History of Bucks
County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
ROBERT McDOWELLis of Irish lineage, being a representative of the third generation of the family in America. His grandfather, William McDowell, was a native of the north of Ireland, and when a young man came to the United States where he secured employment as a farm hand. He remained a resident of Montgomery county throughout his remaining days, his death occurring near Abingdon. In his religious faith he was a consistent Presbyterian. His children were: Major, William, a stone mason; Robert, a farmer of Kansas; Ellie, who died unmarried; Margaret, the wife of J. Rapp; Caroline, the wife of Samual Swartz; and Mrs. Ann Fisher.
Major McDowell, eldest son of William McDowell, was born in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, and in early life learned the shoemaker’s trade, which he followed for many years. He also farmed a small tract of land, which he was enabled to purchase as the result of his economy and industry. He was an excellent workman at the shoe bench and because of his skill in that line secured a good patronage. In politics he was a stanch Democrat, giving his effort for the benefit of the party, yet never seeking or desiring office as a reward for party fealty. He, too, belonged to the Presbyterian church and was a man of unqualified integrity and honor, enjoying the high regard of all with whom he was brought in contact. A broad-minded, intelligent business man, in social life he had the friendship and esteem of many who knew him. He possessed a charitable, kindly spirit that prompted generous aid to the needy and caused him to give ready and heartfelt sympathy to those in distress. He was a worthy member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Jenkinstown, filling all of the chairs there. He wedded Mary Henry, also a native of Montgomery county, and his death occurred in 1891, when he was seventy-five years of age. His widow still survives him and has reached the advanced age of ninety years. Her father was a farmer and her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Henry, was a representative of an honored early family of Frankfort, Pennsylvania. In their family were the following named children: Samuel Henry, who followed farming; George Henry, who was a farmer and auctioneer; Ann, who died at about twenty-five years of age, unmarried; Mrs. Margaret Van Hart, Mrs. Emeline Feaster, Mrs. Mary McDowell, and Mrs. Sarah Evans. Unto Major and Mary (Henry) McDowell were born eight children: Robert, Harry, who resides on the homestead farm and cares for his mother, and who is a leading speaker in the Odd Fellows Society; Samuel, who for over thirty years was superintendent of the street car system of Philadelphia, and died about 1897; Lewis, a wholesale and retail dealer in milk in Frankfort; Edward, a night watchman of Philadelphia; George, an early settler and cattle rancher of Kansas, who, because of failing health, started to his old home in Pennsylvania and died en route; Clara, the wife of L. Bennor; and Mrs. Margaret Coar.
Robert McDowell, son of Major and Mary (Henry) McDowell, was born in Abington township, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, March 17, 1843, and the common schools afforded him his educational privileges, while upon the old homestead he was reared to farm pursuits. He remained under the parental roof until thirteen years of age, when he began earning his own livelihood by working as a farm hand, continuing with one employer until sixteen years of age. He was afterward employed on other farms in the locality until he entered the service as a defender of the Union army in the Civil war. It was in February, 1864, when he was twenty years of age, that he enlisted in the third Pennsylvania Regiment of Artillery, also known as the One Hundred and fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, under command of Captain Fred Kortie. He served until November, 1865, when he received an honorable discharge. He enlisted in Doylestown township, Bucks county, was mustered in at Philadelphia and was sent to Fortress Monroe to do garrison duty. Later the regiment was attached to the command of General Butler, who was planning a campaign for the capture of Richmond. Mr. McDowell had charge of an artillery team to haul the big guns. The command proceeded to Bermuda Hundred, landed there and threw up breastworks, remaining there for some time at Point of Rocks. Mr. McDowell was taken ill and sent to Camp Hamilton, where he remained in the hospital for three weeks, after which he was detailed to go as nurse and continued to serve in that capacity for some time. Later Mr. McDowell joined his company near Petersburg where he acted as guard after the evacuation. Subsequently he returned to Fortress Monroe and was there promoted to orderly paymaster. He continued there during the remainder of his service and for a time acted as guard for Jefferson Davis, remaining with him in the cell, which was closely guarded both inside and outside and on the ramparts. Mr. McDowell with his regiment remained at Fortress Monroe until relieved by regulars. He saw much of the hard side of the soldier’s life, experiencing the difficulties and rigors of war, but he was always found at his post of duty and proved a brave and loyal soldier.
