Phebe Lowe was born Phebe Pierce in 1866 around Buxton, Ontario to Allen Pierce, a stone mason originally from Ohio, and Hannah Augustus, originally from Delaware. Rebecca’s parents moved to the Buxton area sometime after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.
Hannah’s family was living in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1850. West Chester lies twenty miles west of Philadelphia and about the same north of Maryland, a slave state. At that time, West Chester had a large population of fugitive and free blacks, including Mary Ann Shadd, future editor of the Provincial Freeman in Canada.
For more on West Chester, Pennsylvania and Mary Ann Shadd, see Jane Rhodes’ Mary Ann Shadd Cary: the Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century, published by Indiana University Press, 1998.
Phebe moved with her family to Michigan when she was a child and married Edward Lowe, many years her senior, in 1895. Phebe may have been a young widow. Edward died shortly afterward. Phebe died in August, 1909. She never had children and lived next to her sister, Rebecca (Pierce) Gibbs. Phebe worked as a domestic servant in a private Ypsilanti home.
Allen Pierce, her father, owned the lot that his two daughters, Phebe and Rebecca, would live on when they married. The Pierce family were residents of Adams Street since at least 1880.
Edward Lowe, a widower and brick layer, was born in 1837.He arrived in Ypsilanti by 1860, where he was a laborer on the farm of Samuel Cook. In October 1863, a recruiting train stopped in Ypsilanti to organize local black men into the nascent 1st Michigan Colored Infantry, later the 102nd United States Colored Troops. Edward joined Company C on October 25th.
Edward and Phebe Lowe were members of Ypsilanti’s African Methodist Episcopal Church which had a stained glass window installed in the recently finished church by Phebe in Edward’s memory.