2001 – 03 March Newsletter – GRF

Sections in this issue:

5) Dear Cousins.

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

Gowen Research Foundation
Electronic Newsletter

March 2001
Volume 4 No. 3


By Tim Hashaw
Editorial Boardmember
1937 Huge Oaks Houston, Texas, 77065
E-mail: wildwestgifts4u@aol.com

Part VI:


The saga of the Gowen/Goin family, the largest branch in
the Melungeon family tree, begins with a lovers’ triangle
in early colonial Virginia. African-American John Gowen/
Geaween was the servant of an Englishman named William
Evans in Elizabeth City, Virginia. John Gowen had first
arrived in Virginia prior to 1630. John, probably born
in Angola about 1615, was possibly one of a number of
prisoners taken from a captured Portuguese slave ship off
the coast of Angola in 1628, by the English pirate Arthur
Guy. That year Captain Guy traded his stolen Angolan
slaves in Jamestown, Virginia for tobacco. The planta-
tion owner William Evans, as was the custom, offered a
bid for Gowen/Geaween in Jamestown, and John was indent-
ured for about the usual term of 7-10 years.


Evans’ neighbor was the planter Robert Sheppard. Lt.
Sheppard was one of the ranking leaders of the Virginia
colony, serving in the Virginia House of Burgess; North
America’s oldest continually existing legislature. Shep-
pard had a Negro servant girl named Margaret Cornish.
John Gowen was married to Margaret, and they had a son in
1635 whom they named Mihil/Michael Gowen. Margaret re-
mained bound to the household of Lt. Sheppard with her
son Mihil/Michael, while John Gowen worked for Evans and
eventually earned release from his indenture and became
North America’s first recorded free black man.

Next to the plantations of Evans and Sheppard lived an-
other white planter named Robert Sweat [pronounced Sweet]
Margaret fell in love with Sweat, and she became pregnant
with his child in late 1640. The affair was exposed, and
she and the white man Sweat, were brought before the
court. The two were judged guilty of the charges and the
Virginia court records contain the sentence handed down
on October 17, 1640.

“Whereas Robert Sweat hath begotten with child a negro
woman servant belonging unto Lieutenant Sheppard, the
court hath therefore ordered that the said negro woman
shall be whipt at the whipping post and the said Sweat
shall tomorrow in the forenoon do public penance for
his offence at James City church in the time of divine
service according to the laws of England in that case

Within five months of the sentencing of his wife and Rob-
ert Sweat, the African-American John Gowen petitioned the
court for the freedom of the child he and Margaret had
produced five years earlier. The date of his suit coin-
cides with the time Margaret would have been showing the
pregnancy of her illegitimate child by Sweat.

March 31, 1641-Suit of John Gowen:

“Whereas it appeareth to the court that John Gowen,
being a negro servant unto William Evans, was permit-
ted by his said master to keep hogs and make the best
benefit thereof to himself provided that the said
Evans might have half the increase which was accord-
ingly rendered unto him by the said negro, and the
other half reserved for his own benefit: And whereas
the said negro having a young child of a negro woman
belonging to Lt. Robert Sheppard which he desired
should be made a Christian and be taught and exer-
cised in the church of England, by reason whereof he,
the said negro did for his said child purchase its
freedom of Lt. Sheppard with the good liking and con-
sent of Tho: Gooman’s overseer as by the deposition
of the said Sheppard and Evans appeareth, the court
hath therefore ordered that the child shall be free
from the said Evans or his assigns and to be and re-
main at the disposing and education of the said Gowen
and the child’s godfather who undertaketh to see it
brought up in the Christian religion as aforesaid.”

In time John Gowen remarried and had at least one other
son named Philip born about 1650. Margaret bore Robert
Sweat’s child and later bore another child out of wed-
lock, surnamed Cornish. Later, Margaret Cornish was
freed, yet she lived the rest of her days on a section of
Sheppard’s estate called “Hog Island.” The names of Gow-
en, Sweat, and Cornish are borne by Melungeon descendants
to this day.


Mihil/Michael, the five-year-old child of John Gowen and
Margaret Cornish, was removed from his mother and placed
in the home of Capt. Christopher Stafford of Virginia in
1641. The African-American youth remained a servant of
the Stafford family until his 18th birthday. Christoper
Stafford had died in the meantime, and his sister, Anne
Stafford Barnhouse, legally held Michael’s indenture.
Anne Barnhouse also had an African-American servant girl
named “Prossa”. While a servant in the Stafford house-
hold, Michael Gowen had gotten a son by Prossa, and the
child was named William Gowen.

