Most of what is known about William H. Rowe starts with his marriage record and announcement. The following marriage announcement was found in the American & Commercial Daily Advertiser, published out of Baltimore, MD on Saturday Morning, Saturday 23, 1843.
Here we get confirmation of her name being Sarah Clarissa, and not Clarissa Sarah. It also tells us she's the eldest daughter of Mr. B.B. Norris, and that both W. H. Rowe and Clari were from Baltimore. Note Rev. James Gamble, and William and Clari's second son's name is William Gamble. Was Gamble either W. H or Clari's mother's maiden name? I also just found a marriage record for a Benjamin Norris, of Baltimore, to a Susan Cockey on the 20th of December 1814 (four years before Sarah was born). They were married in Baltimore at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in that city. I'm supposing that these are Sarah's parents.
W. H. Rowe and his wife Clari moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1844 6 , where he was engaged in the “pork packing” business 7. He continued in this business until “His patriotism was manifested at the time of the Mexican war, in which he rendered loyal and effective service 8.” However, I have not been able to substantiate his military record, but am now wondering if he served from Baltimore and not Ohio.
William's first born was a son named after Sarah's father, Benjamin Norris. Benjamin Norris Rowe, born June 25, 1844 supposedly in Cincinnati. He married Caroline Mary MacClement. Then he had a daughter Susannah M. Rowe, born March 27, 1846, in Ohio. She married Emanuel Hoover, on May 17, 1864, and died March 18, 1897.
Then Elizabeth Rowe, born 1848, appears as a two year old in 1850 census and then entirely vanishes -- most likely died.
Following the Mexican War, William caught gold fever in 1849 and he made three trips to California. “His first trip was made overland, and was attended with the vicissitudes and dangers incidental to the long and wearisome journeys over mountain and plain in those early days. He subsequently made a second trip by land, and his third trip to the Golden state was made by water, via Cape Horn. For a time he was engaged in street contracting in San Francisco, but finally longed to return to scenes of an older civilization, and accordingly retraced his steps to Ohio 9.”
While it’s not clear what happened during the Mexican War and the Gold Rush of ’49, what is known is that William appears in the 1850 census living in Hamilton County, Ohio.
In 1850 he shows up as William H. Rooe, in the 6th Ward, Cincinnati, OH. He was 30 years old and by way of occupation he was listed as a grocery keeper. From 1850 through 1880 he consistently shows up as born in Maryland, and his ages show him to be born between 1817 and 1819. In the 1850 census his wife shows up as Clari Rooe, though subsequent censuses show her as “Sarah C.” Though in Conover, she’s listed as Clarissa S. Norris Rowe. Living with him at the time were his wife Clari age 25. And children [Benjamin] Norris age 6, Susannah age 4, and Elizabeth age 2 13.
I was simply amazed when I ran across a trial with Clement L. Vallandigham, contesting the election of Lewis D. Campbell for the Third Congressional District of the State of Ohio. The election was held October 14, 1856. Campbell's lawyer took sworn depositions from a number of Montgomery County citizens apparently trying to prove they were not qualified to vote at the time of the election, one of those men was William H. Rowe. Here are the questions William was asked:
"William H. Rowe, being first duly sworn, deposes as follows:
Question 88 [previous questions were to other witnesses] Where do you now reside?
Answer. In Madison township, Montgomery county, Ohio.
Questions 89. State wheteher you have been absent from the State of Ohio at anytime during the last year preceding the October election?
Answer. I was. I came into the State of Ohio on the 12th day of December, 1855. I was formerly a resident of the State of Ohio, and have been twice to California. The last time I returned from California was in December, as above mentioned.
Question 90. When did you leave the State of Ohio for California the second or last time you went there?
Answer. About the 20th of March, 1852.
Question 91. How long did you remain in California at that time?
Answer. As near as I can recollect, about thirty-one months, and returned here again in December, 1855.
