Sections in this issue:
1) Few Traces of Gowen Family Remain at Combahee Ferry Research Report–;
2) Robert Gowing Regarded First Gowing Individual in America;
3) DEAR COUSINS.
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
Volume 6, No. 8 April 1995
1) Few Traces of Gowen Family
Remain at Combahee Ferry
By W. Jackson Greene
182 Evian, Hilton Head, South Carolina, 29928
Not much has changed about the Combahee River since Lt.
James Gowen and Mary “Polly” Keating Gowen lived here
200 years ago. Their community of Combahee Ferry, South
Carolina no longer exists, but the site is easy to locate. A
bridge on U.S. Highway 17 now spans the Combahee where
the ferry used to operate. My first step was to get acquainted
with the area. Equipped with a British map printed in 1780,
an American map surveyed in 1820 and a modern map
prepared by the State of South Carolina, I drove to the site,
compared the topographic features of the maps and took
photographs. Much remains the same.
The colonial map was excellent. It was surveyed by William
Bull, Capt. C. H. Bryan, and William De Brahn and published
in 1780 at Charing Cross. It contains South Carolina and part
of Georgia. It shows Combahee Ferry [pronounced ComÄbe,
emphasis on the first syllable; “Com” as in common]) in
Prince William Parish in the northwest corner of Beaufort
It is clearly marked, at what is now the intersection of U.S. 17
and the Combahee River. There is no settlement at the ferry on
either side, just scattered houses. Landowners are indicated by
location and name. No listing is found for either Gowen or
Keating. There are two locations for a Godin to the north,
across the Combahee River in Colleton County, including one
at the intersection of the same road and the Ashepoo River.
The largest group of houses are at Garden, near the current site
of Garden’s Corner. The Sheldon Church is marked, on a road
northwest of Garden, now called Old Church Road, in what
appears to be the same location. The church was burned
twice, once in the Revolutionary War and again by Gen.
William Tecumseh Sherman in the Civil War. It was not
rebuilt the last time, but portions of the building remain.
The 1820 map of Beaufort District of South Carolina was surveyed
by C. Vignoles and H. Ravenel. It was published in
Mills Atlas of 1825. It was composed of maps of all South
Carolina districts. Combahee Ferry is still marked in 1820,
but there is no mention of Prince William or any other parish.
Perhaps the parish was a terminology of the British system,
because although the 1780 map was after the start of the
Revolutionary War, it was published in England. Landowners
are marked frequently in other sections of the map but not in
the vicinity of Combahee Ferry. There is no mention of
Gowen or Keating in Beaufort District, or on the Colleton
The river is still tidal at this point, about 10 miles from the
Atlantic. Sometimes it is salty; sometimes fresh. It varies in
level, and the land is less than five feet above the water, so a
ferry could easily have taken traffic from the land at this point.
I would place the Gowens and the Keatings south of the bridge
in Beaufort County. Here are woods, swamps and open
marshes. U.S. 17 is fairly new, only two lanes, but straight,
long curves, well raised over the low water levels. The
crossing is on a similarly shaped “neck” of land on the
Colleton County side. The river turns toward Colleton County
both upstream and downstream of the bridge, in the same
relationship to the ferry in the early maps. North across the
Combahee now is open marsh for a mile and a quarter before a
woody swamp, so there is no clue of an old roadway. There is
no clue at the bridge either,
Gardens Corner, the closest community, about five miles
south, was in 1820 and is now in a T-shaped intersection at the
same place, a junction with one road going northeast to
Charleston, about 30 miles, and the other going west to
Yemassee, about eight miles..
The trail to Mary Gowen’s gravestone mentioned in the
Foundation manuscript, page 602, was easy to follow.
Photographs of the church and stone are enclosed. I drove to
the ruins of the old Sheldon Church located about two miles
west of Gardens Corner.
Although I had been told that there were remains, I was
amazed at the good condition of brick walls and stone
columns. The graveyard is still used, with 1994 gravestones.
The Mary Gowen stone is maybe 100 feet behind and to the
left of the church, more or less east. A small chunk of the
stone has chipped off, so that the “3” in 1813, her death date,
is missing. There is no writing on the rear of the stone, and
nothing else visible nearby. There is no other stone for a
Gowen or Keating among the maybe 40 others scattered in the
yard around the ruins. If Lt. James Gowen is buried here, his
grave is unmarked.
Also enclosed are photos of the area at or near where
Combahee Ferry probably was. Photocopies of the area in
question, from maps in 1780 and 1820 are enclosed. The land
ownership maps were quite good, so there is not much
question about the geography, but there is no mention of
Gowen or Keating.
