Sections in this issue:
1) Melungeon Research Committee Completes Filming in Turkey;
2) Thomas Goin and Descendants Pioneered in Claiborne Co, TN;
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. 11 July 1995
1) Melungeon Research Committee
Completes Filming in Turkey
By N. Brent Kennedy, Ph.D.
From April 23rd to May 4, Atlanta Emmy Award-winning
documentary filmmaker William VanDerKloot [previous
works include “Portrait of America” with Hal Holbrook
[WTBS], “World of Audubon” [WTBS], “Time and Dreams,”
the official film on the Atlanta Olympic Committee, and
“Energy: Progress Revisited” hosted by Forrest Sawyer for
PBS], his film crew, and I were in Turkey as official guests of
the Turkish Government. The Turkish Government awarded a
full travel and expenses grant after reviewing historical,
linguistic, cultural, and medical/genetic evidence relating the
Melungeons to Portuguese and, specifically, Turkish peoples,
and independently concluding that the evidence was
overwhelming. A significant amount of information was
gathered, and equally significant findings were made. I’d like
to present to readers of the Foundation Newsletter a flavoring
of the trip, with the understanding that much work remains
ahead of us in sorting through the volumes of data collected.
First, a few words on Turkey It was an exhausting but glorious
two weeks, with the generally negative media images of
Turkey melting into oblivion as the true nature of the nation
and its people quickly became obvious. We were all amazed
at the generosity and warmth of the Turkish people, as well as
the beauty and cleanliness of their cities. I found Istanbul,
despite its 14 million people, to be much tidier – and safer –
than my own city of Atlanta. And the beauty of this ancient
city with its exquisite mosques and Roman architecture
[Istanbul was known as Constantinople under the Romans] is
overwhelming. And this is to say nothing of the exquisite
food – Turkish cooking is considered, along with French and
Chinese, to be one of the world’s three greatest cuisines, and I
now know why.
Turkey is also the world’s largest open air museum, with many
Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Holy sites scattered throughout
the country. I was particularly moved by the great respect and
care given by the Muslim Turks to sacred Christian sites. The
Muslims revere Jesus and Mary and welcome Christians as
fellow “People of the Books”. There is no greater spiritual
experience than watching devout Muslims respond to the call
for prayer at Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, or any of the other major
mosques for that matter. Regardless if you’re Melungeon,
Turk, or neither, Turkey should be your next destination site.
The probable Turkish connection to our people simply
sweetens what is already a fabulous destination site.
Our travel guide, incidentally, was Mr. Mehmet Topcak of
Abatur Travel in Istanbul, and I recommend him strongly for
anyone wanting a wonderful agent/guide who knows the country,
as well as the quality yet reasonably priced hotels, the best
restaurants, and who is already familiar with the Melungeon
The author, Dr. Brent Kennedy, third from left, with his
Melungeon features, blends in with his Anatolian friends. The
Turkish government, intrigued with his research on
Melungeon roots, extended a grant for him and his film crew
to work in Turkey.
He provided his services free of charge and even opened his
home to me as his overnight guest [though interested travellers
shouldn’t expect such continued generosity, as Mehmet, too,
must earn a living!]
Mehmet’s telephone number is 001-90-212-516-3473 [just dial
it as is, and remember the cost is about $2.00 per minute].
Mehmet speaks excellent English, but do remember that
Istanbul is seven hours ahead of Eastern time; that is, when
it’s, when it’s 12 noon in Sneedville, Tennessee, it’s 7:00 p.m.
A little background on the most promising theory of our origin
The steadily accumulating evidence is that the Melungeons,
while today a diverse people representing all races and
cultures, descended at least in part from two separate, major
population groups. The first parent population group would
appear to be the primarily Portuguese survivors of Spain’s
Santa Elena Colony which was located near present-day
Beaufort, South Carolina.
Melungeon Research Committee member Dr. Chester
DePratter of the University of South Carolina is one of the two
principal archaeologists working the Santa Elena site. These
sixteenth-century settlers, although of Portuguese nationality,
were themselves of mixed Arab, Moorish [Berber and
Turkish], Jewish, Basque, Portuguese and Spanish stock.
After Santa Elena’s destruction by the English in the late
1580’s, the evidence indicates that many survivors – perhaps as
many as 200 men, women and children – made their way to the
safety of the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern
The second parent population group would appear to be approximately
200 to 300 liberated Turkish galley slaves, two
dozen South American Indians, and two dozen West Africans
set ashore at North Carolina in 1586 by Sir Francis Drake
[ironically, the same year Santa Elena fell]. Drake had
inadvertently rescued the Turks from their Portuguese captors
in South America and the Caribbean. He had planned to take
them back to England and ransom them “to the Turkish Dominions,”
but Ralph B. Lane’s English colony at Roanoke
Island had wanted to go home, and Drake apparently set these
men out to make room for his compatriots.
