JAMES MADISON GOWIN SURVIVED THE BATTLE OF SHILOH AND SETTLED IN RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TENNESSEE
James Madison Gowin, son of Drury M. Gowin and Elizabeth B.
Rash Gowin, was born May 11, 1841 in Crawford County, Illinois.
He had dark hair and blue eyes, according to his son, James
Madison Gowin, Jr. He told his daughter, Virginia Gowin that
he was one quarter Indian.
During the Civil War he enlisted in Company B, Thirty-third In-
diana Infantry Regiment and received his baptism of fire in the
Battle of Shiloh. Before his regiment arrived, the Confederates
under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston on April 6, 1862 defeated the
Federals under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Grant, fresh from his
victory at Ft. Donelson, Tennessee, had split his forces and
came up against 40,000 Confederate with 22,000 Union troops at
Pittsburg Landing. The forces of Grant’s lieutenant, Gen. Wil-
liam Tecumseh Sherman encamped at Shiloh Church, were surprised
and overrun along with several other Union positions.
Johnston was killed during the savage fighting of the afternoon,
and Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard took command as a Confederate drive
pushed the Federals to the Tennessee River. During the night,
Gen. Don Carlos Buell arrived with 20,000 fresh Union soldiers,
including the 33rd Indiana Infantry Regiment. The reserves
turned the tide of battle against the exhausted Confederates,
resulting in a Union victory. Shiloh was one of the most brutal
battles of the war: Union casualties were more than 13,000; Con-
federate, more than 10,000.
In another scene from the Civil War, James Madison Gowin told
about a night when he and 200 other Union soldiers bedded down
on the ground in Virginia. He was the first one to wake up,
and when he looked out, his regiment “was gone.” They were
covered in about six inches of snow. Soon they began to stir,
and the regiment reappeared.
During the war, he was married February 30, 1864 to Sarah Jane
Parker, according to Rutherford County Marriage Book 1804-1872.
She was the daughter of Arthasia Parker and was born at Rucker,
Tennessee in Rutherford County. Sarah Jane Parker had one son,
William Parker, born about 1862, when she was married to James
Madison Gowin, according to the research of Donna Vee Gowin
After the end of the war, James Madison Gowin remained in Ten-
nessee. On July 1, 1868 James Madison Gowin was joined by his
wife in selling his share in the Shelton Inheritance to William
P. Shelton, according to Crawford County, Illinois Deed Book 1,
“James Gowan” appeared as the head of a household in the 1880
census of Rutherford County, Enumeration District 199, Page 19,
District 11, enumerated as:
“Gowan, James 36, born in IL
Sarah 39, born in TN
William 18, born in TN
Drewry 15, born in TN
Johny 13, born in TN
Leola 4, born in TN
Parker, Arthasia 53, born in TN, mother-in-law”
In 1911, at age 78, he was remarried to Mary Belle Cox, age 20,
born in 1887 to James Cox of Bowling Green, Kentucky. She had
brown eyes and dark curly hair, according to Donna Vee Gowin
Johnston. She was injured at age 13 while helping her father
shingle a house. She fell from the roof and landed on her head.
A bone fragment in her skull applied pressure on her brain caus-
ing intermittent attacks of epilepsy.
Since both parents had been incapacitated, officials of Ruther-
ford County had attempted to take custody of the children early
in the year. James Madison Gowin, Jr. recalled that once when
he was 10-years old, an officer of the Rutherford County Court
had come to their home to get the children. A confrontation
erupted, and his father prepared to fight the officer and call-
ed upon his son to “Give ’em hell, Jim!”
In 1914 James Madison Gowin lived at Murfreesboro where he op-
erated a retail store. On July 10, 1925 he wrote his will
“I, J. M. Gowin, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, of sound mind &
memory, but realizing the uncertainty of life make this my last
will and testament.
I hereby give and bequeath to my wife, Belle, all my personal
property of every kind and description of which I may die pos-
sessed or entitled to.
I hereby devise & bequeath to my said wife and my minor child-
ren all my real estate in the State of Illinois and in the
State of Tennessee, to each an equal share therein.
I hereby devise & bequeath to my said wife and my said minor
children all other real estate, both legal and equitable of
which I may die seized and possessed or in any manner be en-
titled to share and share alike.
I appoint Bill Preater my executer. In testimony whereof I
have hereunto signed my name this July 10, 1925.
J. M. Gowin
Witnesses: E. B. Allen, William P. Allen, H. B. Tally
July 10, 1925”
He died there December 16, 1925 “of aorta insufficiency and
dysentery,” according to E. C. Allen, M.D. He was buried in
Evergreen Cemetery, according to Will Parker, informant of Mur-
freesboro. Parker was perhaps a brother-in-law.
Because of her epileptic condition, Mary Belle Cox Gowin re-
quired care. She had frequent seizures in which she fell into
the fire and other dangers.
Donna Vee Gowin Johnston suggests that Mary Belle Cox Gowin
died in 1927 or 1928 because the final settlement of her estate
was probated March 19, 1928 in Rutherford County. However, in
June 1943, “Mary Gowin Jones” believed to be Mary Belle Cox
Gowin, lived at 2821 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas. She assisted
Janie Lee Gowin to obtain a birth certificate at that time.
Leola Gowin Skidmore took her father’s younger children into her
home for about one year, and then they were placed in foster
Children born to James Madison Gowin and Sarah Jane Parker Gow-
William Parker Gowin born in 1862
Drury W. Gowin born October 31, 1864
Johnny Gowin born in 1867
Leola Gowin born January 19, 1875
Children born to James Madison Gowin and Mary Belle Cox Gowin
Janie Lee Gowin born May 14, 1912
Virginia Gowin born July 3, 1913
James Madison Gowin, Jr. born August 25, 1915
Mary Elizabeth Gowin born January 15, 1917