1993 – 12 Dec Newsletter – GRF

Sections in this issue: 

1) Oscar Claiborne Goins Acquired Cherokee Mansion;
2) Samuel Gowin Operated Ferry Across the Sabine River;

All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters:   https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/

Volume 5, No. 4 December 1993

1)  Oscar Claiborne Goins
Acquired Cherokee Mansion

By Louise Goins Richardson
Foundation Editorial Boardmember
2207 East Lake Street, Paragould, Arkansas, 72450

My great-grandfather was born on a hardscrable farm on a
rocky hillside “just north of Starvation, Tennessee.” Who
would have thought that he would wind up owning the most
palatial mansion in northern Georgia!

Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins, son of Nancy Biby Goins,
was born in Grainger County, Tennessee February 24, 1830,
according to “Memoirs of Georgia.”

In 1833 the family of Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins removed
to Hamilton County where he lived among the
Cherokees. His father farmed there until he died in 1841. His
mother was remarried in 1846 to Levi Goins, suggested as a
kinsman to her first husband. Young “Roscoe” left home
shortly afterward and went to Chattanooga when he found a
job as a “clerk in a mercantile house.”

“He remained there for 13 years where he acquired an
extensive and practical knowledge of mercantile affairs which
has since proven to be of infinite value to him,” according to
“Memoirs of Georgia.”

He was married about 1853 to Nancy Florence Potter,
daughter of Moses and Ellen Potter. Miss Potter was born in
Alabama in 1832. A son, their only child was born to them
May 11, 1855. It is assumed that they were divorced about
1856. Nancy Florence Potter and her son were enumerated
back in her father’s household in the 1860 census of Hamilton

“Roscoe” was remarried there in 1858 to Esther C. Reynolds,
daughter of Anderson Reynolds of Chattanooga. Immediately
after this marriage he went into the grocery business which he
operated until the beginning of the Civil War.

The family was enumerated in the 1860 census of Hamilton
County as:

“Goins, O. C. 30, born in TN
Ester 21, born in TN
Reynolds, Mary 15, born in TN, sister-in-law.””

Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins enlisted in Company B,
Nineteenth Tennessee Infantry Regiment commanded by Col.
J. C. Cummins. His first engagement was in the Battle of
Fishing Creek, Kentucky, serving under Gen. Albert Sidney
Johnston.. “Pvt. Rosco Goengs” was a member of Co. C,
Thirty-seventh Tennessee Infantry Regiment in 1862, according
to “Confederate Veteran,” Volume 28, [1920].

The three-story Vann Mansion, built in 1804 by Cherokee
Chieftain Joe Vann, near Dalton, Georgia was purchased
in 1873 by Oscar Claiborne Goins whose family lived there
for the next 22 years. Photo courtesy of Louise Goins

Afterward his regiment participated in the two-day Battle of
Shiloh, Tennessee, according to “Memoirs of Tennessee.”

Following this battle, he was ordered to assist in bringing the
wounded by train to Chattanooga by way of Mobile,
Montgomery and Atlanta. Upon completing this assignment,
he assisted in the raising of Lookout Mountain Battery under
the command of Capt. R. L. Barry. Later Barry’s Light
Artillery was transferred to Knoxville, then to West Point,
Mississippi and finally to Pollard, Alabama near Mobile. The
battery was stationed there for 12 months, serving to protect a
railroad junction.

When the battle for Vicksburg intensified, the battery was
moved northward to Jackson, Mississippi. It participated in
the Battle of Baker’s Creek and then moved to Yazoo City in
an attempt to repel the Union gunboats on the Mississippi
under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. After the fall
of Vicksburg July 4, 1863, the battery was pulled back to

After the war, he returned to Chattanooga broken in spirit,
broken in health and broken in finances. He, like many
Confederate veterans, had to attempt to rebuild his life. For
the next 13 years he became a traveling salesman, and
gradually regained his finances.

In 1873 he removed his family to Spring Place, Georgia in
Murray County, just across the state line. There he bought a
plantation with a large three-story mansion which had been
originally built by Chief Joe Vann of the Cherokees. From its
earliest days, it was a historic landmark, and in recent years
has been registered by the State of Georgia as a historic site.

Dr. Kemp Mabry of Statesboro, Georgia wrote an account of
the history of the Vann House:

“Among historic sites in Georgia is the magnificent
Chief Vann House at Spring Place, between Dalton and
Chatsworth. Built in 1804 by James Vann, a minor
Cherokee chief, its equal was never seen in the
Cherokee Nation.

James Vann, son of a Scot trader, Clement Vann and
Wawli, a Cherokee princess, owned property and businesses
throughout Cherokee Indian Territory. He was
responsible for construction of Jellico Road, now U. S.
76, which the mansion faces.

