Sections in this issue:
1) James Presley “Pres” Goen went to Texas;
2) Horrible Gowan Family Event Recorded in Salem, Kentucky;
3) Dear Cousins.
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
Volume 4, No. 7 March 1993
1) James Presley “Pres” Goen went to Texas
“Pres” Goen Started with 1 Dollar and 1 Pony
James Presley “Pres” Goen began as a 14-year-old orphan
with “one dollar and one pony” and built one of the most
successful ranching operations in West Texas. He was born in
Johnson County, Texas September 6, 1870 of parents
unknown, according to Dickens County, Texas Death Book 7.
“Preston Goen, age 9” was enumerated in the 1880 census of
Johnson County in the household of J. F. Goen, a cousin.
He was brought to Wise County, Texas in 1883 by J. F. Goen
who shortly began making plans to move north to Indian Territory.
“Pres” decided that he would “stay with Texas” and
prepared to head west declaring that he “thought he could make
it on his own the rest of the way.”
One hundred eighty miles later he wound up on the newly created
Pitchfork Ranch, and the young teenager was hired because
he was “handy with a rope.” He appeared in the 1900 census of
Dickens County, Texas as a “boarder” with A. R. Dillard in
Enumeration District 54. He may also have been enumerated a
second time in the 1900 census in adjoining King County,
Enumeration District 21 as “J. P. Goen, born in Texas in July
Both counties had been created in 1876 by the Texas
legislature who named them for William P. King and J. Dickens,
Texas heroes who fell at the Alamo. The legislature also
specified that a new county must have a minimum of 75
citizens before a county government could be organized.
Neither county could muster that many voters, so each borrowed
from the other to get enough signatures on the petitions.
Many early West Texas men had “citizenship” in several
“Pres” Goen became a pioneer West Texas ranch owner when
he organized the Goen Ranch in Dickens County. He was
married May 10, 1903 to Ora Aseniath Blackwell, according to
King County Marriage Book 1. Ora Aseniath Blackwell was
born in Bosque County, Texas in 1875.
“Pres” Goen was the patentee to 72 acres of land located “twelve
miles west of the county seat” January 14, 1902, according to
King County Deed Book 2. He purchased land from the
Southern Pacific and other railroads December 3, 1903 for
$1,476.45, according to King County Deed Book 2. The land
was located 16.5 miles southwest of the county seat which had
not been named at that time. The town subsequently became
“Pres” Goen received a patent from the State of Texas May 3,
1909 to an additional 652.2 acres. He and Ora Aseniath
Blackwell Goen gave a warranty deed to the patented land to W.
C. Presley March 18, 1911 for $4,000. Apparently James
Presley “Pres” Goen regained title to the land because on
November 11, 1912 he resold the patent to G. B. Martin for
$8,202.50, according to King County Deed Book 3.
“Pres” Goen bought a section of land on White River in 1909
and another in 1910. In that year he moved to his new home
north of Dickens, Texas and the Goen family ranched there for
the next 57 years.
In 1911 he paid an inflated price of $3.12 an acre for more
ranchland. When he got an opportunity to sell that land for
$5.50 an acre the following year, he sold it. His passion for
grassland had not overridden his good judgement.
In 1912, he bought six tracts of land from Erie P. Swenson and
Swen A. Swenson of Manhattan, New York. They were the
owners of the sprawling Swenson Ranch which spread into
several West Texas counties. He paid $6.37 per acre for the
1,621 acres. He received additional land from Matador Land &
Cattle Company in 1917, greatly increasing his holdings.
In 1939, “Pres” Goen began passing land along to his son. On
June 13, 1939 he deeded to 4,926.35 acres to Guy Goen.
His son, Guy Goen, in an interview with Gerry Burton of the
“Lubbock Avalanche-Journal” in May 1986 stated, “Pres
Goen was hired by the Pitchfork at age 14 because he was
the best roper on the place. He wound up manager of the
massive ranch. “Back then there were no fences on the
Pitchfork which had been put together a couple of years earlier
in 1882. The wagons pulled out the first of April and stayed
out until Christmas. Wherever the wagons stopped was home
for the cowboys working cattle.”
“There was a chuck wagon with the bedrolls and chuck. And
there was the hoodlum wagon that carried a barrel of water and
kept the chuck wagon supplied with firewood,” he said. In
winter, cattle drifted south, so in the spring “seven or eight
outfits” sent their wagons and cowboys to round them up, brand
them and head them back north. Each outfit cut out its own
cattle and branded the calves following the cows.
