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Friday, February 7, 2014

52 Ancestors: #4 William Gower, Methodist Preacher

My 5th-great-grandfather William Gower was born on 26 October 1776 in Wake County, North Carolina. He was a member of one of the first families of Tennessee; he arrived when he was only four years old. At that young age, he also lost both his father and grandfather. Abel Gower Jr. (my 6th-great-grandfather) and Abel Gower Sr. (my 7th-great-grandfather) were killed by Chickamaugas at Clover Bottom in 1780. William Gower married Charlotte Garland on 15 January 1802 in Davidson County, Tennessee. The following year, he heard Lorenzo Dow preach and was so moved that he professed his faith. John B. McFerrin stated that William Gower began to "call forth sinners to repentance" (p. 380). He was licensed to preach by William McKendree (Woodward, 1920). In 1803 William named his first son Lorenzo Dow, and in 1805 he named his first daughter (my 4th-great-grandmother) Margaret "Peggy" after Lorenzo Dow's wife. His church, Gower's Chapel, was across from his home, and it was used as a school on weekdays (Kelley, 1987). In 1885 a new church building, Centenary United Methodist Church, was constructed on the property ("Centenary UMC Homecoming," 2007).

William Gower died on 11 October 1851. The following day, his funeral was conducted by John B. McFerrin (Woodward, 1920). His will was recorded on 23 April 1852. He was buried in Gower Cemetery, located on the hillside below what is now Centenary United Methodist Church.  I had hoped to visit Gower Cemetery when I traveled to Nashville in 2007. Unfortunately I was unable to visit the cemetery because a dog was loose in the area and it looked like it was going to come after me if I got too close. I hope to go back to Nashville eventually, and hopefully I will get a chance to visit the cemetery.

"Centenary UMC Homecoming." Westview 31 no. 45 (Oct. 17, 2007): 2.
Kelley, Sarah Foster. West Nashville: Its People and Environs. Nashville: Sarah F. Kelley, 1987.
McFerrin, John B. History of Methodism in Tennessee. Vol. 1: From the Year 1783 to the Year 1804. Nashville: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, South, 1888.
Woodward, J. E. History of the Gower Family. Nashville: Harry V. L. Gower, 1920.


  1. Love this story Beth! Your writing makes history interesting! We are so fortunate to have connected with having so many common ancestors of which we are so proud. Keep up the great work!

  2. Abel Gower Sr. (1725-1780) was my 6x great grandfather. Abel Gower, Jr. (1748-1780) was my 6x great uncle. It wonderful to be reading information and discovering cousins.

  3. Nice work! I appreciate your time and effort. My 2x Great Grandmother was Emma Gower Hulan. My Grandfather, William Hulan talked about walking to Gower School in the 1930's. ~ Sherrie