JOHN W. DOWLING, a prominent merchant of Ozark, was born in Dale county, December 6, 1832. He is a son of Noel and Sarah D. (MacDonald) Dowling, and grew to manhood on his father's farm in Dale county. Noel Dowling, the father of John W., was born in Darlington county, S. C., December 25, 1809. In 1826 he came to Alabama and settled in Dale county, then a wilderness. In 1831 he married Miss MacDonald of Skipperville, Dale county, and soon afterward located at Clay Bank, where he had a family born to him of eight sons and one daughter. Here among the wild scenes of pioneer life he followed farming, in all, for sixty-one years, finally retiring to Ozark, where he passed the few last remaining years of his life, dying June 15, 1892, at the ripe age of eighty-three years. He always was a man of correct principles and honest purposes, and has transmitted to his posterity in the memory of his life a consolation and an encouragement unstained and unsullied as it is by any improper act of his. He was active in establishing and sustaining churches and schools, and throughout all his life maintained the reputation of his ancestry. The founder of the family was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, a determined whig, and took an active part against the tories of that period. The mother of John W. Dowling was born in Jasper county, Ga., in 1813. She was married at the age of seventeen, and had nine children, John W. being the eldest of the nine. Seven of these are still living, four of whom are merchants of Ozark, one is a farmer of Dale county and one is a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, south. John MacDonald, the father of the mother of John W., was a Methodist divine, and a prominent character in early days of Dale county. John W., while a young man, assisted his father in clearing the farm of its thick under-brush and heavy growth of timber, attending the country school as opportunity afforded, and obtaining, therefore, only a limited education. At the age of twenty-seven he was elected by the people tax collector of Dale county, holding the office two years. He then entered the mercantile firm of H. W. B. Price & Bro., of Columbia, Ala., as a clerk, remaining with the firm a year, when he returned to Ozark, and became a partner of Martin Carroll. He had just returned from New Orleans, where he had been to purchase goods for the firm, when the war broke out. He enlisted in the spring of 1861 for twelve months in the Dale guards, W. T. McCall, captain, and John W., second lieutenant. The services of this company, being offered to the state, were accepted, and the company was sent to Pensacola, where it became company F, Seventh Alabama infantry, under command of Col. S. M. Wood. It remained there until November, 1861, when the regiment was ordered to east Tennessee, and thence to Bowling Green, Ky., where it became a part of A. S. Johnston's army corps. At Corinth, Miss., company F was disbanded, having served out the time for which it had enlisted. Mr. Dowling thereupon returned to Ozark, and began farming, which he continued until August, when in connection with others he organized a company of volunteers called the Partisan rangers, which company marched August 27th, 1862, to Montgomery, where it was mustered in as company E, Fifty-third Alabama, R. F. Davis, captain, and John W. second lieutenant. This regiment as mounted infantry was ordered to Columbus, Miss., and thence to Huntsville, Ala., where it became a portion of a brigade of mounted infantry under command of Gen. Rondy, which was assigned to the army of Tennessee. John W. was detailed to command a scouting party and reached Blountsville, Ala., shortly after the Union General Streight had passed through the place on his famous raid. General Rondy's brigade was now attached to Gen. Forrest's command and soon afterward the Fifty-third Alabama was sent to the valley of the Tennessee and thence to Dale county, Ala. While on a scouting expedition John W. discovered the Union Colonel Coreigne crossing the Tennessee river, which fact he immediately reported to a superior in command, showing his activity in the performance of his duty. This was the raid in which the cotton factories of Florence, Ala., were burned. The Fifty-third regiment was then ordered to Decatur, Ala., and John W. was detailed for six weeks on picket duty, at the mouth of Flint creek, Limestone county, Tenn. On February 24, 1864, he was ordered to join Gen. Johnston's army at Dalton, Ga., where he was detailed on picket and patrol duty for a time. Then under Gen. Wheeler he took part in the battle of New Hope Church, April 27, 1864. He was with