Shadrack Gowin Planted
The Family in Illinois
By Donna Gowin Johnston
1513 Westridge Terrace, Casper, Wyoming, 82604
Family traditions, naming similarities and migration patterns can help solve the mysteries of a family history. The following information has been compiled in hopes that other
researchers might be able to fill in the “gaps,” add to or delete unrelated individuals.
On November 1, 1932, the day my father, Millard Franklin Gowin was married, he was told that he was 1/32 Indian by his father, Charles Franklin “Frank” Gowin [b1874, Crawford
County, IL] What prompted this statement in an era when it was a social stigma to be of Indian blood? Samuel Carlton Gowin, Frank’s brother was said to have a “coppery colored
skin.” My great grandfather, William Hamilton Gowin [b1850, Crawford County, IL] was married to Josephine Catherine Highsmith June 29, 1871 in the same county. On his marriage application he stated that he was French.
Madge Howard, a Gowin descendant of Great Falls, Montana, wrote that her father mentioned that “the Gowins had to work very hard and struggled to make a living, but that life was better when they came to Illinois. They sailed from Amsterdam on a cattle boat, and people were cruel to them.
Madge’s ancestor, Nathaniel “Nathan” Gowin [b1794 VA] and my Shadrack Gowin [b1791 VA] were either brothers or cousins. James M. Gowin, my first cousin, twice removed, of
Nashville, Tennessee, remembers his father, James Madison Gowin [b1844 Crawford County] telling him of a great grandfather with 21 sons.4
When all of the above traditions are thrown together, perhaps we are looking for French Huguenots who married with American Indians and especially for a man with a very large family. Throughout this narrative, given names used in both Madge Howard’s branch and my branch of the family have been underlined.
My gg grandfather, Drury M. Gowin son of Shadrack Gowin and Mary “Polly” Bass Gowin, was born May 26, 1819 in Tennessee. On October 22, 1841 in Crawford County, he was married to Elizabeth B. Rash [b1825 KY] She was the daughter of William W. Rash [b1800 KY] and Polly Roberts Rash [bc1800 KY] of Henry County, Kentucky. They had
five children, all born in Crawford County:2,5
Mary E. Gowin born c1843
James Madison Gowin born May 11, 1844
John H. Gowin born c1847
William Hamilton Gowin born May 12, 1850
Eliza Jane Gowin born c1851
Photographs of James Madison Gowin and William Hamilton Gowin suggest that they were of American Indian or Melungeon descent.
My earliest proven grandfather [3ggf], Shadrack Gowin, was born April 17, 1791 in Virginia.5,6
He was married to Mary “Polly” Bass between 1812 and 1818 in Tennessee, probably Wilson County. She was born there August 16, 1797. The Bass family came from Franklin County, North Carolina and was descended from Nansemond Indians of Nansemond County, Virginia. On September 21, 1820, he signed as surety on a marriage bond in Wilson County for Delilah “Gowen” who was married to James Dunsmore7 there. In the 1826 tax list of Wilson County “Shadrach Gains” and “Nathan Gains” were both listed as “free polls” in Capt. Bennett’s Company.
“Shadrach Gowen” reappeared there in the 1827 and 1828 tax lists. In 1829, “Shadrack Goen” was listed in Capt. Cox’s company, along with his brothers-in-law, Dolphin Bass and Sion Bass. In 1830, “Shadrach Goens,” along with George Midgett, thought to be a brother-in-law, appeared in Capt. Caplinger’s company. William Gowin was recorded in the 1831 tax lists, along with George C. Midgett8 in Capt. Lannum’s company.
The 1830 census of Wilson County enumerated “Shedrick” Gowens, 20-30; James Goings, 40-50; George Midgett, 30-40; Neely Midgett, 60-70; Richard Midgett, 30-40 and nine Bass families.9
By 1834, Shadrack Gowin was in Crawford County, Illinois. He made two Cash Entry Land Purchases for 40 acres each from the State of Ohio, Land Office in Palestine, Illinois on August 10, 1838.10
He died November 27, 1878 at Sumner, Illinois in Lawrence County at the home of William
H. Gowin, his grandson. Polly Bass Gowin had died there March 10, 1871.
Nine children were born to them:
Drury M. Gowin born May 26, 1819 in TN
Elizabeth Gowin born August 1, 1820 in TN
Ezekial B. Gowin born Sept. 16, 1823 in Wilson Co.
Jane Gowin born in 1826 in Wilson Co.
Margaret Gowin born in 1830 in Wilson Co.
Lyda S. Gowin born in 1834 in Crawford Co,
William E. Gowin born in 1836 in Crawford Co,
Samuel T. Gowin born Sept. 1838 in Crawford Co.
Hezekiah M. Gowin born in Oct. 1840 in Crawford Co.
The census of 1840 suggests that another daughter was born to them between 1820 and 1830.
The following three people, Nathaniel Gowin, Mary Gowin Midgett and Delilah Gowin Dunsmore are either siblings or cousins of my Shadrach Gowin.