Sections in this issue:
1) MELUNGEONS REGARDED AS PORTUGUESE REFUGEES;
2) William H. Gowen Was Sire Of Large Tennessee Family;
3) Foundation Library Receives Three Volumes by S. K. Wood;
4) Don Lee Gowen Named Head Of James B. Gowen Delegates;
5) DEAR COUSINS LETTER COLUMN.
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
Volume 3, No. 11 July 1992
1) MELUNGEONS REGARDED
AS PORTUGUESE REFUGEES
By Evelyn McKinley Orr
Melungeon Research Team Chairman
8310 Emmet, Omaha, Nebraska, 68134
Were the Melungeons Portuguese, as they have always maintained?
And were they also Portuguese Moors as claimed by
Dr. N. Brent Kennedy, a Melungeon descendant of Atlanta?
This update is intended to express thoughts regarding the
Mediterranean theory, and not to claim a proven solution. The
Melungeons of the southern Appalachia were frequently
described as having a “Mediterranean look,” with a long tradition
of claims of Portuguese ancestry.
Tradition or mythical clues cannot be used to find a solution to
the mystery of the Melungeons. However, these haunting,
recurring themes demand a closer study of the history of the
early Arab-Moors. A search was begun for descriptions of their
physical appearance, culture and traditions. And most
important, what happened to the thousands of these conquered
people after their last major defeat by the Christian Spaniards in
1492? It just may be that they were the progenitors of the
The 15th century Moors were considered to be descendants of
the ancient Phoenicians or Carthaginians. Their land area was
known as Western Islam or the North African Maghrib, Before
they were finally defeated, they reigned supreme for nine
centuries in the coastal Mediterranean area. After their defeat,
they became known as Mudejars [tamed] or Moriscos. Out of
fear, they denied their Moorish heritage, and their culture
vanished. Thousands fled, but some who were Christianized
were allowed to remain.
Many sought refuge in Tunisia where they remained free to
practice their Islamic religion. Others were herded onto
crowded ships and sent to non-Christian countries. Those who
ware turned away struggled back to Spain. There they
renounced their faith, reluctantly turned Christian and were
reduced to lower class citizens by the Spanish.
Records of these once proud people are scarce, lost or nonexistent.
The earthquake and fire in 1755 probably destroyed
nearly all of Portugal’s shipping records. Yet, during the 1500s
there were numerous reports of groups fleeing or being deported
from the Mediterranean area. Refugees who landed on foreign
shores claimed to be Portuguese or Spanish. It would not be
wise to claim to be a Moor in this time period.
American Indians, explorers Needlum, Wood and Sevier
claimed to know of people similar to these Moors, [Newsletter,
No proof of the arrival of these people in America between 1492
and 1614 has surfaced to date. Many historians do not
recognize this possibility, however Dr. Kennedy has enlisted the
aid of the Moroccan ambassador in his quest for knowledge to
unlock the Melungeon mystery. Would the Moroccan Archives
hold such a key?
Dr. Kennedy, in his “Blue Ridge Country” article, claims the
Moors came to the Carolinas early, perhaps in the 1580s. His
writing reveals extensive research into the history of the Moors
and the culture of their descendents from Portugal.
Dr. Kennedy has experienced a unique physiological occurrence
that suggests a Moorish ancestry for him. Earlier in his life, he
was confined to a wheelchair with a mysterious malady that
defied diagnosis. When a determination was finally made, it
was found that Dr. Kennedy was stricken with a rare disorder
found only among the Arab race. His physician concluded that
it was genetically transmitted.
Between 1609-1614, King Philip III of Spain decreed that all
remaining Moors, Christianized or not, were to be expelled.
Historian Thomas Bourke wrote that nearly 100,000 went into
France where Henry the Fourth treated them humanely, but the
majority went into what is today Morocco. Historian Henry
Coppee writes that those who went to France during 1609-1614
accepted the French Huguenot religion, and many later
emigrated to the American colonies. According to Arab
historian Beverlee Mehdi, “On December 20, 1777, in a document
written in French, Morocco recognized the
newly-declared independent United States of America and
granted free passage to all American ships.”
It is logical that some Moriscos would find passage to the
American colonies on some of these ships. This could account
for reports of Moors in the Carolinas prior to the American
Revolution [Newsletter, January 1992]. Mehdi also states that
in 1790 the House of Representatives in South Carolina
provided that “Sundry Moors, subjects of the Emperor of
Morocco,” be tried in court according to the laws for South
Carolina citizens and not under Negro codes. [Newsletter,
During 1965-66 a free health study was done on 177 Melungeons
in Hancock, County, Tennessee. With assistance of a
Tazewell physician, Anthropologists William Pollitzer and
William H Brown conducted the tests. This was a pioneer study
in identifying nationalities from various genetic samples and
was not conclusive. The results showed compatibility with
Portuguese genes, but did not produce proof.