The Pitchfork let his father run his own cattle on the range,
Goen said, and when he realized that he had 1,000 cattle on the
ranch, he decided it was time to “quit imposing on the
Pitchfork.” He sold his cattle, got his own range and became
one of the largest landowners in the country.
“Pres” Goen wrote his will June 30, 1951. In it were named
his wife, Ora Aseniath Blackwell Goen and his son, Guy
Goen, executors, and his grandsons, Guy Hugh Goen and John
James Presley “Pres” Goen died June 12, 1952 at age 81 at his
residence two miles north of Spur, Texas, and he was buried in
Ora Aseniath Blackwell Goen gave a warranty deed to her son,
Guy Goen to 19 additional tracts of land in Dickens County,
according to Dickens County Deed Book 113, page 379. The
Goen Ranch was passed intact to the son.
Guy Goen, son of James Presley “Pres” Goen and Ora Aseniath
Blackwell Goen, was born May 20, 1906, according to Dickens
County Birth Book 1. Following graduation from Texas Technological
College at the bottom of the depression, he began to
build his own ranch, buying up land which his father had sold to
neighbors earlier. He was married December 29, 1931 in
Crosbyton, Texas to Verna Beechly.
Like his father, he also applied a half century of hard work and
savvy and also became eminently successful. In later years he
turned most of the cow-punchin’ over to others and began to devote
time to other interests.
He was an elder in the Church of Christ, active in Christian education
in West Texas, a great promoter of 4-H clubwork and a
ranch cook par excellence.
Guy Goen became famous in West Texas for his ranch cooking.
He lived in Spur and drove out to the ranch to cook for
the ranch hands when a large group gathered.
“I had a chuck box on my pickup,” he related. “I’d hoist it on,
go to the ranch. They’d do the work, and I’d cook, have dinner
ready for them. Then, I would unhoist it and hang it in the barn.
I cooked steak, gravy, red beans and cobbler. I’ve got six
dutch ovens, once cooked 18 gallons of peach cobbler, three
fillings in each.” Peach cobbler was his favorite, but ‘hen butter’
ran close as a desert. ‘You take syrup, molasses and sugar, mix
and boil it a while.
You add about 15 eggs and boil it again and then let it cool
down. It’s got another name, but the punchers at the Pitchfork
named it ‘hen butter.’
It wasn’t long until he was hoisting the chuckbox more and
more to cook barbecue for 4-H and other groups. He started
barbecuing for Lubbock Christian College events in 1963 when
he became a member of the board of directors. And he always
made the White River children’s camp during summers to cook
up a barbecue for each of the four sessions.
In 1985, LCC agriculture students built him a barbecue
trailer that looks like a butane tank with a firebox on one end
and a smokestack on the other. Goen first thought it was a
train the ag boys had built for him to drive around the campus.
‘It was the best deal I ever got into. I put 34 briskets on it and
cooked them 26 hours.'”
Thus “Pres” Goen and Guy Goen between them invested 108
years in developing West Texas and its young people. Guy
Goen died April 2, 1991 and was buried in Spur Memorial
Children born to Guy Goen and Verna Beechly Goen include:
Guy Hugh Goen born October 29, 1940
John Preston Goen born about 1943
Claud Franklin Gowen and his bride, Ora Ethel Cox, extreme
right are pictured on their wedding day, July 4,
1911 in front of the home of a cousin, James Harvey Lee at
Woodson, Texas. Other wedding party members are, left
to right, cousins Clyde Lee and Jess and Lela Whitmire.
They were married seated in the buggy pictured at right.
The 16-year-old bride had written the number “18” on a
piece of paper and placed it in her shoe before going before
the county clerk for a marriage license. Thus when he
asked her age, she could say that she was “over 18.” Two
sons, Stanley Olgee “Jot” Gowen and Arlee Claud Gowen,
were born to them.
2) Horrible Gowan Family Event
Recorded in Salem, Kentucky
A macabre tale of horror dealing with the family of “Doctor
Gowan” revealed in “Chronicles of a Kentucky Settlement”
written in 1883 by William Courtney Watts had its setting in
Livingston County, Kentucky.
“Dr. Gowan” arrived in the county about 1808 and settled near
Salem, Kentucky. Livingston County, located at the junction
of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers was opened in 1784 for the
entry of settlers entitled to land in the Virginia Military
District. Salem, Kentucky was the first county seat, but
Smithland later succeeded it.
