Miner Steele Gowin, 92 Writes
Of His Life and Philosophy
Miner Steele Gowin, son of Nathaniel Gowin and Sabra Midgett
Gowin, was born October 1, 1823 in Wilson County, Tennessee.
While a nonagenarian, he was asked by the secretary of the
Illinois State Historical Society to write an account of his life
and his philosophy. It was published in the “Journal of the
Illinois State Historical Society” in 1916.
Through the courtesy of Larry Austin May, a great-great
grandson of Salem, Ohio and a member of the Foundation, the
article written by Miner Steele Gowin was made available for
reprinting in the Newsletter.
“A Letter From a Venerable Member of the Illinois State
“To Jessie Palmer Weber,
In an effort to comply with the request you made me last May,
when I called on you at your office in Springfield, Illinois, that I
write something of my experience and observations, to be
printed in the records of the Illinois Historical Society, I
herewith submit these lines.
My birthday will be October 1st, 1916, at which time I will be
93 years old. I am in fairly good health and strength, I think of
reasonable sound mind and memory; but I realize that the time
is soon to arrive when I shall surrender all earthly ties and
First, I wish to declare my abiding faith and loyalty to the
foundation principles of our great and glorious government.
(Made sacred, and I hope secure for all time to come by the
shedding of so much precious blood.) The first is that all men
are created equal; and when I say men I mean men and women.
The second great principle is that all are equally entitled to life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and when I pledge
allegiance to that principle, I do not mean that it carries with it a
license for one man to encroach upon the rights or liberties of
his fellow-man; man’s liberties cease where the lawful rights of
his fellow-man begin.
I was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, near Lebanon, October
1st, 1823. I was brought by my father and mother,
Nathaniel Gowin and Sabry Gowin, by covered wagon and
oxteam in 1827 up through Kentucky, across the corner of Indiana
into the southeastern part of Illinois and then across the
sparsely settled region of south-central Illinois, until we reached
the country now known as Jersey County, Illinois.
Shifting from one locality to another small settlement, through
what is now Jersey County (then a part of Greene), I spent my
boyhood and young manhood days, sometimes on foot,
sometimes on horseback, sometimes in old-style farm wagons I
traveled over the unbroken ground where the city of Jerseyville
now stands. Many the furrow in the virgin soil I plowed, many
the tree I felled, many the rail I split, many the day a cradle I
swung to cut the golden grain.
In 1846 I was married to Nancy Beeman. To this union ten
children were born. Four of them died in early infancy and
childhood, six of them grew to manhood and womanhood as
follows: Stephen L. Gowin, now of Fulton, Missouri; Ellis M.
Gowin, drowned in 1901 near Buffalo, Missouri, at the age of
51 years; Nannie T. Gowin, now Mrs. Walter Grundy (a
widow), at Morrisonville, Illinois; Arnest E. Gowin, residing
now at Morrisonville, Illinois; Miner S. Gowin, now a resident
of McCune, Kansas, and Mary A. Gowin, now Mary A. Gorman
(a widow) of Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1868 I moved with my
family to Montgomery County, Illinois.
In 1884 I moved with my wife to McCune, Kansas. In 1896 we
celebrated our fiftieth anniversary of wedded life. In 1900 my
wife died. She was buried at McCune. In 1903, I was married
to Louisa Campbell of Jerseyville, lived there one year, then we
moved to McCune. In 1916, my second wife died. She also
was buried at McCune.
I have voted at eighteen presidential elections, thirteen of those I
have voted for have been elected. If I live and have my health at
election time this fall, I shall vote for Charles E. Hughes for
president, and of course expect him to be elected.
While I have lived for a great many years in Kansas, there has
scarcely been a year when I did not return once or twice to
Illinois. I have always kept in close touch with her progress and
development and have personally known so many of her great
men and having been so closely related to and associated with
so very, very many of her so-called ordinary men and women, it
is inspiring to mingle with so great a people.
My advice to those beginning in life is, be industrious, be saving,
be honest, be temperate in all things, be true to yourself and
just to others, and above all else be true and loyal to your
government, be brave to meet the issues of the day as they arise
and be strong to battle ever for the right. MINER S. GOWIN.”
Nancy Beeman Gowin died January 31, 1900, and Miner Steele
Gowin died July 23, 1918. They were buried at McCune,
Ten children were born to them:
Harriet A. Gowin born in 1847
Stephen Lincoln Gowin born March 21, 1848
Ellis Miner Gowin born June 21, 1850
Talitha Gowin born about 1852
Colitha Gowin born about 1853
Nancy C. Gowin born March 14, 1854
Arnest Edgar Gowin born July 7, 1857
Orman Gile Gowin born December 27, 1859
Miner Steele Gowin, Jr. born about 1861
Mary Ann Gowin born August 23, 1865