Goins Family Intermarried With Indian Neighbors

Monday, December 9, 2002

(This is one of the families included in the book Early Hamilton Settlers by John Wilson)

In the days when the Cherokee Indians occupied the Chattanooga region, members of the Goins family were their neighbors and intermarried with them. Some of the Goins clan were of the mysterious dark-skinned Melungeon race.

The Goins pioneers made their way from Virginia to Grainger and Claiborne counties and on to Hamilton in the 1820s. Sanford, Roland, Laban, Dodson and John were here at the time of the 1830 census. Roland paid George Irwin $50 for 160 acres in 1845. Dodson was among those going out from Ross's Landing in the Second Seminole War in 1837. The Goins family was allied with the Dodsons in Grainger County.

Laban was born in Hanover County, Va., in 1764, and he had an older brother, David, who was born in 1757. David volunteered for the Revolution at Halifax County, Va. under Col. William Terry. He had several terms of service, including a march to join Gen. George Washington's army at Portsmouth about two months before the surrender of Cornwallis. David lived at Grayson County, then in Wythe County before moving to Grainger County. He arrived in Hamilton County on the last day of February 1833 and drew a Revolutionary pension of $32 per year. Laban resided on property at Sale Creek that is now the David Gray Sanctuary of the Audubon Society. Laban's son, Carter, was born in Virginia, and his children included Harbance, Charles and Carter Jr. Carter Jr. married Cynthia A. McGill. Children of Harbance included Laban, William, Duncan and Jane. Carter Jr. and Cynthia had William, Francis Marion, James, Elizabeth who married Pleasant Bowling, Jefferson who married Sarah Mooneyham, Vandola and Minerva who married James Goins.

Francis Marion Goins, who was born in the removal year of 1838, married Sarah Neely and then Margaret J. Murphy. He and Jefferson were in the Union's First Light Artillery, and F.M. was injured at Cumberland Gap. His children included James M., William J., Samuel Ulysses S. Grant, Charles, Andrew and Lavada. By his second wife he had James Robert, Ida Jane and Maria Elizabeth. F.M. died at Burt in Cannon County, Tenn., in 1895. Samuel U.S.G. Goins returned to the Graysville area after marrying Amanda Mooneyham at Cannon County. Her first husband was Albert Barrett of Cannon County. Samuel U.S.G. died in 1947, and Amanda died in 1944. Their children were John Wiley who married Dovie Mae Bedwell, Levada Emiline who married Charles Albert Leffew, Andrew Jackson, Ammie Marshell who married Floyd Martin Larmon, and Charles W. who married Beatrice Goins. Andrew Jackson Goins, who was unmarried, for many years had an ice cream cart in Chattanooga.

Another early Goins was Pryor L., who acquired 82 acres from William Reed for $80 in 1841. Price and Martha Goins also were here along with Tillman and Dinah Goins. Price had Andrew Jackson who married Mary Selvidge, Rachael, Joseph, Preston, Priscilla, Thomas and Mary. Tillman died in the late 1850s. His children included Julia Ann, Spencer, James, Pleasant, Eliza, William, Carter, Jackson and Isabella. Preston Goins, who was born about 1804, was here prior to the war with his wife, Mary. Their son was Jarrett, who married Rebecca and had William, James and Sarah.

The John Goins family was allied with the Fields family, which had a Cherokee background. John's children included Sandell, Polly, John Jr., Sanford, Martin, Thomas and Nathan. Sandell was first married to George Fields, a Cherokee who went to Arkansas on the Trail of Tears but returned to Hamilton County a few years later and died about 1841. Sandell then married George Still. Nathan married Mary Fields. Another member of the family, Nancy, was married to John Fields.

Granville Goins and his wife, Polly, also lived among the Cherokees in Hamilton County. It was said that Granville knew the Cherokee language and had an Indian name. Granville, who was a carpenter, started on the Trail of Tears, but was among those turning back to Tennessee. Children of Granville included Mahala, Rachael, Noah, Roland, Dodson, Barnes, Nancy and William.

