Sections in this issue:
1) William Benjamin Gowen, Carpenter Had Sad Coffinmaker Task;
2) Virginia Easley DeMarce Speaks At NGS Conference in Houston;
3) Conference Highlights, Wednesday, June 1;
4) Dear Cousins.
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
Volume 5, No. 8 April 1994
1) William Benjamin Gowen, Carpenter
Had Sad Coffinmaker Task
William Benjamin Gowen, regarded as a son of William
Gowen and Mary “Polly” Crutchfield Gowen, and a grandson
of Lt. William Gowen, was born May 4, 1821 in Rutherford
County, Tennessee. A “white male, 15-20” enumerated in the
1840 census of the household of Mary “Polly” Crutchfield
Gowen, a widow of Rutherford County, is accepted as
William Benjamin Gowen.
He was married about 1846 to Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Nunley,
according to Tulah Catherine Gentry Reddick, a
granddaughter-in-law of Huntsville, Alabama interviewed by
Miriam Riddick Dendy in November 1981 when she was 89
In the census of 1850 William Benjamin Gowen was enumerated
in Davidson County, Tennessee as the head of
Household 300-300 in Civil District 5. The family on
September 9, 1850, was shown as:
“Gowin, William 30, born in Tennessee, bellowsmaker
Mary 22, born in Tennessee
Jerry B. 3, born in Tennessee
Mary J. 2, born in Tennessee
Eliza 1, born in Tennessee”
Six days earlier the two older children of William Benjamin
Gowen had been counted in the home of their grandfather,
Jeremiah Nunley, Sr. of Grundy County, Tennessee, some 90
miles away. The two children have the distinction of being
enumerated twice in the 1850 census.
In the 1860 enumeration William Benjamin Gowen appeared
in Grundy County living adjacent to the Nunley families. The
censustaker recorded on July 21, 1860, page 22, the following:
“Gowins, William 37, born in TN, house carpenter, $1,400 real estate, $640 personal property
Mary A. 32, born in TN, illiterate
Jeremiah N. 13, born in TN, attending school
Mary J. 11, born in TN, attending school
Sarah B. 9, born in TN, attending school
James C. 8, born in TN, attending school
Manerva A. 6, born in TN, twin
Harriett E. 6, born in TN, twin
William R. 2, born in TN”
It is believed that Mary A. Nunley Gowen died about 1872.
She was buried in Rogers Cemetery “in Hurricane Hollow, in
Madison County, Alabama,” according to Tulah Catherine
Gentry Riddick. He was remarried to Sina Catherine
Bradshaw. The log cabin that William Benjamin Gowen built
on his property was still standing almost 100 years later when
it was destroyed by a cyclone. When the site was visited in
June 1982, its chimney was still standing. The household of
William Benjamin Gowen was enumerated June 12, 1880 in
the federal census of Madison County.
They were recorded in Enumeration District 221 on a farm
located “west of Hurricane Creek:”
“Gowan, William 59, born in TN, father born in SC, mother born in NC, farmer
Francis 49, born in TN, father born in VA, mother born in VA, wife
Eliza 26, born in TN, father born in TN, mother born in TN, daughter
Manerva 24, born in TN, father born in TN mother born in TN, daughter
Gentry, Willie 4, born in AL, father born in TN, mother born in TN, grandson”
On July 16, 1880 William Benjamin Gowen wrote his will,
mentioning “my beloved wife, Sina Gowen.” William
Benjamin Gowen, “old and respected citizen, near Maysville”
died October 1, 1881 at age 60, according to a brief obituary
published in the October 5 edition of the “Huntsville Democrat.”
He was buried in Rogers Cemetery “in Hurricane
Hollow.” His grave was located about 200 yards west of his
farm in a grove of oak trees on top of a half-acre knoll.
Tulah Catherine Gentry Riddick stated that William Benjamin
Gowen was reputed to be a good man, very faithful in his
church attendance and a hard worker. He tanned hides, made
shoes for all of his family. He hewed logs and made shingles
for their house “on their land in the hollow.” He was a “house
carpenter, wood worker and made coffins as well.” Neighbors
and family members came to him for a coffin whenever there
was a death in the community. He planed and smoothed the
lumber and assembed the casket with pegs. His wife and
daughters prepared the cushioned lining.
