Sections in this issue:
1) Clarence Blain Gowen Must Have Been a Gypsy;
2) Gen. Thomas Sumter Protected The Turks from Discrimination;
3) DEAR COUSINS;
4) GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION EDITORIAL BOARD NOMINEES.
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
Gowen Research Foundation Newsletter
Volume 3, No. 5 January 1992
1) Clarence Blain Gowen Must Have Been a Gypsy
By Charles Latimer Gowen
1327 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30309
The dazzling opportunities in America at the turn of the century
caused many an adventurous young man to try his hand at
several professions. My father, Clarence Blain Gowen was such
a man. He was successively a steamship owner, a pharmacist, a
photographer, a newspaper editor, a wholesale druggist, a Ford
dealer, a ship chandler–and for one day, he was an airmail pilot-
-at the age of 67.
Clarence Blain Gowen was born at Monticello at Carteret Point
in Glynn County, Georgia January 29, 1871. He was the son of
William Harrison Gowen [1842-1890] and Anne Elizabeth
Wright Gowen [1849-1934]. His paternal grandparents were
James Gowen and Anna Abbott Gowen.
My father told me how he learned to swim. At Easter his
mother bought a new straw hat for him at about age seven.
After church, as he was walking by the millpond, a gust of wind
blew his new hat into the pond. Knowing that if he returned
home without it, a whipping was in order. Without hesitating he
jumped into the water and dog-paddled to the floating hat. He
seized it with his teeth and paddled back to the bank–where he
realized that he was now a swimmer.
William Harrison Gowen owned an interest in a steamship
which made ports of call along the seaboard. Clarence Blain
Gowen was taken along on several voyages and immediately
developed his gypsy wanderlust. He recalled a particularly
impressive trip when he and his mother remained in New York
City for an extended visit.
My father was sent to Moreland Park Military Academy in
Atlanta. I recall seeing his cadet uniform which Dixie Ma [as
we called my grandmother] had preserved, all in Confederate
gray with large brass buttons and a swallow tail. Father told me
that one of the most pleasant memories of cadet life was being
invited to the home of Gen. John Brown Gordon near the
Academy for syllabub. The Confederate general was governor
of Georgia after the war. The Battle of Atlanta was fought
nearby, and the cadets searched for minnie balls on the
After graduation, father studied pharmacy in a school in
Philadelphia which later became part of the University of
Pennsylvania. In 1897, he went to Sumner, Iowa to visit Dr. W.
L. Whitmire, the brother of his step-father. He liked the country
and decided to open a drugstore in Westgate, a nearby town of
300 population on the Chicago & Great Western Railway.
Drugstores were not too profitable in Iowa at the turn of the
century. The doctors rolled their own pills and filled their own
prescriptions. To augment the pharmacy, father set up a
photography studio. Shortly afterward, he launched the
“Westgate Gazette,” a weekly newspaper. I remember seeing
the hand press on which the Gazette was printed, the cases of
type which was set by hand and old issues of the paper on the
About 1899, a telephone was installed, and my mother, Edna
Latimer came into Westgate to see this new wonder. On that
occasion she met the new druggist. A courtship developed, and
father’s horse and buggy afterward was often seen traversing the
four miles out to the Latimer farm. They were married on
Valentine’s Day, 1900. After a wedding trip to Georgia on St.
Simons Island, they returned to Iowa and lived in the flat above
the drugstore. After a short time, they returned to Brunswick,
Georgia where my father organized a wholesale firm, Dixie
Drug Company. Uncle Mansie, Dixie Ma and several friends
invested in the firm, only to see their investments vanish when
the firm failed. My parents headed back to Iowa.
I was born there on the Latimer farm January 31, 1904. About
the same time, on a return visit to Georgia father bought one of
the new-fangled automobiles–a second-hand American. I
remember it well. It had one seat for the driver and one for a
passenger, no windshield, a two-cylinder motor and was
cranked on the left side. He left Brunswick with the intention of
driving it back to Iowa. With no pavement, few bridges and
almost impassible roads, he, in some fashion, made it as far as
Chattanooga. When the crank broke his wrist in an attempt to
start the car there, he gave up and put the vehicle on a riverboat.
Via the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers the car made it
to Dubuque, and father drove it the rest of the way.
