McGowin became business giant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today’s column will be a continuation of the descendants in the family of Samuel and Martha (Mason) McGowin who lived primarily in Escambia County, Alabama. Their 13 children and many grandchildren were identified in last week’s column. Their great-grandchildren will be listed at this point.

The grandchildren of their oldest daughter, Mary Ann McGowin, and her husband, William Stewart Foshee, were as follows. Their daughter, Virginia Foshee, and husband, William D. Hart, son of Isaac and Mary (McArthur) Hart, resided in Covington County and reared the following children: William Isaac Jr., b. 1870, d. 1934; Mary Agnes, b. 1873, d. 1942; Margaret Josephine, b. 1875, d. 1956; Sam, b. 1878, d. 1929; and Columbus Alexander, b. 1880, d. 1952. Mary Ann and William were buried in the Conecuh River Baptist Church Cemetery.

The next daughter, Martha Foshee, and husband, J.W. Bradley, reared two children, Augusta, b. 1875, d. 1926; and Leamon.

The third daughter, Alabama Foshee, and husband, Jonathon B. Brewton, son of Emanuel and Eliza (Dixon) Brewton, reared the following children: William Travis, b. 1881, d. 1903; Bibb, b. 1883; Bruce, b. 1887; Mary Ann, b. 1891, d. 1909; Marcia, b. 1894, d. 1925; Myrtle; and Travinia.

The next daughter, Sarah Foshee, and husband, Walt William Moore, son of Thomas David and Mary Ann Moore, were both buried in the Old Brooklyn Methodist Cemetery in Brooklyn. They had reared the following four children: Mayme G., b. 1883, d. 1950; William Abbott, b. 1886, d. 1954; Ida, b. 1888, d. 1952; and John Greely, b. 1893, d. 1961.

The youngest daughter, Mary Ann Foshee, and husband, William Augustus Robinson, son of Julius Gurdon and Margaret Matilda (Bradley), reared the following three children: Julius W., b. 1897; John Leyden, b. 1899, d. 1907; and Margaret Ellen Nell, b. 1896, d. 1981. They were buried in the Robinson Cemetery near Brooklyn.

Next are the grandchildren of Peter and Nancy (Floyd) McGowin. Their oldest son, Thomas Jackson McGowin, was married to Ida Pickens Loveless (1867-1941). At their deaths, they were both buried in the McGowin Cemetery near McGowin’s Bridge. They reared the following children: Louis M., b. 1890, m. Emma Belle McNeil; Lillie E., b. 1893, m. 1924 James Fred Clements; Everette, b. 1895, d. 1933, m. 1924 Josephine Johnson; Jessie, b. 1898, m. 1924, Edwin Harvey Robinson; Bernard, b. 1900, m. 1940 May Truluck; Jackson, b. 1902, m. Myrna Lindsey (1904-1940); Emma Pickens, b. 1905, m. William Ching Warner; and Alexander “Alex,” b. 1908, m. 1935 Frances Powell.

Their second son, Samuel Lewis McGowin, and his first wife, Ada Bethea, daughter of Joseph Austin and Nancy J. (Mendenhall) Bethea, had the following children: Peter Abbot, b. 1882, d. 1922, m. 1904 Georgia Foshee; Nancy Lee “Nannie,” b. 1884, d. 1911, single; Mattie Irene, b. 1886, d. 1963, m. 1908 John Robert L. Carmack, Sr. (1880-1925); Herman Austin, b. 1887, d. 1942, single; Sandford Jackson, b. 1888, d. 1948, m. 1914 Pauline Jackson; Henry Grady, b. 1889, d. 1891; Joseph Hill, b. 1891, d. 1928, single; Lula Bell, b. 1892, d. 1938, m. 1918 J. Vigil Smith; and Ada Laurie, b. 1893, d. 1928, single.

