Sections in this issue:
1) Capt. George Anthony Gowen Survived Jap Torpedoes;
2) Melungeon Research Team Examines Origin Theories;
3) Dear Cousins.
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
Volume 3, No. 2 October 1991
1) Capt. George Anthony Gowen
Survived Jap Torpedoes
At his battle station belowdecks, Lt. George Anthony Gowen
felt his ship rise from the water in the explosion and then fall
back with a shudder. Instantly he knew that his destroyer had
received a mortal wound . . .
George Anthony Gowen, Jr. son of George Anthony Gowen
and Anna M. Barrow Gowen, was born in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
October 2, 1917. Following graduation from West
Philadelphia Catholic High School in 1935, he was enrolled in
Pennsylvania Nautical School to become a merchant marine
officer. From 1935 to 1937, he studied steam engineering
aboard the U.S.S. Annapolis, a three-masted schooner gunboat
of the Spanish-American War.
Upon graduation, he signed aboard the S.S. Seakay, a merchant
marine tanker. In 1940, the U.S. Navy took over the
S.S. Seakay, renamed her the U.S.S. Santee and commissioned
George Anthony Gowen, Jr. as an ensign in the naval reserve.
Then the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, and events began to
In April 1942, Lt.[jg] Gowen was assigned as engineering officer
aboard the U.S.S. Chevalier, a destroyer that participated
in the North African invasion. Immediately afterward, the
ship was transferred to the South Pacific campaign. She was
sunk in night action off Vela Lavella Island October 6, 1943,
going up against several Japanese destroyers. For his part in
the engagement George Anthony Gowen, Jr. was given the
Silver Star and promoted to lieutenant.
The citation read:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while
serving as Engineering Officer aboard the U.S.S. Chevalier
during the night engagement against enemy Japanese naval
forces in the Solomon Islands Area on October 6, 1943. When
his ship was torpedoed by the enemy, Lt. Gowen worked
tirelessly to keep up the power, but after all engineering spaces
were flooded and oil suction lost, was finally forced to give
up. With utter disregard for his own safety, he made a
personal inspection to see that all of his crew were accounted
for and then went topside to assist in the transfer of the
wounded. His perseverance, courage and unswerving
devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of
the United States Naval Service.”
At the request of the Foundation, Capt. Gowen wrote a personal
account of the engagement:
“Sinking of the U.S.S. Chevalier [DD 451], 6 October 1943
By October 1943, we had beaten the Japanese at Guadalcanal
and the lower Solomon Islands, and we were about to
complete a sweep of the Central Solomons, New Georgia,
Kolombangara and Vella Lavella. The Japanese army troops
were starving and were being withdrawn at night by Japanese
transports and destroyers.
On the night of 6 October, the Japanese sent a force of nine or
ten destroyers and a flotilla of small boats and sub-chasers to
Vella Lavella to continue the withdrawal of troops. The only
U.S. force in the area was a division of three destroyers, the
U.S.S. Selfridge, U.S.S. Chevalier and U.S.S. O’Bannon, and
this small force was ordered to intercept and destroy the
At about 2230 in the evening, the U.S. force sighted the
Japanese ships by radar and went to 30 knots to engage.
When the ranged closed to 7,000 yards, the U.S. ships were
ordered to fire torpedoes. Shortly afterward, they opened fire
with their 5” guns. The Japanese ships returned the fire with
guns and torpedoes. One Japanese ship, the Yugumo was hit
by gunfire and a torpedo and was dead in the water. The
Chevalier was then hit in the bow by a torpedo.
The resulting explosion set off the ammunition for the No. 1
and No. 2 gun turrets, and this blew off the forward third of
the ship back to the bridge. The Selfridge was also hit by a
torpedo which blew off her bow. The U.S. ships were making
30 knots at the time, and the Chevalier began driving
downward after losing her bow and was about to go under.
