||John D. Gowell
John D. Gowell, farmer, section 16, Denver Township, was born in Kennebee Co., ME., May 11, 1845. His parents, Lewis and Caroline (Berry) Gowell, were also natives of Maine, and of English and Scotch ancestry. They were married in Sagadahoc County, afterward moving to Kennebee County. In 1849, when the gold fever was at its height, they moved to California, where his father established a large quartz mill and built a hotel. While living at this place, he was attacked with bilious fever and died, in the spring of 1851. John was the seventh child; and being obliged to assist in the care of his mother, his educational advantages were limited. But being full of determination and perseverance, he improved his leisure time in study, even when out of school; in the army his book was his constant companion.
When 15 years of age he engaged himself to an agent of the Boston Navy Yard, to go to Northumberland Co., VA., to secure lumber for ship-building. While there the war question was agitated, and the State passed an ordinance to prevent all Northern men from leaving the State, for any cause whatever. But Mr. Gowell's sympathies being decidedly with the North, he, with 23 others, seized upon an oyster sloop that was then lying in a small harbor off the Chesapeake Bay, called Cockle's Creek, and securing the officers of the boat, they set out for they bay, and finally reached Baltimore, just after the riot, having just $1 in money. They were greeted with applause, and borne through the streets with pomp and glory, reaching their respective homes in due season. Possessing a never-dying love for their country, they all enlisted in her defense. Mr. Gowell enrolled in Co. F., 19th ME. Vol. Inf., July 3, 1862, 1st Brigade, Second Division and Second Army Corps, commanded by Gen. Hancock. He had previously enlisted three times; but, being only 17 years of age, his mother forbade his joining the army; this time he was permitted to go. He participated in 17 battles, and was in Grant's campaign of the Wilderness 60 consecutive days, when the general was going to "fight it out on that line if it took all summer". He was in the second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Falling Water, Petersburg, and at the surrender of Lee's army at Appomattox Court-House. He was in Libby prison eight days, and was wounded three times: at Cold Harbor, in the back of the head, by a minie ball; at Hatcher's Run, in the left knee, by the fragment of a shell; and at Gettysburg, in the left arm, by a ball passing through it. He was at one time made a spy, and was very successful, having caused the capture of a regiment with a large amount of artillery. He was honorably discharged May 31, 1865, at Washington, D. C.
He then returned home, where he remained a short time, then took a tour through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, and returned to Michigan and located 200 acres of wild land in Troy Township, this county. He also took up 400 acres in Oceana County. He was engaged in lumbering in various parts of the county for Mr. Heald, working nine months without losing but a day and a half, and drew just $1.50.
Oct. 25, 1867, he was married, in Pentwater, Mich., to Miss Florella A., daughter of Calvin and Susan (Smith) Woodworth, natives of Ohio, who was born in Ashtabula County, that State, July 5, 1849. She received such education as the district schools furnished in her native town, and at the age of 15 came to this State and settled in Colfax, Oceana County, where she remained until her marriage. They located in Otto Township, that county, where Mr. G. took a contract for logging for Ferry, Doling & Co., and afterward with A. J. Covil, contractor to move 9,000,000 logs annually. In the meantime he purchased 700 acres of pine land on the north branch of White River; but, owing to sickness in his family, sold out to his partner, Mr. Covil, and in the fall of 1869 he moved to this county, settling in Denver Township. He purchased 160 acres of land, and afterward added another 160, and now has 200 acres under tillage, upon which he has built very beautiful farm buildings, and a magnificent residence, at a cost of $4,000. Since living here he went to Kansas, made a large purchase and erected extensive buildings, but soon returned to this State, having made a profitable sale.
Mr. Gowell is a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 346, at Hesperia, and is Secretary of the order. He is also a member of the G. A. R., of the J. A. Dix Post. He is a strong advocate of the temperance cause, and very liberal in his political and religious views, inclining to the Advent Church. Mr. and Mrs. G. have one child, Caroline, born Sept. 13, 1875.
Return to Home Page
Return to Pioneers