1825 Prentiss Lewis Goen b. 1825 in Greenville Dist, SC, then to Calif.

From GRF Newsletter Nov 1996:

Prentiss Lewis Goen Survived Hand-to-Paw Combat With a Grizzly Bear.

The account of the terrifying battle that Prentiss Lewis Goen fought with a grizzly in the California Mariposa Mountains in 1850 first appeared in the “Cleburne [TX] Tribune” in 1881, and excerpts are reprinted now, 115 years later, through the courtesy of a kinsman and Foundation Member Paul Lynn Goen of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“On the 5th day of March, 1850, I was in the mountains of Mariposa, engaged in digging gold and packing mules to carry freight from Stockton to Mariposa. As a diversion, one of my associates suggested a deer hunt. I obtained my rifle, a single shot model, and we departed to the wilderness. After making camp and hobbling our mules, I made my way up to the summit of a mountain, when suddenly I discovered a little bunch of deer.

I shot one through the heart and reloaded as rapidly as possible, eager to get a second shot. The deer had run around a thicket to ascend a ravine, and I ran through the thicket and found they had become suddenly frightened at a grizzly bear, which I soon encountered.

I made a sudden halt to take a second shot at the deer when I found that I was within four feet of the largest grizzly I ever laid eyes on. He was lying in his bed, but he stood up, eight feet tall, and made right at me, with the most hideous growling that could be heard for miles. I at once threw my gun on him, and the bear commenced to circle around me. I reserved my shot, hoping he would make a dash at the muzzle of my gun when I would fire into mouth. But this he declined to do and continued to circle about 40 feet away.

Finally I fired, but, oh my God, I missed. My ball only inflicted a slight wound in his face. At the crack of the gun, he fell to the ground and rolled over, but quickly sprang to his feet and made at me. My gun was presented at him, and he ran against the muzzle and pushed me back some 15 feet or more. By this time, with no opportunity to reload, I saw it was to be a life or death struggle, and I made up my mind to sell out as deadly as possible. Then he made another charge to finish me . . . ”

Prentiss Lewis Goen, son of Dillard Goen and Permelia Goen, was born January 13, 1825 in Greenville District, South Carolina. His family removed to Georgia, and when Lewis Goen attained the age of 17, he went out on his own and removed to Monroe County, Mississippi.

“Taking the California gold fever in 1849, at the age of 24, he struck out in the company of about 40 other adventurers to seek his fortune in search of gold.

During his trip horseback across the plains of Texas and New Mexico, he encountered a severe sandstorm, and for several days, experienced much suffering for water. Upon reaching water, one of the travelers quickly drank all the water he desired and was soon dead. Lewis Goen was wiser and with his head near the water, he allowed his tongue, that was swollen out of his mouth, to slowly return to normal with the occasional sip of water to relieve the extreme thirst.”

After arriving at the California gold fields, he became one of the lucky ones. After five years of digging, he had accumulated a “mule load” of gold nuggets. Recalling the hardships of crossing the American wilderness, he elected to return home aboard ship. He took a sailing vessel to Panama, walked across the Isthmus, and caught another ship bound for New Orleans. From there he went to Mississippi to see his mother who did not immediately recognize him, after a 13-year absence. After a short visit, he returned to Greenville County to visit friends and family before heading to Texas where he spent the rest of his life.

The account of Prentiss Lewis Goen continues:

“As the grizzly moved in for the kill, I clubbed my gun and let him have it with all my strength over the head, and this I repeated over and over from time to time, but never could knock him down. I think he weighed at least a thousand pounds, but I tell you he could handle himself with the agility of a cat.

In this mortal combat we had fought for sixty yards or more down the steep mountain. I had already bent my gun, but I finally succeeded in dealing him a fearful blow over the nose. This seemed to be more effectual, as he backed his ears and ran off 40 yards, and I believe if I had not hollered then, he would not have returned.

But he did return, and seemingly to renew the fight with redoubled fury. I then struck him with all my strength hoping to force him to give up the fight, but the grizzly dodged my stroke, and the end of my gun struck the ground plowing up the soil several inches, and the gun dropped from my hand and rolled some 15 or 20 steps down the mountain. We both took after it, the grizzly in front. I made a grab at the gun, but missed it six inches. The grizzly was too close. I then picked up a rock and hit him in the face, and he shut his eyes. I thought then that my only chance to save my life was in flight, but I had only gotten about 30 feet when he made a spring and caught me.