Historian David B. Quinn provides several well researched
works on this particular incident. Unlike the Europeans, the
Turks, being Muslims, harbored far less racial prejudice than
their European adversaries, and banded together with their
South American Indian and West African compatriots. I am
convinced that they eventually intermarried with Powhatan,
Pamunkey and Catawba Indians, adding a degree of Native
American blood to their population and exchanging cultural
Over the years, they too ended up in western North Carolina
where they again intermarried with the survivors of Santa
Elena. The longstanding Melungeon claims to be both
Portuguese and Turkish/Moorish have been criticized as
The Melungeon claim to be both Portuguese and Turkish now
seem to make sense, as does the longstanding mystery word
“Melungeon”, pronounced identically to the Turkish “melun
can,” meaning “cursed soul” or “one whose luck has run out”.
The genetic and medical evidence both seem to corroborate
the above ethnic and racial origins for our people [See Dr.
James Guthrie’s work in “Tennessee Anthropologist,” Spring,
1990], and the finding of such genetically-related
Mediterranean diseases as thallesemia and Machado-Joseph
Disease in the Melungeon population cannot be coincidental.
In my strong opinion, within the next five to ten years scholars
will take for granted the fact that both our Nation and our
people – regardless of their assumed “races” – have a
heretofore unacknowledged rich Middle Eastern, southern
European, and African heritage that predates Anglo America.
To me this is the most marvelous aspect of the Melungeon
story – the unseen interrelatedness of all people.
Now to a few tid-bits from the trip! Most of our findings will
be presented in the film, to be released in the Spring, 1996,
and other points of interest and comparisons are still being
examined by Research Committee members. However, there
are a number of intriguing elements that can be shared at this
The Turkish Navy is cooperating fully with our research effort
[we met with and filmed Turkish Admiral Taner Uzunay, as
well as artifacts in the archaeology and naval museum]. The
Navy controls the Ottoman Archival files of interest to our
project, and Admiral Uzunay will be assisting us in availing
ourselves of the proper documents, as well as scholars who
can translate from the old Arabic. It is an accepted fact by the
Turks that many of their sixteenth-century seamen were lost to
the Portuguese and ended up as galley slaves.
Of interest, the Turks can document many of these prisoners
being taken to the Canaries and Azores where they became
Portuguese “conversos” [forced Catholic settlers in the New
World!] Turkish historians have always assumed that captured
“Levants” [Ottoman sailors] were generally taken to the
Canaries, Azores, and the New World as slave labor.
Ironically, the Turks feel a special closeness today with the
Portuguese [as opposed to the Spanish] due to such ethnic
admixtures. The assistance of the Turkish Navy in this highly
specialized research area will help immensely.
Other intriguing evidence includes a documented map that
was owned by Piri Reis, a Turk dated at 1513 and showing
most of North and South America, as well as the Caribbean –
areas unknown to the Spanish and the English of the time.
Piri’s descendant, Murat Reis, in the 1600’s sailed his fleets to
the Canaries, Holland, England, and Scandinavia. Some
Turkish historians are convinced that he also reached North
We discovered some fascinating similarities between Turkish
and Arabesque kilim and carpet designs from the 1500’s to
Melungeon and Appalachian quilting. We filmed Anotolian
[the Aegean region where most of the sixteenth-century Ottoman
sailors supposedly originated] folk dancers and were
stunned to see [except for the costumes] Appalachian “line” or
“square” dancing, with dulcimer-like instruments providing a
bluegrass style background rhythm. The western Anatolians
are dark-complexioned and known for their light blue eyes. I
saw duplicates of my family everywhere. One particular
individual – a handsome fellow with blue eyes, was so dark
that he was nicknamed “The African” by his fellow fisherman.
We ate sixteenth-century Ottoman meals, and I cannot tell the
difference from the meals my great grandmother prepared
[which were quite different from Irish or English cuisine]. The
Anatolians even had “tomato gravy” which seems to be unheard
of outside the Melungeon population.
I asked an eight-year-old Anatolian girl if I could take her
photo and, just as my great-grandmother, Maggie Bennett
Nash, used to do when saying no in a nonverbal fashion, she
threw her head back, did a “clicking” sound in her throat, and
walked away. I was stunned, but later was told that this is the
old Anatolian method of saying no without offending. My
mother and aunts have always used the term “gaumy” [my
spelling] to indicate something was a mess or wrong [i.e, “I’m
feeling gaumy.”] I’ve always considered the word an old
country expression. Well, I heard the same word used among
the Anatolian fishermen – its meaning: “sad.” Even my
mother was astounded at that one! I also heard so many
Anatolian names that, although spelled differently, sounded
exactly like “Reece,” Ramey,” “Ramsey,” Sampson,” “Nash,”
“Perry,” “Berry” and “Hall” – all common Melungeon ,
Lumbee, and South Carolina “Turk” surnames. And I was
moved to see that whenever one turned away from the Aegean
and looked inland, there stood replicas of the Appalachian
Mountains! Despite their seafaring lives, the Anatolians are a
mountain people, just like the Melungeons.
