The town of Fowler sits in Clinton County, just nine miles west of St. Johns on M-21.

Its origins go back to at least 1849 when the area’s first settler, John Parks, opened the first post office and became postmaster. However, he named this postal station as “Dallas” after the township.

It wasn’t until 1856 that the Dallas post office site was chosen to become an actual village. Robert Higham, the chief engineer for the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad, bought 160 acres of land and platted the land in 1857. But he and his partner had their vision dashed when they realized the land was too swampy and would not be a suitable site for business or residences.

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In 1867, the planned village was moved a mile west to land owned by Detroiter John N. Fowler. The name “Dallas” was dropped and re-named “Isabella.” The locals didn’t take to that name and persisted that the name be changed again…preferably to the land owner’s name, “Fowler.” So in 1869, “Fowler” it became and remains to this day. The post office was re-named in 1871 and Fowler was incorporated as a village in 1885.

Fowler became a successful lumber town and fortunately didn’t end up like so many others. After Michigan’s lumber trade took a nosedive, Fowler stayed alive and kept its main economy afloat with farming.

A couple of Michigan’s unique characters came from Michigan:

Clem Sohn, a stuntman/daredevil who performed as the “Batman” and sometimes “Birdman” with his aerial acrobatic stunts, wearing a pair of homemade wings. Born in Fowler in 1910, Clem would leap from planes and use his wings to glide; when he got 1,000 feet from earth, he would open a parachute and float the rest of the way down. In 1937, his chute failed to function – in front of 10,000 spectators, he crashed to earth and perished at age 27.

Vernon “Slicker” Parks was another Fowlerite who gained moderate fame. Born in 1895, Slicker played baseball for the University of Michigan and became a member of the Detroit Tigers in 1921. His Tiger career lasted from July 11 to September 4 – just 56 days.

In the gallery below are photos of Slicker Parks, Clem Sohn, and many photos of Fowler from the early 1900s!

Vintage Photos of Fowler, Michigan


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