In his effort to catch me around the neck, one of his tusks struck my left shoulder, went through my coat and two shirts, inflicting a wound on my neck, threw me to the ground and broke my right hand. The bear was coming with such force that he passed on over me and fell in a tree top and broke the trunk of the tree which was at least nine inches in diameter. I was knocked almost senseless, but I arose as quickly as possible and started down the steep mountain, making frequently 25 to 30 feet at a bound, and alighting on my heels, so great was the descent.

The grizzly outran me, but I would dodge to one side as he would get near me, and while he was checking up to pursue me, I would gain in distance. Finally I ran right up to the brink of a sudden break off the mountain, the brute right behind me in pursuit. I jumped suddenly to one side, hoping he was coming with such rapidity that he would be precipitated down the mountain, but my foot struck a rolling stone which threw me to the ground.

My breath was almost entirely exhausted. I thought I could run no longer. Then I tried to roll down the mountain, but I only rolled about 40 feet when my face struck a stone, inflicting a severe wound from which the blood spouted. I soon found that rolling would not do, as the grizzly, which could easily clear 30 feet or more down the mountain, would gain too rapidly on me. I started again to run, and as the bear got near me, I would dodge to the right or left, but I had only got a short distance from which I had tried to roll down the mountain when I fell to my knees, and the bear lit just a few feet from me. Then I gave it up. I was completely exhausted. I threw my hands up and gave a faint scream as I threw a little stone in his face. The grizzly stood still for a moment, and looking me straight in the face as he pitched one ear forward and then the other. He seemed to become all at once frightened and ran off about 40 yards.

Then I thought, O my God, if screaming would do any good I would try it again. I raised my hands and again screamed. The bear started up the mountain and got perhaps 60 yards and stopped. Again with uplifted hands, I screamed with all my power. The bear broke off again and continued to run 400 yards or more up the mountain, until it passed out of sight.” I retrieved my battered rifle and made my painful way back to camp, bloody from head to foot.

The gun used by Lewis Goen, in his fight with the grizzly was a blue steel barreled single shot rifle. The scars and scratches made by the teeth of the bear are still plainly visible on the gun which is now in the possession of a grat-grandson, Wilson Lewis who resides in San Antonio, Texas.”

Prentiss Lewis Goen was married October 27, 1853 to Elizabeth Quinn. She died in 1868 in Johnson County, Texas, and on December 3, 1868, Prentiss Lewis Goen was remarried to Emily Virginia Lane, according to Bosque County Marriage Book 1, page 141. Emily Virginia Lane was born in Texas about 1846. She is regarded as the daughter of James Addison Lane and his wife, Matilda Wilson Lane in Kopperl, Texas. The Lane family lived as neighbors to the Goen family in Georgia.

Prentiss Lewis Goen hauled lumber, seasoned oak and poplar, by oxteam from Houston, 225 miles away, in the rain and mud to build their home. The original colonial-style home featured four tall columns on the front porch of the 7-room home that was one and a half stories high.

Prentiss Lewis Goen died February 18, 1880 at age 58 and was buried beside his first wife in Grandview Cemetery. “Emily V. Goin” died in Johnson County, February 26, 1930, 50 years after the death of her husband, according to Texas BVS File 9143.

Children born to Prentiss Lewis Goen and Elizabeth Quinn Goen include:

Mary Addie Goen born about 1855
Prentiss Mariposa Goen born about 1856
Florida Agnes Goen born about 1859
Lewis Granville Goen born about 1860
Elizabeth Lewis “Lulu” Goen born in 1863
William Stanford Goen born about 1866
Thomas Howell Goen born about 1867

Children born to Prentiss Lewis Goen and Emily Virginia Lane Goen include:

Christopher Columbus “Lum” Goen born about 1869
Joel Addison Goen born about 1872
John Henry Goen born about 1874
Annie Lee Goen born about 1875
George Jefferson Goen born in August 1876
Carroll George Goen born about 1877
Clara Idella Goen born in Nov. 1878
Lillie Emily Goen born in Nov. 1880

4)  Prentiss Lewis Goen, Continued

“As the grizzly moved in for the kill, I clubbed my gun and let him have it with all my strength over the head, and this I repeated over and over from time to time, but never could knock him down. I think he weighed at least 1,000 pounds, but he could handle himself like a cat.

