DNA Mystery: Gowers of Nashville


I have DNA tested my mother and my paternal grandfather through Ancestry.com. It was well worth the price and wait time (about two months each in 2016). I knew through family tree research that my mother was related to the Gower family of Davidson County, Tennessee. DNA helped to prove that. She’s descended from Robert Gower, son of Russell or Abel Jr. Gower, son of Abel Gower Sr. (Click here for my post on Gower Island.)

Like any Gower researcher would tell you, some birth dates of Gower family members are fuzzy, as well as verifying Gower children. This hasn’t had much affect on my research until now.

My grandfather has a lot of matches to Gower family members — and also to my mom! As for my mom, I know my grandfather and mom are related through the Lacy family, many moons ago. Their shared matches are Lacy family members. However, they could also be related through the Gowers.

My grandfather has a “New Ancestor Discoveries” hint for William T. Gower, born 1812, married Lucy Knight.

new anc w t g

This caught my attention. I did a Gower last name search and turned up two pages of matches, most of whom descend from Abel Gower Sr. Now, most of these matches are from his son, Abel Jr.

William T. Gower was the son of Rev. William Gower, born in 1776. I don’t think either William fit into my grandfather’s family tree.

I have most of my grandfather’s family tree done and I know our history well. There was one side of the family who lived in Davidson County, Tennessee, but it was before William T. Gower’s birth.

Samuel Feland, of Sam’s Creek, is my grandfather’s third great-grandfather. He was from Lincoln County, Kentucky, but was in Nashville by at least 1783, when he received trespassing charges that were later dismissed (1770-1780 Census of the Cumberland Settlements). In 1787, Samuel Feland bought lot 34 in Nashville from Russell Gower. This is proof he did know the Gower family to some extent.

Samuel named wife Mary in his will in 1811. I’ve read that it is common for second wives to be referred to as “my beloved wife”, so I am not sure if Mary was his first/only wife, or the mother of his children. (Read his entire will here.)

Is it possible that Samuel’s wife was a Gower? My grandfather shares Gower DNA matches with other Feland descendants, which leads me to believe that the Gower connection is on this side of the family tree.

Assuming Mary was Samuel’s only wife, we can create a profile of her. Mary was likely born around 1755-1765, since Samuel Feland was born in 1755. We know she outlived him, so death would be after 1811. She lived on Sam’s Creek in present-day Cheatham County, which is very close to Gower Island and Gower family land.

I don’t know if this mystery can be solved. I need more information, and most importantly, documentation.

If you have any tips for me, or if you’re also related to the Gowers, please email downhomegenealogy@gmail.com.

11 thoughts on “DNA Mystery: Gowers of Nashville

  1. Suzanne Gower Beckha

    I am a descendent of the Gower family in Wake County North Carolina where John Robinson and Able Gower lived before migrating to Tn. My research has discovered that the Robertsons and the Gowers migrated in the 1600s from Ulster Ireland to Pennsylvania. The group moved together to Virginia and then to North Carolina. Here the family divided, yours to Tn and mine ended up in Missouri.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Suzane Beckham

    I do not have information on Able Gower. He is not part of my Gower line. I was able to trace back to Wake County, NC to Needham Gower. I have not been able to verify his parents or his siblings. I did find one document that shows him as a representative for Lewis Gower.


  3. Michael Glaza

    I am descendent of Abel Gower born in Gloucester, England in 1632 and died in Henrico County Virginia. I know some went to I believe Montgomery County North Carolina. The Gowers and Robertson had land attached were tied in together through marriage. The founder of Nashville, TN James Robertson had Gower’s in his party when the first fort was built. That said I am related.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary Suzanne Gower Beckham

      The Robertson clan and Gower clan lived in Johnson and Wake county NC before moving to Tenn. James robertsons mother was Mary Gower. Part of the family stayed in NC. My family moved from NC to Tn then to Illinois and then Missouri

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Edwina Gower

    Anyone who is doing work on the Gower family in North Carolina in the 1600 & 1700s would be great to connect with. I descend from Matthew Gower (1762, NC – 1852, Lawrence Co., TN). I believe that his father was likely Thomas Gower (probably 1740ish – 1815, Knox Co., TN). Thomas was active in Anson & Montgomery Counties, NC, and there seems to be a deed in Johnston County, NC in 1764 from John & Rosemon (?) Gower (possible parents) to him. My direct email is edwinagower@gmail.com.


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