In his will, Capt. Stafford desired Michael to be freed
from servitude upon his death. His sister carried out his
wishes on October 25th, 1657. In a legal statement,
Anne Barnhouse also freed Michael’s young two-year-old
son William, but she retained the child’s mother Prossa,
as her servant, effectively breaking up the family.

“Bee itt known unto all Christian people that whereas
Mihill Gowen Negro of late servant to my Brother
Xopher Stafford deced by his last will & Testament
bearing Date the 18 of Jan 1654 had his freedom given
unto him after the expiration of 4 years service unto
my uncle Robert Stafford. Therefore know all whom itt
may concern that I Anne Barnehouse for divers good
couses mee hereunto moving do absolutely quitt & dis-
charge the sd Mihill Gowen from any service & for ever
sett him free from any claim of service either by mee
or any one my behalf as any part or parcell of my Es-
tate that may be claimed by mee the said Anne Barnhouse
my heyres Exers Admrs or Assignes as witness my hand
this 25 Oct 1657.

Anne [AB] Barnhouse

Bee itt knowne unto all Xcian people that I Ame Barne-
house of Martins hundred widdow for divers good causes
& consideracons mee hereunto moving hath given unto
Mihill Gowen Negro he being att this time servant unto
Robert Stafford a Male child borne the 25 August 1655
of the body of my Negro Prosta being baptised by Mr.
Edward Johnson 2 Sept 1655 & named William & I the
said Anne Barnhouse doth bind my selfe my heyres Exer
Admr & Assn never to trouble or molest the said Mihill
Gowin or his sone William or demand any service of the
said Mihill or his said sone William. In witnes where
of I have caused this to be made & done I hereunto sett
my hand & Seale this present 16 Sept 1655.

Anne [AB] Barnhouse”

John Gowen and his immediate family knew how to use the
judicial system of 17th century colonial America. His
son Philip Gowen successfully sued for his freedom on
June 16, 1675 from John Lucas. Lucas was ordered to pro-
vide the “Negro” Phillip with “three Barrels of Corne att
the Cropp” according to the will of Amy Beazley, Gowen’s
original mistress. Several African-American Gowens left
court and land documents from 17th century Virginia.

After his release from servitude to the Staffords, Mich-
ael quickly remarried a free white woman in York County
and had four sons in addition to William by Prossa. His
later sons, William, Daniel, Christopher and Thomas, born
from 1655 to 1660, were described as “mulatto” in surviv-
ing records. These latter branches of Michael’s family
quickly became light-skinned in just a few generations.

Michael Gowen moved to the adjoining Merchants Hundred
Parish in James City County and received a land grant of
40 acres in 1668. Michael died in 1708, about 73 years
of age.


Because of limited space I here trace the line of Michael
Gowen’s youngest son Thomas who is my ancestor. Thomas,
who raised and raced horses, was involved in a number of
court cases in which he was either suing someone or some-
one was suing him. At the age of 37 in Westmoreland
County he had incurred sizable debts from gambling losses.
But in 1707 Thomas’ misfortune was reversed when he was
granted about 650 acres in Stafford County below the
Falls of the Potomac River according to genealogist Paul
Heinegg. The land abutted the property of a man named
Robert Alexander.

“In a 1767 land dispute, a 70-year old deponent,
Charles Griffith, related a conversation which he
had with Maj. Robert Alexander, 43 years previously
in 1724. Maj. Robert Alexander, who owned land ad-
joining the Gowens, reportedly said of them:

“He had a great mind to turn the Molatto rascals [who
were then his tenants] off his land.”

Griffin further stated that:

“He was at a Race in the same year where the Goings
were [who then had running horses] and that the old
people were talking about the Goings taking up Alex-
anders land and selling it to Thomas and Todd which
land the old people then said was in Alexanders back
line or at least the greatest part of it . . . and
if it were not for the Alexanders land . . . the Go-
ings would not be so lavish of their money of which
they seemed to have plenty at that time…”


Thomas Gowen had two sons; William born in 1680 and James
born in 1683. William, the older son, moved to Stafford
County near the Occaquan River where he was granted 124
acres in 1713. William married a white woman named Kath-
erine by whom he had three sons and one daughter. Wil-
liam Gowen, the grandson of the African-American Michael
Gowen, owned slaves who were willed to two of his chil-
dren by his widow. William died in 1725.