In 1990 an abstract was done by James L. Guthrie who used
more modern testing of the data used in the earlier study. In his
report entitled “Melungeons: Comparison of Gene Frequency
Distributions to those of Worldwide Populations,” Guthrie
found dominant Mediterranean genes.
Guthrie concluded that the populations of Italy, Portugal, Spain,
and France have comparable percentages of CDe genes to the
Melungeons. The Melungeon’s A2 percentage also supports an
early Mediterranean theory, listing comparable ranges among
the peoples of coastal Mediterranean and southern Europe
[Cyprus, Sardinia, Crete, France, Italy, Romania and
Yugoslavia]. The Melungeon O gene is similar to values found
in certain populations of Cyprus, Crete, and Turkey.
This report also stated that “the Rhesus system level of cDe [Ro]
Haplotype, a marker for Black African ancestry, is higher than
for most European populations and might argue for a slight
Black American contribution to the Melungeons, except that it
is typical of many Mediterranean peoples with long contact with
Africa.” He surmised that “populations not significantly
different from the Melungeons characteristics still exist, but they
live in a relatively well defined part of the world.” And, he
states that “the people closest to having the same gene factors as
the Melungeons are now living in Italy, Tunisia, Morocco,
France, Germany and Libya.” All are areas once heavily
populated by the early Moors.
If the Arabic or Spanish-speaking Moors did come to America,
they probably anglicized their surnames, and slowly picked up
the dialects and language of the English colonists. Jean Bible
and Brent Kennedy referred to a few remaining Portuguese first
names among the Melungeons of Tennessee. Also, many
immigrants would have been Christianized before arriving and
would have used or quickly picked up the common biblical first
names so often used by all the early Christian Europeans. The
surname Gowen/Goins should not be ruled out as having been
corrupted from the Portuguese Goyen.
Just as hazy is the origin of the term Melungeon. It is generally
thought to derive from the French word Melange, a mixture.
But, could the name have originated from the Melungeons
themselves before it became corrupted into a derogatory term?
The very early tribes of Portugal referred to themselves as
“Melongos,” according to Jean Bible. Brent Kennedy was
informed in the Portuguese Embassy that “Melongo” meant “a
white person,” and that 16th century North Africans used this
term when referring to their Spanish or Portuguese neighbors.
The fine-featured Moors generally had very dark skin, dark eyes
and hair. The fine petite features, exceptional beauty and long
straight black hair of their women was common. Some blue eyes
and brown hair developed from their Eastern Arab blue-eyed
Berbers mix, as well as some mixing with their slaves and
concubines of conquered coastal and southern Europeans. They
were extremely superstitious. Being good farmers and herders,
they were able to grow crops in unfertile high areas. They
excelled in story telling which was handed down from each
generation leaving no written cultural heritage. All of these
traits were characteristic of the early Melungeons.
The claims of Portuguese ancestry by the early Melungeons fell
on deaf ears. The social and political ideas of the times
encouraged that all those who didn’t appear European should be
classified as Negro, Mulatto or Free Colored in records.
[Newsletter, March 1992].
Many Indians of the Southeast also fell under this same classification.
A good reference regarding the confusion with Indian
records is in the February 1992 issue of “The North Carolina
Genealogical Society Journal.” Also, confusing this issue was
early mixing among the races in the colonies before it became
socially unacceptable, and still continued after laws against it
were passed. [Newsletter, March 1992].
Sifting out accurate data is complex. For recent data supporting
the Anglo-Indian-Negro Melungeon theory, see Dr. Virginia
Easley DeMarce’s article, “Verry Slitly Mixt, Tri-Racial Isolate
Families of the Upper South” published in The National
Genealogical Society Quarterly, March 1992.
Consider this Melungeon update article as information only and
not as a claim to the solution of the mystery.
Sources: 1. “History of the Conquest of Spain by the
Arab-Moors–A Sketch of the Civilization which They Achieved
and Imparted to Europe, two Vols, by Henry Coppee, 1881; 2.
“The Moors in Spain and Portugal by Jan Read, 1974; 3.
“Concise History of the Moors in Spain” by Thomas Bourke,
1811; 4. “Arabs In America 1492-1977”, compiled by Beverlee
Mehdi, 1978; 5. “The Melungeon Mystery Solved”, Dr. N.
Brent Kennedy, “Blue Ridge Country,” July/August 1992; 6.
“Survey of Demography, Anthropometry and Genetics in the
Melungeons of Tennessee; an Isolate of Hybrid Origin in
Process of Dissolution,” by William S. Pollitzer and William H.
