Biography of Capt. Enoch S. Fowler

CAPT. ENOCH S. FOWLER. Mr. Fowler, a portrait of whom appears in this work, was one of those Argonauts who came to this country at an early day, and has since made himself a name known as a household word all over Puget Sound. Captain Fowler was born in Lubec, Maine, November 19, 1813, and died in Port Townsend November 27, 1876, being sixty-three years of age. He came to the Pacific coast in 1849 as master and part owner of the brig Quoddy Bell, which he sold in San Francisco, joining the brig George Emery as mate, and made his first voyage in her to Puget Sound in 1850, Alfred A. Plummer, Sr., the founder of Port Townsend coming on her as passenger.

On the next voyage of the George Emery, Captain Fowler commanded her. He next, with the Wilson Brothers of San Francisco, purchased the topsail schooner Cynosure and came to the Sound as captain of her, on a trading voyage for oil, salmon, furs and cranberries in 1852. In the fall of 1853 he landed a large stock of goods there with Mr. Gilbert Wilson in charge of the store. He then went East, and returned in the spring of 1854 with the schooner R.B. Potter, a pilot boat, which he purchased in San Francisco. She was very fast, and was chartered by the late General, then Governor I.I. Stevens, who employed her to carry dispatches, mails and supplies to the various Indian tribes on the Sound, with whom the Governor as superintendent of Indian affairs was making treaties, and to supply the various posts and to protect the inhabitants from the Indians during the Indian war of that year. General Stevens was a warm friend of Captain Fowler. He had the utmost confidence in him, and paid him a liberal compensation for his services.

In 1857, concluding to retire from a seafaring life, he located at Port Townsend, where he devoted himself to mercantile pursuits; nor did he go to sea again, except to make occasional short cruises on the Potter. Besides the Potter, he owned several small schooners for trading on the Sound, and built the scow schooner Experiment, which, however, did not prove a success. In 1859, he built the first wharf which was capable of having a ship made fast to it. This work was in the rear of the old custom-house. It was a substantial structure built on piles, but from the destructive action of the teredo, was entirely destroyed in 1863. In 1864 he built another large wharf, which was also destroyed in 1869 by the same agency.

In 1874 he built the five-story building on Adams street, now used as the courthouse of the district court, which bears deeply cut in a stone over the front entrance the legend, “E.S. Fowler.” In 1874 he also built a great many wooden buildings for stores and dwellings in various parts of the city. He was a very energetic, active man when in health, ever with an eye to business. Shrewd and fortunate, he held various territorial and county offices. In 1863 the legislature elected him brigadier-general of the territory. He was treasurer of Jefferson county for a long time, during which he built the old jail. He was chairman of the board of pilot commissioners from the time the pilot law was passed in 1868 until 1875, when he resigned.

Captain Fowler was twice married. His first wife belonged to Lubec, Maine, by whom he had several children, who all died young, – one a boy of eight years, who with his mother came out to California where she died. After his mother’s death, the little boy was sent home in charge of a nurse, when they both mysteriously disappeared and were never again heard from. The impression is that both were drowned by the upsetting of a canoe in the Chagres river. His second wife was Mary Caines, widow of the late Captain Caines, who survives him. She is a most estimable lady, and is now in her seventy-fifth year. Captain Fowler was a member of high rank in the Masonic order, and was buried from Masonic Hall, the entire population of Port Townsend, together with many from other points on the Sound, turning out to pay the last sad tribute of respect of one of the post popular men that ever lived on Puget Sound.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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