It was his sad task to build a casket for his first wife Mary
Elizabeth “Betty” Nunley Gowen. It also fell his lot to build a
tiny coffin for their son, William R. “Billy” Gowen who was
killed in a tragic accident. “Billy” Gowen was born in 1858,
probably in Grundy County, Tennessee. He appeared as a
two-year-old in the 1860 census of Grundy County living in
his father’s household.
When he was three years old he was crushed under the wheels
of a wagon. His brother James Carroll Gowen was hitching
up a team of oxen to the wagon, and Billy attempted to climb
into the wagon on the spokes. As he mounted the wheel the
oxen lunged forward trapping the toddler under the heavy iron
rim. He died the following day.
Shortly afterward his daughter Mary Jane Gowen died in her
childhood, and his next casket was for her. A few years later,
his little granddaughter, Willie Gentry died, and he placed her
coffin into the grave he had dug next to his own burial plot.
The coffin he most regretted having to build was for “baby sister
Mandy” who was killed when she was riding horseback to
church and her horse stumbled over a log, throwing her to the
ground. She miscarried and died shortly afterwards. Tulah
Gentry Riddick advised that [the unidentified] Mandy
[Amanda?] was married to Bill Ivy.
He died “on or about the first day of October, 1881, leaving a
home-made will,” according to his probate records dated
October 19, 1881. The will directed that the widow was to
have a life estate in his property.
Sina Catherine Bradshaw Gowen appeared living alone in the
1900 census of Hurricane Township, Precinct 21, Madison
County, Enumeration District 121, page 8:
“Gowen, Sinai 67, born in October, 1832 in TN, father
born in TN, mother born in SC,
widow, farmer, white, literate, land
owner, no mortgage.”
Apparently Sina Catherine Bradshaw Gowen died later in
1900 and was buried in Rogers Cemetery beside her husband
in an unmarked grave. In September of that year probate
proceedings of the estate of William Benjamin Gowen were
All of the heirs remained living in the area with the exception
of the oldest child, Jeremiah Benjamin Nunley Gowen who
was living “somewhere in Texas” and William Gowen Gentry
who was serving in the U.S. Army occupation forces in the
Philippine Islands. [Jeremiah Benjamin Nunley Gowen was
enumerated as the head of a household in the 1900 census of
Coryell County, Texas, Enumeration District 50, page 3.]
On September 24, 1900 the estate consisting primarily of
household items was appraised at $106.30. Additionally the
inventory included a loom at 50c, 20 bee hives at $10, 10
bushels of corn at 50c per bushel, one lot of books at $5 and
500 pounds of seed cotton valued at $15.
Children born to William Benjamin Gowen and Mary
Elizabeth “Betty” Nunley Gowen include:
Jeremiah Benjamin Nunley Gowen born May 30, 1847
Mary Jane Gowen born in 1849
Eliza C. Gowen born in 1850
Sarah Burleson “Sallie” Gowen born Feb. 14, 1851
James Carroll Gowen born July 12, 1852
Manerva A. Gowen [twin] born June 10, 1855
Harriett Elizabeth Gowen [twin] born June 10, 1855
William R. “Billy” Gowen born in 1858
2) Virginia Easley DeMarce Speaks
At NGS Conference in Houston
Dr. Virginia Easley DeMarce, Foundation Editorial
Boardmember and former president of National Genealogical
Society, will be a featured speaker at the NGS Conference
Friday, June 3 at 4:00 p.m.
She is a professional historian and life long genealogical hobbyist.
She received her B A. from the University of Missouri
and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford. Several of her books,
for example, “German Military Settlers in Canada after the
American Revolution,” have applied demographic and social
history techniques to group genealogical studies. Her most recent
publication was “Looking at Legends: Lumbees and Melungeons,”
in the March 1993 issue of the “National Geneaogical
She is employed as a research historian by the Branch of Acknowledgment
and Research, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S.
Department of the Interior.
Her session, “TriÄRacial Isolates in South Carolina” [FÄ148],
will emphasize the artificiality of lines drawn on maps,
indicating the continuity of some South Carolina settlements
with those appearing earlier in North Carolina and in Virginia.
Secondarily, it will emphasize the importance of finding and
using those sources which are unique to a particular state: in
South Carolina, specifically, the McDonald Furman Papers.