A phone talker passed me the word at my battle station in the
forward engineroom as to what was happening on deck. I
reversed both engines to take the way off the ship to avoid
sinking. The O’Bannon, the only ship not hit, continued at 30
knots, firing to port, and did not see the Chevalier just ahead
of her. She rammed into the Chevalier on the starboard side,
at which time a number of the Chevalier’s crewmen and an
officer went over the side and were lost.
The O’Bannon was open in the bow, and she pulled away from
the Chevalier and began picking up survivors. The Chevalier
had lost all oil, both forward and aft, and all lights and power.
I ordered the men in both firerooms and both enginerooms to
abandon the engineering spaces and go topside. I went to all
engineering spaces and with a flashlight made certain that all
hands had evacuated.
I reported to the bridge and found that George Wilson, the
captain, had suffered two broken knees from the initial
explosion. After reporting to him on the condition of the ship,
he smiled and said, “Damn it Gowen, if you had been making
the proper speed, the torpedo would have hit in the forward
engineroom instead of the bow!”
I returned to the firerooms and opened the relief valves on
each boiler reducing the steam pressure to prevent the boilers
from exploding when the ship went down. Such underwater
explosions would severely wound any men in the water.
When we were ordered to abandon ship, I helped to lower the
wounded into two lifeboats to proceed to the O’Bannon. After
the wounded left, the survivors went into the water with life
jackets on and swam to the ship. I swam to a life raft near the
Aboard the O’Bannon, I mustered the Chevalier’s crew and
determined missing and injured. Of the approximate 250
officers and men, we lost 53 men and one officer. The
O’Bannon proceeded to Tulagi Island, going in reverse to
prevent further damage to her broken bow. There I learned
that I was the senior surviving officer who could walk.
From Tulagi we went to Noumea where arrangements were
made to return the Chevalier’s crew stateside aboard a Matson
liner. I was ordered to the airbase for a flight to Honolulu
aboard a Martin Mariner, a gull-winged flying boat. Minutes
before our scheduled take-off, the entire ammunition dump at
Noumea went off in a series of explosions, damaging everything
in the area. We rushed to the plane and took off amid
exploding shells, smoke and flames. As we cleared the
harbor, we could see the seamen below desperately towing the
warships out of the flames.
At Honolulu I boarded the Pan-American Clipper for a flight
to San Francisco. Following a trans-continental train trip to
New York, I was met there by my fiancee, Sue Elizabeth
Earnest. We were married three days later in Ridgefield Park,
New Jersey November 18, 1943, and we’ve lived happily ever
In February 1944, Lt. Gowen became the engineering officer
aboard the U.S.S. Henley, a destroyer that participated in the
battles of the Philippines, the Marianas and Iwo Jima. In
February 1945 he was assigned as an engineering instructor in
the midshipman school at Cornell University. Later in the
year, he was named commanding officer of the Naval Engineering
School at Newport, Rhode Island and was accepted in
the Regular Navy.
In September 1947, he received orders for training at Cornell
which was completed in May 1949. This was followed by 10
months of training at the Navy General Line School. Upon
completion, he was promoted again. In July 1950, Lt. Cmdr.
Gowen was named executive officer of the U.S.S. Keppler, a
destroyer deployed to the Korean War in Task Force 77. He
was promoted to commander in 1951 and given command of
the U.S.S. Ingersoll, a destroyer of the Sixth Fleet in the
Mediterranean. Later he was transferred to the Pentagon
where it was his duty to maintain information on the location
and movement of every ship in the navy.
He was assigned in August 1955 as the commanding officer of
the U.S.S. McCain, a new destroyer equipped with rapid-fire
5-inch rifles, which was assigned to the 7th Fleet in the Orient.
He was reassigned to the staff of the Commander-in-chief, Pacific
in July 1958 and was promoted to captain.
In May 1961, Capt. Gowen was made commanding officer of
the U.S.S. Aludra, a supply ship designed to replenish ships of
the line while underway at sea in formation. In June 1962, he
was named senior member of the Navy Board of Inspection
and Survey, based at Charleston, South Carolina. In September
1965, he was assigned to the Navy Defense Language Institute.
In the following year, he became chief of staff of the
U.S. naval forces in the Panama Canal Zone.
