For decades thousands of Ceres youth have been educated at Carroll Fowler Elementary School but very few know of the man for whom the school was named.
The man seated in the portrait within this article is Carroll Fowler (1875-1960), with his bride, Aurelia Alice Whitmore Fowler (1880-1966). Aurelia was the daughter of Richard Keith and Annie Whitmore, making her the granddaughter of Ceres town co-founder Richard K. Whitmore, brother of Daniel C. Whitmore.
When it came time to name the new elementary school on the corner of Moffet and Garrison streets in the 1970s, Jennie Whitmore Caswell suggested the name of Carroll Fowler. Jennie, knowing that Carroll Fowler was an educated man, was very active in Ceres community events and the first president of the Ceres Library Association as well as having lived on the land that would become the school, believed the new school should be named for him. She also noted that Carroll Fowler had been on many elementary and secondary school boards in Southern California.
The School Board agreed and named the new school Carroll Fowler Elementary School.
Carroll Fowler was born in Southern California in 1875. He graduated from Monrovia High School, one of only two students, in about 1895 and then went on to graduate from the University of California in 1899. Upon graduation he stayed and taught at Berkley for one year, his area of focus was entomology, specifically bees. He then taught at a high school in Southern California for a year. Eye problems caused him to drop out of the teaching profession.
Fowler wanted to go into the dairy business and consulted with the University of California for a good location for one. Advisers recommended Ceres – it was then a dry wheat growing region – because it would soon benefit from the new La Grange Dam on the Tuolumne River and receive water for irrigation. Fowler learned that the area where the school and Smyrna Park are now located would receive irrigation water a few years earlier than other areas and so he purchased about 60 acres.
While in Ceres, Carroll became sweet on Aurelia Whitmore and they were married in 1906.
Fowler ran his dairy at that location until 1913 when they moved to Duarte, Calif., to manage the orange groves owned by his father, Captain Hardiman Dunn Fowler. Curiously Captain Fowler had been a confederate soldier in the North Carolina 1st Infantry and later promoted a confederate captain on Jan. 6, 1863. It is said that before his capture during the battle of Chancellorsville, Captain Fowler witnessed the May 10, 1863 death of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
When Captain Fowler died in 1935 he was 103 years old.
While Carroll and Aurelia Fowler were living in Duarte, they leased out the dairy to the Austerburg brothers. In 1923 Carroll Fowler planted the Ceres ranch in peaches and by 1927-28 the peach business was flourishing. While the Fowlers maintained their home in Duarte, every summer was spent in Ceres to visit family and harvest peaches. Aurelia and the kids would travel by train to Ceres each year while Carroll would hitch up the wagon and team of horses for the four-day journey from Duarte to Ceres.
The couple had two children, Richard Hardiman “Hardy” Fowler and daughter Annie Mary Fowler (1908-1998). Many living today remember Hardy Fowler who married Caryl Fowler.
The road in front of Carroll Fowler’s home became Fowler Road.
Richard Hardiman “Hardy” Fowler graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. He worked for Washington State College in Pullman, Washington, for 12 years as an assistant professor in soil survey.
Hardy and Caryl Fowler came to take care of the peach ranch in 1950. Soon Morrow Village homes were flourishing next door and the Fowlers were asked to sell land for the school. When the city purchased the Fowler property for Smyrna Park in 1972, it razed the old Fowler home which was located approximately where the park corporation yard is today.
Hardy was a charter member of Harvest Presbyterian Church and past president and a member of Tuolumne River Lodge for 53 years; a member of the Ceres Lions Club since 1951; and a member of Ceres Historical Society.
He was an Army Air Forces veteran of World War II and served in the Pacific theater and obtained the rank of lieutenant. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, and traveling in his motor home.
Hardy died at age 92 in 2004. Carroll, a noted Ceres historian, died in 2008.
Annie graduated from Monrovia High School and the University of Nevada, Reno. She served as an Army WAC during World War II and was stationed in Baltimore, Florida and Oregon. After the war she taught school in Baltimore, Md., for a while before teaching in Downey, Calif., from 1953 to 1973. She died at Casa de Modesto in Modesto on Feb. 5, 1998.
Even today the graves of the family parallel the long distance connection. You will find the graves of Captain Hardiman and Mary Fowler, Carroll and Aurelia Fowler and Ann Fowler in the Live Oak Memorial Park in Monrovia; while Hardy and Caryl Fowler are buried in the Ceres Memorial Park.