Question 92. State whether you voted in California while there, if so, when, and how often?
Answer. I voted once while I was there for street commissioner. I think at the spring election in San Francisco in 1855; that is the only time I recollect voting.
Question 93. In what business were you engaged during your last absence in California?
Answer. Mining part of the time, contracting and planking the streets of San Francisco part of the time.
Question 94. State whether you held any office in California while there the last time?
Answer. I did not.
Question 95. State whether you voted in the State of Ohio at the general election for State and county officers in said State on the 14th day of October, 1856?
Answer. I did not.
Question 96. Where did you vote on that day?
Answer. In Madison township. Montgomery county, Ohio at the place of holding election, Posttown.
Question 97. For whom did you then vote for representative to Congress for the third congressional district in the State of Ohio.
Answer. For Clement L. Vallandigham; I voted the whole democratic ticket.
Question 98. Where did your family reside during your last absence, about mentioned, in California?
Answer. In Baltimore, Maryland, with my wife's parents. Wm. H. Rowe."
Here he states the second time he went to California was in March of 1852, giving him a limited window as to when he could have first gone. I firmly believe that William left around 1848/9 for San Francisco as Conover stated. Another thing I noted is that William says he left about March 1852 and returned December 1855 that being a total of 45 months, yet he says he was there for only 31 months? There's about a fourteen month descrepency. Was this an error?
No, I'm going to take a stab at my own theory of what happened. William had a little girl "Elizabeth" who appeared on the 1850 census as a two year old, she disappears after that. I am entirely unable to find her. My guess is that William went west in 1852 leaving a pregnant Sarah (3 months along) and their children Benjamin, Susannah, and Elizabeth. My feeling is that William left the family in Cincinnati and traveled overland. Sarah, upon realizing her situation chose to go to Baltimore to live with her father and step-mother, during her husband's absence. William Gamble Rowe was born on September 11, 1852 in Maryland. The birth of another son was not enough to pull William away from trying to make a living for his family, but it is my belief that sometime around late winter or early spring 1854 little Elizabeth Rowe (now about age 6) died. I believe that at this point William decided it was time to return home to Baltimore to comfort his family, though he retained California residency. It is here, in Baltimore he stayed nearly 14 months. As there's never been any doubt about the paternity of Henry H. Rowe, we can say for a certainty that William's time in Baltimore included the month of December 1854, shortly thereafter he once again returned to San Francisco, once again leaving a pregnant Sarah (3 months along) but this time leaving from Baltimore he went by water, by way of Cape Horn! This entirely confirms the account given to Conover concerning William H. Rowe's trips to California. And we know that William returned to California as he says he voted in the spring election of 1855. About December of 1855, William returned home for good, settling in Madison Township, Montgomery County, Ohio, where he voted in the October 1856 election. The Ohio State Constitution says: "ELECTIVE FRANCHISE. Section 1. Every white male citizen of the United States, of the age of twenty one years, who shall have been a resident of the State one year next preceding the election, and of the county, township or ward, in which he resides, such time as may be provided by law, shall have the qualifications of an elector, and be entitled to vote at all elections." So it looks like his vote was not accepted. My great grandmother in her infant daughter’s journal. “Great grandma Rowe gave me a lovely present – a solid silver teaspoon that she used when she was house keeping one that her husband brought her from California 10.”
William Gamble Rowe born September 1852 in Baltimore. He appears to have married twice -- first to Clara Bell Wenger, daughter of Levi and Rosanna Wenger (entirely unsubstantiated), then to Anna J. Bowman born April 10, 1862 in Johnville, Ohio. (daughter of David R. and Julia Poffenberger Bowman). The marriage to Anna has been solidified.
W. H’s obituary which states, “He was one of the great mass who crossed the plains to California in the great excitement of 1849, and spent several years there successfully 11.”