The oldest son of William Gowen was John, born about
1702. He married Mary Keife, daughter of Cornelius
Keife, another Melungeon-related surname. They lived in
Fairfax County where they own land in Pope’s Head Run in
1744 and in Occoquan Run in 1746, but moved to Lunenburg
County, Virginia by 1748 when John patented 400 acres on
Reedy Branch. About 13 years later they deeded land from
this section to their two sons, William and John.


William Gowen was born to John and Mary sometime between
1725-1731, in Stafford County. According to Gowen Re-
search Foundation Manuscript, William took a wife named
Mary about 1752 and moved to Granville County, North
Carolina. But a few months later he returned to Lunen-
burg County, Virginia where his parents lived. In 1761
he was living on the Lunenberg land deeded him by his
father. William Gowen was one of 12 jurors hearing the
case of John Mullins versus Charles Yancey, defendant
facing trespass, assault and battery charges in March
1761 in Lunenburg County. Mullins is a common Melungeon
surname. By July 6, 1762, William Gowen had sold the
land in Lunenburg County and moved to Orange County,
North Carolina.

William was head of a Moore County family of 10 whites
in the 1790 census [which was actually taken a year or
two earlier.] He may also have been the head of another
“William Gowen” Moore County household of 10 “other free”
in the same census. When there was a question of race,
as there was in William’s case, the enumerator could have
made up a duplicate census for “free colored persons” to
avoid controversy. According to GRF archives, the “two”
William Gowen families in Moore County were mentioned in
“Ancient Records of Moore County, North Carolina”. It is
interesting that though there were questions about the
ancestry of William Gowen, he was elected justice of the
peace. William at this point is only 4 generations de-
cended from the “Negro” Michael Gowen. Yet the writer of
the record wavers between calling William white, Indian
or mulatto and expressed uncertainty:

By strange coincidence there were two Goings families
in Moore County in 1790, one being white; the other
listed under the heading of “all other free persons,”
that is free negro, mulatto, or Indian. Both families
were headed by William Goings. One William, of course
the white one, was later made a justice of the peace
for the county. Within the writer’s recollection,
some of those families held themselves above associa-
tion with negroes, and their white neighbors accepted
them as several notches above their black brethren.

An examination of the 1850 census will show the in-
crease in this clan, all of whom are there listed as
mulatto. Briefly, the Goings were classed exactly
as were the so-called “Lumbee” Indians of Robeson

Others, however, have maintained the complexion and
characteristics of their more ancient ancestors. The
free family lived on or about Pocket Creek, in Lee
County [organized from Moore County and Chatham
County in 1907] or between there and Lemon Springs.
The writer’s father once pointed out to him their
location and casually remaked, ‘they were not negroes,
but probably Indians’. What became of the white fam-
ily of William Goings, the writer has been unable to
determine. A few years ago, a writer in the “Satur-
day Evening Post” wrote a story on the ‘Melungeons’
[maybe from the French ‘melange,’ a mixture] who
had a colony on the Clinch River in North Central
Tennessee, and among whose members were Goings. The
description of these people would apply almost 100%
to those of Robeson County. How did the Goings get
‘way up there?”

An inventory of the estate of “William Goan” was item-
ized in Moore County Will Book A, page 322 and 323 in
the late 1780s. His probate papers, if found might re-
veal much about the family.


William and Mary Gowen had a number of sons including
William Jr., John, Henry, Levy, Amos and Edward, some of
whom were designated as “free colored” in Moore County.
William and Mary also had a son named James Gowen, born
May 30, 1755 in Lunenburg County. The surname appears
under a variety of spellings including that on his Revo-
lutionary War pension as “Goyne”.

According to Gowen Research Foundation Archives:

“Several members of the Gowen family of the Northern
Neck of Virginia migrated southward in 1747 to Lunen-
burg County also. The southern part of Lunenburg
County which lay below the Meherrin River was organ-
ized in 1764 as Mecklenburg County.” Their descend-
ants “spelled the name in various ways. Generally,
in Mississippi the surname became “Guynes”. In
Louisiana, “Goins” predominated, while in Virginia
and Kentucky, “Gowan” and “Goins” were generally

By the time the Revolutionary War broke out, the Gowen
family of Virginia was seven generations old. In 1775
James Gowen/Goyne was wed to a woman named “Mary”.
Their children were John Goyne, born July 5, 1776,
Sarah Goyne, born about 1789, James Goins born about
1793, and Wiley Williamson Goynes, born December 2, 1799.
James was living in Camden District, South Carolina at
the time and served as a Revolutionary militiaman in a
company led by Capt. John Smith in Col. John Winn’s

GRF Manuscript states:

“In his Revolutionary War Pension application, James
Goyne stated that…’his militia unit rendezvoused at
Winnsboro, near which place he resided. He stated
that he served under Col. John Winn.'”

