Find records: birth
m. 2 Feb 1787
m. 8 Aug 1814
Facts and Events
David served in the New York State Militia during the War of 1812, as a private in Capt. John Silsby's Company, having been drafted in Steuben County, 5 September 1814 for a three-month term. The company marched to Buffalo, where Silsby was appointed Superintending Officer and a Capt. Barnes took over the company.
He applied for a pension in September 1857, witnessed by E. W. Bill and Calvin Kelsey. (Kelsey turns up later as a friend of David's son-in-low, William H. Smith, during the Civil War.) He didn't get it, though, because none of the muster rolls of Silsby's company had survived (the Pension Office said they had been destroyed by fire at Buffalo, New York -- too bad), and David didn't know the whereabouts of any of his old companions. Rebecca (Clark) Rowles applied for a widow's pension in September 1878, but she didn't get it either.S4
Steuben County, New York, 1820 census:S3
In February 1822, David and his family traveled overland from upstate New York to Pittsburgh, then by flatboat to Cincinnati. They spent a few months there, then continued that September to Connorsville, Indiana, seat of the newly-formed Fayette County, where they wintered over.S4 The next spring, 1823, David moved on west, "made his way from the prairie, north of Terre Haute, up the Wabash River in a keel-boat or barge,"S5 finally locating in the village of Covington, Indiana, which would become the seat of Fountain County a few years later. Apparently, David was satisfied with the neighborhood and he settled there.
On 4 Aug 1823, David entered 80 A. of public land: East 1/2 of Northeast 1/4 of Section 13, Township 20 North, Range 8 West.S6
About 1826, when Fountain County was formed and Covington became its seat (a selection in which David Rowles was instrumental), he built the first hotel and tavern in Covington -- presumably having learned the trade in his father's hotel back in Bradford. He also served as the town's 2nd postmaster, succeeding Joseph L. Sloan, who was also his boarder.S5
Beckwith gives a somewhat different version: "About the same time that Mr. Sloan came [Oct 1826], Mr. Rawles [sic] made his way from the prairie north of Terre Hasute, up the Wabash River in a keel-boat," with his family and household goods. He immediately began constructing a hotel -- 16' x 24', one-story, of round logs, with clapboard roof and puncheon floor. He built a rail pen on the back, battened and covered with clapboards, "and in this Mrs. Rawles did the cooking." Joseph Sloan (a merchant) and his clerk were the first boarders. The tavern became the hangout of local farmers, lawyers, merchants, and professional men; they established the Callisumpkin Society to hold moot court, with Rowles acting as "Dispenser of Justice." This was mostly for fun, but they also spent a lot of time and money on improving the town.S6
The first meeting of County Board of Justices, 14 Jul 1826, at the home of Robert Hetfield, included David "Rawles" as a Justice. He also served as Probate Judge, 1846-52, and as Common Pleas Judge, 1852-56.S6
The Rowles hotel was more than just a stop-over for travelers. "The first order made at the January session, 1828, was that the Board adjourn from the courthouse 'instanter to the house of David Rawles, . . . in consequence of the inclemency of the weather.' There's more in this than meets the eye; . . . the Justices had, many of them, just come into town, and were cold and tired from a long ride over rough and difficult roads; and the vision of a cozy room with a roaring fire, and something to warm the inner man, was sufficiently tempting to justify an adjournment. . . ."S5
Fountain County, Indiana, 1830 census:S7
Fountain County, Indiana, 1840 census:S8
In 1844, after twenty years in Indiana, David Rowles decided to pull up stakes and head west again. It's not known whether he had a particular destination in mind or whether (as in his journey from New York to Indiana) he was "winging it." His own immediate family was accompanied by the family of his son-in-law, John N. Massey, and by their friends, the families of John Lower and John Webb. His children would marry into both these families in later years. They also were accompanied by an elderly Revolutionary War veteran named William Crockett, with whom David Rowles may or may not have been previously acquainted, and whom the Rowles party apparently took on as a favor. Another daughter, Emaranda, who had married Hayden Smith in 1834, apparently had already moved on to Illinois on their way to Iowa. (For more about this puzzling link, see The Problem of William H. Smith.)
The party finally ended up in Monroe County, Iowa, in the southeast quarter of the state, taking up a farm near the county seat of Albia. Frank Hickenlooper, historian of Monroe County (and also a relation by marriage to David Rowles), recorded, in connection with the establishment of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the county:S9 "In 1844 [the Rev. Allan W.] Johnson formed a class at Boggs', near Albia. . . . The next year another class was formed south of Albia, at the house of David Rowles. Of this class Rebecca Rowles, the wife of David Rowles, Oliver P. Rowles, . . . John and Matilda Massey . . . were original members."
Monroe County, Iowa, 1850 census:S10
Monroe County (Troy Twp), Iowa 1852 state census:S11
Monroe County (Troy Twp), Iowa, 1856 state census:S12
Again, this census provides key information in The Problem of William H. Smith.
Monroe County (Troy Twp), Iowa, 1860 census:S13
Note: David Rowles & William Smith are next door neighbors in the 1860 census. Michael Lower & Tarkington Lower are 3 doors & 4 doors away. All four men either were or would be related by marriage.
In late summer of 1861, David must not have been feeling well, because he wrote his Last Will and Testament. In the event, he lived another seven years.
David Rowles died 14 July 1868 at home on his farm. He was buried at Oakview Cemetery in Albia (in the old section north of the road, Lot 230). His will was read in open court on August 3rd. Oliver P. Rowles and John N. Massey, his son and son-in-law, were appointed executors. The final executors' report was not submitted, however, until November 1884.S14