Written by Hazel Nelson Bowers (1909-2004)
I was born June 8, 1908 about two miles west of Fowlerton on the Fairmount-Fowlerton Road. The house was located near the Jesse Holloway Farm, on the west side of the North-South stretch, and it was known as the pink house.
My parents were Otis and Emma Nelson. My mother, for some reason, named all of her children with four names, and I lived the first sixty-two years of my life thinking that I was born in 1908 and that my name was Hazel Mary Eleanor Nelson, which I hated. When I applied for social security benefits, I found that I was born in 1909 and that my middle names could not be substantiated, so I dropped all of my names and now I go by Hazel Nelson Bowers.
I don’t have any first hand knowledge of this, but a favorite story about me has been handed down and it seems that when I was very young I had infantile paralysis (polio) and it was doubtful that I would ever walk again. Someone had given me a puppy, and one day the dog started limping and displaying all the signs of paralysis and within just a few days the dog died with his paws, legs and etc. all askew. From that time on, I started getting better and before long, I was walking. It was said that the dog had taken the paralysis away from me, and died leaving me to lead a normal life.
My father was an itinerant farm hand and we moved from farm to farm just about every spring. It seemed that every year, another farmer would offer him a little more of something to work for him; an extra hog, a few more chickens or something. So we would pack up and move so that we could have a little better life.
When I was about seven years old, my father and his brother Jesse Nelson took up sheep shearing and we moved this time to Upland, IN where he doubled as a farm hand and as a sheep shearer, but we lived there only for a short time.
When the influenza epidemic of 1918 hit, we were back in the Fowlerton area at the Jessup Farm, southwest of Fowlerton. The day before my mom and dad came down with the flu, we had butchered a hog and was unable to finish the job. The next day, with them sick in bed and trying to give me instructions, I cut up, salted and preserved the meat. I remember thinking, that was a big job. I now know that it was too big of a job for a nine year old child.
Many people died that year during the epidemic, including Teaver Bowers, my future husband’s brother. Since I did not catch the flu, it was thought that I was immune so I helped nurse several other families back to health.
My brother Clarence was born August 24, 1917 when we lived on one farm west of Fairmount, and my next brother Charles was born November 1, 1919 when we lived in the Benbow farm out west of Farmount. Carl, my baby brother was born February 28, 1924 when we were living in the joe Holloway house, at the first curve of the Fowlerton-Fairmount road.
I started school at the Oak Ridge School, located about five miles west of Fairmount, my teacher was Florence Cox. We lived on a farm south west of Fowlerton during the epidemic and I went to Leachburg school and later I remember driving a horse and buggy from that farm to the east branch school, from which I graduated from the eight grade. I also remember attending schools at Grant, Fowlerton, and Upland, but I cannot remember the exact dates. My teacher at Fowlerton was Blaine Retz. All of the schools that I went to was up to the eight rade. Some of the schools had all eight grades in one room, at some we had two rooms and others, four rooms.
My first remembrance of church was when we lived west of Fairmount, and we went to church every time the door was open. When we moved tot eh Jesssup place Southwest of Fowlerton, we continued to go to church, this time at the Grand Methodist Church, which is located south east of Fairmount.
My uncle Jesse Nelson got shot in August of 1924 while chasing some bandits from upland to Mathews. He was hospitalized buy died in a few days. His mother, Mary Ellen Nelson, Came in from New Mexico to bury him. I was allowed to go home to Grenville New Mexico with my grandmother, along with my brother Clarence. We attended some school out there, but I don’t know how long and we were back home in early 1925. When I got back my family had moved to a house right across the railroad tracks from the Bowers family, near the northwest corner of Fowlerton. I have some fond memories of that period. Clessie Bowers would come over and we would dance to the music of the cylinder disc phonograph.
This marks the end of my childhood days, I was the oldest so it fell upon me to look after the boys, as my mother was working out for other people, and sometimes in the fileds. I too had to work in the fields and tend the garden, and the chickens and the livestock. Somehow I was able to do all of that and still run the household.
I met my future husband, David William Bowers, while we were double dating with other partners sometime in 1924. We started dating each other in early 1925, mainly going out to eat and to square dances. We were married July 25, 1925. I was seventeen and David was twenty six.
Our first home was in a house just north of the Nelson Household in Fowlerton, and dave was employed by the state of Indiana, building state road nine. For some reason, dave lost his job on the road, maybe because of the weather, but for whatever reason, we were forced to move in with his parents. It was at the bowers homestead that Pauline was born on april 22, 1926 and it snowed all day.
That summer Dave worked for bill murray at the mid-west canning factory. In 1928 Dave decided to rent the land behind the nelson homestead on the east side of Fowlerton, (we had moved in to this house earlier) and plant beets for the canning factory. That was the year that louise was born on June 5, 1928 and it rained all summer. Fowlerton flooded out and the cash crop of beets was lost.
The Nelson’s had to have their house back so the next year we moved into the “Becky Corn” property near the Fowlerton-Fairmount Road and near the railroad. Kenneth was born at this place on April 25, 1930, and it snowed all day.
All three kids started school in Fowlerton, went to two different schools in Portland, one year in Jonesboro and then it was back to Fowlerton in 1940.
While in Jonesboro, we started a “custom canning” adventure, and it seemed to start out real well, but one day the gas stove blew up, burning Dave’s hands pretty bad and burned down the garage and naturally it put us out of business. We had to find a place to live so we moved back to Fowlerton to the center house on the west side of the park. It was here that I experienced the worst time of my life. My last baby was born early and lived only four days. He really did not stand a chance in those days, even though dave made an incubator for him and we did the best we could. We named him Ronald Eurgene, born April 14 1941, died april 18, 1941.
The summer of 1942 we moved to 724 Henley Avenue, Fairmount and have been there ever since. At first we rented but after the first year we bought the house for fifteen hundred dollars, a lot of money at that time. Since then we have built a basement and remodeled extensively. With the war getting wound up, Dave was able to get his first steady job. He worked at Delco-Remy in Anderson for a while and then started his carpenter career from which he retired in 1962. I went to work at the Fairmount School as the head cook in 1959 and retired from there in 1976.
I have been blessed with three children, ten grand children, nineteen great grand children and two great great grand children with one on the way.
I am 84 years old this year of 1993, in pretty good health and hope to live and take care of myself for many more years, God willing.
“Do those things that are wise and good. For whatever we do, there is judgement.”