Mother wanted to remain in Iowa, and father was agreeable, but
the Gowen family back in Brunswick had expanded its ship
chandlery business and had bought the Steamer “Hessie.” The
steamer was a great success on the Brunswick-Darien run,
paying dividends as high as 200 percent per year, and the family
insisted that Clarence Blain Gowen return to Georgia to assist in
the operation, offering him a salary of $125 per month. Iowa
could not compete with the big money in Georgia. Father made
the decision to return, and thereafter there was no indecision
about where we should live.
Shortly after arrival, father also got the Brunswick Ford agency.
He predicted great success for the company headed by the
eccentric Henry Ford. Once he took a Peerless in trade on a
Ford. We all took a ride in the Peerless which seemed huge
compared to the Ford. Access to the rear seat was through a
door which was in the middle of the back of the car.
About 1920, the Brunswick Steam Laundry & Coca-Cola
Bottling Company came up for sale. Father wanted to buy the
company, but mother vetoed the idea. She didn’t think that
Coca-Cola had a future. By this time, father was president of
the chandlery. Mother founded the Parent-Teachers Association
in Brunswick and helped to organize the Daughters of the
After I graduated from Glynn Academy, my parents made the
sacrifice to send me to the University of Georgia. I knew how
much the $50 per month took out of the family budget. Father
was very generous and never turned me down on anything that I
really needed. Once in my junior year I was facing desperate
straits and needed some extra money. I wrote father about what
I needed, and to add extra emphasis I closed by saying, “In fact
my last two cents goes to buy the stamp for this letter.” By
return mail I received a check for the $15 I had asked for with a
note from my father reading, “I don’t know what you did with
the rest of your money, but you made a damned good
investment with your last two cents.”
When I finished law school, was admitted to the bar and fortunate
enough to be offered a junior partnership with Judge C.
B. Conyers, father offered to help me get a better car. He
thought my Model T Ford was not up to the standard for a
Brunswick lawyer and located a second-hand Hudson Speedster
in Vidalia. He endorsed my note at the First National Bank for
$1,000 to pay for the car. Father always said I might not have
successfully courted Evelyn with the old Ford, so the Hudson
was a good investment.
After the death of my mother July 15, 1933, my father began to
take flying lessons and received his pilot’s license when he was
65 and purchased a Piper Cub. In 1938 the Post Office was
anxious to promote air mail and announced Air Mail Week.
Private pilots were asked to fly air mail between points where
there was no regular service.
Father flew his route from St. Simons to Macon with three stops
in between and returned later that afternoon. His greatgrandson,
John Spalding researched in the National Archives
years later and found father’s flight log of the trip bearing the
signatures of the five postmasters. My sister, Jean Randolph
retained the plaque the Post Office presented to my father to
commemorate the day that father “flew the mail.” I recall that
father took along a five-gallon can of gasoline that he had
strained himself. He didn’t trust the fuel at McRae Field.
In 1941, father began to fly for Civil Air Patrol off the Georgia
coast where German submarines sank some ships. He flew with
a bomb attached to each wing, and his ground crew breathed a
sigh of relief each time the 70-year-old dive bomber pilot landed
and the bombs safely removed.
From the beginning Father had great faith in the future of the
American automobile industry and believed that the nation
would build the roads essential to its success. He certainly did
his part. He took his family to every cultural and historic point
accessible by automobile. I remember the battlefields at
Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, Lincoln’s birthplace in
Kentucky, Mammouth Cave, Field Museum and the Art Institute
in Chicago, the Capitol, Washington Monument, National
Archives and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, Mt.
Vernon and Manassas Battlefield in Virginia, the Museum of
Natural History, the Hippodrome Theatre, the Flatiron Building
and Coney Island in New York.
Each trip was a high adventure. There were no road maps;
father bought a Blue Book which described landmarks we were
to look for en route. There were no service stations; fuel was
bought at bulk stations, hardware stores, coalyards, etc. Rivers
were crossed by ferries.
From these early days I also remember Toledo, Cleveland, Erie,
Fredonia, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Albany and Poughkeepsie.
We had a collision in Poughkeepsie. Father hit a dray. The
drayman, a foreigner, began to shout intelligibly. My sister
Gladys began screaming. A crowd began gathering to marvel at
a car with Georgia plates that had made it all the way to
Poughkeepsie. When a policeman arrived, Father produced a
$10 bill, everything subsided immediately and we drove on.