This proves that James lived in Fairfield County, South
Carolina. In June, 1776 James was drafted to go to
Charleston in order to intercept “the British Fleet that
was expected to land there, under Col. John Wynn in Capt.
John Smith’s Company of militia, Lt. William Daughtery.”

After being stationed in Charleston for a month the com-
pany returned to Winnsborough and was dismissed about the
last of July, 1776. Twice more James re-enlisted in the
militia, once under the command of Gen. John Ashe from
North Carolina, and later in 1779 he “volunteered to go
to Georgia to fight the Indians and put himself under
Capt. John Nixon”.

Marched to Falsom Fort on “Abuchy” [?] River, the company
of James Goyne overtook the retreating Indians and “a
skirmish ensued in which 17 Indians and two white men
were killed and Maj. Ross was killed in the part of the
re____[?]. Later his company was placed under the com-
mand of Gen. Benjamin Lincoln near Augusta, from whence
they marched to Ashley River “at the big rice fields to
meet the British who were encamped there.”

Discharged again in June 1779, James Goyne returned to
South Carolina until he volunteered to “go to the assist-
ance of Gen. Greene at the siege of Ninety-Six. . . We
met together on the road about fourteen miles from Winns-
borough at the time last mentioned, we then marched to
Congaree River, there we rested and endeavored to inter-
cept Lord Francis Rawdon on his march from Ninety-Six to
Charleston.” After several bloody skirmishes, James was
again discharged in September, 1781 and returned to South
Carolina. Then in June 1782 he was drafted to “keep the
Tories in Edisto in subjection” and released after a
month’s duty. The Revolutionary War pension, No. 30770,
was granted James Goyne on July 22, 1836.

After American independence was won, James Goyne left
South Carolina about 1784 and moved to Burke County,
Georgia. Five years later he moved to Warren County,
Georgia until 1791 when he moved to Washington County,
Georgia where he lived until 1796. Then the family moved
to Hancock County, Georgia until 1799, at which time they
moved to Tennessee and then to St Helena Parish, Louisi-
ana for five years. In 1804 Goyne moved to Lawrence
County, Mississippi until two years later when he moved
his family to Copiah County, Mississippi where they re-
sided until December 1834. Finally James Goyne settled
in Kemper County, Mississippi where he applied for his
war pension.

Acording to GRF files:

“An interview was held in 1905 with Susan Goynes Dick-
erson of Live Oak County, Texas at age 80. She was a
great-grandaughter of John Goyne. In the newspaper ac-
count she stated that she knew her great-grandfather
and that he and his four brothers had served in the
Revolutionary War”.

About 1791, James and Mary Goyne had become estranged and
he later married Heather O’Brien. Mary lived with her
oldest son John Guynes in Louisiana and later moved with
the family to Copiah County, Mississippi.


John Guynes was born to James Goyne and Mary Goyne in
Camden District, South Carolina in July, 1776, the eldest
child. In Georgia, on December 8,1800, John Guynes was
married to Matilda Hall, daughter of Henry Hall, an Amer-
ican Revolutionary hero in the Battle of Cowpens. This
Hall family is also found among Melungeons in Virginia,
Tennessee and in the Carolinas. John and Matilda had
15 children.

John Guynes followed his father James to Tennessee and
later to Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana in 1810. John and
Matilda were “received by letter” into the Jerusalem Bap-
tist Church in Amite County, Mississippi near present day
Gillsburg in April 1812. He became one of the wealthier
farmers in Mississippi and owned a dozen slaves. Some of
his children married into prominent white families while
others married into Melungeon-related families.
Whether John would have achieved as much success in older,
more socially-conscious states like Virginia or the Caro-
linas in 1810 is unknown. John Guynes, like his father
James, moved to newly opened frontier territories such as
the District of Feliciana in the Louisiana Purchase where
struggling neighbors asked fewer questions about ancestry
and appearance.

From John Guynes onward, this particular branch of the
Gowens are officially noted in government records only as
“white”, although many family members would later find ev-
idence of a non-white past. Many of his children and
grandchildren achieved prestige in mainstream America,
including a state legislator, a circuit judge, army offi-
cers, pioneers and others. Gowen Foundation researcher
Col. Carroll Heard Goyne Jr. wrote:

“Feliciana Parish was once part of the West Florida
Territory: that area from the Misissipi River to Per-
dido Bay, bounded on the north by the 31st parallel
and on the south [roughtly] by Bayou Manchac, Lake
Maurepas, Lake Pontchatrain and the Gulf of Mexico.
It was often called the District of Feliciana.