One of the best known of the Goinses - Oscar Claiborne Goins - was born at Grainger County Feb. 24, 1830. His parents moved to Hamilton County when he was three. His father died when he was 11 and the mother, Nancy Biby Goins, was married in 1846 to a kinsman, Levi Goins. The other children were Pleasant, William, George W. and Sarah Jane who married the carpenter James K. Cornell. Oscar and his family “settled on a farm among the Cherokee Indians.” He took over the farm's management after his father's death, then he began clerking in a store at Chattanooga when he was 16. He married Nancy Florence Potter, daughter of Moses and Ellen Potter, in 1853. They separated after they had a son, William Preston Goins. John C. Potter, who married Tennessee Iles, may be another son of O.C. and Nancy Potter Goins. William Preston Goins lived with his Potter grandparents during the Civil War. William Preston Goins moved to Greene County, Ark. He married Lydia Elizabeth Lafferty, a descendant of the wealthy Rockefeller family. In 1858, Oscar married Esther Reynolds, daughter of Anderson
and Maria Reynolds.

Oscar C. Goins was operating a grocery and supply house at Chattanooga when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted on the Confederate side in the 19th Tennessee Infantry. He first saw action at Fishing Creek, then was in the fighting at Shiloh. He was detailed to bring wounded soldiers to Chattanooga, then he helped raise the Lookout Battery. He was with this unit at Mobile, then was at Vicksburg before he finally had to leave the service because of poor health. He was a traveling salesman after the war, and he moved his family near Spring Place, Ga. in 1873, when he acquired the three-story Joe Vann mansion. The Goins family lived on this fine plantation the next 22 years. Oscar C. Goins was in Bradley County when he died in 1903.

William A. Goins also enlisted from Hamilton County with the Confederacy. He was captured at Grand Gulf, Miss., on May 18, 1863, and taken to a prison at Alton, Ill. William Goins was sent for exchange on June 12, 1863, but he objected to the terms of the oath of allegiance and was returned to the Alton prison. He died there July 2, 1864.

A GROUP of the Goins family at Graysville near the Rhea County line had a Melungeon background. Asa “Acy” Goins married Sara Bolden and they had a large family in the Brown Rock section. Acy was one of the sons of Jackson and Jennie Goins, who moved to Hamilton County from Georgia about 1843. Others were Richard, William, Henry, Nathaniel, Bradford, George and Robert. Daughters were Sarah J., Nancy, Caroline, Viola, Lydia and Jane. Also living near the Jackson Goins family were Alfred and Mahala Goins and Francis M. and Sarah Goins. Acy's youngest child was Alvin Goins, who was born in 1903. He was kicked in the head by a mule when he was five, and he never learned to read and write. But he could “perform a remarkable feat of computation in his head that would baffle a math professor. Given the day, month and year of someone's birth, in a few seconds Alvin could estimate the exact number of days that elapsed since then.” Tested on this by an author doing a book on Melungeons, “his figures were found to be correct down to the last digit.” It was said when he worked at a sawmill, he could accurately compute a load of logs and tell how many slabs to cut off. Some contractors building a brick building asked his advice on how many bricks to order. He made the computation in a few minutes. After the project, three bricks were left over.

ANOTHER GOINS was John C., who was born near Apison in 1896. His grandfathers fought on different sides in the war. His father was Daniel Alexander Goins and the grandfather was John Goins, who married Amanda Jane Hughes in 1852 and lived at Bradley County. John Goins, who was a native of Blount County, fought for the Confederacy with Co. D of Thomas' Legion. There were 12 children, including Daniel A. who was born in Bradley County in 1869. He married Mary Alta Johnson. Daniel A. was killed near his home at Apison in 1939 when he was hit by a bus. John C. and his younger brother, Charles Daniel, were Chattanooga lawyers, and John C. became a judge in Hamilton County Circuit Court. John C. was also president of the Chattanooga Bar Association in 1934 and the Tennessee Bar Association in 1941-42. He was also a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates in 1953-56. He married Wilda Swick, but she died a few hours after their son, John C. Jr., was born. His second wife was Martha Raulston of Marion County, and their son, Landon Haynes Goins, is a lawyer here. His first name came from his father's longtime law partner, Landon Gammon. John C. Jr. is a biologist in Missouri. Caroline, daughter of John C., married attorney Keith Harber. Bess, sister of John C., was a teacher at Tyner High School and she married the school's principal, Paul Morris. John C. also had brothers Thomas M. and James. Thomas M. was an attorney in Pennsylvania.


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