|Consul General John Kennedy Gowdy|
However, when the celebrated admiral died in Paris in 1792, his burial was poorly recorded and his funeral was attended by few. For 113 years, America's first naval hero lay in an unmarked tomb in France. One of the chief detectives in the search for his burial place was my third great grand-uncle, John Kennedy Gowdy.
John K. Gowdy was born in the small town of Arlington, Rush County, Indiana on August 23, 1843 to Adam McConnell Gowdy and Nancy Oliver. The Gowdy family migrated from Rush County to Jasper County in 1848. When Adam Gowdy died at the young age of 48, John became responsible for the farm. He divided his time by working on the farm during the summer and returning to Arlington each November, where he lodged with his sister Mary Jane and attended the local school.
At the age of 18, John K. Gowdy joined the Fifth Indiana Volunteer Cavalry. He helped pursue and capture General John Hunt Morgan, the only Confederate leader to pass through Indiana. Gowdy served under General Ambrose Burnside in the winter of 1863-64 and under General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Georgia campaign. After the war, Captain John K. Gowdy became an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic.
On January 24, 1867, John married Eve Eliza Gordon in Rush County, Indiana. The Gowdys had three children, but only one, Fanny Alice, survived past childhood. Their two year-old son, Latta Theodore, died two weeks after his sister Fanny was born, on March 24, 1870. Between the years of 1887 and 1888, John K. Gowdy built a fine brick house in Rushville, Indiana. His former residence is now home to the Rush County Historical Society and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places of Rush County.
|John K. Gowdy's house.|
|John K. Gowdy at far right, wife Eve and daughter Fanny in coach.|
Chaffeur Stephen Hordsbath and the Rush County horses.
Paris, France, 1898.
Nearly two years after Gowdy began his service in France, he wrote a letter urging for an investigation to locate the remains of John Paul Jones:
To Representative Charles B. Landis, January 2, 1899, Paris, France.
It does seem strange that we have not identified ourselves in gratitude to him who fought our battles at sea in our struggle for independence and who was the first to secure our recognition as a Republic. His achievement of glorious deeds commends itself to the gratitude of the country. Every thoughtful American citizen can not but feel the deepest regret that we have shown no interest in his resting place. The graves of other heroes of the Revolution have been marked, and honor paid. John Paul Jones' love of liberty and devotion to the United States Government, and its principles, were the strongest passions of his life. Besides fighting our battles, he identified himself in many ways with our Government, that in the past century should have called forth, as for other heroes of the Revolution, the praise and admiration of a grateful people.
John K. Gowdy
|John Paul Jones Monument, Washington, D.C.|
According to a transcript of an unidentified American newspaper, Captain John K. Gowdy ... never received the credit that [was] due him for his part in the search for the body of John Paul Jones. On his own initiative and at considerable personal expense, Gowdy, while consul-general at Paris, employed a searching party and directed its operations. John K. Gowdy later said that he did not have any hard feelings that the Ambassador received full credit for the discovery.
Consul-General Gowdy was also instrumental in the purchasing the right to build the Panama Canal. As recognition for his extensive services to France, John K. Gowdy was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France, on September 30, 1905.
John K. Gowdy died at his Rushville home on June 25, 1918, at the age of 74. On the day of his funeral, flags were lowered to half-mast and many local businesses were closed. Scores of telegrams from old political friends were received by his family. John K. Gowdy is buried at Arlington East Hill Cemetery in his birthplace of Arlington, Indiana.