*This is private property, please respect the home owners and view the house from the sidewalk*
Fanny Rowley, who was a biracial, was the granddaughter of freedom seeker William Riley. She was the daughter of Fanny Riley Willson and the step-daughter of Black barber Lewis Ross.
Fanny met and entered into a relationship with Mr. Salmon Rowley (sometimes written as Samuel Rowley), a wealthy white man who immigrated to Canada from Philadelphia in 1881. In 1886, he built the home on King Street.
Salmon and Fanny tried to have children. Fanny bore two daughters, but sadly, both died in their first year and are buried in St. Mark's cemetery. According to census records, by 1901 the Rowley's had adopted a daughter, Maude Mutter, aged 15. They continued to live in the King Street house and Salmon acquired more lots which he bought in Fanny’s name.
While on a business trip to Philadelphia on 1905, Salmon died suddenly at his daughter’s (from a previous marriage) and his funeral was held in Philadelphia. Fanny became a widow with considerable property in Niagara-on-the- Lake. Shortly after, Fanny sold the properties and moved to Cleveland with their adopted daughter, Maude, who became a piano teacher. Fanny died in Cleveland in 1913 and is buried in St. Mark’s cemetery.
In the 1861 census, 13-year old Fanny was noted as being ‘mulatto.’ In the 1871 Canadian census, Fanny is identified as ‘African’ or ‘colored’ along with her mother, step-father Lewis Ross, and his six children. In the 1881 Canadian census Fanny and the entire Ross family’s origin is listed as ‘French’. No racial identification is enumerated in the 1891 census where she is listed with her husband Salmon Rowley. In the 1901 census Fanny is recorded as being ‘English’ like her husband Salmon.
When Fanny and Maude moved to Cleveland, Ohio, they were both listed as French Canadian in the U.S census and Fanny died as a white woman in 1913. This suggests that in Niagara they knew her ancestry, but her skin was so light that she was listed as white where her parents were unknown. Identifying African ancestry in marking Black history is sometimes diluted or erased through intermarriage.