He became commander of Joint Task Force 8.3 in July 1969.
His command was responsible for testing atomic weapons on
islands in the Pacific. Later his work brought him to Sandia
Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico where he retired July 1,
1971 after over 30 years of naval service stretching from
World War II to the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Capt. Gowen was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of
Merit, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Navy
Commendation Medal. Additionally he received the AsiaticPacific
Campaign medal with five battle stars, the World War
II Victory medal, Navy Occupation Service medal, National
Defense medal, United Nations Service medal, Philippines
Liberation medal, Korean Service medal and the Korean
Presidential Unit Citation. He was awarded service medals for
American Defense, European-African-Mid-East Campaign
and American Campaign.
In 1991 Capt. George Anthony Gowen and Sue Elizabeth
Earnest Gowen were living in Asheville, North Carolina in
Children born to them include:
George Anthony Gowen III born August 17, 1944
Charles T. Gowen born October 10, 1946
Sue Anne Gowen born November 9, 1950
2) Melungeon Research Team
Examines Origin Theories
By Evelyn McKinley Orr
Melungeon Research Team Chairman
8310 Emmet Street, Omaha, Nebraska, 68134
Many researchers have shown a great deal of interest in the
complex mystery of the origin of the Melungeons, and Gowen
Research Foundation elected to pursue studies of them. The
intent of this series of short articles is to present a sprinkling
of ideas from some of the material collected. I wish to
expound on a few theories and offer some sources of
information. This is intended to help researchers to find data
to share with the Melungeon Research Team.
If we are to find a “lost key” to unlock the origin of the Melungeons
and other similar groups that used our Gowen surname,
our examination will include researching the nationalities of
all the early dark/black-skinned peoples who came to the New
The Melungeons of Northeast Tennessee are not the only isolated
group which shares the Gowen name. The surname appears
in several varied spellings as the most widely used
mixed race surname, thus making genealogical research more
challenging. According to Dr. Calvin Beale, the name
“Goins” appeared among mixed race groups in 35 counties in
seven states in early America, as quoted in “Melungeons
Yesterday and Today” by Jean Patterson Bible.
And, interestingly, many of them share similar physical and
cultural characteristics. From the research of other experts
such as Edward T. Price of Los Angeles State College and
Anthropologist Brewton Berry, we learn that various racial
isolate groups were sprinkled along the Eastern and Southern
coasts of the United States. Gowen individuals were not
found in all of these mixed groups, and it would be a mistake
to assume that all of these groups had a common origin.
No singular theory and no simple answer has been found to
this complex puzzle. The Melungeon Research Team is
indebted to many people, both inside and outside the
Foundation, for their input and interest in this project.
The possibility of a Mediterranean connection appears to be
one of the most frequently advanced theories. It has included
pre-Columbus theories, such as the Lost Tribes of Israel and
survivors from the fall of Carthage as well as suggestions of
more recent Mediterranean origins. The Melungeons of
Southern Appalachia and some other isolated groups were
described as not being Indian, White or Negro, but rather of
“looking Mediterranean.” In “Outline of History,” 1920, H. G.
Wells writes, “About the Mediterranean there is a prevalence
of swarthy white-skinned peoples with dark eyes and black
hair. Their hair is straight, but never so strong and waveless
as the hair of the yellow peoples. The hair is straighter in the
East than in the West.”
In “Races of the Old World,” 1871, Charles L. Brace
described the Moors as “well built, but not so tall as the Arabs.
Their features are noble, but not so energetic as those of the
Arabs. The complexion of their children is clear, white and
rosy. The men are more brown, their hair is jet black, their
eyes are also black. The expression of their faces indicates
mildness and melancholy.”
The Moors are described in “World Book Encyclopaedia” as
“a dark-skinned Caucasian race among the Mediterranean
peoples who were of early Arabic descent, and became a mix
of Spanish, Jewish or Turkish descent. The common, but
incorrect, belief that the Moors were Negro was spread by
Shakespeare’s “Othello.” They were driven out of Spain in
1492, and most of them settled in North Africa. Being skilled
navigators, some of them could have found they way to the
New World in the exodus.
