Luckily, I am not my own Grandpa. Relations can be confusing. I’ll try to explain that a little later.
I hope you and your families are doing well.
I haven’t talked much in this blog about WikiTree. It is a free database of genealogical data that is working towards an accurate WORLD family tree, that is, one with no duplicate profiles that links everyone together in a single tree. It has collected over 23 million profiles so far. I think it’s pretty cool. I have my Hogue side on there and plan to add Jane’s Timmerman side eventually. One of the members on WikiTree invented a pretty neat app called the Ancestor Listmaker. You can enter your member number and see where various ancestors fit on certain lists, like American Revolutionaries, French and Indian War Fighters, Civil War Soldiers, or members of the Jamestown Society and folks who came over on the Mayflower.
Jamestown and The American Revolution
We did get a couple of hits on the Listmaker App. One, an ancestor named Richard Bracewell, Sr., who qualifies us to join the Jamestown Society (I’ll probably do a blog post about that in the future), and four who served in the American Revolution. I’d like to focus on one of these, Abel Gower, Sr for this post. Abel is my sixth great grandfather and connects through the line of my great grandmother, Nora Gatlin. If you don’t know much about our Gatlin’s, they are probably the part of our tree with the fewest branches. Nora’s parents were first cousins. Once I got the Gower’s and the Lucas’s and the Robertson’s and the Gatlin’s all sorted out, I came up with some unique relationships.
I found out that not only is Nora Gatlin my great grandma, but she is my second cousin 3 times removed, and my fourth cousin 3 times removed! Still, I am not my own Grandpa!
How Does That Happen?
Well, it just does. All it takes is a few cousins to marry each other somewhere down the line. Nora’s grandfather Gatlin’s, John and Andrew, were brothers. So, their parents, Nathan Gatlin, and Obedience Lucas are on both sides of her tree. Abel Gower, Sr, was the father of both my 5th great grandfather, Abel Gower, Jr, and my fifth great grandmother Nancy Gower, who married Andrew Lucas. Andrew and Nancy are Obedience’s parents, so they are on both sides of the tree as well. I knew I could clear it up for you! Clear as that good ol’ Mississippi mud!
You can check out that part of our pedigree in the gallery photo below:
Thanks to the Warthen family for the pic of Nora and the kids.
The Gower’s Move West
Abel Gower was most likely born in Brunswick, Colony of Virginia in 1718. His parentage has been narrowed down to two couples, both from England, but hasn’t been verified. He married Mary Robertson in Brunswick and started to raise a family. It is believed that they moved to Wake County, North Carolina, where Abel and his son, Abel, Jr., both served in the North Carolina Militia. This information comes from some of the family trees on WikiTree, so I have yet to track down the sources myself. The family relocated again, to Watauga County, North Carolina around 1778. Watauga was on the western edge of the frontier at that time. While the battle for independence raged on, many families gathered in this area to continue to move even farther west.
Watauga is where Abel Gower and his family met up with some especially important pioneers. Captain James Robertson (probably kin to Abel’s wife Mary) and Colonel John Donelson were forming an expedition to explore and settle the area along the Cumberland River known as French Lick or The Bluffs, known today as Nashville, Tennessee. There would be two groups going, one via land with Robertson and another via river with Donelson. Robertson had already made a trip back to French Lick in early 1779 to establish Fort Nashborough. If you want more specifics on the history, please follow these links here, here, here, and here. The Gowers, led by Captain Abel Gower, Sr, would follow Donelson in their own flatboat.
The river party headed out on 22 Dec 1779. The journey would be about 1000 miles, and it was no picnic. Indians were everywhere, which is easy to understand since it was their country. They were mostly hostile Chickasaws and a more violent band of Cherokees, known as the Chickamaugas. You can read more about them and their leader, Dragging Canoe, here.
Near Lookout Mountain, which is near present day Chattanooga, TN, the expedition came under attack from a large band of Chickamaugas on the cliffs above. People in the flatboats scattered for whatever cover they could find in order to defend themselves. Nancy Gower soon found herself at the helm of the family boat and was able to guide them downriver and out of range of the Indian’s rifles. Once the boats stopped to camp for the night, Nancy discovered she had been shot, a bullet passing clean through her thigh, missing her femur, I guess.
The Clover Bottom Defeat
The Donelson Flotilla finally arrived at the Bluff on 24 Apr 1780, where Robertson’s land expedition was there to meet them. Camps were established and Donelson and others picked a spot to farm near where the Stones River runs into the Cumberland, a few miles upriver. The area became known as Clover Bottom. Donelson planted corn and cotton here.
After a rough summer of much rain and many floods, Donelson went back up to the bottom in November to harvest his crops. Abel Gower, Sr, his son Abel, Jr, and James Robertson’s oldest son, among others, went along to help. On the afternoon of 10 Nov 1780, Gower turned his loaded flatboat toward the Bluff and back downstream. They were ambushed by several Chickamaugas as Donelson watched from the shore. Some of the men escaped into the water, but the Gowers and the Robertson boy were killed. Their bodies were found in the boat the next day, after it ran ashore near what is now the end of Broadway in Nashville.
For more details on the Donelson family, click here.
Unfortunately, This is a Pretty Common Story
And, there may be more stories like it in our family history. As sad is it turned out for the Gower family, it was another step taken by brave pioneers to get us out west. Nashville and Davidson County were established in 1783 and Tennessee became the 16th state in 1796. Many Lucas’s, Gower’s, Robertson’s, and Donelson’s contributed to that history. In fact, John Donelson’s granddaughter, Rachel, went on to marry Andrew Jackson, whose home “The Heritage’ is not too far from Clover Bottom. Our branch of the Gatlin family migrated to Tippah County, Mississippi, then to Clay County, Texas, and finally to the Indian Territory and Love County, Oklahoma.
Man, this turned out to be a longer article than I thought! Anyway, until next time, stay healthy and sane out there (I am not my own Grandpa!). Thanks for reading my blog here at The Hogue Connection.
Oh, and one other thing…if you are interested in pursuing a membership in the DAR or SAR, Abel Gower, Sr is listed in the DAR records as Abel Geyer (for some reason), Ancestor # A212239.
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Abel Gower Sr is my 5th great grandpa
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