The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
Fordell is thirteen miles south-east by rail from Wanganui, 138 miles by rail from Wellington, and stands 485 feet above the level of the sea. It is in the Purua riding of the County of Wanganui. The main road from Wanganui to Hunterville runs through the township. There are three schools in the district, namely, Warrengate school (with fifty scholars), Riverton school, and the Denlair school. The business of the post and telegraph department is conducted at the railway station. The Anglican and Presbyterian Churches are represented, and there are two hotels, and a number of stores. The district consists of fine pastoral country, and the greater proportion of the settlers are engaged in sheep-farming. The population of Fordell at the census of 1906 was 229, and of Denlair forty-eight.
Cowie, John Peter, General Storekeeper, Fordell. This business was established by Mr Charles Budge in the year 1878, and taken over by Mr Cowie, who built new premises in 1907. A good stock of groceries, crockery, enamelware, drapery, clothing, boots and shoes, fancy goods, and farm produce is maintained. Mr. Cowie was born in the year 1860, in Scotland, where he was educated and learned his trade. In 1882 he emigrated to New Zealand, was employed for ten years as manager by Mr Budge, and in 1899 took over the business on his own account.