While visiting in the County Museum in Galveston, Texas last
winter, I observed in the Black American history display,
evidence that Africans were in the New World before European
voyagers. From at least the 14th century, African ships
sailed the Atlantic Ocean. Some of these ships by design or
accident may have crossed to the New World. The Institute of
Texan Culture, University of Texas documents the presence of
blacks on Spanish ships in 1528. This preceded by almost a
century the beginning of the black slave trade in America.
Could these early sailors have included the Moors?
Five hundred years after the arrival of Columbus in the West
Indies, and in the year that the world has chosen to honor him,
historians generally agree that he was not the first explorer in
the New World. If there is evidence of the presence of the
Moors here, can we assume that some remained by accident or
choice? Serious study should be given to the many reports of
early voyages and shipwrecks near our shores.
Ethnologist Thomas Henry Huxley divided the Caucasian race
into two categories, the northern blonds and the Mediterranean
brunets. “Outline of History” makes three divisions–the
Nordic blonds, the Iberian brunets and the round-headed
Black Dutch Theory
After a mention of the Black Dutch in a recent Foundation
press release, the Melungeon Research Team received many
requests for more information about these equally mysterious
people. Generally, these writers cited a family tradition of
Black Dutch ancestors, but had no idea as to the origin of the
Black Dutch. Usually they described their ancestors as having
“blue-black straight hair and olive or swarthy skin. The
Library of Congress definition of Black Dutch is: “Sephardic
[Spanish and Portuguese] Jews who intermarried with Dutch
Protestants to escape the Inquisition,” however this definition
has generally fallen into disfavor among anthropologists.
One of the most interesting letters received was from Eva
Noblin of Mississippi who wrote that she had Melungeon
features which her early Grogan ancestor had ascribed to
Black Dutch descent.
Eva had suffered for years from an anemia that perplexed several
doctors. Finally a doctor who was also a research
specialist, diagnosed it as Alpha Thalassemia, a type of
inherited blood disease found only in Mediterranean people.
Her father immediately told the doctor about his grandmother,
born in 1843, who had very dark skin and straight blue-black
hair. This knowledge helped the doctor to understand why
Eva had this disease.
The Grogan family was one of the first settlers in Scott
County, Mississippi. Several generations, including the
parents of Eva’s great-grandmother, are buried near her home.
Some of the other descendants still display the Melungeon
characteristics of their dark-skinned ancestors.
Information on the various types of this disorder was found in
McGoogan Library of Medicine at the University of Nebraska.
Ethnic background of the patient, Southern European, North
African or Middle Eastern, gives the physicians a clue as to
the type of Alpha Thalassemia to look for. Sickle Cell
Anemia, a form of this disorder, is peculiar to African
Negroes, native to the south of the Mediterranean.
An article in “Antique Week” magazine, October 15, 1990 reported
that Datatrace Systems, Box 1587, Stephenville, Texas,
76401 has undertaken an in-depth study of the Black Dutch.
Researchers are encouraged to share their Black Dutch family
history with this organization. There is no fee to affiliate.
Dutch Family Heritage Society, 2463 Ledgewood Drive, West
Jordan, Utah, 84084 frequently publishes articles on the Black
Dutch in its quarterly edited by Mary Lynn Spijkerman
Parker, as well.
The Melungeon Report of Mrs. Orr will be continued in future
issues of the Newsletter. Later installments will cover the Portuguese/Spanish
theory, the Huguenots, The Lumbee Indians,
the Tackahoes, the Turks, the Sabine Redbones and the Free
3) Dear Cousins
Thank you so much for the information you sent on
my Gowan family. I was so excited to find my family in
Claiborne County, Tennessee after encountering a dead end in
Indiana on James C. Gowan and Elizabeth Margaret True
Do you have a William & Mary Robertson that show
up with the Gowans in Tennessee or later in Indiana? Their
daughter Susan married James E. Gowan in Missouri.
