Thursday, December 4, 2014

52 Ancestors: #49 Nancy Oliver, Who Waited 3 Years for Groceries

My 4th great-grandmother, Nancy Oliver, was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky on the first of June 1807 to John Oliver and his wife Jane Hill.  Sometime around 1821, the Oliver family moved to Rush County, Indiana.

At the age of 22, Nancy married Adam McConnell Gowdy, a blacksmith who was two years her junior. The couple had two daughters, named Mary Jane and Martha Ann, then three sons, Lewis Oliver, John Kennedy, and Adam Thomas.

General Store, shared under creative commons license on Flickr.
Nancy's husband died in 1857; their youngest son, Adam Thomas Gowdy, died two years afterwards at the age of ten. Three of the Gowdy children (Mary, Martha, and Lewis) were married by this time, which only left one son, John Kennedy Gowdy, at home to look after his widowed mother.  The two lived on a farm in Rensselaer, Indiana.

[John] was living with his mother near Jasper [Indiana] when the war broke out.  He was 17 years old.  His mother sent him one day to a grocery two miles distant for soap, molasses, and a broom.  He found an excited group about the store discussing war news, and there was a recruiting officer in the town seeking volunteers. Young Gowdy promptly enlisted without consulting his mother, knowing she would object. Three years later, he came marching home again in a blue suit, with an honorable discharge in his pocket and the title of captain stuck to his name, enough to make any patriotic mother forgive anything or everything and be proud all the rest of her days. [But] he brought more.  He stopped at the grocery and bought the supplies his mother sent for three years before.  His first words on reaching home were: "Here, mother, are the soap, molasses, and broom you told me to get."  (The Literary Digest, Vol. 15, No. 2, pg. 59)

This same son was twice elected sheriff of Rush County.  John Kennedy Gowdy later became a famous Hoosier politician and served as Consul General to Paris during the William McKinley administration.  He received the Legion of Honor for his great service to France.

In her later years, Nancy Gowdy lived with her daughter Mary's family in Arlington, Indiana.  She died there at the age of 75 on September 3, 1882 and is buried at Arlington East Hill Cemetery in Rush County, Indiana.