Woman of the Century/Charlotte Fowler Wells
WELLS, Mrs. Charlotte Fowler, phrenologist and publisher, born in Cohocton, Steuben county, N. Y., 14th August, 1814. She is the fourth in a family of eight children. Her father, Horace Fowler, was a man of marked originality and energy of character, an able writer and a leader in the community. So great was the public confidence in his integrity that an oath was not required to confirm his testimony. His wife, Martha Howe, was a conscientious, warm-hearted, intellectual woman. She died when Charlotte was five years old, but her earnest teachings and lovely character left a lasting impression upon the daughter, whose earliest memories are of the log house her father built in the mountains. Every intelligent traveler was welcome at Deacon Fowler's. Miss Fowler received most of her education in the district school, with only two winters, or six months, of instruction in the Franklin Academy. She is a self-taught woman, with her wide range of reading and thinking, her close observance of character, her mountain-born love of nature and her large-hearted tolerance. Her brothers, O. S. and L. N. Fowler, were among the first to examine and believe the doctrines of Gall and Spurzheim, and the present increasing interest in the science of phrenology is greatly the result of their lifelong labor. Their young sister, Charlotte, most carefully studied and became deeply interested in Spurzheim's works, teaching the first class in phrenology in this country, and thenceforth her life was devoted to the love and labor for humanity through unfolding its truths. Urged by her brothers, she closed her school and joined them in New York City in the work of establishing the present Fowler & Wells Publishing House. Possessing superior executive abilities, she was die oracle and moving spirit of the undertaking. In their early days of struggle and opposition, they would at times have abandoned the field and closed the office, but for the young sister's inspiring presence. Timid, yet lion-hearted, she averted calamity and achieved success, until was established at length one of the most successful publishing houses in the city. When O. S. Fowler was in the lecture field and L. N. Fowler was establishing a branch in London, Eng., she had charge of all the large and complicated business in New York. In 1844 she became the wife of Samuel R. Wells, who was in the same year made a partner in the firm. They worked happily and harmoniously together for thirty-one years. She was left at different and long periods with the entire control, while husband and brother were traveling for years through this and other countries, spreading the science and collecting the treasures for their valuable cabinet When her husband died, in 1875, she was left entirely alone, the sole proprietor and manager for nine years, when a stock company was formed, now known as the Fowler and Wells Company, of which she is president. Her little enclosure in the office is a shrine, where unknown friends come from all parts of the world to take her hand. She goes to her office from her home on the Orange Mountain. She is vice-president and one of the instructors of the American Institute of Phrenology, which was incorporated in 1866. She has been active in every great enterprise for woman's advancement. She was one of the founders, in 1863, and has ever since been one of the trustees, of the New York Medical College for Women. Never self-assertive, with no touch of vanity in her nature, she has declined nearly every conspicuous position, and yet has filled her life with kindly charities. Many a woman owes to her the timely aid, saving from despair, or relieving from financial disaster.