After being mustered out of the service Mr. McDowell returned to his native county where he was employed as a farm hand for about a year. He the made his way to Hartsville, Bucks county, where he entered the employ of Alford Murray, with whom he continued for thirteen years, and upon the death of Mr. Murray he entered the services of George Jamison, with whom he remained for seven years. He afterward spent two years in the employ of Charles Freitz, and in 1882 he came to his present home in Warwick township, farming the place on shares for three years. In 1885 he bought the farm comprising fifty acres of fine land. On the place is a good farm residence and barn. The buildings, however, were in poor repair when they came into his possession, but he remodeled and made additions to the house and also the barn, has erected a number of sheds for the shelter of grain and stock and for the machinery, and has all the latest improved implements that facilitate agricultural work. In addition to general farming he has attended the Philadelphia market and has made a specialty of the raising of hay which he there places on sale. There is one event in the history of Mr. McDowell that is well worthy of mention. He spent the first three years of his business career in the employment of Alford Murray, following his return from the war, remained with him for thirteen years and when Mr. Murray died was found by the terms of his will that he had left to Mr. McDowell one thousand dollars in recognition of his capable service, unfaltering fidelity and honesty.
In 1869 Mr. McDowell was married to Miss Ellie Fenton, who was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, September 12, 1850. She is a lady of intelligence and culture and has been a faithful helpmate to her husband. Her parents were John and Rachel (Cline) Fenton, both of whom were natives of Bucks county. Her paternal grandparents were John and Betsey Fenton, representatives of one of the old families of this part of the state, his ancestors having settled in Bucks county when Pennsylvania was still numbered among the colonial possessions of Great Britain. The first of the name in America were of English lineage and his descendants have been farmers and mechanics of Pennsylvania for many years. John Fenton, Jr., father of Mrs. McDowell, was reared and married in Bucks county, and became a prominent farmer of his locality, also conducting a sawmill. He made his home in Hartsville. Ever industrious and energetic, his business career was characterized by all that is honorable and straightforward in one’s dealings with his fellow men. In politics he was a Democrat. His death occurred in Edison in 1894, while his wife survives at the ripe old age of seventy-eight years and finds a good home with Mr. and Mrs. McDowell. She is a consistent member of Neshaminy church. In her family were Edwin, who is a miller by trade, but now follows farming; Mrs. Elizabeth Krier, deceased; and Mrs. McDowell. Unto Mr. and Mrs. McDowell have been born two children: Mary Lillian, who died at the age of nine months; and Fenton, born March 16, 1877. The son was provided with a liberal education and in early manhood married Louisa Morgan, a daughter of John Morgan, and a granddaughter of Miles Morgan, connected with one of the honored early families of Bucks county. John Morgan is a carpenter and served in the One Hundred and Fourth Regiment in the war of the rebellion. His wife was twice married, her first husband being John Cook, who served in the Civil war and lost one leg while fighting for his country. His death occurred as the result of his army experiences. The children of Fenton McDowell are Robert D., born March 10, 1892; and Martha G., born July 17, 1904. Mrs. Fenton McDowell is a member of the Baptist church, while he is connected with Neshaminy Castle, No. 139, Knights of the Golden Eagle, of which he is a past chief.
In his political allegiance Robert McDowell has always been a Democrat and he has taken an active interest in all of the issues of the day, yet has never aspired to public office. He belongs to Hatboro Post, No. 101, G. A. R., and attends the Presbyterian church. He has lived a quiet and unassuming life, yet his entire career has been characterized by honesty in business, fidelity in citizenship, and trustworthiness in social relations, and thus his career has won for him the entire confidence and respect of his fellow men.
Text taken from page 374
Davis, William W. H., A. M. History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III
Transcribed July 2002 as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html
Published September 2002 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/