In this mortal combat we had fought for sixty yards or more down the steep mountain. I had already bent my gun, but I finally succeeded in dealing him a fearful blow over the nose. This seemed to be more effectual, as he backed his ears and ran off 40 yards, and I believe if I had not hollered then, he would not have returned.

But he did return, and seemingly to renew the fight with redoubled fury. I then struck him with all my strength hoping to force him to give up the fight, but the grizzly dodged my stroke, and the end of my gun struck the ground, plowing up the soil, and the gun dropped from my hand and rolled down the mountain. I made a grab at the gun, but missed it six inches. The grizzly was too close. I then picked up a rock and hit him in the face, and he shut his eyes. I thought then that my only chance to save my life was in flight, but I had only gotten about 30 feet when he made a spring and caught me.

In his effort to catch me around the neck, one of his tusks struck my left shoulder, went through my coat and two shirts, inflicting a wound on my neck, threw me to the ground and broke my right hand. The bear was coming with such force that he passed on over me and fell in a tree top and broke the trunk of the tree which was at least nine inches in diameter. I was knocked almost senseless, but I arose quickly and started down the steep mountain.

The grizzly outran me, but I would dodge to one side as he would get near me, and while he was checking up to pursue me, I would gain in distance. Finally I ran right up to the brink of a sudden break off the mountain, the brute right behind me in pursuit. I jumped suddenly to one side, hoping he was coming with such rapidity that he would be precipitated down the mountain, but my foot struck a rolling stone which threw me to the ground.

My breath was almost entirely exhausted. I thought I could run no longer. Then I tried to roll down the mountain, but I only rolled about 40 feet when my face struck a stone, inflicting a severe wound from which the blood spouted. I soon found that rolling would not do, as the grizzly, which could easily clear 30 feet or more down the mountain, would gain too rapidly on me. I started again to run, and as the bear got near me, I would dodge to the right or left, but I had only got a short distance from which I had tried to roll down the mountain when I fell to my knees, and the bear lit just a few feet from me. Then I gave it up. I was completely exhausted. I threw my hands up and gave a faint scream as I threw a little stone in his face. The grizzly stood still for a moment, and looking me straight in the face as he pitched one ear forward and then the other. He seemed to become all at once frightened and ran off about 40 yards.

Then I thought, O my God, if screaming would do any good I would try it again. I raised my hands and again screamed. The bear started up the mountain and got perhaps 60 yards and stopped. Again with uplifted hands, I screamed with all my power. The bear broke off again and continued to run 400 yards or more up the mountain, until it passed out of sight. I retrieved my battered rifle and made my way to camp, bloody from head to foot.”

Prentiss Lewis Goen was married October 27, 1853 to Elizabeth Quinn. She died in 1868 in Johnson County, Texas, and on December 3, 1868, Prentiss Lewis Goen was remarried to Emily Virginia Lane, according to Bosque County Marriage Book 1. He died February 18, 1880 at age 58 and was buried beside his first wife in Grandview Cemetery. “Emily V. Goin” died in Johnson County, February 26, 1930, 50 years after the death of her husband, according to Texas BVS File 9143.

Children born to Prentiss Lewis Goen and Elizabeth Quinn Goen include:

Mary Addie Goen born about 1855
Prentiss Mariposa Goen born about 1856
Florida Agnes Goen born about 1859
Lewis Granville Goen born about 1860
Elizabeth Lewis “Lulu” Goen born in 1863
William Stanford Goen born about 1866
Thomas Howell Goen born about 1867

Children born to Prentiss Lewis Goen and Emily Virginia Lane Goen include:

Christopher Columbus “Lum” Goen born about 1869
Joel Addison Goen born about 1872
John Henry Goen born about 1874
Annie Lee Goen born about 1875
George Jefferson Goen born in August 1876
Carroll George Goen born about 1877
Clara Idella Goen born in Nov. 1878
Lillie Emily Goen born in Nov. 1880

Emily Virginia Lane was born in Texas about 1846. She is regarded as the daughter of James Addison Lane and his wife, Matilda Wilson Lane in Kopperl, Texas. The Lane family lived as neighbors to the Goen family in Georgia.

Prentiss Lewis Goen hauled lumber, seasoned oak and poplar, by oxteam from Houston, 225 miles away, in the rain and mud to build their home. The original colonial-style home featured four tall columns on the front porch of the 7-room home that was one and a half stories high.