Person:David Rowles (1)

David Harlan Rowles
d.14 Jul 1868 Monroe County, Iowa
m. 2 Feb 1787
  1. Ann Rowles1783 - 1811
  2. Sarah Rowles1785 -
  3. Thomas Rowles, Jr.1790 - 1852
  4. David Harlan Rowles1792 - 1868
  5. Mercy Rowles1795 - 1834
  6. Amy Rowles1796 -
  7. Mary Rowles1798 -
m. 8 Aug 1814
  1. Emaranda Rowlesabt 1817 - bef 1856
  2. Matilda Rosella Rowles1819 - 1896
  3. Unknown Rowles1820 - 1840
  4. Oliver Perry Rowles1821 - 1913
  5. Anson T. Rowles1828 - 1914
  6. Julia Rowles1830 - bef 1861
  7. Caroline Rowles1832 - 1905
  8. Mary Margaret Rowles1836 - 1918
  9. Sarah R. Rowles1839 - 1934
Facts and Events
Name[2] David Harlan Rowles
Gender Male
Birth? 13 Jul 1792 near Baltimore, Maryland
Marriage 8 Aug 1814 Bradford, Steuben County, New Yorkceremony performed by Henry Switzer, J.P.
to Rebecca Clark
Death[1] 14 Jul 1868 Monroe County, Iowa
Burial? Oakview Cemetery, Albia, Monroe County, Iowa

New York

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-law, 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

Rowles, David
under 10 - 1
16-25 - 1 [ie, 18-25]
26-44 - 1
under 10 - 3
16-25 - 1


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 Haute, 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

Rowles, David
under 5 - 1
5-10 - 1
10-15 - 2
30-40 - 1
under 5 - 1
5-10 - 1
20-30 - 1
30-40 - 1

Fountain County, Indiana, 1840 census:S8

Rowles, David
5-10 - 2
10-15 - 1
15-20 - 1
40-50 - 1
under 5 - 2
10-15 - 1
15-20 - 1
40-50 - 1


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

Rolles, David 59 yrs Farmer (real estate = $1,500) b. Maryland
      Rebecca 58 yrs b. New York
      Ancen 22 yrs b. Indiana Farmer
      Caroline 18 yrs b. Indiana
      Mary 14 yrs b. Indiana
      Sarah 11 yrs b. Indiana

Monroe County (Troy Twp), Iowa 1852 state census:S11

Rolls, David -- 4 males, 6 females.

Monroe County (Troy Twp), Iowa, 1856 state census:S12

Rowls, David 63 yrs (12 yrs in state) b. Maryland Farmer
      Rebecca 63 yrs (12 yrs in state) b. New York
      Mary 19 yrs (12 yrs in state) b. Indiana
      Sarah 16 yrs (12 yrs in state) b. Indiana
Smith, Margaret 12 yrs (12 yrs in state) b. Iowa
      C.[Charles] M. 11 yrs (11 yrs in state) b. Iowa
      Milford C. 19 yrs (10 yrs in state) b. Illinois
      William 32 yrs (10 yrs in state) b. Illinois Carpenter
      Caroline 24 yrs (12 yrs in state) b. Indiana
      Emma R. 2 yrs (2 yrs in state) b. Iowa
      E.A. [Edward Armstrong] 1 yr (1 yr in state) b. Iowa
[William & Caroline are indicated as being married]

Again, this census provides key information in The Problem of William H. Smith.

Monroe County (Troy Twp), Iowa, 1860 census:S13

Rowles, David 67 yrs Farmer (real estate=5000; personal estate=4000) b. MD
      Rebecca (wife) 66 yrs b. New York
      Margaret (dau) 23 yrs b. Indiana
      Sarah (dau) 20 yrs b. Indiana
Smith, Charles M. 15 yrs b. Iowa Farming

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

  1. William T. A. Rowles Bible.
  2. Correspondence with various other researchers.

    I didn't know David Rowles's middle name until recently, only his middle initial. According to Jim Young (a descendant of Oliver Perry Rowles), David's grandson in that line, James Harlan Rowles, got his middle name from his Grandfather David, as remembered by James's own niece, who called him "Uncle Harlan." This may be a clue to earlier surnames in his family. ---Michael K. Smith

  3.   Steuben, New York, United States. 1820 U.S. Census Population Schedule, p. 208.

    Jersey Twp

  4.   David Rowles, Rejected Pension Application, War of 1812.
  5.   Daughters of the American Revolution. Richard Henry Lee Chapter. The Centennial Book: Official Program of the Ceremonies and the Pageant in Celebration of the Centennial of Fountain County, at Covington, Indiana. (Covington, Indiana: Richard Henry Lee Chapter, DAR, nd [1926?]).
  6.   Beckwith, H. W. History of Fountain County: together with historic notes on the Wabash Valley, gleaned from early authors, old maps and manuscripts, private and official correspondence, and other authentic, though, for the most part, out-of-the-way sources. (Chicago: H.H. Hill and N. Iddings, 1881), pp. 47, 62, 86, 93-94.
  7.   Fountain, Indiana, United States. 1830 U.S. Census Population Schedule. (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration Publication M19), p. 163.
  8.   Fountain, Indiana, United States. 1840 U.S. Census Population Schedule. (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration Publication M704), p. 341.
  9.   Hickenlooper, Frank. An illustrated history of Monroe County, Iowa: a complete civil, political, and military history of the county, from its earliest period of organization down to 1896: including sketches of pioneer life, anecdotes, biography, and long-drawn reminiscences spun out by the "oldest inhabitant". (The Author, 1896), p. 239.
  10.   Monroe County, Iowa. 1850 U.S. Census Population Schedule, p. 314.
  11.   Monroe County, Iowa. 1852 Iowa State Census, [no page no.].
  12.   Monroe, Iowa, United States. 1856 Iowa State Census, p. 1000, house/family 144/144.
  13.   Monroe County, Iowa. 1860 U.S. Census Population Schedule, p. 253.
  14.   Monroe, Iowa, United States. Probates, Index, Book 1, p. 472; Book O, p. 48; Book N, p. 13.

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