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Melungeon Gowens Plant

The Family in Kentucky


Frederick Gowen and Jonathan H. Gowen, regarded as kinsmen,

perhaps brothers, were born in the Patrick County, Virginia area

and became patriarchs of Kentucky families that, in two

centuries, have spread throughout the nation.  Frederick Gowen

was enumerated as "free colored" in Virginia, but was reported as

"white" in the Kentucky census.  Jonathan H. Gowen was the

father of 13 children.  This genetic influence is apparent in 1990

in the descendants of both men--even eight generations later.


Frederick Gowen is regarded by some researchers as a

Melungeon [a recent appellation preferred by some whose an-

cestors were labeled "Mulatto"] because census enumerator

recorded him as a "free colored male."  In many enumerations in

the area individuals were listed as "mulatto," "colored," or

"Indian" by the censustakers who had no other latitude in

recording a dark-skinned person. 


He was born about 1797 in Virginia, according to the federal

census of 1850.  It has been suggested that he was a grandson of

John F[rederick?] Gowen, Jr. of Stafford County, Virginia and

Granville County, North Carolina. 


Jonathan H. Gowen was a son of William Gowen and Betsey

Moss Gowen, according to the research of Clara Jean Grider Fry,

a descendant of Cave City, Kentucky. 


"Frederick Going" was married December 10, 1818, to Nancy

Coomer [Comer?] in adjoining Surry County, North Carolina,

according to "Surry County, North Carolina Marriage

Bonds, 1780-1868."  "William Going" thought to be his father,

was the bondsman.  Nancy Coomer Gowen was born in North

Carolina about 1798, according to the 1850 census.  Their first

child was born in Patrick County about 1819.


A son was born to them there about 1822, and was followed by a

daughter about 1824.  "Frederick Going" appeared as the head of

a "free colored" household in the 1830 census of Patrick County,

page 154.


      "Going, Frederick      free colored male            24-36

                                          free colored female      24-36

                                          free colored male              0-10

                                          free colored female        0-10

                                          free colored male              0-10"


They continued in Patrick County about 1831 when another son

was born to them there.  About 1833, they lived in Lee County,

Virginia, in the extreme western tip of the state, where their fifth

child was born.


About 1835, Frederick Gowen was living near Somerset,

Kentucky in Pulaski County.  No members of the Gowen [nor

spelling variations] family were recorded in the 1830 census of

Pulaski County which showed a population of 9,521 at that time. 

Frederick Gowen purchased land in Pulaski County for $225 in

1838, according to the research of Steve Gowen.  He sold his

property March 2, 1848 for $150, according to Pulaski County

Deed Book 13, page 520.  On October 1, 1849 he was paid "$1

for work on road," according to Adair County Court Order Book

H, page 9.


In 1850, the household of Frederick Gowen was recorded in

Adair County, First Civil District, Household 603-603:


      "Gowen,      Frederick   53, born in Virginia, farmer, $200

                                                real estate

                        Nancy       52, born in North Carolina, illiterate

                        Allen       20, born in Virginia, illiterate

                        Larkin            18, born in Virginia, illiterate, farmer

                        Elizabeth   15, born in Kentucky

                        Frederick     8, born in Kentucky

      Hignight,   Mary        40, born in Virginia"


The fact that he named a son "Allen" suggests a relationship to

other branches of the family who used the name "Allen" as well. 

Mary Hignight was possibly related to the householders.


Frederick Gowen reappeared in the 1860 census of Adair County

in the First Civil District as the head of Household 242-242:


      "Going,      Fredrick    62, farmer, $600 real estate, $540

                                                            personal property, born in

                                                      Patrick County, VA

                        Nancy       61, housekeeping, born in Stokes

                                                      County, NC

                        Elizabeth   22, housekeeping, born in Pulaski

                                                      County, KY

                        Fredrick    18, farmer, born in Pulaski County,    



Adjoining were the households of "William Going," his son, No.

243-243; "Allan Going," a son, Household No. 244-244 and

William Chadowick [Chadwick?] and Mary "Polly" Gowen

Chadowick, his daughter, Household No. 245-245.


He removed shortly afterward to Gibson County, Indiana where

his son, Larkin Gowen had located.  "He died intestate, but did

leave a treasure trove of information in Gibson County Court

records when his heirs divided the estate," according to a letter

written by August 13, 1990 by Steve Gowen, a descendant of

Lexington, Kentucky.


Children born to Frederick Gowen and Nancy Coomer Gowen



      William R. Gowen              born about 1819

      Polly Gowen                         born about 1824

      Allen Gowen                         born about 1830

      Larkin Gowen                   born about 1833

      Elizabeth G. Gowen                  born about 1835

      Frederick Gowen                     born October 9, 1841


Jonathan H. Gowen was a son of William Gowen and Betsey

Moss Gowen, according to the research of Clara Jean Grider

Sexton Fry.  It is suggested that he was a kinsman of Frederick

Gowen because he appears to be closely associated with him. 