Case studies will be presented on two distinct, unrelated,
settlements in Sumter County, South Carolina: the
GoinsÄChavis settlement and the “Turks” or Benenhaley
Dr. DeMarce is a descendant of Ann Gowen Easley, a sister to
Maj. John “Buck” Gowen, Revolutionary soldier of
Spartanburg County, SC.
3) Conference Highlights, Wednesday, June 1
9:30 a.m. “Receiving Genealogy from Outer Space–Transmission of
Research by Satellite” Gene Mathis and Arlee Gowen
11:00 a.m. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Opening of Exhibit Hall
2:30 p.m. “The Significance of Archaeology to Genealogy”
Artifacts from the Gowen Farm, Guy G. Weaver
4:00 p.m. “Using Internet for Genealogy” Cliff Manis
7:00 p.m. Gowen Research Foundation Dinner, Hyatt
Regency, “The Goyen/Gowen Families from Cornwall”
Brian Goyen and Billie June Salmond
Thursday, June 2
8:00 a.m. “Scottish Genealogical Research” Helen Hinchliff
8:00 a.m. “Using Genealogy in DNA Genetic Studies, Anita A.
9:30 a.m. “Irish Immigration” David E. Rencher
9:30 a.m. “Cherokee Strip—No Tassels Please” Sharron
11:00 a.m. “Computer BBS Systems as a Research Tool”
Donald K. Wilson
2:30 p.m. “Research in Texas Courthouses” John A. Sellers
4:00 p.m. “Virginia Land Records, Deeds, Patents and Probate
Records” Mary McCampbell Bell
4:00 p.m. “Unlocking Melungeon’s Ancestry, the Making of a
Documentary” Brent Kennedy
6:00 p.m. Texas Bar-B-Cue by Friends of the Clayton Library,
Entertainment by The Lone Star Cowboys. Dress western.
Friday, June 3
8:00 a.m. “Talking to Genealogists Worldwide–for Free”
Robert H. Waldrop
9:30 a.m. “The Importance of Knowing Your Family Health History”
Joan Kirchman Mitchell.
11:00 a.m. “Gone to Texas: Migration Patterns” Sammie T. Lee
11:00 a.m. “The Origins of the Winthrop Fleet” from England to New
England, 1628-1633 Robert Charles Anderson
2:30 p.m. “Tar Heel Origins, North Carolina Sources” Helen F. Leary
2:30 p.m. “Umbilical Lines and mtDNA Analysis” T. H. Roderick
4:00 p.m. “Tri-Racial Isolate Groups of South Carolina” Virginia
4:00 p.m. “Colonial Naturalization Laws and Records” George K.
7:00 p.m. National Genealogical Society Banquet, “Congressmen,
Bureaucrats and Genealogists” Hon. Carl W. Albert
Saturday, June 4
8:00 a.m. “Research in the Palmetto State–South Carolina, A
Colony and a State” Lloyd Dewitt Bockstruck
9:30 a.m. “He Being Dead Yet Speaketh” Jo White Linn
11:00 a.m. “The Genealogy, Genetics and Geography of Sickle Cell
Anemia and the Thalassemias” Joan Kirchman Mitchell.
2:30 p.m. “The Search for Indian Ancestors–Another Trail of Tears”
2:30 p.m. “South Carolina Equity Records” Brent H. Holcomb
4:00 p.m. “If Grandpa Wore Gray, National Archives Confederate
Records” Marie Varrellman Melchiori
4) Dear Cousins
Does anyone know of a Patsy Gowen/Guion/Guynes
who c1805 was married in TN to Elijah Richardson? Patsy,
my g-g-gm, had a brother, Will Gowen who got a
schoolteacher “in trouble” and had to flee to Louisiana. This
information was recalled in the 1930s by Aunt Janie Keene,
then in her 90s. She was a granddaughter of Patsy. Before
1820, the Elijah Richardson family removed to southwestern
Mississippi, near the Louisiana line. Since Patsy was a
nickname for “Martha” at that time, she may have been
recorded under either name. Your help is solicited. Granville
W. Hough, 3438-B Bahia Blanca West, Laguna Hills, CA,
Foundation members will be interested to know how
Abraham Lincoln dealt with the Melungeon issue. Published
in the February issue of “American Bar Association Journal”
is an article by Janet Key summarizing Lincoln’s 24-year legal
practice in Springfield, Illinois. The article is based on the
research of the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency which
is reconstructing from courthouse records across the state the
5,000 cases that Lincoln handled. An excerpt from the article
“As the result of a family dispute over William
Dungey’s marriage to Joseph Spencer’s sister, Spencer claimed
that his brother-in-law, “Black Bill”–actually a dark-skinned
man of Portuguese descent–was a Negro.