In the Naval Museum, the sixteenth-century costume of an Ottoman
warrior Levant looked quite familiar – I’ve seen it on the
models of the eighteenth-century Cherokees in Cherokee,
North Carolina. “Delaware” is a Turkish word meaning
“beautiful land.” “Hatteras” is Turkish-Croatian, meaning
“luxurious.” “Niagara” is Turkish for “a loud, roaring noise,”
“potomoc” [as in the “Potomac” River] is Turkish/Croatian for
“descendants”], “pohatan” [as in “Chief Powhatan”] means
“cruel, aggressive leader, “shiroki” [or Cherokee”] means
“widespread”], and “Croatan:” [as with the “Croatan” Indians]
is simply the Ottoman word for the Croatan people. And the
list is by no means exhausted.
(To be continued)
2) Thomas Goin and Descendants
Pioneered in Claiborne Co, TN
By Beverly J. Ellison Nelson
3391 W. Aksarben Avenue
Littleton, Colorado 80123
Sterling Goin, son of Levi Goin and Elizabeth Stallions Goin,
was born November 4, 1818. He was married first to Mary
Ann Keck, second to Dicy M. Davis and third to Melvina M.
Moyers. He was the father of 22 children.
LeRoy Goin, son of Levi Goin and Elizabeth Stallions Goin,
was born December 8, 1819. He was married February 13,
1840 to Rebecca Fuson and removed to Mercer County,
Missouri. In 1864 they moved to Oregon. Eleven children
were born to them.
Eli Goin, son of Levi Goin and Elizabeth Stallions Goin, was
born March 2, 1825. He was married August 9, 1849 to
Rachel Edwards. He was politically active and an office
holder in Claiborne County. He died December 22, 1903 and
was buried in Pleasant Point Cemetery beside his wife. Ten
children were born to them.
Jamima Jane Goin, daughter of Levi Goin and Elizabeth
Stallions Goin, was born in 1827. She was married to Calvin
Sparks and became the mother of seven children.
With his 22 children Sterling Goin holds the record for fecundity
among the descendants of Thomas Goin. Although one
researcher claims that there was a fourth wife for Sterling
Goin, this writer has traced that unfounded rumor to her
greatÄgrandfather, James Knox Polk Goin, Sterling’s second
son. The rumor is contradicted by what appeared in a 1904
biography where Polk related the following information after
his family’s background:
“For over a third of a century this gentleman [James Knox
Polk Goin] has made his home in Gage County, Nebraska, and
he has aided materally [sic] in the growth and development of
Island Grove township, which is his place of residence.
“He was born in Claiborne County, Tennessee, on the 10th of
April, 1845, and belongs to an old southern family of English
and Scotch extraction that was founded in Tennessee at an
early day in its history. His grandfather, Levi Goin was a
native of Virginia, but the greater part of his life was passed in
Tennessee where Sterling Goin, our subject’s father, was born
in 1818. There the latter grew to manhood and married Miss
Mary Keck, also a native of Tennessee, by whom he had 16
children, 15 of that number reaching mature years.
After the death of the mother, the father married again, and by
his second union had two children, one of whom is now
deceased. He has been a third time married, and has three
children by that union. Throughout his active life he has
followed farming and is still living in Tennessee at the age of
85 years. He is a faithful member of the Baptist Church and is
a supporter of the Republican party. He was a strong Union
man during the Civil war and suffered much at the hands of
the rebels, who took his grain and stock.”15
A slightly different version of the family’s background is
found in the 1889 biography written about Polk’s brother, Philip:
“He was born near Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee
August 15, 1846, and his father, Sterling Goin, was also a
native of the same county. Levi Goin, the grandfather of the
subject an AmericanÄborn citizen of Irish descent, was an
early settler of Tennessee and was numbered among the wellto-
do farmers of his time in Claiborne County, and there he
died in 1863, when he was over 80 years old.
His son, Sterling was reared on his farm, and after attaining
man’s estate he married Mary Keck, who was a native of the
same county as himself. After the marriage the father of our
subject continued on the old homestead, buying the heirs out,
and was for many years extensively engaged in farming and
stock raising. In 1886 he sold the old place and turned his
attention to hotelÄkeeping in Tazewell, Tennessee where he is
now living at the age of seventy years. He is a man of great
force and is highly respected in his neighborhood. His
estimable wife closed her eyes to the scenes of earth while yet
scarcely past the prime of life. dying December 22, 1868,
when forty-five years old.16
Sterling and Mary Ann’s family was one literally torn apart by
the Civil War. After the oldest son John was inducted into the
Confederate Army, second son Polk walked over Cumberland
Mountain and signed up with the First Tennessee Artillery of
the Union Army. He was soon joined by Keck cousins and
next younger brother Philip.