He had two wives, a fierce temper and a bad drinking
problem. However, in 1801, he offered land to
Moravian missionaries of New Salem, North Carolina
for a school. His family embraced Christianity, but he
called it a fable.

The James Vann family moved into the three story
brick mansion in 1805. James lived there only five
years. He had killed several men–whites, Indians and
slaves. After he killed his brother-in-law, that death
was avenged in a tavern in what is now Forsyth

James’ son, Joseph, inherited the house, amassed great
wealth and gained the nickname of ‘Rich Joe.’ Pres.
James Monroe visited him there in 1819. In 1834,
‘Rich Joe’ was evicted by Georgia Home Guards. Gold
had been discovered near Dahlonega, a land lottery
held, and white Georgians were to take over the
Cherokee lands.

John Howard Payne, who wrote ‘Home, Sweet Home,’
was incarcerated in a slave cabin on the Vann
plantation because he had Cherokee sympathies.
Joseph Vann and his family fled to Tennessee, but by
1838, most of the Cherokees were herded toward
Oklahoma. More than 4,000 died along the infamous
‘Trail of Tears.’

‘Rich Joe’ Vann built a replica of the mansion at Webbers
Falls, Oklahoma, but northern troops destroyed it
during the War Between the States. ‘Rich Joe’ died in
an explosion of one of his steamboats he was racing on
the Ohio River October 23, 1844.

There have been 15 different owners since ‘Rich Joe’s’
eviction in 1834, and the mansion was sadly
dilapidated. In the 1950s, the Chief Vann House was
renovated and fully restored to its original splendor,
dedicated by Gov. Marvin Griffin in 1958. Will
Rogers, humorist and movie star, was the most famous
Vann descendant, 42 of whom attended the

Oscar Claiborne “Roscoe” Goins was enumerated there in the
1880 census of Murray County:

“Goins, O. C. 51, born in Tennessee
Ester C. 45, born in Tennessee”

About 1895, he returned to Chattanooga to live, perhaps
shortly after the death of Esther C. Reynolds Goins who died
in that year, according to Myra Peeples Steed, a niece. He
sold the Chief Vann home in that year. He was described as a
widower in a deed dated October 5, 1897. He was remarried
about 1898 to Mary E. Mitchell.

He died there December 5, 1903 and was buried in Flint
Springs Cumberland Presbyterian Cemetery. It is situated
about one mile from his farm, 244 acres located nine miles
south of Cleveland, Tennessee. Mary E. Mitchell Goins was
survived by Ruth Mitchell Austin, a great niece, who in 1993
continued to own part of the Goins farm.

I have been to his grave, cleaned his tombstone and made
prints of it. The stone is very nice, made of white marble with
black marble inlay in it. One son, William Preston Goins, my
grandfather, was born May 11, 1855 to Oscar Claiborne
“Roscoe” Goins and Nancy Florence Potter Goins.

2)  Samuel Gowin Operated Ferry
Across the Sabine River

Samuel Gowin was born in Tennessee about 1816 of parents
unknown. He was married to “Miss Wood, a Mississippi
native about 1841,” according to family tradition. He was
remarried about 1855 to Martha Roland who was also born in
Tennessee, about 1835. He may have been her second
husband. She is thought to have been a widow named
“Bailey” with two children. In 1861 they were residents of
Garland County, Arkansas. They removed to Texas
immediately after the Civil War and were located in Van
Zandt County, Texas by 1870. Peggy A. White, a descendant
of Hopkinsville, Kentucky provided census enumerations on
Samuel Gowin who was recorded in Van Zandt County in
1870 and 1880.

He was recorded in Van Zandt County in 1870 and 1880. In
1870 his household, No. 1035-1188, was recorded as:

“Gowin, Samuel 54, born in TN, white male
Martha 40, born in TN, white female
Mary E. 13, born in MS, white female
Rebecca 9, born in AR, white female
James 8, born in AR, white male
Martha 5, born in AR, white female
Lucinda 4, born in TX, white female
Holloway, Lou 18, born in AR, white female”

The household reappeared in the 1880 census living in Enumeration
District 122, Precinct 4:

“Gowins, Sam’l 63, born in TN
Martha 45, born in TN
Lucy 14, born in TX, daughter
Melissa 8, born in TX, daughter
Bailey, Rebecca 18,born in TX, step-daughter”

In the early 1900s Samuel Gowin operated Clark’s Ferry
across the Sabine River, according to William Jackson
“Willie” Gowin of Forney, Texas who reported that he was
buried in Dunbar Cemetery in Rains County.

Children born to Samuel Gowin and Martha Roland Gowin include:

Mary E. Gowin born about 1857
Rebecca Gowin born about 1861
James Richard Clay Gowin born July 7, 1861
Martha Gowin born about 1864
Lucinda Gowin born March 17, 1866
Melissa Belle Gowin [twin] born about 1871
[twin son] born about 1871


I am conducting research on my family tree which includes
my maternal grandmother, Lillian Alberta Goins. Today I
came across an article in “National Genealogical Society
Quarterly” referring to the work you are doing on the
Goins/Gong/Gowen family.