General Johnston when he ordered his army to fall back beyond the Chattahoochee in preparation for a great battle at Atlanta, in which he hoped and expected to defeat and rout Gen. Sherman. While the army was moving across the Chattahoochee the Federal soldiers broke through the rear guard, and the Fifty-third Alabama was ordered to its support. In this sally Mr. Dowling was so severely wounded by the explosion of a shell that he was permanently disabled for active service and as soon as possible was sent home. As soon as he was able he joined the home guards, whose duty it was to oppose invasion, to suppress lawlessness and to capture deserters. At the close of hostilities, Mr. Dowling found himself very poor. He had a wife to support, and for property he had only two old cavalry horses, a sword, two navy pistols and two chairs, and as there were three in the family he sawed off the end of a log for himself to sit on. He had also four bales of cotton, which he sold for 48 cents per pound. Under these circumstances he began life anew on a farm and has continued the life of an agriculturist ever since. When re-construction was in process under President Johnson, he was elected county superintendent of education; but when congress took re-construction out of the hands of the president, he lost his office and thus found himself an alien in his own country. However, in connection with his farming, his office and his school teaching, he managed to save money enough to purchase a small farm near the village of Ozark, of which he took possession January 1, 1867. During this year, Mr. Dowling found a man who could take the iron-clad oath, and through this man he secured certain mail contracts at a very remunerative figure, which he held for twelve consecutive years, and from the income thus derived he laid the foundation of his fortune. In 1862, he had formed a partnership with William H. Barrow and was with him in the mercantile and liquor business for some time. In 1870 he sold out his interest to Mr. Barrow and formed a partnership with J. H. Garner in general merchandising, went to New York to buy goods, which he had to haul from Eufaula by team, a distance of fifty miles, and in order to carry on his business, he found it necessary to borrow $1, 000 at 15 per cent interest, and afterward $750 more at 25 per cent.; but notwithstanding all these drawbacks, the business at length became self-sustaining, and after a successful partnership of ten years, Mr. Garner withdrew from the firm, taking out in cash as his share $15,000. Mr. Dowling has since conducted the business in his own name and has now one of the largest stores in Ozark. In 1882 Mr. Dowling was elected to the state legislature without opposition and in 1884 he was re-elected, defeating his opponent by 498 votes. In 1888 he was nominated for the state senate, but owing to his loyalty to the city of his residence he was defeated. He was married May 11, 1862, to Miss Anna J. Thompson, of Tampa, Fla., daughter of John Thompson, a native of Massachusetts, and a sea-faring man. Miss Thompson was born at Key West, Fla., and was brought up at Tampa. On account of the early death of her parents she was reared and educated by her grandparents. She was married in her twenty-second year, has no children and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, south, of which Mr. Dowling is also a member. He belongs to Ozark lodge, No. 349, F, & A. M. He has always been an active worker for the good of the community in the religious line, in the school and in an industrial way. After the project for the building of a railroad from Eufaula to Ozark had apparently been abandoned he secured a promise from Maj. Alexander that it should be built, and it was accordingly constructed in 1887, and Mr. Dowling was made a member of the board of directors, for the construction of the road. He was also active in securing the construction of the Alabama Midland railroad, of which company he is a stockholder. He owns numerous lots and buildings in Ozark and also a farm of 2,000 acres of land. He has served as mayor of the city and has been a member of its council and also of the board of education. He attributes his success in life to a strict attention to business, honest weights and full measures, and the prompt meeting of all his obligations. He has always considered his word as good as a secured note, and has done as nearly as possible to his customers as he would have had done to him.
Father: Noel DOWLING b: 25 DEC 1809 in Darlington Dist., SC
Mother: Sarah Delaney MCDONALD b: 17 NOV 1813 in Jasper Co., GA
Marriage 1 Anna J. THOMPSON b: 1838 in Key West, Monroe Co., FL