In retrospect, my father was an excellent, loving family man in
the sense that his family always came first. He was at his best in
traveling and showing the world to his family. Certainly I can’t
say that I ever called on my father for something of importance
that was denied. I should have shown more gratitude. Clarence
Blain Gowen died in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida January 6, 1956.
He is buried in Christ Church Cemetery, St. Simons Island
beside my mother. May he rest in peace in this beautiful spot.
This article was abstracted from a 30-page manuscript on the
life of Clarence Blain Gowen written by his son, Charles Latimer
Continued from December . . .
2) Gen. Thomas Sumter Protected
The Turks from Discrimination
By Evelyn McKinley Orr
Melungeon Research Team Chairman
8310 Emmet Street, Omaha, Nebraska, 68134
The Turks of Sumter County, South Carolina have long been a
genealogical anomaly and a subject of great interest to researchers.
Various writers have speculated as to their history
and origin. “The New South Magazine” carried an article on
the Turks written by Ira Kaye in its September 1963 edition.
“The New Yorker Magazine” followed suit March 8, 1969.
Karen I. Blue gave special attention to the Turks in “The
Making of the American Indian People.”
The Turks have never been associated with the Melungeons by
researchers, but they are a very similar group. They are more
fortunate that most of the other isolated groups in the fact that
they had a better documented history and a champion.
During the American Revolution, Gen. Thomas Sumter, for
whom Sumter County was named, rode through the countryside
seeking recruits for his brigade. Among the first to come to his
side was Joseph Benenhaley who claimed to be a Caucasian of
Arab descent from the coast of North Africa. When he left
North Africa, it was part of the Turkish Empire. Thus he was
identified as a Turk or a Moor.
The Moors, regarded as descendants of the early Phoenicians by
some historians crossed from North Africa into Spain and Portugal.
“The Tennessee Conservationist,” in its August 1967
edition carried a feature article on the migration:
“About the time of the Revolutionary War, a considerable body
of Moors crossed the Atlantic and settled on the coast of South
Carolina near the North Carolina line.” In 1792, the South
Carolina legislature enacted a law regulating their immigration.
Carson Brewer in “Just Over the Next Ridge,” his article in
the “Knoxville News-Sentinel” in 1989 suggests that the
Moors reached Tennessee. He described the Melungeons of
Tennessee as “having the darkness of East Indians or
Mediterraneans. Their hair was dark and straight, and their
features fine.” This description fits the early Turks.
About the same time that Benenhaley volunteered, a man named
Scott also came forward. Scott was believed to be a mixedblood
Frenchman with an assumed name. Gen. Sumter
appointed Benenhaley as his scout and Scott as his bugler, and
the two remained constantly with the general throughout the
war. After the war, they were given land on the general’s
plantation, and their families were referred to as Turks by
people in the area.
The General pointed proudly to their Revolutionary service and
defended them from discrimination.
According to Mrs. Mary Ann Benenhaley Oxendine, the blueeyed
granddaughter of Joseph Benenhaley, he married a white
woman named Miller. Mrs. Oxendine’s mother was a daughter
of Scott the bugler and his wife, Sally. Mrs. Oxendine was married
to her first cousin, also named Oxendine, whose father had
come from North Carolina and married her mother’s sister, also
a daughter of the bugler. Oxendine has always been a common
name among the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina.
Other family surnames found among the Turks were Chavis,
Lowry, Hood and Ray, according to a volume written by Anne
Gregorie in 1954 entitled “History of Sumter County, South
Carolina.” These names were also common among the
Lumbee Indians. The 1820 census of Sumter County showed
Jesse Gowing and Ted Gowing as heads of households there.
Neighboring Fairfield County, South Carolina census returns for
1790, 1810 and 1820 contained households by the name of
“Goin,” “Going” and “Goings.” The large Gowen family of
Davidson County, Tennessee also had roots in Fairfield County
where the name was frequently spelled “Goyen.” In Sumter
County the Turks were an extremely isolated group,
intermarrying and living mostly in the high country between
Stateburg and Dalzell.
