Sections in this issue:
1) Phillip Alan Gowan Makes Sentimental Journey to Tristan da Cunha;
2) Dear Cousins;
3) Phillip Alan Gowan to be Featured Speaker at Salt Lake City Conference;
4) Was Robert Gowing the Family’s First Emigrant to America?
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
Volume 8, No. 5. January 1998
1) Phillip Alan Gowan Makes Sentimental Journey to Tristan da Cunha
By Phillip Alan Gowan
614-C 35th Avenue N
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 29577
Like so many things in life, the voyage to Tristan da Cunha was the result of happenstance. It was a stormy afternoon in the 1960s and tornado warnings had been issued for north-eastern Texas. Our reading teacher had a difficult time keeping her class under control and in exasperation she sentenced each of us to write a report based on “National Geographic Magazine” articles. My eyes fell randomly on the story of a small group of people returning to an island called Tristan da Cunha after a volcanic eruption had forced their exile in 1961. The destination was described as the “loneliest island in the world.” Thus began my deep and enduring interest in a tiny speck in the South Atlantic Ocean.
For nearly 30 years, I entertained the hope of someday walking on the soil of Tristan da Cunha and for 20 of those years made serious inquiries in an attempt to secure passage. But this island is unlike any other in the world. There are no regularly scheduled ships traveling to this remote outpost, located 1,800 miles southwest of Cape Town, South Africa. The distance and topography of the island make air travel impossible. On occasion fishing boats venture out in search of spiny lobsters which thrive in Tristan waters, but the owners of these vessels were difficult to identify, and when I did make contact, they flatly refused to consider transporting me. Even worse, the 320 souls on Tristan comprise a society closed to tourism and permission is required [and routinely denied] to visitors.
But for many years, I had nurtured an ace in my deck of cards. As a child, I established a friendship with a little island boy named Dereck Rogers. We corresponded as best we could as mail takes as long as six months to arrive on Tristan. After reaching adulthood, I managed to bring him to Nashville to visit on several occasions, and we became the best of friends. He was the first person from Tristan da Cunha ever to come to America.
In November of 1992, I discovered that a fishing boat would be leaving Cape Town for Tristan in January. A British mail-boat would also be making a brief call on the island late in the same month and would continue on to South Africa. A flurry of calls, letters and telegrams to that country and to England finally yielded permission to travel. And my longtime friend intervened and secured permission from the Tristan island council for an outsider to visit. I would be the first person ever to be allowed to vacation on Tristan da Cunha.
On a sunny summer day in the southern hemisphere, I am an oddity among the rough South African crew of a small fishing vessel sailing through the backwaters of Nowhere. After a 29-hour flight from Nashville to Cape Town, I had watched the city slip away on the horizon and for seven endless days there was nothing to see but the swells and valleys of a treacherous span of ocean known as the Roaring Forties. By the fourth day out, there was not a single sea bird to be seen. The fishing vessel was small, dark, damp and dirty. I was provided with one towel and no washcloth to last the week, and the water from the taps of the shower was rusty.
Near to Tristan a huge body of air flows to the northeast over a body of water running down to the southwest. This produces “abnormal waves” resulting in the violent waters in the dreaded anchorage of Tristan da Cunha. The ocean grew progressively worse during the final three days of the trip, and we feared we wouldn’t be able to get ashore even after arriving. But a rare calm spread across the waters during the early morning of January 21 and by daybreak, Tristan lay just ahead, lush and inviting.
Glancing across the water to the little island settlement, one could see it was not a town, only a cluster of houses scattered at random from the bottom to the rising cliffs of the mountain above their roofs. The cliffs were blanketed with lush green grass, fern and moss. The coastline was a wall of sheer and jagged black cliffs patterned with vast lumps of broken stone and wildly raging foam blown into sheets by down draughts and whipped up to lash towards the albatrosses that glided smoothly overhead.
Tristan was settled first in 1816 by a British garrison to prevent loyalists of Napoleon from a rescue attempt. Over the years, various sailors shipwrecked in the waters, and at one time five “duskie women” volunteered to come from St. Helena Island to become wives. The present population is a mixture of Dutch, British, Scottish, American, Italian and “duskie” ancestry. There are only eight family names–Glass, Green, Hagan, Lavarelio, Patterson, Repetto, Rogers and Swain, and everyone is related through intermarriage.