Brown, University of North Carolina, 1969: 7. “Melungeons:
Comparison of Gene Frequency Distributions to Those of
Worldwide Populations” by James L. Guthrie published in “The
Tennessee Anthropologist” Vol. XV, No. 1, Spring, 1990.
2) William H. Gowen Was Sire
Of Large Tennessee Family
William H. Gowen, an early resident of Williamson County, had
a large family, and one of his sons was the father of 12. One of
his grandsons had 13 sons in addition to a number of daughters.
When a son, William Franklin Gowen, was enumerated in the
1880 census of Shelby County, he stated that both William H.
Gowen and his wife were born in North Carolina. William H.
Gowen first appeared in the 1820 census of Williamson County
with a family of six. Two slaves were recorded in the
In September of 1820 William H. Gowen removed to Lincoln
County, Tennessee. It is possible that he was enumerated a
second time in the 1820 census. The household of “William
Givens” of Lincoln County matched the one of William H.
Gowen of Williamson County, including the two slaves.
On August 13, 1821 William H. Gowen purchased from Daniel
F. Moore 10 acres on Bradshaw Creek for $50, according to
Lincoln County Deed Book J-1, page 464. The household of
William H. Gowen had grown to nine members when it was
recorded in the 1830 census of Lincoln County, page 240.
“William H. Gowan” appeared in Henderson County, Tennessee
in the 1840 census of that county with seven members in the
William H. Gowen received Grant No. 12125 for 18.5 acres in
Carroll County, Tennessee which adjoins Henderson County on
the north on July 1, 1851 from the State of Tennessee. It is
believed that William H. Gowen died about 1855, probably at
age 70, in Carroll County.
Two children born to William H. Gowen have been identified:
William Gowen born March 2, 1813
E. Sarah Jane Gowen born about 1824
William Gowen, son of William H. Gowen, was born in Lincoln
County March 2, 1813, according to “Tennessee Baptist
Ministers” by James H. Borum. William Gowen was married
about 1835, wife’s name Susan.
Shortly after marriage they removed to LaGrange, Tennessee in
Fayette County where he was baptized into the Baptist Church
December 15, 1837 at the age of 24.
His household of four people was recorded in the 1830 census
of Fayette County, page 156.
In 1847 he was appointed a deacon in the Baptist Church and
shortly afterward began preaching. According to Borum, he
was limited in his educational background, “but his preaching
was better than mediocrity.” Borum also stated that he was
“small of stature, but of pleasing countenance.” “His work is
being hindered in consequence of bleeding at the lungs,” according
to the book which was published in 1880.
Dr. Charles R. Gowen, a kinsman, commenting on his condition
suggested he was a victim of tuberculosis and mentioned that a
congenital weakness of the lungs had plagued the Gowen family
For the remainder of his life William Gowen preached to
various congregations in Fayette County and Shelby County,
Tennessee and DeSoto County, Mississippi. His locations included
Macon, Germantown, Eudora and Egypt, Tennessee.
In the late 1840s and early 1850s he performed many weddings
in Fayette County, including the marriage of Sarah Jane Gowen,
believed to be his sister, to E. F. Atkins on January 30, 1848.
The household of William Gowen, No. 1257, was recorded
November 1, 1850 in Fayette County, Civil District 11, page
“Gowen, William 38, born in TN
Susan 38, born in North Carolina
William F. 11, born in TN
Hiram B. H. 8, born in TN
John M. 5, born in TN
Francis D. 3, born in TN, female”
Ten years later the family of William Gowen was recorded in
1860 in the Ninth Civil District of Shelby County as Household
“Gowen, William 47, born in Tenn, Baptist preacher
Susan 47, born in North Carolina, wife
E. S. 19, born in TN, daughter
H. B. 18, born in TN, farmer
J. M. 16, born in TN, farmer
F. D. 13, born in TN, daughter
M. A. 7, born in TN, daughter
James G. 5, born in TN, son”
“William Gowen” appeared at age 57 in the 1870 census of
Shelby County, Tennessee, page 247. In 1880 the household of
William Gowen appeared in Williamson County, Texas,
Precinct 6 as Household 325-325:
“Gowen, William 67, born in TN, father born in
NC, mother born in NC, preacher
Susan 67, born in NC, father born in NC,
mother born in NC, wife
“Atkins, Sarah 40, born in AL, father born in TN,
mother born in NC, daughter
“Anderson, Richard 23, born in TN, father born in NC,
mother born in NC, boarder”
Children born to them include:
William Franklin Gowen born September 21, 1839
E. Sarah Gowen born about 1840
Hayward Benton H. Gowen born in 1842
John M. Gowen born in 1844
Frances D. Gowen born in 1847
M. A. Gowen born in 1853 [daughter]
James G. Gowen born in 1855
3) Foundation Library Receives
Three Volumes by S. K. Wood
Sandra K. Wood, a descendant of Tennessee Patriarch James
Burns Gowen, now living in Yorkshire, has recently completed
“Swaledale, the Spirit Speaks Loud” in three volumes. She
has donated a set of the volumes for the Foundation Library.