This territory remained under Spanish control even af-
ter the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and included Baton
Rouge. The citizens of West Florida, tiring of Spanish
rule, organized themselves and descended in force upon
Baton Rouge, capturing the Spanish garrison on Septem-
ber 23, 1810. They raised the original Lone Star Flag
[later carried to Texas] and established the Republic
of West Florida, installed their own government, and
elected a president.

After the Republic of West Florida was founded, it
took the United States only 74 days to take the repub-
lic into its possession. The Republic of West Florida
became the County of Feliciana. It was subsequently
called Parish of Feliciana County, and later was divi-
ded into several parishes as follows: Feliciana, East
Baton Rouge, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Biloxi and Pas-

The early American settlers who arrived in Feliciana
Parish discovered that the area was still under Span-
ish rule, and only Catholic churches were allowed.
The nearest churches of their Baptist faith were in
Amite County, Mississippi. They attended these Miss-
issippi Churches until Louisiana became a state in
1812. After that, they established Baptist churches
nearer their homes. Two of the Amite churches having
Goynes [various spellings] as membes were Jerusalem
Baptist Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church. The Lou-
isiana members at Ebenezer Church withdew in 1813 to
form Hephzibah Baptist Church in Feliciana Parish.”

John and Matilda are found on the rolls of the two Miss-
isppi churches in 1812 and 1813. Then: On Novermber 29,
1813, the Hepzibah church minutes revealed,

“Names of members present at the constitution of the
Baptist Church of Christ at Hepzibah, Feliciana Par-
ish and who subscribe to the above faith were as fol-
lows: John Guine, Mary Guine, Matilda Guine…”

The Melungeon John Guynes, his mother, wife and brothers
and cousins, were founding members of the first Baptist
church in Feliciana Parish, and therefore members of one
of the first Protestant churches in the Louisiana Pur-

John Guynes received a captain’s commission in the Louis-
iana militia in the War of 1812 until the decisive Battle
of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. Later the same year
the family moved to Hinds County, Mississippi.

“When Copiah County was organized in 1823 from Hinds
County, John Goyne found himself in the new county,
appearing in the Copiah County tax list of 1823, the
first year of the county”s existence. He paid $2.25
on ‘one poll and two slaves.'” The family farm was lo-
cated seven miles east of Hazelhurst, Mississipi.”

John Guynes died died August 15, 1840. Matilda Hall Guy-
nes, “owner of 10 slaves, five of whom were engaged in
agriculture” died January 26, 1865. Both were buried
near Georgetown, Mississippi.


Of the 15 children of John and Matilda Guynes, Harmon
Runnels Guynes was the 13th. He was born November 3,
1820 in Copiah County, Mississippi. In 1843 Harmon was
married to Emily Whittington and moved to Scott County
Mississippi within a decade of the exile of the Missis-
sippi Choctaw to Oklahoma.

Emily was an English Whittington with ties to the Finley
Melungeons and said also to be of “Indian” blood. Emily
and Harmon Guynes had 8 children. Harmon moved his fam-
ily to ranch country in Goliad County, Texas in the 1850s.

Whatever his plan was in southwest Texas, it ended with
the Civil War. The family tradition has Harmon enlisting
about 1863 in a Confederate company. Mortally wounded in
a battle, Harmon reportedly died not long after returning
home sometime in 1864.

Emily Whittington moved her children, mostly daughters,
to the Big Thicket area of East Texas by 1880. The early
death of Harmon Guynes left many questions concerning an-
cestry unanswered. Emily, his widow, refused to talk of
ancestry. Born in 1826, Emily survived to the 20th cen-
tury. She was buried in Clapp Cemetary in Walker County,
Texas. The state of Texas has placed a commemorative
marker at the cemetary because Emily, and possibly Harmon
Guynes, were buried there. The marker claims that the
land for the cemetary was purchased because the people of
Trinity and Walker counties did not want “Indians” buried
with whites.

Most of the East Texas descendants of Harmon Guynes grew
up in the late 19th and 20th centuries on stories that we
were “part Indian” or “Choctaw-Cherokee”. No one had
ever heard the word “Melungeon” mentioned in Trinity
County. But there are a number of families in Walker and
Trinity Counties who were said to be “part-Indian”: John-
son, Dial, Boon, Odom, and Guynes, most of which are re-
lated by marriage. These are surnames commonly found
among Melungeons, Louisiana Redbones, and Lumbees.