Samuel Lewis McGowin and his second wife, Madge Parker, had the following children: Madeline Elizabeth, b. 1895, d. 1968, m. 1915 Aubrey W. Brown; Esther Shinn, b. 1896, d. 1979, m. 1914 J. Otto Blake; Samuel Bruce, b. 1898, d. 1973, m. 1925 Katie Rebecca Metcalfe; Infant female, b. & d. 1900; Minnie Edith, b. 1901, d. 1977, m. 1928 Harry Rabb; and Madge Frances, b. 1904, m. (1) Cliff Cahill (2) Sammy Shellhouse (3) Leon K. McMullen. Samuel Lewis McGowin and his third wife, Mary Bogan, had one daughter, Celia Gray, b. 1905, d. 1983, m. John Henry Fowler.

The third son, Alexander McGowin and his wife, Emma Rankin, reared the following four children: Mary Mercedes, b. 1893, m. C. Hundley Grover; Coralie, b. 1895, m. 1918 William Henry Bethea (1892-1933); Evelyn Clare, b. 1898, m. 1920 Frank Cedric Winter (1897-1933); and Emma, b. 1906, m. 1928 Charles Aloysius Collins (1877-1960).

The grandchildren of Alexander McGowin and his second wife, Nancy Floyd, included the children of their oldest son, Joseph F. McGowin, and his wife, Minnie Olive Leonard. They were Etta Lee, b. 1890, d. 1916, m. Arthur C. Tonsmeire; Ruth Olive, b. 1891, d. 1955, m. 1914 Robin P. Aldridge; Joseph Alex, b. 1895, m. 1914 Lillian Culpepper; Minnie Elizabeth, b. 1899, d. 1903; and Everette Leonard, b. 1906, m. 1927 Joyce Mason Stapler.

The children of their son, James Greeley McGowin, and wife, Essie Stallworth (1877-1960) included the following: James Greeley Jr., b. 1899, d. 1900; Norman Floyd, b. 1900, m. 1925 Mary Alice Eastwood (1902-1956); Earl Mason, b. 1901, m. 1937 Ellen Pratt (1915-1962); Julian Frederick, b. 1904, m. 1940, Bettie Davis Rossell; Estelle, b. 1907, m. 1931 Lawrence Kenille Larson; and Nicholas Stallworth, b. 1912, m. 1945 Elizabeth Brittain Smith.

James Greeley McGowin was born in Escambia County near Brewton and engaged in his first business venture in that area. He later moved to Butler County where he resided for about 30 years. He became president of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company in Chapman, which was the largest concern of its type in Alabama. He became a leading businessman in the state, which included being a director of the McGowin-Lyon Hardware Company of Mobile. He has been described as a leader in cultural, industrial, educational, social, political and economic life of Alabama. He was further described as being warm-hearted, generous, genial, companionable and a lover of nature. He and several members of his family built extremely fine homes in the Chapman community.

The children of his sister, Martha Elizabeth “Lizzie” McGowin, and her husband, James I. Robbins (1864-1944), son of Eliza Martin Robbins, included Bruce, b. 1896, m. 1917 Marie Collins Hermon; Georgia Aloise, b. 1896-1900; James Alexander, b. 1898, m. 1926 Alyce Elizabeth Clark (1906-1940); and Elizabeth Evelyn, b. 1911, m. 1936 Thomas Alston Howze.

The children of his sister, Jessie McGowin, and husband, William Edward Foshee (1873-1935), included William Stewart, b. 1897, d. 1952; Mary, b. 1900, m. Eugene Bragg Smith, Sr.; and Edith, b. 1904, d. 1970, m. (1) Charles Abercrombie (2) John Wickersham Fisher.

Since there is considerable genealogy available on this family, the next column will be a continuation of this lineage beginning with the grandchildren of James and Martha (Ghent) McGowin.

The sources for today’s genealogy is the book entitled McGowen Family, which is available at the Andalusia Public Library, and an article in The Greenville Advocate on Jan. 5, 1933.

Anyone who might have a correction to any of the above or additional information on the family is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 334-222-6467; or e-mail:

HISTORICAL MEETING: The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans with the assistance of the Thomasson Randolph Thomasson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will conduct a program at 6:30 p.m, Thurs., Jan. 20, in the LBW Dixon Conference Center to honor Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson. Guests are welcome.