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 William Gowen

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William Gowen

  • Birth 22 Dec 1778 Sanford, York County, Maine, USA
  • Death 28 Sep 1831 Sanford, York County, Maine, USA
  • Burial Sanford, York County, Maine, USA
  • Memorial ID 47720960

William died of asthma with which he had suffered all of his life.

William married
1] Olive WITHAM
on 2 October 1808 at Sanford.
They were the parents of two children;
Calvin Powers, Isaiah.

2] Mary WITHAM
on 3 May 1813 at Sanford.
They were the parents of two children;
Nahum Wilson, William.

3] Sarah Haynes WITHAM
on 27 June 1820 at Kittery.

William, in his boyhood, was so afflicted with asthma that he could not do hard manual labour, and therefore concluded to prepare himself to be a school master. He was educated in the public schools of Sanford, at Fryeburg Academy, and at his own fireside.
He was always a close student, even after reaching mature age. He began teaching in town about 1800 [was popularly called 'Old Master Gowen' and continued in several districts for some thirty years in winter, though mostly in the school-houses near the Baptist meeting-house. Occasionally he taught evening school for business men to learn penmanship and bookkeeping.
In summer he carried on his farm and garden, having a fine garden for the times, with all kinds of vegetable and 'garden-sauce' in their seasons. He had a good orchard of apple and plum trees.
He built his own house, finished three rooms before his first marriage, and made nearly all of the furniture and household utensils used. 'Master Gowen' was never in more than comfortable circumstances, as he never received more than ten dollars a month for teaching, and could not carry on heavy farming. He lived on a farm, one mile from Sanford, for most of his life.
He was of medium height, spare, light complexioned, with grey eyes, light hair, and whiskers. He was a rigid moralist and member of the Baptist Church. When the church was without a minister, he often conducted the meetings on Sunday, reading a printed sermon.
Two brothers of Olive and Mary (Witham) Gowen were afflicted with the eye disease known as 'Retinitis Pigmentosa' and it is reported that, Mary, herself, was slightly afflicted with the disease. The sister, Olive, however, was not afflicted, nor were her descendants; however the eye disease appeared in the descendants of Mary for many generations.
At the opening of the century, there was not a painted house in town. William's house was one of the earliest; his paint was red ochre, from the Red brook on Hanson's ridge. He pounded and sifted the ochre and mixed it with fish oil and skim milk. It stood the test of time.
William prepared the gravestones for Olive, and for Mary, with his own hands, from flat stones; even to the cutting of their names.

Biographical notes by grandson Lewis W. Gowen

William, owned and lived on a farm situated on the south-west bank of the Mousam River and about midway between the villages of Sanford Corner and Springvale, Maine {note: now the site of Gowen Memorial Park}. But though living on a farm and devoting a portion of his time to its cultivation, he was a teacher by profession and also worked to some extent at surveying. He was commonly known as 'Master Gowen' and taught the Sanford Corner school for twenty one successive years. His death occurred in 1831 when his youngest son, William was a little over twelve years of age.

Family Members



died September 28, 1831
age 52 years & 9 months





  • Maintained by: Ralph Gowen
  • Originally Created by: Yvonne Gowen
  • Added: 7 Feb 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 47720960
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Gowen (22 Dec 1778–28 Sep 1831), Find A Grave Memorial no. 47720960, citing Gowen Family Burial Ground #2, Sanford, York County, Maine, USA ; Maintained by Ralph Gowen (contributor 47690237) .