The youngest child of Harmon and Emily Guynes was Nancy.
Nancy Guynes was married to Dude Hashaw in 1880 in Trini-
ty, Texas. The maiden name of Dude’s mother was Eliza-
beth Johnson of St. Landry’s Parish, Louisiana. Some
claim that she was a descendant of the Virginian, Anthony
Johnson, one of the original Angolans captured by Jope
and Elfrith from the Portuguese merchant-slaver Sao Joao
Bautista in 1619. If so, the Kimbundu of the first sea
voyage were still calling, “melungu, meu melungu,” after
nearly 400 years.

In 1913, the children and grandchildren of Harmon and Em-
ily Guynes fell prey to a multi-state scam targetting
Guynes and other Melungeon families. The scheme’s opera-
tors claimed the descendants of Harmon and Emily were
“Indian” and were therefore owed government money. The
con-man, Alexander P. Powell of Laurel, Mississippi, made
contracts with many of the East Texas Guynes and Louisi-
ana Goins, offering to represent them in Washington D.C.
with the promise of getting their names on the Indian

However, by 1915 the scam had been busted and Powell was
tried and convicted in Shreveport, Lousiana and sentenced
to prison for wire fraud. What in their distant past
caused the Guynes to fall prey to a 20th century race
scheme? What questions were they seeking to answer? In
1913, nearly 300 years after the old African-American
John Gowen of colonial Virginia, the slimmest suspicion
of unknown “colored” blood had persisted among what to
the eye, were white people. Today, many generations and
almost 400 years after John Gowen, the first free African
-American in colonial Virginia, some of the questions are
being answered.

[To Be Continued]

Biography: Tim Hashaw is an investigative reporter work-
ing from East Texas. He has filed stories for CBS, ABC
and NBC from network affiliates. Tim has reported for
radio, television, and print. Awards for Best Investiga-
tive Reporting from: The Radio and Television News Direc-
tors’ Association (RTNDA), Associated Press, United Press
International, the National Headliners Club and others.


Melissa Goings was indicted for murdering her husband in
1857 in Metamora, Illinois and was meeting with her at-
torney, Abraham Lincoln at the Woodford County Courthouse
when he gave her some “legal advice,” according to the
“Pentagraph,” a newspaper published in Bloomington, Illi-

“Imagine it’s 1857 in Metamora. An inviting, two-story
red brick building stands next to the town square. Be-
neath its graceful cupola, behind four white columns, the
business of the eighth judicial circuit is taking place.
Clients and lawyers are clustered in knots – on stair-
ways, in hallways, out on the lawn.

Abraham Lincoln is meeting with a 70-year-old client, Me-
lissa Goings. Goings is accused of murdering her husband,
a well-to-do, 77-year- old farmer. Testimony indicates
that he was choking her and she broke loose, got a stick
of stove wood, and fractured his skull. The victim, who
had a reputation for hard drinking and a bad temper, died
two days later.

Goings was free on $1,000 bail and awaiting trial when
she met with Lincoln at the courthouse on October 10,
1857. According to Carl Sandburg’s version of this story,
“Mrs. Goings was granted time for a short conference with
her lawyer, Mr. Lincoln. Then she left the courthouse,
and was never again seen in Metamora.”

Mrs. Goings’ disappearance is an often-told bit of Lin-
coln lore. Sandburg tells it this way: “A court bailiff,
Robert T. Cassell, later said that when he couldn’t pro-
duce the defendant for trial, he accused Lincoln of ‘run-
ning her off.’ Lincoln replied, “Oh no, Bob. I did not
run her off. She wanted to know where she could get a
good drink of water, and I told her there was mighty good
water in Tennessee.'”


A news article in the July 27, 1887 edition of the “Deca-
tur County Journal” of Leon, Iowa told of the heroic
death of James Goen

“Last week the community was made sorrowful by hearing of
the railroad collision in which James Goen lost his life.
His half brother, Mr. Glaze, was conductor on one of the
trains and James Goen was a brakeman on the other.

Thinking that he might save the life of his brother on
the other train, he stuck to his own train when every one
else jumped off. In the collision one leg was crushed,
the other broken in two places, while he sustained other
injuries. He was taken home and lived about six hours.