The doctor settled on a farm on the Ohio River a few miles
above its confluence with the Cumberland. He brought with
him his wife, three sons, two daughters and a dozen or more
slaves. The doctor was highly educated, but had a cold, haughty
His wife, “sister of a most eminent American statesman” despaired
of frontier life and soon died. A few days later their
eldest son, Randall Gowan was bitten by a rattlesnake and
quickly died. He was buried beside his mother. Shortly
afterward, in 1811 a brother of Dr. Gowan who was “the
governor of the Territory of . . . . . ” committed suicide, and
the doctor left suddenly for the funeral after leaving his two
daughters with friends in Smithland. While away, the doctor
determined never to return to the farmstead which had witnessed
so much tragedy.
Hinton Gowan, second son and Walter Gowan, his younger
brother had difficulty managing the slaves in the doctor’s
absence, and to effect a rigid discipline over the negroes one
night forced the slaves to strap down George, the most unruly
the slaves in front of the fireplace in the Gowan home.
Violently drunk and with pistols in their hands, the brothers
forced the slaves to begin hacking fingers, toes, arms and legs
from George’s torso. As each piece came off the body, amid
unearthly screams from the victim, the two brothers threw it into
the roaring fire.
As the two brothers finished their butchering job, the house was
suddenly shaken to its foundation by an earthquake, and a comet
appeared overhead in the sky, bathing the whole landscape in
an eerie light. At that moment, a deep, wide chasm appeared in
the bed of Reelfoot Creek, and Reelfoot Lake was instantly
formed in nearby Tennessee. Because of the phenomenon the
area was later named Lake County.
By morning there was no trace of the victim, but the terrible
atrocity had left its impact upon the stunned negroes and upon
the perpetrators. Letitia Gowan, wife of Hinton, took their baby
daughter and fled the house for the safety of Salem. For many
days Hinton pled with her to return, but she refused. He cajoled
her, he threatened her, and he stood for hours outside her
sanctuary with his rifle. When she continued to refuse, he
labeled her “Cruel Letitia.”
Finally the horror of George’s death leaked out in the community,
and the citizens of Salem organized a posse to investigate
the rumor and to arrest the two brothers, if the story prove true.
As the posse approached the Gowan farm, the two brothers
determined to implement a suicide pact they had agreed upon
if the neighbors ever uncovered their nefarious deed. Seeing
the posse approaching, the two brothers went to the grave of
their mother where they were to kill themselves. Hinton
pulled the trigger of his rifle and was immediately dead before
the posse could reach the graveyard.
Walter Gowan “chickened out” of the suicide pact and was arrested
by the posse and jailed. The Gowan home was never
occupied after that. The slaves all fled the farm. People who
passed the dark, foreboding house in the night reported hearing
eerie screams and moans from the empty house.
It was labeled a haunted house, occupied only by the tormented
spirit of Negro George.
One night boatmen who anchored their barge near the Gowan
farmstead heard terrifying screams emanating from the haunted
house. Just as they were about to flee the scene, the house
suddenly exploded. The next morning when they investigated,
the found the home strewn in every direction.
Before his trial, Walter Gowan escaped from his jail cell and
eluded capture by crossing the river and fleeing into the
wilderness. To cover his tracks, he enlisted in the army as the
company was about to depart to engage the British. He was the
first man killed in the first engagement. Thus the tragic story
ended, leaving every son of Dr. Gowan dead and no one to carry
on his family name.
The author added one final touch of the macabre as he ended
the story. In the final paragraph of the chapter he revealed that
the name of the doctor was not really “Gowan.” He had just
chosen that name “to protect the innocent.”
3) Dear Cousins
Michael Duggan Gowen, my great-grandfather was born in
1840 in Lisheen, County Cork, Ireland and died in New York
City in 1911. He emigrated to the U. S. as a young man. His
wife, Elizabeth O’Connell Gowen was born in 1841 in Ballyhooley,
County Cork, I do not know if they were acquainted in
Ireland, and I do not know the date and place of their marriage.
They were the parents of my grandfather, Gen. James
Bartholomew Gowen who was born September 25, 1872 in New
Sometime in the future, probably after retirement, I intend to
do some work on my Gowen ancestors. At present, I have a
limited knowledge of genealogy. Could you [or any Foundation
member] steer me in the direction of a starting point for information
on the family and any specific data on Irish Gowens.
James Gowen Boatner, 3008 Sevor Lane, Alexandria, VA,
This past Christmas I entered all the information I had gathered
on my ancestors and put it into book form, along with
copies of birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, newspaper
articles, etc. I am enclosing a copy of “Like Snowflakes–
No Two Alike” for the Foundation Library. The Foundation
has my permission to use this information. Can you advise me
how I should go about obtaining a copyright?