I am a descendant of Stephen Going, born c1778, of
Patrick County, Virginia and his wife, Nancy Going, born
c1779, daughter of John Going. Both were listed in the 1860
census as “mulatto” as were their children and some of their

I believe that Stephen’s father was James Going, died
c1807 in Patrick County and that perhaps the father of James
Going was Shadrach Going. I am enclosing my ancestor
charts for the Foundation Library and a membership

I would like to correspond with any researcher
investigating any of these ancestors. Thanks in advance for
any information the Foundation can provide. Kevin E. D.
Smith, Rt. 3, Box 310, Boones Mill, VA, 24065.

==Dear Cousins==

I have plans to go to Scotland next May and would like to
do some research while there. The only book I have on my
branch of the family is Phillip Allen Gowan’s “Gowan-
Morley,” and it doesn’t go back past 1800. Can the
Foundation or some member come up with a suggestion for a
starting point to research for families who emigrated from
Scotland to Virginia and the Carolinas?

Also if there is anything I can do for the Foundation or any
member while I am there, I will be more than happy to do so.
My 1994 membership is enclosed. I enjoy the Newsletter immensely.
Jack D. Gowin, Rt. 1, Box 361, Hector, AR,

==Dear Cousins==

I was privileged to have several interviews with Van
Doren “Vannie” Gowen [named for the Confederate general]
in his declining years. The last one came at age 88, shortly
before his death earlier this year.

He was one of the oldest living descendants of James
Burns Gowen, patriarch of the Bedford County, Tennessee
and Bedford County, Virginia clan. He was a son of Joseph
Edward Gowen and Josephine Elizabeth Newman Gowen.

Because his older sister had died at age two, his mother
dressed him as a girl for the first few years of his life. To outgrow
this “stigma,” while growing up, he did all the he-man
things. He accompanied his father, who was quite a rounder,
on tours of the dancehalls during the East Texas oil boom.

It was great fun for the father-son duo, until it suddenly
ended. One night in a dancehall close to Longview, his father
was “converted on the spot by Mrs. Penn.” After that, there
was no more drinking-and-dancing, and Joseph Edward
Gowen was in church three times a week ever after.

During World War II, Vannie, who had “never seen
enough snow to supply a sno-cone stand,” volunteered for the
Army’s alpine ski patrol. He was sent to icy Minnesota for
training. Most of the ice the Texans had seen prior was “in a

After six years on army skis, Vannie wound up in Shreveport,
working for Gowen Sanitarium operated by his grandfather,
Dr. James Daniel Gowen and uncle, Dr. Charles Richard
Gowen. I’ll have more on my visits with Vannie for the Foundation
manuscript in the future. Linda Lou Fisher
McDowell, 31 Broadmoor, Texarkana, AR, 75502.

==Dear Cousins==

In researching my branch of the Gowan family I have run
across two mysteries which I need help in solving.

1. Frank [Franklin] Gowan was born March 8, 1896 to
John Manning Gowan and Sarah McDougald Gowan. Frank
served overseas in World War I, and afterward, unable to
settle down, travelled. Other than a last letter to his mother,
the family has not heard from him since 1927. Most of his
family now lives in Ontario, Canada.

2. Lucy [Lucinda] Arvilla Tylor Gowan, daughter of
Nelson and Lydia Tyler, was born in 1855 in Pennsylvania
and listed as a five-year-old in the 1860 census. She was
married June 2, 1869 in Ellington, Wisconsin in Outagamie
County. They homesteaded in Yankton County, Dakota

Three sons were born to them. Walter Edwin Gowan, July
8, 1870 and Ezra Lewis Gowan, April 3, 1872 were born in
Dakota Territory. Lester Darwin Gowan was born October 9,
1873 in Wisconsin. The family was enumerated in 1880 in
Waukechon, Wisconsin in Shawnee County.

The mystery is that no one knows what became of Lucy.
Lester told the story that when he was just a little boy, he
waved goodbye to his mother as she was driven away in a
carriage. He never saw her again.

In both cases, 1&2, the person seems to have simply
dropped from sight. Is it possible that someone, somewhere
knows the story of what happened to them? Jean Helen
Gowan Near, 14909 Tomki Road, Redwood Valley, CA,

==Dear Cousins==

I am doing research on the Melungeons, particularly on
their fur and tapestry quilts and any family stories that go with
them. Can you put me in touch with other quilting cousins
who share my interest in these heirlooms and their legends.
Brenda LeGrand, Box 505, Panhandle, TX, 79068.



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: gowen@llano.net
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.

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