As soon as possible, his friends brought his remains to
Leon to be buried beside his father. The funeral ser-
vices were held at the M.E. Church and were conducted by
his mother’s pastor, the Rev. W. C. Cort, of the Presby-
terian Church, assisted by pastors of the other churches.
The house was crowded with sympathizing friends and many
could not get in.

The pall bearers were six young men, who had been his as-
sociates. The Leon Band, also made up mainly of his
young friends, playing appropriate melodies, preceded the
hearse to the cemetery.

Thus, at the age of 22, James Goen was taken from this
world with but a short warning. He fell in the strength
of his young manhood, when the future seemed bright and
pleasant. One more warning voice speaks to us from the
grave. It says prepare to meet thy God in peace, for you
know not the day nor the hour when your summons will also



The sheriff of Ft. Bend County knew that John Steel Gowen
was a member of an outlaw gang that roamed through the
area in the turbulent days that followed the Civil War
and sought an opportunity to arrest him. He had fled to
Texas riding a horse stolen in Arkansas and with the know-
ledge that he had killed a man there. In a Fulshear sa-
loon, he quickly joined up with the bushwhackers. While
still in his teens, Gowen was labeled a horsethief, a cat-
tle rustler and a desperado. He lived the life of a
nightrider with the lawless group for six years, robbing
and stealing–and did it successfully, according to some.
He was never caught.

Then came word from Arkansas that he was not a murderer,
that the victim, his uncle, had survived and that he was
not charged with any crime–either in Arkansas or in
Texas!. Just as quickly as he had turned to a life of
crime, he became respectable and law-abiding. He moved
to Houston, got a job with a large grocery concern and
became a model member of the community, at the age of 21.

John Steel Gowen was born in a room in Kellum’s Hotel in
Searcy, Arkansas in August 1859, according to Glen At-
mar Gowen, a grandson of Houston in an interview. Hav-
ing been abandoned by his father, they were enumerated
there alone in the hotel in the 1860 census of White

“Gowen, Mrs. M. 25, born in Arkansas, female
J. 1/12, born in Arkansas, male”

They were the only members of the Gowen family to appear
in White County in 1860. The father, name unknown, “was
born in Ireland, was orphaned and worked as a cabinboy
to pay for his passage to the United States.” Faced with
the responsibility of a new baby and a sickly wife, he
“went west.” When his mother died, a reluctant uncle
took John Steel Gowen in and loaded him with farm chores
“to make a man out of him.”

At 15, in an argument with the over-bearing uncle, Gowen
struck him on the temple with a large rock and left him
in a pool of blood. Convinced that he had killed his un-
cle instantly, he stole a horse from the lot and lit out
for Texas, in his mind a fugitive from justice. There he
fell in with other desperadoes and became proficient in a
life of crime, until it became apparent that he could
quit and start over with a second chance.

“John S. Gowen,” was listed in the 1881 city directory of
Houston as a salesman for J. A. McKee Company which ad-
vertised “drygoods, groceries and beer.” He became a
model citizen and lived in a respectable part of town
“on the west side of Brewster Street, two blocks north of
Sewell Street.”

He was married in 1883 to Marion Jane Johnston, age 14,
born in Texas in August 1869. In the 1890 city directory
John Steel Gowen was a representative of Browne & Boll-
fross, Grocers and lived at 30 Spruce Street.

In 1891, John Steel Gowen went into business with William
F. Ludtke as “Ludtke & Gowen, Butchers, on the west
side of Liberty Street between Chestnut & Chapman.” He
owned a home “at the northeast corner of Donley & Gregg
Streets.” In 1897, he removed his family to nearby Whar-
ton County.

John Steel Gowen appeared as the head of the household
in the 1900 census of Wharton County, Enumeration Dis-
trict 58, page 7, precinct 4:

“Gowen, John 40, born in AR in August 1859
Marion 30, born in TX in August 1869
Marie L. 15, born in TX in October 1884
Mattie 13, born in TX in October 1886
John 9, born in TX in November 1890
Ed 2, born in TX in August 1897
Irene 10/12, born in TX in July 1899”

In 1902, they lived at Halletsville, Texas. In 1913 they
again lived in Houston. Until his death May 31, 1919 in
Harris County, John Steel Gowen was engaged in farming
and stockraising. Marion Jane Johnston Gowen died Octo-
ber 12, 1926 and was buried at Eagle Lake, Texas.