In 1790, the Turks petitioned the state legislature to be governed
by laws pertaining to white inhabitants and not by laws for
slaves and free Negroes. Describing themselves as “free Moors”
and former subjects of the Emperor of Morocco, they were
successful, according to “The Journal of the State House of
Representatives,” January 20, 1790.
Ann Gregorie in referring to this petition stated, “It is possible
that the Sumter County Turks had some connection with these
Moroccans. Apparently some free Moors entered or attempted
to enter the state as bonded servants, possibly from a northern
port, for by the law of 1792, the legislature declared that no
Moors bound to service for a term of years should be brought
into the state by land or water from any other state.
In Gregorie’s history, she states, “Dr. J. H. Mitchell, now of
Greenville, has noted the reference in Cervantes’ “Don
Quixote” to Cid Hamet Benengeli, an Arabian historiographer,”
and pointed out that the pronunciation of this name is the same
as used by Joseph Benehaley of the Sumter County Turks, thus
adding one more evidence of their origin.
“Stateburg and Its People,” written about 1918 by Thomas S.
Sumter, grandson of Gen. Sumter recorded a history of the
Turks. He confirms their claim to Moorish descent and states,
“They have always had alliances with white people as all of us
know who are conversant with their history.”
Turkish descent has been suggested for my ancestor, David Goings
who was born September 17, 1783. He was married in
1803 to a German girl in Montgomery [later Giles] County,
Virginia. In 1939, a descendant, Norman Goings of Selma,
Indiana wrote that his father and uncles resembled “old men of
Turkey as we see them in pictures today.” Norman’s father
believed the Goings to be Turkish emigrants, but according to
Norman, “could never explain the Scotch name.” Three generations
later, my mother’s Goings family in Iowa was unaware
of this earlier description as they regarded our Goings as French.
I shared this belief completely until about two years ago when I
discovered the Melungeons and the research of Norman Goings.
The father of Norman Goings used the term “Tuckahoe” to describe
the family and told Norman that it was a nickname for
people from Turkey. Generally, tuckahoe is defined as a tuber
plant similar to the potato that the early Indians of southern
states used for baking bread. Locally in Virginia, it became a
nickname for the lowlands and for the inhabitants of Lower Virginia,
according to “Annals of Augusta County, Virginia,”
1902 by Joseph A. Waddell.
At an early date, the people living on the east side of the Blue
Ridge Mountains received the sobriquet of “Tuckahoes,” and
those on the west side were called “Cohees” from their common
usage of the Elizabethan term “Quoth he” for “Said he.” Waddell
wrote, “The Tuckahoe carried himself rather pompously
and pronounced many words as did his English forefathers in
the days of Queen Elizabeth.”
In her next installment, Mrs. Orr deals with the Redbones and
Sabine Indians and Mulattos and their similarities to the
3) DEAR COUSINS
I have read of Melungeons before in other writings, finding
the different theories about their origin a puzzle. I have been a
member of several genealogical and historical societies since
my retirement from a police profession in 1982. Identification
in my profession was as important in my profession as it is in
my family history research.
Linking ancestors and descendants by DNA testing is a
fascinating subject. I read in “The Blooding” about a geneticist
in Britain who solved two crimes by developing a matching
Recently I wrote “The National Geographic” regarding
identifying Indian skeletons found in Florida from their bone
marrow, and a reply was received from Joseph M. Blanton, Jr.
His reply indicated a great interest by the magazine staff in this
subject. The article by Joseph Judge on the expedition of Capt.
Juan Pardo in the March 1988 edition of the magazine reflects
If the Foundation researchers should encounter any strange
writings from the early days which are unreadable, Dr. Barry
Fell of The Epigraphic Society, Inc, 6625 Bamburg Drive, San
Diego, California, 92117 probably would be able to translate
them for you. He has written “America B.C,” “Saga
America” and “Bronze Age America” all covering early
explorers in America from other lands, before Columbus. He
has translated rock writing and pictographs which were
previously considered “just scratches.”
I hope to read some day that the Foundation has solved the
mystery of the Melungeons. It is similar to the Istrouma [Aye
Strome] Indians who lived near Baton Rouge and spoke ancient
Welch. Joseph Edward Noble, Jr, Box 77, Bush, LA, 70431
4) GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION
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Lubbock, Texas, 79413 Internet:
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.