There is a Gowan Cemetery in Jefferson County,
MO. I’m sending a copy of the tombstone inscriptions for the
Foundation Library. Mary Alice Fritch, 708 W. Main St, Flat
River, MO, 63601.
My wife and I have recently returned from a research
trip to Patrick, Henry, Halifax, Pittsylvania and Lunenburg
Counties, Virginia. We found the patent issued to John Going
that Donna Gowin Johnston referred to in her article about
Shadrack Going in the February 1991 issue of the Newsletter.
The patent dated February 14, 1761 conveyed 400
acres to John Going. Five months later he deeded to his two
sons, John Going, Jr. and William Going, 100 acres each, “this
being part of the 400 acres granted by patent bearing date
February 14, 1761.”
Each of the deeds read, “I John Going, Sr. and Mary,
his wife for an in consideration of the natural affection and
love which we have and bear unto our well beloved son . . ,”
according to Lunenburg County Deed Book 6, page 378-379.
Accordingly, this means that the children, beginning
with Zephaniah Going, born in 1757 whom we had previously
ascribed to John Going, Sr. are actually the children of John
Going, Jr. and Elizabeth Going.
This new alignment brings on many questions which
will require patience and a clear head. Did John Going, Sr.
and Mary Going have other children besides John Going, Jr.
and William Going? Was John Going, Sr. a brother to
Shadrack Going? The names of their children were very
similiar and they traveled together from Virginia to North
Carolina, to Tennesse and Kentucky. What happened to the
other 200 acres that were patented to John Going, Sr. Help!
Jack Harold Goins, Route 2, Box 275, Rogersville, TN, 37857.
It was a pleasant surprise to learn that Gowen
Research Foundation existed. I joined up right away, and now
I have a greater hope of locating my early Goins ancestors. I
especially appreciate the help of Arlee Gowen and Louise
My line of Goins has lived in Clay County, [SE]
Kentucky since around 1830. The first to arrive was my ggggf
Addison “Adam” Goins bc1816. He met and m1839 Unice
Jones in Clay County. I am trying to find what
city/county/state he was from and who were his
parents/siblings. Clay County cs1850, cs1860 and cs1870
enumerated him as “bNC,” but cs1880 says “bTN.” The five
censuses from 1840 to 1880 record the surname five different
ways–Goines, Gowen, Gowens, Goins and Goings. Any
leads will be appreciated. Harold Goins, 5571 Chatfield
Drive, Fairfield, OH, 45014.
I am trying to trace Nancy Katherine Goins b1850
MS. She m1 Terrall and had a daughter, Frances Katherine
Terrall, b1873. She m2 Stephen John Stuckey in AR c1875,
and they had five children. One was Pharbia Ann Stuckey
who married John Wesley Brawley, my husband’s grandfather.
I would appreciate any help you can give. Aleene Brawley,
No. 5 Kells Circle, Vidor, TX, 77662.
Gowen Research Foundation Newsletter
Arlee Gowen, Editor
Linda McNiel, Circulation
Gowen Research Foundation Phone: 806/795-8758 or
5708 Gary Avenue E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lubbock, Texas, 79413 Fax: 806/795-9694
NOTE: The above information produced by the Gowen Research Foundation (GRF), and parts of the “Gowen Manuscript” they worked on producing. It has tons of information – much of it is correct, but be careful, some of it is not correct – so check their sources and logic. I’ve copied some of their information in the past researching my own family, only to find out there were some clear mistakes. So be sure to check the information to verify if it is right before citing the source and believing the person who researched it before was 100% correct. Most of the information I found there seems to be correct, but some is not.
Their website is: Internet: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gowenrf
There does not seem to be anyone “manning the ship” at the Gowen Research Foundation, or Gowen Manuscript site any longer, and there is no way to contact anyone about any errors. The pages themselves don’t have a mechanism to leave a note for others to see any “new information” that you may have that shows when you find info that shows something is wrong, or when something has been verified.
Feel free to leave messages about any new information found, or errors in these pages, or information that has been verified that those who wrote these pages may not have known about.