiah and Elizabeth came west from Massachusetts to seek their fortune in gold in 1849 to 1850 via Cape Horn with a 3-week-old baby girl and their young son. They made a small fortune in mining and by various other means, including a dairy in Cow Hollow, San Francisco. In fact, it was their investment in dairy cows that led to their arrival in the Lincoln/Fruitvale area. Their third son, born at Larkin and Green streets in San Francisco, and named Larkin Green, brought the cattle up by train to the end of the line, Lincoln, looking for grazing land. Larken Green discovered this beautiful area of rolling hills, oak trees and quality pasture. The result was the relocation of the Fowler family and cows to the Lincoln area. Since there were now five sons with grandchildren, the next step was establishing a school, the Fruitvale School. Lewis Gage, the first teacher at Fruitvale, was a very willing partner to the plan and, by 1889, the school opened at 3425 Fruitvale Road. But the Fruitvale School is only part of the Fowler story. The Fowler family continued to contribute significantly to our area in other ways as well. Most significantly, the family name is known for the Fowler Nurseries, established by Robert Eugene Fowler, grandson of Jeremiah and Elizabeth. The Fowler Nurseries are celebrating 100 years of operation this year. These nurseries are known throughout our region and, in fact, in many parts of the world for outstanding and innovating nursery practices. Other Fowler family members contributed to its development, including the capable assistance of Eugene Robert?s nephew, Herbert (Herb) Brereton Fowler, Sr. In time, Eugene?s son, Robert Eugene, learned the business and took over from his father. And it is now the turn of the grandchildren and the great grandchildren of Eugene Robert Fowler to continue the Fowler Nurseries. Another notable member of the Fowler family was James Fowler, a graduate of the Fruitvale School, and one of the young boys of our area killed in action during World War I. It is for James that the Veterans Memorial Hall of Lincoln is named. Herbert (Herb) Brereton Fowler, as well as working with Eugene Fowler for the nurseries, also distinguished himself as a community leader in Lincoln, in part by serving on the Lincoln High School Board of Trustees. And it must be added that our youngsters of this area, for the past 30 years, have benefited and been shaped by the teachings of Mark Fowler at the Lincoln High School. Mark is the great-great-grandson of Jeremiah and Elizabeth. What would our area be like without the descendents of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Fowler? We know, without a doubt, that it would be poorer by far. Undoubtedly, there would be no Fruitvale School and a large gap in our educational riches without Herb and Mark Fowler. And of course, no Fowler Nurseries, the nurseries that are a source of pride to our community and that have contributed quality stock around the world as well as employment for hundreds of local folks over the 100 years of its existence. For all of these reasons, we celebrate the Fowler family, and award to them the first ever gold apple presented by the Fruitvale School Board of Directors. For information about the Fruitvale School barbecue on Sunday, June 3, contact me at 645-3517. Tickets are being sold at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Office and the Fruitvale School between 3 and 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.