Melungeon characteristics are also found among his descendants. 

He was born in 1822 in Patrick County, Virginia, according to

the 1860 census of Adair County, Kentucky.  He was born in

1827, according to the research of Jessie Gowen Thompson.  On

February 6, 1846 "Jonathan Goen" was married to Hannah J.

Beasley, according to "Surry County, North Carolina

Marriage Bonds, 1780-1868."  Clara Jean Grider Sexton Fry

who has researched the family for many years reports that

Hannah J. Beasley was a half-Cherokee, "and she is the source of

the dark complexioned genetics in our family."


She was also born in Patrick County about 1826, and both of her

parents were born in Virginia, according to the census

enumeration.  She was born August 15, 1829, according to the

research of Jessie Gowen Thompson.  J. Allen Berryman was the

bondsman for the marriage.  Later that year "James Goen" was

married to Elizabeth Beasley, according to the Surry County

volume.  Eli Crouk was bondsman.  "Morgan Goin" was married

April 5, 1862 by J. Gray, J.P.  William Gilmer was bondsman.


Jonathan H. Gowen and Hannah J. Beasley Gowen were enu-

merated in the 1850 census of Stokes County, North Carolina,

along with "James Going and Betsy [Beasley?] Going and their

children next door, with a Beasley household between them and

John Going, his wife, Margaret and a 15-year-old boy, LeRoy

Going," according to the research of Steve Gowen.


From 1844 until 1855 Jonathan H. Gowen lived in Stokes

County, just across the state line from Patrick County.  By 1857,

he had removed to join Frederick Gowen in Adair County.  A

photograph of Jonathan H. Gowen indicates him to be a tall,

lean, stern man with a full growth of neck whiskers.  He was a

hunting dog fancier, and descendants "swore that he loved his

dogs more than his children."  Consequently, none of his

children would tolerate a dog on his homestead after he was



His household appeared in the 1860 census of Adair County. 

Fortunately for genealogists, the enumerator saw fit to include

the county of birth for each individual:


      "Going,      Jonathan                38, born in Patrick Co, VA,


                        Hannah                  34, born in Patrick Co, VA

                        Mary F.                15, born in Stokes Co, NC

                        Sarah J.                13, born in Stokes Co, NC

                        John                    11, born in Stokes Co, NC

                        Fanny                     9, born in Stokes Co, NC

                        Thomas J. [twin]     5, born in Stokes Co, NC

                        Henry C. [twin]     5, born in Stokes Co, NC

                        Susan E.                  3, born in Adair Co, KY

                        Frederick           3/12, born in Adair Co, KY"


He served as a private during the Civil War in Co. G, Thirty-

seventh Kentucky Infantry Regiment.  His household reappeared

June 22, 1870 located seven miles west of Columbia, Kentucky

as Household 119-119:


      "Gowen,      Jonathan          46, born in VA, farmer, $300

                                                      personal prop, $3,000 real


                        Hannah            44, born in VA

                        Andrew J.          18, born in NC, farmer

                        Thomas J.          14, born in NC, farmer

                        Henry C.          14, born in NC, farmer

                        Susan E.          12, born in KY

                        Jonathan          10, born in KY

                        Nancy M.            8, born in KY

                        Martha A.      6, born in KY

                        Cornelius           3, born in KY

                        Emily           2/12, born in KY


On June 10, 1880 the household of Jonathan H. Gowen appeared

in Adair County at Gradyville, Kentucky, Civil District 5,

Enumeration District 4, page 19:


      Gowen,       Jonathan    55, born in VA, father born in

                                                [blank], mother born in NC,


                        Hannah      53, born in VA, father born in VA,

                                                mother born in VA, wife

                        Elizabeth   21, born in KY, father born in VA,

                                                mother born in VA, daughter

                        Nancy M.    17, born in KY, father born in VA,

                                                mother born in VA, daughter

                        Cornelius   15, born in KY, father born in VA,

                                                mother born in VA, son, farmer

                        Emley         9, born in KY, father born in VA

                                                mother born in VA, daughter"


According to the family bible owned in 1972 by Martha Ann

Gowen McGrath, a descendant of Louisville, Kentucky, children

born to them include:


      Mary Frances Gowen                   born January 23, 1848

      Sarah Jane Gowen                    born May 4, 1849

      John Gowen                               born in 1850

      Andrew Jackson Gowen             born February 2, 1851

      Fanny Gowen                               born February 2, 1853

      Thomas Jefferson Gowen       born June 12, 1855

      Henry Clay Gowen                    born June 12, 1855

      Susan Elizabeth Gowen             born in 1858

      Jonathan Frederick Gowen       born January 10, 1859

      Nancy M. Gowen                            born April 20, 1962

      Martha Alice Gowen                   born in 1864

      Cornelius C. Gowen                        born February 14, 1867

      Emily Gowen                               born in April 1870