The Foundation manuscript quotes correctly the “South Carolina
Historical & Genealogical Magazine,” Volume 18,
which states that the churchyard is “on the road from Port
Royal Ferry to Purysburg.” The magazine gives an accurate
description of the church, but a misleading location for it.
Today, well-marked Old Sheldon Church Road turns to the
north off U.S. Highways 17 and 21, just west of Gardens
Corner. The church is two miles out, on the right, with a
The 1780 map shows Purysburg and Port Royal both well to
the south and east of Sheldon. However, features of the
topography, a wide river and swamps, may have caused a
traveler from Port Royal to Purisburg to go through Sheldon,
even if it is not on the direct line. The Broad River lies
between Port Royal and Purisburg, a windswept tidal river,
more than a mile wide.
Maps of 1780 and 1820 show no ferry across the Broad. So
the “Port Royal ferry” may have been north over the Coofaw
River, the one called Mr. Priolau’s Ferry, or the one at
Cochran’s Point. Roads from both crossings passed west
through Sheldon and intersected a road which turned south
and east to Purisburg, avoiding the extensive swampland and
The name of Lt. James Gowen does not jump out from the
records of Beaufort [pronounced “Beu-fort,” as in Beulah]
County, so it is clear that you would have a difficult time to
track him down if your were researching “from a distance.”
Even standing here where he stood, it is a formidable task.
The records in the Beaufort County Library do confirm his
appointment as a Revolutionary War officer. James Gowen
was commissioned October 28, 1775 as a third lieutenant in
the Volunteer Company of Dragoons of Prince Williams
Parish [The Swift and Bold] under Capt. Charles Browne.
Thanks for the information from the Foundation manuscript.
From it, I now know more about the Gowen family than the
Greene family. And someday I will pursue the conjunction
between the two in the 19th century.
In future installments I will also do an analysis of the early
census records of South Carolina as they pertain to Gowen
families. There seems to be a discrepancy in the census
records of Lt. James Gowen when compared to what appears
in the Foundation manuscript. However, this is a complex
problem, further complicated by illiteracy, enumerator
indifference and a general tendency of the citizens to avoid
contact with government officials of any kind whom they
regarded with suspicion during that period.
I will work on the task again soon. In particular, I will clarify
the census records and check the county clerk records for
deeds, tax renditions and other records dealing with property.
The county court records may also yield a lot of Gowenana.
They routinely deal with probate, appointment of
administrators, executors and guardians, care of the indigent
and insane, paternity suits, bastardy, apprenticeships, road and
bridge venires, court venires, licensing of ordinaries, taverns,
millseats, proving of wills, deeds and contracts, bond issuance,
jail and flogging sentences, the remarriage of widows, the
taking of depositions relating to military pensions and many
other actions that may open a window on the facets of life in
South Carolina at that time.
I am learning about the county I live in, and its history, so the
task is a pleasant one.
The gravestone of Mary “Polly” Keating Gowen stands in the
foreground at the rear of Old Sheldon Church remains. The
church was burned during the Revolutionary War and again
during the Civil War. Photo by the Author.
2) Robert Gowing Regarded First
Gowing Individual in America
Robert Gowing, regarded as the first individual to bear the
name in America, was born in Scotland in 1618 of parents unknown,
according to “American Ancestry.” He emigrated
from Edinburgh, Scotland to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in
1634 as a “man servant” and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts
in Middlesex County.
In 1636 he removed to Dedham, Massachusetts. In July 1639
Robert Gowing, “man servant, joined the church in full
communion,” according to “Dedham Town Records” Volume II.
He attended the Dedham town meetings from 1640 to 1647
and was granted land prior to 1642. He became a freeman in
1644, four years after attending his first town meeting, according
to “Genealogical Guide to Early Settlers in America” by
Robert Gowing was married to Elizabeth Brock, daughter of
Henry Brock and Elizabeth Brock October 31, 1644, “at age
31”, according to “Pioneers of Massachusetts” by Pope. The
bride was born in Stradbrook, England. Robert Gowing was a
resident of Wenham, Massachusetts in 1650 when he was
required to appear in court to answer for the sale of a gun to an
“Records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in New England”
reveal, “23 May 1650, Robert Gowen, of Wenham,
havinge sould a gunne to the Indians, & in so doeinge havinge
forfeited by law ten pounds, vppon a petition proferred to this
court, hath the one halfe of his fine remitted, vizt, five pounds,
A week later the following entry was made in the court
records, “30 May 1650, In answer to the petition of Robert
Gowing for remittment of the fine of tenne pounds for selling
a gunne to the Indians, the court remitts one half therof.”