Henry Howard Rowe ("Harry"), born September 29, 1855, in Maryland. He died August 25, 1874, in Montgomery County, Ohio. Never married.
Back in Ohio about December 12, 1855. Voted in the October 14, 1856 general election, and on May 12, 1857 had another son Charles Eugene Rowe born in Montgomery County, Ohio.
Louis A. Rowe, born April 1859, in Ohio. 1860 census has him as Lewis V, but it is Louis A. His first marriage was to Jessie Eichner. They had one child Elsie M. Rowe born April of 1892. Either divorce or death took Jessie away between 1892 and 1898 and Louis married a second time, this time to Lillah M. [unknown surname], Louis served in the Spanish American war, and was admitted to the soldier's home in 1908, he was discharged from the home in 1919 at his request, and in 1920 he's married yet a third and final time to a Maria B.
Clara S. Rowe,
William H. again appears in the census of 1860, only this time he appears in Jefferson Twp., Montgomery Co., OH, where he’s listed as a farmer with no real estate, and a personal estate of $500. According to Conover, William finally settled “on a farm near Dayton, devoting his attention to its cultivation until 1869…” During the time he resided on this farm, Conover wrote: “he was called upon to serve in the capacity of justice of the peace, and he was also incumbent as infirmary director of Montgomery county for two terms.”
In, or about, 1855/56 he moved into Dayton, “where he was for a number of years engaged in business.” In 1870 he’s listed in the Harrison Twp., Montgomery County, Ohio Census. He’s a retail grocer valued at $700 personal property.
However, by 1880 he appears in the 1st Ward, Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio according to FamilySearch.org he listed himself as a farmer, a quick reglance at Ancestry.com census images shows that no financial worth was recorded for anyone on that page for 1880.
According to Conover, “The death of William H. Rowe occurred in Dayton on New Year's eve of the year 1886, at which time he was in his sixty-fourth year.” But thanks to Steve Koons, I discovered that he actually passed away December 24, 1881 14. Apparently after a long and active life, William H’s obituary concludes with the following sentence: “He had peculiarities, but was a temperate and worthy citizen.”
William's obituary: Dayton Journal. City Matters. [image below footnotes]
"The late W. H. Rowe, who died on the 24th inst., was once a vigourous and prosperous man. He was one of the great mass who crossed the plains to California in the great excitement of 1849, and spent several years there successfully. After his return he met with reverses. He had the reputation of being an honest man. He was a zeaolous Democrat and served one term as Justice of the Peace, and was also elected County Infirmary Director, where he made a good record. Of late years he supported his family by various employments. Several years ago, while serving on a jury, he suddenly felt a hot stinging sensation in one check. Soon after a cancer developed, and of that he died. He had peculiarities, but was a temperate and worthy citizen."
William and Sarah are buried at Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.
Sarah survived her husband by at least 20 years. I don’t know exactly when she moved in with her son William G. Rowe, but she’s in the Dayton city directory living with him in 1896-97 “Rowe, Sarah C., widow, residence 207 S. Broadway.” It appears as though Sarah was living alone after that, in 1897-98 Sarah is living at 723 N. Keowee, in 1898-99 she's living at the southeast corner of Lawn and Best, and appears to have stayed there till she died, that is, if the corner of Lawn and Best is “46 E. Lawn” which is where she was living in 1900-1901, Dayton City Directory 15.
In the back of my Great Aunt Romelia’s personal book of births, deaths, and marriages 16, she has in her own handwriting, “Old ladies met with Mrs. James Stevens for an afternoon visit Oct. 30, 1900. Mrs. Lucy A. Miller 77, Sarah Clarissa Rowe 82, Hannah Stockslager 68 (widow of Jacob Stockslager mother-in-law of Harriet Alice Stevens), Elizabeth Stout 79, Ziporah Stimson 69 (wife of Wm R. Stimson), Harriet Stevens 82.” And for some reason in parentheses she has “(Mrs. Sample).” Romelia herself would have been just over five years old at the time of this meeting. Therefore we know that Clari Rowe died sometime after Oct. 30, 1900, but to date, I’ve not been able to find a record of her death.