As you can see from the enclosure, I grew up around Hale
and Crosby counties and have been to Lubbock many times. I
used to go up to the 20th floor of the Great Plains Life building
and watch Waylon Jennings when he was a disc jockey for
KLLL in the early ’60s. I love West Texas and still have many
friends and relatives there. Peggy A. White, 109 Underwood
Drive, Hopkinsville, KY, 42240.
I am seeking information on Martha J. Johnson who married
Thomas Goin February 9, 1859 in Claiborne County, TN.
Thomas descends from Thomas Goin/Going, Levi Goin and
Pleasant Goin. Daughter of Pleasant, Marlena Goin married
James P. Johnson June 20, 1868 in Claiborne County. Are
Martha and James siblings? I have not been able to identify the
parents of James P. Johnson. Joyce Locke, Box 474, Portales,
The tax lists of Chickawsaw County, MS show other Goin
individuals in addition to my Henry Goin and his daughter
Nancy A. Goin. Other taxpayers there in 1840-50 include Meshack
Goin [he appeared in cs1850 as bc1815, TN], James
Dudley Goins [he received a land patent in 1845 in what is
now Clay County, MS], William Goens, John Goen and Dillard
Goen. These names appear several times in Chickasaw County
records 1840-50. Can anyone advise me of any relationships
among the above? Frances Fleming, 1827 S. Garrison,
Carthage, MO, 64836.
I am enclosing an obituary for Fred Goin, 79 of Buffalo,
WY. This appeared in the “Casper Star-Tribune.” It is a
very rare occurrence for this surname to appear in this locality.
Hope everything is going well for the Foundation. I’m really
looking forward to coming to Houston in ’94. The report on the
DNA findings will be tremendously interesting. Donna Gowin
Johnston, 1413 Westridge Terrace, Casper, WY, 82604.
I just finished writing to Mrs. Pat Goin Rice of the Ancient
Kentucke Historical Society to see what their organization
might hold on the Melungeons.
We need to maintain a Melungeon information exchange with
all interested organizations. Perhaps we can discuss this at the
next meeting of the Melungeon Documentary Film committee in
John and I are immensely enjoying our motorhome trip. Following
our wonderful visit in Lubbock, we traveled on to Arizona
where we found lots of wide open spaces and plenty of
elbow room. At this moment, you and Bonnie are in Hong
Kong with all of its crowded, teeming millions. Quite a
contrast, I’d bet. Evelyn McKinley Orr, 8310 Emmet,
Omaha, NE, 68134.
At the suggestion of Phillip Alan Gowan, Foundation director
of Nashville, I am enclosing ancestor charts showing our
descent from Richard Gowan and Susan Peacock Gowan and
their son Garrett Hubert Gowan.
I am seeking the death date for Garrett Hubert Gowan and the
date of the marriage of his daughter Mary May Gowan to Iverson
Gayden Thompson, my ancestors. I have looked for it in
Ft. Worth, but it was not in Tarrant County, so I believe they
probably were married in Clay County which I understand you
have researched. Can you or any Foundation member supply
any information about Mary May Gowan Thompson?
I am enclosing from “Texas Biographical Sketches” a copy
of the biography of John D. Blassingame and his wife Malinda
Holder Blassingame who removed in 1855 from South Carolina
to Grayson County, TX. You will note that one of their children
was named Wynn Gowen Blassingame. There must be a
connection with Maj. John “Buck” Gowen of South Carolina.
Hallie P. Garner, 8923 Woodshore Drive, Dallas, TX, 75243.
It is amazing how you can collect and organize such a vast
amount of data on the various branches [and spellings] of our
family. We were delighted to see how our great-grandfather
William Benjamin Gowen connects to his great-grandfather
William Gowen who owned the Gowen Pre-emption now used
by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport.
Speculation is that the wife of William Gowen was Sarah
Burleson since “Burleson” was a much-used name among several
branches of our family. However much we would like to
peg the agnate line as “Burleson,” no good genealogist puts
down an assumption without documentation. Can anyone out
there help us on the Burleson-Gowen connection? Sally Johnston,
Box 892, Jacksonville, AL, 36265.
I recently learned about Gowen Research Foundation and
am enclosing ancestor charts and family group sheets for the
Library. My line descends from Daniel Goins, his son Isham
Goins, born at Rose Hill, Lee, VA Nov. 15, 1802 and his son
John Goins born August 17, 1817 in Claiborne County. TN.
John Goins was married to Isabelle Peverly. He died February
20, 1885 at Jellico in Campbell County, TN, I would be glad to
exchange data with any interested researcher. Loraine Tieman,
2617 W. Columbine Road, Phoenix, AZ, 85029.
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: email@example.com
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.