Later Robert Gowing and Elizabeth Brock Gowing lived at
Watertown, Lynnfield in 1660 and Lynn, Massachusetts. He
died in Lynn June 7, 1698 and was probably buried there. His
death was recorded in Lynn Church Records as “Roberd
Children born to Robert Gowing and Elizabeth Brock Gowing
John Gowing born September 3, 1645
Elizabeth Gowing born about 1646
Hannah Gowing born December 21, 1648
Priscilla Gowing born about 1649
Nathaniel Gowing born about 1651
3) DEAR COUSINS
I am enclosing an article about Pfc. Archie Goins,
S/N 35132322 who served in the U.S. Army in World War II.
He volunteered for the First Ranger Battalion and served in
North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He was captured by the Nazis
and interned in various stalags in Germany.
The article, written by Ranger Col. Clarence H.
Meltesen, was published in the March 1995 edition of “Ex-
POW Bulletin.” The brutality and savagery that Archie Goins
endured at the hands of the S.S. troops and prison guards do
not make pretty reading, but I thought you would like to have
a copy for the Foundation Library.
I, too, was a prisoner-of-war and underwent similar
treatment. Col. Meltesen has written a book and several
articles about prisoners-of-war in the European Theatre during
WWII. If the Foundation or any of its members can identify
Archie Goins, please contact me with any details you can
provide about his life. I will forward it on to Col. Meltesen
who is anxious to contact him. Darrel A. Russell, Natchez
Trace Genealogical Society, Box 420, Florence, AL, 45631.
Our mailing list reveals three men of that name, Archie D.
Goins, Spiro, OK, 918/962-3574; Archie Goins, LaFollette,
TN, 615/562-3120 and Archie E. Goins, Richmond, IN,
317/935-2223. Perhaps our members will know of more.
Thanks to all for the wonderful and thrilling
information in the March Newsletter about James Burns
Gowen. Would also guess that his son, William Price Gowen
[1824-1873] is buried there in a now unmarked grave. His
wife, Sydney Floyd Gowen [1829-1896] is buried in Old Flat
Creek Cemetery, Flat Creek, Tennessee in Bedford County.
Since she died 23 years later, it does seem logical.
We do appreciate the family newsletter. it is
excellent. Elizabeth Hale Morfitt, 353 Westmoreland Drive,
Idaho Falls, ID, 83402.
The Newsletter collection arrived in good condition
and is now in the Melungeon Section of the Midwest
Genealogy Library. Our membership is really intrigued by the
mystery of the Melungeons, and many here have the right
surnames in the right locations to be descendants. Those you
have been stymied see the possibility of a break-through now.
My book on Thomas Goin that you inquired about is
now in the hands of Joyce Locke of Portales, New Mexico
who is doing the indexing. It ended up over 500 pages, so the
indexing will take a little time. My husband has had a bout
with spinal meningitis, and I am now the 24-hour care-giver.
There is never enough time for genealogy, is there? Dianne
Thurman, 4201 Wildflower Circle, Wichita, KS, 67210,
Over this past weekend, a set of your Newsletters
was donated to our society for its research library. We have
the second largest historical and family history/genealogy
library is Queens County and sponsor the Queens Genealogy
Your officers, directors and contributing members are
to be commended for a well-written, attractive and most
interesting Newsletter. George P. Miller, Executive Director,
Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, 1820 Flushing Ave,
Ridgewood, NY, 11385, 718/456-1776.
Thank you so much for the large packet of
information about William Gowen and son, James Burns
Gowen. These are intriguing men. We will pass this
information along to our children and grandchildren. John &
Maxine Gowan, 404 Old Athens Pike, Sweetwater, TN,
This package contains Section 154 of the Foundation
Manuscript which we have proofread and attached corrections,
revisions, expansions, etc. Also, extended information is included
on Jonathan Frederick Gowen and Amanda Jane
Sexton Gowen and their descendants. Jonathan Frederick
Gowen is identified as the son of Jonathan Henry Gowen and
Hannah J. Beasley Gowen of Patrick County, Virginia and
Adair County, Kentucky.
Many descendants of Jonathan Frederick Gowen and
his older kinsman Frederick Gowen [also of Patrick and Adair
counties] exhibit dark complexions and other distinctive features.
Some researchers regard them as Melungeon.
As new research and information is received, it will
be passed along to the Foundation. Thank you for your
continued work and dedication. Barbara J. Ludwig, 9848 W.
Gardner Rd, Bloomington, IN, 47403.
