County to recognize Franklin's Fowler

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:51

    FRANKLIN-On the corner of North Church and Fowler Streets near the borough's century-old viaduct, is where Samuel Fowler Sr.'s first mansion and his legendary mill once were. And it is at this site that the Sussex County Historical Society, with the borough's input and cooperation, wants to place a historical marker. Very similar to what the Franklin Historical Society has been doing at various historical buildings in and around town, the county is embarked on a project to make one specific site in various towns stand out, too. Last week, the borough council gave unanimous approval to a resolution supporting the concept of such a marker at the former Fowler site, borough officials have said. "I think it's a great idea that the Sussex County Historical Society and the county is placing all these signs around the county," said councilman John Sowden IV, who is known for his historical knowledge and insight of Franklin's illustrious past. To date, the county already has placed markers in at least three towns, including at a large apartment building on Sparta Avenue in Newton, which once housed the Merriam Shoe Factory, which in the nineteenth century provided work for "better than 300 people immediately," according to Bob Longcore, the county historical society's president. Also, "the oldest stone house in northwestern New Jersey" in Sandyston, as well as the scenic Lackawanna cutoff over Route 206 in Andover, have been marked, too. In Franklin, a hotbed of historical sites and buildings, at least partly due to the town's mining past, the plan to honor the senior Fowler (1779-1844) is one that should call attention to the contributions brought forth by one of the county's most noted historical figures. "There's a tremendous thank you that all mineralogists owe him," Longcore explained. "He became a noted and respected mineralogist, and developed early industrial uses for zinc ore. "And he discovered several rare minerals, including Franklinite and those of fluorescent qualities that made Franklin famous," Longcore added. Fowler went on to be elected to the state senate in 1827 and later went to Washington, D.C. to serve in the House of Representatives (1833-37). Longcore noted that the cost of this and other historic markers are being borne by county government. Those costs include installation and design. "We work with every representative area because we want to be completely accurate, with the approval of local historians and local government," Longcore emphasized. Other Sussex County towns that are expected to, or already have, submitted suggestions for a designated historical site in their municipalities are Hamburg, Green Township, Stillwater and Frankford. It is Green where the first county government sat in the 12-year period before county government officially incorporated, Longcore noted.