There is no mental retardation, no childhood diseases, and until sugar became more available in recent years, many elderly persons still boasted their original teeth–with no cavities. Life expectancy is 80, and even islanders in their 90s retain their original hair color.
The people speak an oddly Victorian form of English with a number of peculiar aspects. All words beginning with vowels are pronounced beginning with an “h” sound. It was good to know this in advance as I heard a baby referred to as h’ugly, an old woman addressed as h’Agnes, and my friend’s little daughter was admonished to h’eat her h’eggs, and no question of morals was involved when a little boy accused another of stealing his h’oar.
The population has a reputation of being shy and unfriendly to outsiders. But from the moment of my arrival, I was treated like royalty. Tristan seems to be a microcosm of the outside world. They have an island gossip, an island hypochondriac, an island drunk and an island “scary woman” [known to the children as “Old Boo.”] “Old Boo” is terrified of cameras, and as I had mine around my neck most of the time, she avoided me like smallpox. My father had provided Tristan with its first Polaroid camera in the 1970s, and many of the elderly people [including a brother of “Old Boo”] thought it to be magic and fled whenever they saw it.
In 1961 the entire population of Tristan was exiled to England when a “flaming bubble” arose at the side of the settlement. The emergency evacuation of the island left the people with little more than the clothes they could carry as they were whisked away to Cape Town. Fewer than a dozen had ever seen the outside world, but as they sailed past Tristan with the ominous bubble belching lava, they shed no tears, and their faces tightened into retaining walls against the agony they felt.
Upon arrival in South Africa they saw television, skyscrapers, horses and many other marvels as they drank in the sights of civilization in stunned amazement. But after 18 months of exile in England, they handed the modern world a profound rebuke and voted almost unanimously to return to Tristan.
Prior to the volcano, Tristan da Cunha was largely ignored by the world. Women washed clothes in the island stream and dried them on boulders. There was no electricity and bird fat was used in lamps. Those who ventured out at night carried a firebrand to provide some meager light.
Today there is electricity [from 7 a.m. to midnight], and most homes are furnished with many modern conveniences. There are no telephones, only three motor vehicles, and television receivers are worthless, unless one owns a VCR. The people show little interest in events of the outside world or politics although there is at least one Rush Limbaugh fan on the island.
There has never been a divorce on Tristan, and the doors of the homes are never locked. Although there is a jail, it has never been used. During my stay, a violent gale blew in from the east with howling winds unlike any I had ever heard. A yacht in the area sank, and the three people aboard made it to shore bringing along a squirrel monkey. As Tristan is a disease-free island, an order was issued to destroy the monkey. The owners resisted and were arrested. Theirs was the first crime in the history of the island. They were sent directly off the island to a mailboat [which brought the first mail since June] so the jail’s record of non-use is intact.
My final day on Tristan arrived all too soon. The chief islander, Lewis Glass, came to tell me I would always be welcome back on Tristan. “Old Boo” stayed behind closed doors, safely away from my Minolta. Numerous islanders came to give me presents, and Hillary Rogers boiled a bowl full of lobster tails for me. I thought about the long days I faced on the ocean and how far away my home was. But even the loneliest island on the globe boasts proof that it is a small world; via the mailboat someone had sent two fruitcakes to the island council from my hometown of Corsicana, Texas.
I departed for Cape Town on January 28 in the late afternoon. As Tristan became a vague shadow in the distance, I was pic-turing the people settling down to read their long-awaited mail, gossiping about the arrest of the “monkey people,” and basking in the silence broken only by the occasional crow of a rooster. And as I reached for my camera to take one final shot of the horizon, I felt certain that a sigh of relief was echoing through the cottage of “Old Boo.”
Phillip Alan Gowan, B.A, M.A.
The author was drawn to make his sentimental journey to Tristan da Cunha by an exchange of penpal correspondence while he was in grade school in Corsicana, Texas. Ever after, he promised himself, someday I will go . . .”