Since the Gowen surname is prevalent in the
Onondaga County area, we are pleased to have the Gowen
Research Foundation Newsletter as a part of this important
collection. Renate Cifra Dunsmore, Onondaga County Public
Library, 447 S. Salina St, Syracuse, NY, 13202.
I am looking for information on the parents of Sarah
Gowen, bc1695 in VA. She was mc1714 to Nathan Morgan
who dc1750 in Onslow Co, NC. Sarah Gowen Morgan
dc1765 in NC. Their son Gowen Morgan was born in 1742
and died in 1781 in Onslow County. He was married about
1765 to Mary Thompson. Bryan Huneycutt, 25561 Novela
Way, Valencia, CA, 91355.
Enclosed please find my membership renewal. I
have been out of the country for several months and did not
intend for my membership to lapse. I have made many new
friends and found too many long lost cousins over the years
since 1990 to ever intentionally not stay a member of the
Foundation. Through these new contacts I have made many
great strides in my own family research. Larry H. Goins, 1815
Bacon’s Bridge Rd, #E-6, Summerville, SC, 29485.
I am interested in corresponding with anyone related
to John Gowen, son of Shadrack Gowen of Patrick County,
VA, [c1800]. Hoping that John Gowen connects to my
William Gowen line. C. G. Young, Box 3791, Martinsville,
VA, 74115, 703/632-4711.
I am writing to inquire about any data you may have
linking Gowen/Goins to either Barnes/Barns or
Cannon/Kennon in any Southern state. In particular, I’m
interested in South Carolina data, as there are hints of links in
records there to my Barnes and Cannon families.
John Barnes of Greenville Co, SC, deed dated 25
Aug 1797 to John Swaffer, 7 Apr 1798, for oe30 sterling, 50
acres adjacent Mager Gowens Corner… John Barnes, Wit:
William Blyth, Daniel Blyth.
Researcher Brent Holcomb states, “Mager Gowen
was Maj. John “Buck” Gowen, a wellÄknown figure in upper
Greenville County near the Spartanburg line. I believe that the
current community of Gowensville was near his residence.”]
From Greenville Co. Deed Book D, pp. 534Ä535;
“Mary Barnes of Greenville District, SC [possibly widow of
John Barnes] deed dated 28 Mar 1819, to Thomas Payne for
$100, tract of 100 acres in Greenville District on a branch of
the middle fork of Saluda River whereon the said Mary Barnes
and Henry Deen now live. Mary [X] Barns [LS], Wit: John
Gowen, James Gowen. Proved by the oath of John Gowen,
Junr that he saw Molly Barnes sign the deed, 7 Feb 1820.
There was a Goins marriage into the Carter Cannon
family. Carter Cannon was the fatherÄinÄlaw of John S.
Barns [1813 ALÄ1853 TX]. Carter’s daughter, Elizabeth,
married William Goins in TX. Carter Cannon [c1794
SCÄApril 1875 Tarrant Co, TX.] Cecilie Gaziano, 4511
Fremont Avenue So, Minneapolis, MN, 55409,
612Ä825Ä8887, Fax 612Ä825Ä8174, EÄmail:
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com)
I felt you would interested in an Indian by the name
of Gowane for whom landmarks in Brooklyn, New York were
named, according to “The Stone House at Gowanus,” 1909 by
“The first settlement by white people within the
boundaries of the present city of Brooklyn was made in I636,
just 27 years after Henry Hudson dropped anchor from the
“Halve Maen” in what is now New York Bay. In I636
“William Bennet and Jacques Bentyn purchased from the
Indians a tract of 930 acres of land at Gowanus, upon which,
at some time previous to the Indian War of 1643Ä45~ a
dwelling house was erected.” This was the beginning of the
village of Gowanus, near Gowanus Bay; and the same name
was given to the region bordering Gowanus Creek, afterward
Gowanus Canal, and extending easterly to the wooded hills.
The name, Gowanus, is an Indian one, and was said to be the
place where an Indian, called Gowane, planted his corn.”
I recall that the Iroquois Confederacy, the fiercest and
predominant tribe in New York used to banish other tribes of
whom they became distrustful. The banished tribes, called
“squaws” by the Iroquois, were sent to the area which later
became the states of Virginia and the Carolinas.
A recent Newsletter article cited the use of DNA
testing to show a relationship between groups. This might add
some more diversity to the Melungeon mix. Another
hypothesis suggests that American Indians are the progeny of
Asiatic travellers who crossed the Alaskan land bridge. Genes
of Ghengis Khan! Austin W. Gowan, Box 134, Wilmington,
Gowen Research Foundation 806/795-8758 or 795-9694
5708 Gary Avenue
Lubbock, Texas, 79413 Electronic Library/BBS
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.