Because Illinois had passed so-called “Black Laws”
in 1853 that denied free blacks the right to settle in the state,
Dungey faced losing not only is reputation, but his marriage,
property and right to stay in Illinois if Spencer’s claims stuck.
Lincoln filed suit against Spencer for slander and
during the trial managed to not only demolish his opponent’s
reputation and the credibility of his witnesses, but to win the
case for his client. For teaching Spencer an expensive lesson
in domestic relations and saving Dungey’s entire livelihood
Lincoln collected a $25 fee.”
See you in Houston. Virginia Easley DeMarce, 5635
N. 25th Road, Arlington, VA, 22207-1403.
I have received an advertisement on “The Gowans
Since the Civil War” authored by Jack Gowan, c/o 611
Pennsylvania Ave. SE, #1015, Washington, DC, 20003. Since
many of the Foundation members are acquainted with my
husband, Jack Gowan, this is a disclaimer that he is not the
said author and has no association with the above book.
It appears that we will not be able to join you in
Houston unless I come in a wheelchair. In a recent fall I broke
some bones and now find myself a handicapped person. I am
now confined to our master bedroom, and Florida Room to the
back door and cannot even reach our copy machine.
I am enclosing a letter from Myrtle Gowan of
Columbus County, NC. Will you please copy it to Phillip
Gowan of Nashville. I believe it deals with his family. LaFay
E. Gowan, 2157 Shadybrook Lane, Hoover, AL, 35226-1831.
I am researching the family of Garrett
Gowan/Gowen/Gowin bc1790 who lived on the NC-SC
border in the early to mid-1800s. In the 1820s “Garet Gowen”
was a constable in Columbus County, NC, but in the early
1840s he was just across the line in Horry County where he
was elected to the SC House of Representatives. According to
their records, he died in 1845, and a special election was
called to fill his position.
In 1850, his wife, Nancy Ann Terry Gowan and their
children, Catherine, Benjamin, James and Henry were back in
Columbus County, NC.
Garrett Gowan was the son of John Gowan, Jr. and
Edith Faulk Gowan of Columbus Co, NC. John Gowan, Jr.
was the son of John Gowan of Robeson County, NC, just to
the west. His will was dated 1800, but I don’t think he died
until after 1810. I would be interested in hearing from any
Foundation members who are researching this family. John B.
McGowan, 209 McLean Street, Laurinburg, NC, 28352
I read with great interest the article “The Mysterious
Melungeons” in “Our Heritage,” Volume 35, No. 1 describing
the Foundation’s research of the Melungeons, a new term to
me. I was startled to notice the similarity in the spelling of
“Melungeon” and my surname “Melugin.”
My father, Thomas Melugin was black headed with
blue eyes, and he was illiterate, but he knew the Bible. Daddy
didn’t fit in with the people from the hills of Missouri. His
coloring was different and dark, but not Negro. Polio hit my
family, and several died. When this happened, we were
quarantined, and we withdrew even more.
My brother joined the Air Force and died in Viet
Nam. I followed in his tracks and joined the Air Force also
and am now stationed here in San Antonio. Thomas Melugin
died, and two weeks later his wife died. I went back home and
buried them. Since 1963 I have battled cancer
and last year I had a CVA stroke. The doctors have asked a
lot of questions about my medical history and inherited
genetics which I know nothing about. I am in awe of the
information in the article.
Can you or any of your Melungeon researchers put
me in touch with some geneticists who might have some
answers? I need information about inherited Melungeon
genetic tendencies, about the Melungeons themselves and
about how my surname was derived. Patsy Sue Melugin, 330
Kitty Hawk, #105, Universal City, TX, 78148
Gowen Research Foundation Phone: 806/795-8758 or
5708 Gary Avenue E-mail: email@example.com
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.