The island was discovered in 1506 by its namesake, Tristao da Cunha, a Portuguese admiral. The British established a garrison there shortly after the Battle of Waterloo to prevent any attempt to rescue Napoleon from nearby St. Helena island. William Glass, a Scotsman and his family were permitted to remain on the island when the garrison was removed in 1817. Shipwrecked sailors from the Mediterranean joined them, along with five “dusky women” from St. Helena. The island then had all the makings of a Melungia.
The tiny speck on the globe lies in a remote part of the South Atlantic and has a coastline of only 21 miles with 2,000-foot cliffs on all sides. A volcanic cone rising 6,760 feet dominates the island. After 176 years, the population totaled 320 with only eight surnames. A researcher would expect their genealogy to be simple on Tristan, but after seven generations, a descendant’s ancestor chart looked “like a Chinese laundry ticket.”
The author has exhibited his adventuresome side in more ways than his voyage to Tristan da Cunha. He has flown over Antarctica; snorkled in Tahiti/Moorea; went inside Poland during martial law; traversed Roumania before the fall of Ceausescu and vacationed in forbidden Cuba. His hobbies, in addition to three decades of genealogy, includes research of the Titanic [long before the movie].
He is a member of Somerset Chapter of Magna Charta Barons, Americans of Royal Descent, Sons of the American Revolution, Sons of the Confederacy and the Titanic Historical Society. He is a licensed private detective and an executive with Bell South Corporation.
He published his first family history book, “Gowan-Morley” in 1975, while in college. He was graduated that year from Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas and received his master’s degree in 1984 from Belmont Univer-sity, Nashville, Tennessee. He will describe his 30 years of research on the Gowan family at the Salt Lake City Research Conference in June.
2) Dear Cousins
My great-grandfather, Nath[aniel?] Goins, a Melungeon?, was born about 1850, place and parents unknown. He was married about 1873 to Emily Jones, place unknown. In 1875, they were living in Henderson County, Texas where son, John Christopher Columbus Goins, my grandfather was born. Six weeks later they were living in nearby Johnson County, Texas on a farm. We know nothing more about Nath Goins except that he disappeared.
He was living and working on a farm near Cleburne, Texas. He had come in from the field at lunch. He was hap-pily married and very proud of his six-weeks-old son. After lunch, he kissed his wife and baby, as he always did, and leapt the fence, as he always did [that man never walked through a gate in his life] and returned to the field whistling, as he always did. When he didn’t come in that evening, a search was made, and his mule was found in the field, still hitched to the plow. He was never seen or heard from again.
We only recently heard the Melungeon story through the Foundation Newsletters and assume that Nath Goins was pos-sibly a victim of Melungeon persecution. If Nath Goins was a dark complexioned as his son and grandson, then 10 years af-ter the Civil War, a “black” man in Texas could have easily fallen victim to foul play.
We would be grateful for any information any researcher might have on Nath Goins. Jon & Sherri Rivard, 1616 Ave. D, Brownwood, TX, 76801-3828, 915/643-2758, firstname.lastname@example.org
The past year has brought quite a number of great Newsletter articles as a result of research into the Gowen/Goins/etc. families. The information that the Foundation has gathered is wonderful. As a result of reading the Newsletter, one of our cousins has recently been “converted” to genealogy. We always enjoy the articles on the Melungeons and appreciate what these researchers continue to find. Our Contributing Membership for 1998 is enclosed. Jon Lee & Sandy Goins, 9404 Hunters Trace, Austin, TX, 78758, email@example.com
I am seeking info on the ancestry and descendants of Thomas Gowen/Goins, b1770 in SC and wife Nancy Johnson. They removed to Louisiana in the early 1800s. They appeared on the 1810 census of St. Landry Parish, living in Opelousas, LA. Their children are believed to be Benjamin, James Thomas, Stephen, Virginia “Jenny,” Jeremiah “Jerry,” William M, John, Sarah “Sally,” Anne and Arminta. Kelvin Goyens, 1304 S. 36th St, Nederland, TX, 77627, 409/724-6633, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have found the Newsletter most interesting and more in-formative than I would have ever imagined. It contains so much information on so many early ancestors with the name of “Goins.” It has shed more light on the Goins family and those who have this name. Keep the good work! Elsie T. Goins, 112 Olde Springs Rd, Columbia, SC, 29223-6022, email@example.com
I am looking for Powhatan Goin/Gowan and Samuel H. Goin/Gowan living in Appomattox County, VA in the early 1800s. Their descendants[?], Powhatan B. Goin and Craw-ford H. Goin were enumerated there in 1900 in the Clover Hill District. Can anyone help? Janice Farrington Samuelson, 210 Winding Way, Salisbury, NC, 28147, 704/639-9219, DSamuel408@aol.com
I thoroughly enjoy your Website, and I owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. For 43 years, I have searched for the name of my gggf. All my mother knew was that he was a Goins from Hancock County, TN. She was told that he was killed “in the last year of the war.” I came across your Website–and lo and behold, there was his name along with the rest of the family!!!
