Theophilus Calvin Jowers (born 1847 in Randolph County; died September 10, 1887 in Birmingham) is a former foundryman at Alice Furnace, and is identified with tales of ghostly reappearances, most famously as the Ghost in Sloss Furnaces.
Jowers, was the youngest son of Benjamin Franklin Jowers and his second wife, Elizabeth. He married the former Sarah Louise Latham at Irondale on August 11, 1870. He began working at the Oxmoor Furnace in 1873, during a time when the future of the Birmingham District's industrial development was at a nadir. According to Kathryn Tucker Windham's account, Jowers promised his wife, Sarah, that "as long as there's a furnace standing in this county, I'll be there." He was true to his word and gained employment at Alice Furnace after it went into blast in 1880.
Jowers and his wife, Sarah, made their home on the south side of 1st Avenue North near 11th Street. They had five children, Mary Ella, William James Benjamin, William Anthony, Jorge and John. William James Benjamin (called "Bennie") and Jorge both died in childhood.
By the Spring of 1887, Jowers had been promoted to assistant foundryman at Alice Furnace. On September 10, 1887, while working around the edge of the furnace to loosen a bell, Jowers lost his balance and fell with it into the molten iron. The Birmingham Age report the following day described how "a piece of sheet iron was attached to a length of gas pipe, and with that instrument his head, bowels, two hip bones and a few ashes were fished out."
According to later stories, soon after the tragedy, workers began reporting that Jowers was seen making the rounds and checking on his former crew. Others saw an unrecognizable male figure moving in areas much too hot for anyone to survive or felt sudden cold. After the first Alice Furnace was torn down in 1905, his ghost was reported to be seen at a second furnace until it, too, was shut down in 1927. Jowers' spirit is said to have then relocated to Sloss Furnaces across town. According to Windham's story, Jowers son, John claimed to have seen a ghostly figure striding through the hot furnace at Sloss from the 1st Avenue North Viaduct in 1927.
|Events||Magic City Brewfest · Preserve Jazz Festival · Sloss Fright Furnace · Stokin' the Fire BBQ Festival|
|Exhibits||Engine No. 4018 · Sloss Quarters|
|Owners||Sloss Furnace Company · Sloss Iron & Steel Company · Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Company · U.S. Pipe · Jim Walter Corporation|
|People||Joseph Johnston · Theophilus Jowers (The Ghost in Sloss Furnaces) · Hugh Morrow · James Sloss|
|Programs||Sloss Metal Arts · Sloss Performing Arts Program|
- City Directory of Birmingham and Gazetteer of Surrounding Section for 1884-5 (1884) Volume II. Atlanta, Georgia: Interstate Directory Company
- "A Horrible Death, A Workman Falls into Alice Furnace" (September 11, 1887) The Birmingham Daily Age, qtd. in Karen R. Utz and Sloss Furnaces Foundation (2009) Sloss Furnaces. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing ISBN 9780738566238
- Windham, Kathryn Tucker (1987) The Ghost in the Sloss Furnaces. Birmingham: Birmingham Historical Society. ISBN 0317651005
- Lewis, W. David (1994) Sloss Furnaces and the Rise of the Birmingham District: An Industrial Epic. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817307087
- "Sloss ghost hunters have chance to see two for the price of one." (October 30, 2006). The Birmingham News
- Diel, Stan (October 21, 2007) "Spirit hunters haunt Sloss." The Birmingham News
- Jowers, Willis (2009) "Jowers in the South 2010" genealogy site
- Ghost at Sloss Furnaces at Alan Brown's "Alabama Ghostlore" site