Shortly after the end of the war and safe return of her three
sons. Mary Ann Keck Goin who was born in 1823 in
Claiborne County, the daughter of John Keck, Sr. and Anna
Owsley, died on December 23, 1868 at Goin, Tennessee. She
had married Sterling Goin in Claiborne County October 2,
1839.17 Since her sixteenth child, Mary, was born on the
same day that she died, it is presumed that Mary Ann’s death
was from complications of childbirth. She was buried at
Pleasant Point Cemetery.
Sterling Goin was remarried May 25, 1870 to Dicy M. Davis.
Three children were born to her before she died February 6,
1875. She was buried beside the first wife. In May 1875 he
was married for the third time to Melvina Needham Moyers,
widow of Al Moyers. Although Sterling was 31 years older
that Melvina, she only outlived him by one year and one
month. Sterling died May 10, 1910 and was buried beside his
wives. When Melvina died June 20, 1911, she was buried
beside Sterling and his other two wives. A picture of Sterling
and Melvina appeared in “The People’s History of Claiborne
County, Tennessee, 1801-1988.”
Sometime around 1900, Sterling’s children made a list of
themselves and then had it printed. The following names and
birthdates of the 22 are based on that list. All were born in
(To be continued)
15 “Southeastern Nebraska Biographical and Genealogical
History.” Vol I, [Chicago & NY, Lewis Publishing Co, 1904],
pp 438Ä439; 16 “Portrait and Biographical Album of Johnson
and Pawnee Counties, Nebraska. [Chicago, Chapman
Brothers. 1889]. pp 481-482; 17 Original Marriage Record
Book, Claiborne County Courthouse, Tazewell, TN.
[Photocopy in possession of author]; 18 Original printed list of
Children of Sterling Goin which belonged to James K. Polk
Goin. Now in Possession of author;
3) Dear Cousins
A thrill went down my spine when I first heard about
Gowen Research Foundation! I had goosebumps when I first
logged on to the Electronic Library and found acres and acres
After spending countless hours in various libraries, it was a
Godsend! My membership is enclosed!
Charles Gowens is my 6th great-grandfather. He was
born in 1763 in Henry County, VA and served in the
Revolutionary War. My line married into the Rose and
Furnish families. They go from Kentucky to Indiana to
Kansas to Idaho. Could Galloway Goins be a brother to
Charles Gowens? He was married to Betsy Rose July 27,
1813. What about Charles’ parents? Angela McDonald, 2721
N. Christine, Boise, ID, 83704.
Greg A. Bennatt identifies Galloway Gowens as the
oldest son of Charles Gowens and Elizabeth Blair Gowens.
He was married to Betsy Rose in 1813 in Harrison County,
KY. His sister Lucinda was married to Charles Rose there in
1812 and his sister Hannah was married to William Rose there
in 1812. Another triple play for the Gowens family!
Family tradition states that our Jesse Harrison Gowin
was born c1840 in Knoxville, TN. In 1862 he lived in Loudon
County, TN where his son, Jesse Harrison Gowin, Jr. was born
July 28, 1862. Jesse Harrison Gowin died in Confederate service,
and his widow remarried Robert R. Redpate who
removed to Illinois about 1870.
Jesse Harrison Gowin, Jr. was married about 1887 in
Seymour, MO to Sallie Ann Robertson. That’s all we know.
Can you help? Are all Gowins so elusive? Our contributing
memberships are enclosed. Mary R. McKenney, 3421
Amherst, Dallas, TX, 75225, 214/691-5384.
We returned yesterday from a three-week research
trip into MS, AL, GA, SC and NC, visiting many courthouses,
county libraries, state archives, state and university libraries
and some historic sites.
All in all, it was a most enjoyable and productive,
even if I came home with more questions unanswered than
when I left. When I have time to sort through the material
collected on the trip, I will have some corrections, revisions
and expansions to the Goyne family group sheets and
genealogical material submitted for the Foundation Library
earlier. Carroll H. Goyne, Jr, 10019 Canterbury Dr,
Shreveport, LA, 71106.
Does anyone know of the connection between the
Gowen, Burleson and Hunt families of Davidson County, TN
and Madison, Etowah and Blount counties, AL? Wilford
Burleson Gowen of Davidson County, TN had two members
of his family who had “Hunt” as a middle name. Gen. John
Hunt Morgan, CSA, was said to be a grandson of a Burleson.
He was born at Huntsville, AL which was named for his Hunt
family. Any thoughts? Betty Stevens, 2804 W. Boyce, Ft.
Worth, TX, 76133, 817/921-0528.
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.