The heritage volumes begin with families who lived in that area
of Yorkshire shortly after the Norman Conquest and bring their
history down to the present. The books are about people–those
who have gone–those who have stayed. Many played parts in
developing America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
The 470-page set is offered in paperback at 19.30 [pounds sterling]
overseas postage included. For additional information,
contact the authoress at Corporate Link, Swale View, Low Row,
Richmond, N. Yorkshire, England, DL11 6NE.
4) Don Lee Gowen Named Head
Of James B. Gowen Delegates
Don Lee Gowen, Editorial Board Member of Decatur, Alabama
has accepted the chairmanship of the James Burns Gowen Delegation
to the 1994 Research Conference and Family Reunion in
Houston. He is presently compiling a list of Foundation members
and family members in the Middle Tennessee area who
would like to receive Conference details and to be placed on the
Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau mailing list
for details on area attractions.
Arrangements are being made to secure convention travel discounts
of 40% off coach fare for the Foundation members
through American Airlines. Foundation members must present
their membership cards to their travel agent to be eligible.
Charter buses can be arranged for those who prefer to travel
with a family group, also with discount fares.
Members needing travel information assistance, either air or
ground, may call Deena Anderson, Travel Agents International
[800/888-6298] or the Foundation office at 806/795-8758.
Those interested in travel plans for Middle Tennesse may
contact Don Lee Gowen, 1310 Cantwell Ave. SW, Decatur, AL,
5) DEAR COUSINS LETTER COLUMN
It was a pleasure to talk with you on the phone and to hear of
all the great plans for the Houston Conference in 1994. After all
this time of correspondence and work on the Gowen genealogy,
I feel that I know you personally and look forward to meeting
you vis-a-vis in Houston.
Thank you for the manuscript print-out on my branch of the
family and everything you are doing for the whole Gowen family,
particularly those of us who are earnestly seeking. Olen R.
Gowens, Ashby Place, Ladoga, IN, 47954.
I am descended from James Goyne1, John Goyne/Guynes2,
James Guynes3, Norvell Madison Guynes4, Missouri F. Guynes
Griffey5, Cassie Griffey Woodall6 and Ocea Woodall Allen7. I
have made several helpful contacts since joining the Foundation.
I would love to hear from anyone who might have documentation
on the births, marriage and death of James Guynes3 and his
wife Martha Whittington. Cynthia H. Reed, 1752
Willowbrook Lane, Simi Valley, CA, 93065.
The Gowen Family Reunion will be held Sunday, August 2,
10 a.m. ’til ?? in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee Administration
Building, next to the city police station.. Especially invited are
descendants of James Burns Gowen, [born November 22, 1785,
died May 14, 1880] Matthew Gowen and Marcus and Martha
We invite anyone connected with this family to come and
join us for fellowship and to renew old acquaintances and to
make new ones. Contact the folks you know and bring the children.
A covered dish luncheon will be held at noon. Bring food
and drink and enjoy the fun. For details contact: Charles
Gowen, Rt. 2, Box 154 Leoma, TN, 38468, 615/852-4392 or
Don Lee Gowen, 1310 Cantwell Ave. SW, Decatur, AL,
Enclosed are the family ancestor charts for us and our
daughter for the Foundation Library, however genealogists are
probably becoming an endangered species. Can genealogy survive
in the face of the onslaught against the family? With all the
“his/hers/ours” children, serial marriages, cohabitation without
“the benefit of clergy,” promiscuity, single parenting, sperm
banks, “test tube babies,” etc, will the coming generations have
any pride [or interest] in knowing who their ancestors were?
Rose Gowen, 4301 Redbird Place, Loveland, CO, 80537.
I am seeking information about the ancestry and descendants
of Daniel Gowen/Goan/Goins [bc1752] who was married about
1770 to Susannah Inman [bc1754], daughter of Ezekiel Inman
and Hanna Hardee [?] Inman, probably in NC. By 1800 they
were in Jefferson County, TN where he died September 6, 1810.
Probable issue were Daniel Goan, Fanny Goan, Shadrack Goan,
Contact with any descendant of this union would be welcomed.
I have collected considerable about the Inman lineage
and allied lines and will share. Willis T. Finley, 307 Fairview
Dr, Longview, TX, 75604. 903/759-0415.
Gowen Research Foundation Newsletter
Arlee Gowen, Editor
Linda McNiel, Circulation
Gowen Research Foundation Phone:806/795-8758 or 795-9694
5708 Gary Avenue E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lubbock, Texas, 79413 Internet: http://www.llano.net/gowen
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.