1830 Oscar Claiborne Goins b. 1830 in Grainger Co, TN

From GRF Newsletter Dec 1993:

Oscar Claiborne Goins
Acquired Cherokee Mansion

By Louise Goins Richardson
Foundation Editorial Boardmember
2207 East Lake Street, Paragould, Arkansas, 72450

My great-grandfather was born on a hardscrable farm on a
rocky hillside “just north of Starvation, Tennessee.” Who
would have thought that he would wind up owning the most
palatial mansion in northern Georgia!

Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins, son of Nancy Biby Goins,
was born in Grainger County, Tennessee February 24, 1830,
according to “Memoirs of Georgia.”

In 1833 the family of Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins removed
to Hamilton County where he lived among the
Cherokees. His father farmed there until he died in 1841. His
mother was remarried in 1846 to Levi Goins, suggested as a
kinsman to her first husband. Young “Roscoe” left home
shortly afterward and went to Chattanooga when he found a
job as a “clerk in a mercantile house.”

“He remained there for 13 years where he acquired an
extensive and practical knowledge of mercantile affairs which
has since proven to be of infinite value to him,” according to
“Memoirs of Georgia.”

He was married about 1853 to Nancy Florence Potter,
daughter of Moses and Ellen Potter. Miss Potter was born in
Alabama in 1832. A son, their only child was born to them
May 11, 1855. It is assumed that they were divorced about
1856. Nancy Florence Potter and her son were enumerated
back in her father’s household in the 1860 census of Hamilton

“Roscoe” was remarried there in 1858 to Esther C. Reynolds,
daughter of Anderson Reynolds of Chattanooga. Immediately
after this marriage he went into the grocery business which he
operated until the beginning of the Civil War.

The family was enumerated in the 1860 census of Hamilton
County as:

“Goins, O. C. 30, born in TN
Ester 21, born in TN
Reynolds, Mary 15, born in TN, sister-in-law.””

Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins enlisted in Company B,
Nineteenth Tennessee Infantry Regiment commanded by Col.
J. C. Cummins. His first engagement was in the Battle of
Fishing Creek, Kentucky, serving under Gen. Albert Sidney
Johnston.. “Pvt. Rosco Goengs” was a member of Co. C,
Thirty-seventh Tennessee Infantry Regiment in 1862, according
to “Confederate Veteran,” Volume 28, [1920].

The three-story Vann Mansion, built in 1804 by Cherokee
Chieftain Joe Vann, near Dalton, Georgia was purchased
in 1873 by Oscar Claiborne Goins whose family lived there
for the next 22 years. Photo courtesy of Louise Goins

Afterward his regiment participated in the two-day Battle of
Shiloh, Tennessee, according to “Memoirs of Tennessee.”

Following this battle, he was ordered to assist in bringing the
wounded by train to Chattanooga by way of Mobile,
Montgomery and Atlanta. Upon completing this assignment,
he assisted in the raising of Lookout Mountain Battery under
the command of Capt. R. L. Barry. Later Barry’s Light
Artillery was transferred to Knoxville, then to West Point,
Mississippi and finally to Pollard, Alabama near Mobile. The
battery was stationed there for 12 months, serving to protect a
railroad junction.

When the battle for Vicksburg intensified, the battery was
moved northward to Jackson, Mississippi. It participated in
the Battle of Baker’s Creek and then moved to Yazoo City in
an attempt to repel the Union gunboats on the Mississippi
under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. After the fall
of Vicksburg July 4, 1863, the battery was pulled back to

After the war, he returned to Chattanooga broken in spirit,
broken in health and broken in finances. He, like many
Confederate veterans, had to attempt to rebuild his life. For
the next 13 years he became a traveling salesman, and
gradually regained his finances.

In 1873 he removed his family to Spring Place, Georgia in
Murray County, just across the state line. There he bought a
plantation with a large three-story mansion which had been
originally built by Chief Joe Vann of the Cherokees. From its
earliest days, it was a historic landmark, and in recent years
has been registered by the State of Georgia as a historic site.

Dr. Kemp Mabry of Statesboro, Georgia wrote an account of
the history of the Vann House:

“Among historic sites in Georgia is the magnificent
Chief Vann House at Spring Place, between Dalton and
Chatsworth. Built in 1804 by James Vann, a minor
Cherokee chief, its equal was never seen in the
Cherokee Nation.

James Vann, son of a Scot trader, Clement Vann and
Wawli, a Cherokee princess, owned property and businesses
throughout Cherokee Indian Territory. He was
responsible for construction of Jellico Road, now U. S.
76, which the mansion faces.

He had two wives, a fierce temper and a bad drinking
problem. However, in 1801, he offered land to
Moravian missionaries of New Salem, North Carolina
for a school. His family embraced Christianity, but he
called it a fable.

The James Vann family moved into the three story
brick mansion in 1805. James lived there only five
years. He had killed several men–whites, Indians and
slaves. After he killed his brother-in-law, that death
was avenged in a tavern in what is now Forsyth

James’ son, Joseph, inherited the house, amassed great
wealth and gained the nickname of ‘Rich Joe.’ Pres.
James Monroe visited him there in 1819. In 1834,
‘Rich Joe’ was evicted by Georgia Home Guards. Gold
had been discovered near Dahlonega, a land lottery
held, and white Georgians were to take over the
Cherokee lands.

John Howard Payne, who wrote ‘Home, Sweet Home,’
was incarcerated in a slave cabin on the Vann
plantation because he had Cherokee sympathies.
Joseph Vann and his family fled to Tennessee, but by
1838, most of the Cherokees were herded toward
Oklahoma. More than 4,000 died along the infamous
‘Trail of Tears.’

‘Rich Joe’ Vann built a replica of the mansion at Webbers
Falls, Oklahoma, but northern troops destroyed it
during the War Between the States. ‘Rich Joe’ died in
an explosion of one of his steamboats he was racing on
the Ohio River October 23, 1844.

There have been 15 different owners since ‘Rich Joe’s’
eviction in 1834, and the mansion was sadly
dilapidated. In the 1950s, the Chief Vann House was
renovated and fully restored to its original splendor,
dedicated by Gov. Marvin Griffin in 1958. Will
Rogers, humorist and movie star, was the most famous
Vann descendant, 42 of whom attended the

Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins was enumerated there in the
1880 census of Murray County:

“Goins, O. C. 51, born in Tennessee
Ester C. 45, born in Tennessee”

About 1895, he returned to Chattanooga to live, perhaps
shortly after the death of Esther C. Reynolds Goins who died
in that year, according to Myra Peeples Steed, a niece. He
sold the Chief Vann home in that year. He was described as a
widower in a deed dated October 5, 1897. He was remarried
about 1898 to Mary E. Mitchell.

He died there December 5, 1903 and was buried in Flint
Springs Cumberland Presbyterian Cemetery. It is situated
about one mile from his farm, 244 acres located nine miles
south of Cleveland, Tennessee. Mary E. Mitchell Goins was
survived by Ruth Mitchell Austin, a great niece, who in 1993
continued to own part of the Goins farm.

I have been to his grave, cleaned his tombstone and made
prints of it. The stone is very nice, made of white marble with
black marble inlay in it. One son, William Preston Goins, my
grandfather, was born May 11, 1855 to Oscar Claiborne
“Roscoe” Goins and Nancy Florence Potter Goins.