You and the Foundation members have filled a void in my life and in my family tree. My family and I appreciate all your good efforts. I cannot begin to thank you enough for all your wonderful work. For me, it is a labor of love, and I will gladly share the information I have on the family. I can furnish a great deal of information on Martha Jane Goins [daughter of William Goins] after 1865. Walt Rivers, 410 Powell Ave, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219, firstname.lastname@example.org
When I saw your Website listed on the “Best Genealogy Links” by TopTen.html, I thought your members would be in-terested to know about “Ireland’s Eye,” an Irish E-zine [http://www.irelandseye.com]. It has some real cool stuff on Irish family names with coats of arms and histories. There is an article in this issue on tracing “Roots” which, although written from an Irish perspective, has some good general prin-ciples. John Murphy, Publisher, 19-21 Alfred St, Belfast, BT2 8DL, Ireland, email@example.com
GOWEN RESEARCH FOUNDATION ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER
Volume 1, No. 1 January 28, 1998
3) Phillip Alan Gowan to be Featured Speaker at Salt Lake City Conference
Phillip Alan Gowan, Foundation Director of Myrtle Beach,
South Carolina has been named as a speaker at the Research
Conference & Family Reunion in Salt Lake City June 21-22-23.
He will describe his 30 years of research on the Gowan
family. You will want to read his article in the January
issue of the Newsletter [print version] to find out why he
wanted to go to Tristan da Cunha, the “most lonesome island
in the world.”
The author was drawn to make his sentimental journey to
Tristan da Cunha by an exchange of penpal correspondence
while he was in grade school in Corsicana, Texas. Ever
after, he promised himself, someday I will go . . .”
The island was discovered in 1506 by its namesake, Tristao
da Cunha, a Portuguese admiral. The British established a
garrison there shortly after the Battle of Waterloo to
prevent any attempt to rescue Napoleon from nearby St.
Helena island. William Glass, a Scotsman and his family
were permitted to remain on the island when the garrison
was removed in 1817. Shipwrecked sailors from the Mediter-
ranean joined them, along with five “dusky women” from St.
Helena. The island then had all the makings of a Melungia.
The tiny speck on the globe lies in a remote part of the
South Atlantic and has a coastline of only 21 miles with
2,000-foot cliffs on all sides. A volcanic cone rising
6,760 feet dominates the island. After 176 years, the
population totaled 320 with only eight surnames. A
researcher would expect their genealogy to be simple on
Tristan, but after seven generations, a descendant’s
ancestor chart looked like “a Chinese laundry ticket.”
The author has exhibited his adventuresome side in more
ways than his voyage to Tristan da Cunha. He has flown
over Antarctica; snorkled in Tahiti/Moorea; went inside
Poland during martial law; traversed Roumania before the
fall of Ceausescu and vacationed in forbidden Cuba. His
hobbies, in addition to three decades of genealogy, in-
cludes research of the Titanic [long before the movie].
He is a member of Somerset Chapter of Magna Charta Barons,
Americans of Royal Descent, Sons of the American Revolu-
tion, Sons of the Confederacy and the Titanic Historical
Society. He is a licensed private detective and an execu-
tive with Bell South Corporation.