Children born to John Steel Gowen and Marion Jane Johns-
ton Gowen include:

May Belle Gowen born about 1883
Marie L. Gowen born in October 1884
Mattie Gowen born in October 1886
John Linder Gowen born in November 1890
Eddie Steel Gowen born August 22, 1897
Irene Redding Gowen born in July 1899
Jesse Eugene Gowen born January 31, 1902
Florence Adella Gowen born May 5, 1905

5)  Dear Cousins

I recently wrote and asked Arlee Gowen what he thought
about obtaining DNA samples of a few strands of hair with
roots attached and finger nail clippings of Gowen/Goings
descendents for future DNA testing. He said it was a
great idea for tying family groups together and identify-
ing ancestors. He felt that in the near future that im-
portant techniques would be discovered in DNA research
that would remove doubts and disputes about ancestry that
arise in every branch of our family.

He agreed to present this idea to the Foundation Members
to see if anyone had some ideas as to how this could be
economically feasible.

My brother-in-law, Joseph Malvern Goings, born 1929 in El
Paso had been in bad health, and we knew it was just a
matter of time before he passed on. I was a bit hesitant
about asking him for DNA, waiting for the right moment.

He developed a tumor on his lungs about two months ago,
already suffering from emphysema and being hooked up to
oxygen, they had trouble testing him to see if it were
cancer. He decided not to have further testing, since he
didn’t plan to take Chemotherapy.

The tumor quickly grew from 2 cm to 8 cm. He wanted to
remain at home and not go to the hospital [he lived with
my daughter and her husband]. She had to call 911 when
she found him unable to get up from the floor, he lasted
two weeks after going to the hospital. He died February
17, 2001 at 9:00 p.m.

So, another descendant of Pleasant L. Goins, born 1819 in
IL & Mary M. Smith Goins of AR, through William Zachariah
Goings, born 1854 in AR & Anne E. Ballard Goings through
John Lafayette Goings born 1881, in Poughkeepsie, AR &
Mary Griffin Goings of MO died Saturday night, February
17, 2001.

Fortunately, my daughter knew of my interest in DNA and
asked the morticians to get a small sample for me. So, I
have it until we can decide what to do with it. Has any-
one had any thoughts on a place to house a DNA Bank which
could do this type of research in the future in a way
affordable for those of us who wish to tie our ancestors

As I learned, don’t wait too long to ask those in good
health for specimens. I shall ask the remaining Goings
to give me a sample now, without waiting any longer!

Shirley A. Goings-Lindsey
6933 Galemeadow Circle
Dallas, TX, 75214

===Dear Cousins===

On April 7, 2001 Virginia Genealogical Society will hold
its Spring Conference at the Library of Virginia. There
will be six presentations: Colonial Records; Virginia’s
Children–Their Rights, Plights, and Records; Getting
Started in Genealogy; Virginia’s Tax Records; Deciphering
Early Handwriting; and a Problem Solving Workshop. Vend-
ors will be present and a box lunch will be available for
those who register before 21 March.

For registration forms and other details see:
http://www.vgs.org/ or write to Virginia Genealogical So-
ciety “Spring Conference,” 5001 W. Broad Street #115,
Richmond, VA 23230-3023.

===Dear Cousins===

Need any info on Mary Lee Goins/Gowins. She was married
to Alec McDaniel in TX. Mary had a daughter in 1918 in
Jacksonville TX named Mary Lillie Gowins/McDaniel. Mary
Lee died after giving birth. Elbert Gowins [Mary Lee’s
brother] took the daughter in and cared for her. If you
know anything about these people, please help.

Amy Cantrell

===Dear Cousins===

The Indiana Genealogical Society annual meeting and con-
ference will feature Dr. John Philip Colletta. The
conference is scheduled April 28, 2001 in Kokomo, In-
diana. Information is available at the IGS Web site:


===Dear Cousins===

The National Genealogical Society, along with local host
the North Carolina Genealogical Society, will hold a reg-
ional conference at the Raleigh Convention and Conference
Center in Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday, 24 March

Registration on Saturday will begin at 8 a.m. Sessions
featuring speakers Cyndi Howells and Sheila Benedict,
CGRS, will begin at 9 a.m. The registration fee is $40
for NGS members and $50 for non-members.

NGS will host a luncheon at 11:45 a.m. at the Raleigh
Convention and Conference Center. The menu is a tradi-
tional turkey dinner. The Saturday luncheon costs $22.
You may also join NGS at that time; and NGS membership
costs $40.

Please mail responses to NGS Regional Conference, 4527
17th Street, North Arlington, VA 22207-2399

Phone: 703/525-0050
Toll-free: 800/473-0060
Fax: 703/525-0052

E-mail: ngs@ngsgenealogy.org

For more information, see the NGS Web site at:




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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