A special thank you goes to Steve Koons for finding her death record 17. Sarah C. Rowe White Female Widow died March 1, 1901, b. 22 Feb. 1818, age 83 years 9 days, born Baltimore, MD., father and mother also born in Maryland, died of senility.
Again, thanks to Steve I have her obituary, too! 18 ROWE -- Mrs. William H. Rowe died at the residence of her son, B.N. Rowe, No. 156 Linden Ave., March 1, 1901, at 8:30 a.m.; born in Baltimore, Md., Feb. 18, 1818. Funeral from Broadway M.E. church Monday, March 4, at 2 p.m. Services from residence private. Omit flowers.
A1. Marriage record is a transcription, there is "no image available," the marriage announcement says they were married on the 21st. For now, I'm going to stay with the 21st until further documentation comes forth.
1. Cemetery marker at Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton.
2 Conover, Frank. Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio. Edited by Frank Conover, of Dayton, Ohio. A. W. Bowen & Co., 1897. Under Charles Eugene Rowe, p. 328-330.
3 Also based upon 1850, 60, 70, and 80 census records, located in the rear of this book.
4 Conover, Frank.
5 Rowe, Margaret Stevens. Back of Margaret Stevens Rowe’s Diary where it has a spot for birthdays and anniversaries. Copyright date in diary is 1933, but actual five years are 1940, 41, 42,43, 44. Margaret was born 24 May 1892, and died 05 Dec 1989. She was at least 8 years old at the turn of the twentieth century.
6 David MacClement Rowe’s birth certificate (22 Jan 1868). David’s father (Benjamin) was a son of Wm. H. and David’s mother (the informant on the certificate) states that David’s father was born in Cincinnati and gives his age, as 23. If she was correct that he was indeed 23 years old at the time of birth, the family moved to Cincinnati in 1844 and not 1845, as is stated in Frank Conover’s book, listed above.
7 Conover, Frank.
10 From The journal of Margaret Stevens Rowe, as written by her mother Anna Maria Stevens Rowe, it was started on Oct. 13, 1892
11 Dayton Daily Journal Dec. 30, 1881. V. XIX, iss. 131: pg. 3, col. 5.
12 Children’s names from combination of 1850, 60, 70, and 80 census records.
13 The 1850 census is the only mention of Elizabeth anywhere that I’ve been able to find. She must have died before the 1860 census.
14 Dayton Daily Journal Dec. 30, 1881. V. XIX, iss. 131: pg. 3, col. 5.
15 Thanks to Steve Koons for all the assistance he’s given me, for finding the Obituary, and for the City Directories.
16 Romelia Rowe’s Book of Births, Marriages, Deaths, and Obituaries 1895-1974
17 Montgomery County Board of Health, Record of Deaths. Dayton deaths indexed on microfilm. Montgomery County Library. Also on familysearch.org direct link
18 Dayton Daily News March 2, 1901
I believe I may have found William's parents. On his death certificate it lists his parents as W. Rowe and Eliza. Bower. I found a William Rowe married to a Elizabeth Bowers in the Maryland marriage records. They married on Jan. 23, 1806 in Baltimore. William H was born in 1819, so he was probably one of the last children born to this couple, and he married and left home by 1844, so it's more than likely that William and Eliza were left alone by the mid 1840s. I did find a William Rowe born in Virginia in the 1850 census. By now he has no family. I'm assuming that his wife has passed, and he's alone. He was living in a boarding house in Ward 1 of Baltimore, and if I read it correctly he was living in a mariners' house and listed as a mariner. It gives his age as 61 (born abt. 1788-1780) in Virginia. In his son's obituary it states that Benjamin (the son) had lots of relatives in Baltimore and Richmond.