He published his first family history book, “Gowan-Morley”
in 1975, while in college. He was graduated that year
from Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas and re-
ceived his master’s degree in 1984 from Belmont Univer-
sity, Nashville, Tennessee.
4) Was Robert Gowing the Family’s First Emigrant to America?
Robert Gowing, regarded as the first individual to bear the
surname 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, Massachu-
setts in Middlesex County.
In 1636, he removed to Dedham, Massachusetts in Norfolk
County. In 1639 Robert Gowing, “man servant, joined the
church in full communion,” according to “Dedham Town Rec-
ords” Volume II, page 21. 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 at-
tending his first town meeting, according to “Genealogical
Guide to Early Settlers in America” by Henry Whittemore.
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.
Eleanor Tucker wrote:
“Robert Gowing arrived in America in 1634, at the age of
16, setting first at Watertown, according to “New
England Historical & Genealogical Register.” The
Register article states that Robert was from Scotland, a
native of Edinburgh, and this has always been the as-
sumption. However, recent research by Helen Ullmann of
Acton, Massachusetts and by Myrtle Hyde of Ogden, Utah
and her sister Nelean Meadows of Salt Lake City, using
probate files and the parish register of Stradbroke,
Wingfield and Fressingfield, County Suffolk has dis-
closed some interesting things. Appearing in those
records were entries for “Gowyn,” Goweing,” “Gowen”
“Goodwyn” and “Gowinge.”
There were also quite a few Gowing references in the
nearby parish of Starston, Norfolk, including a “Robert
Gowen, late of Stradbrooke” who was buried 2 Jan 1609.
Also among these is “Robert, son of William and Mary
Gowen, baptized 6 Apr 1618,” the same year that Robert
Gowing was born, it is believed. The will of Elizabeth
Aldous, “widow of Fressingfield” dated 11 April 1566 is
witnessed by Thomas Gowyn. Also the will of Richard
Aldous, of Fressingfield, dated 31 March 1612, proved
September 11, 1612 at the Suffolk Archdeaconry, mentions
the lands of “the widowe Goweing.”
Richard Aldous was the great-grandfather of Elizabeth
Brock, later Robert’s wife. Her grandfather, James
Aldous, christened 30 July 1567, married 1592 Elizabeth
Barber. Daughter Elizabeth, christened 6 January 1593,
married in 1618, Henry Brock, according to “Suffolk
Manorial Families,” Vol. I. Could it be that the
Gowings and the Brocks were neighbors in the homeland?
Myrtle Hyde who has done considerable work on Aldous
families in England, is preparing an article on the
ancestry of Elizabeth Aldous Brock, daughter of James
Aldous and Elizabeth Barber Aldous.”
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 Indian.
“Records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in New Eng-
land” 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, P. Curia.”
A week later the following entry was made in the court
“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 the one half
Later Robert Gowing and Elizabeth Brock Gowing lived at Wa-
tertown, Lynnfield in 1660 and Lynn, Massachusetts. Thomas
B. Wellman writing in “History of the Town of Lynfield,
Massachusetts, 1635-1895” stated that the Gowing family was
“one of the most prominent in the town for generations.”
The Gowing Family Association, formed in 1889, began pub-
lishing in 1940 a series of booklets on the family history
“researched by the late Winfield Scott Ripley,” according to
Eleanor Tucker. Four issues were published and are avail-
able at New England Historical & Genealogical Society Libra-
ry and at the Lynnfield Public Library.
He died in Lynn June 7, 1698 and was probably buried there.
His death was recorded in Lynn Church Records as “Roberd
Gowing.” Elizabeth Brock Gowing died after June 7, 1698 at
Children born to Robert Gowing and Elizabeth Brock Gowing
John Gowing born November 13, 1645
Elizabeth Gowing born in April 1647
Hannah Gowing born December 21, 1648 ??
Mary Gowing born about 1650
Abigail Gowing born about 1652
Sarah Gowing born about 1653
Priscilla Gowing born about 1655
Daniel Gowing born about 1657
Elizabeth Gowing born about 1660
Nathaniel Gowing born about 1662
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.