The GOWDY Family
South Carolina

     Robert Gouedy

No one is certain how the village Ninety Six got its name.  One explanation is that traders out of Charleston thought this intersection of trails was 96 miles south of the major Cherokee town of Keowee in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Because of the intersecting paths and its convenience as a stop-over point, the area became a hub for trading many goods and services.  Leather and pelts were the principal interest of white traders and were purchased from Indians and white hunters and trappers in exchange for guns, powder, rum and other supplies.

One of the most successful white traders was a businessman named Robert Gouedy who established a trading post in the area about 1751.   Gouedy prospered here and expanded his commercial enterprises to include money-lending and farming.  By the time he died in 1775, Gouedy owned over 1500 acres in the area, and almost 500 people owned him money.

The base of support offered by Gouedy's enterprises and the stores of other tradesmen in the area along with reliable water and fertile bottomlands gave rise to increasing settlement here.  At first the Ninety Six community was a scattering of homes for several miles around, but by the mid-1750's, blacksmith shops and flour mills had complemented existing development.

White settlement around Ninety Six was on the rise, but friction with the Indians also increased.  For a decade, Indian attacks were common throughout South Carolina, and settlers sought refuge in frontier forts. Forty Ninety Six was an example and was built around Robert Gouedy's barn.  Over 200 Cherokees unsuccessfully attacked this fort in March, 1760.  Finally, a treaty was signed with the Indians in 1761.  According to the treaty, no Indian could travel below Keowee without permission, and the Indian's hunting privileges were also largely surrendered.

A resurgence in settlement in the Ninety Six area followed peace with the Cherokees, and as population increased, demands for schools, churches, good roads and law enforcement arose.  With no police, outlaws preyed on local residents.  Vigilante groups formed to provide protection.  But the justice of these vigilante groups formed to provide protection.  But the justice of these vigilantes was often severe, and the colonial government finally provided the backcountry with law enforcement authority in 1769.  This took the form of courthouses and jails to be built in each of seven judicial districts. The law authorizing these structures in the Ninety Six District specified that the buildings be "within one mile" of Fort Ninety Six.  They actually were finished in 1772 about one-half mile north of Fort Ninety Six/Gouedy Trading Post.  Robert Gouedy was able to enjoy the benefits of law enforcement authority without his clientele being intimidated by having a sheriff, jail and courthouse directly across the street from the Gouedy Trading Post.

If you visit the Ninety Six National Historic Site in Ninety Six, South Carolina you do not want to miss the 1.5 - mile Gouedy Trail. The trail passes the grave of Gouedy's son, James Gouedy.  The park has an 18th-century encampment in April and a candlelight tour in October.

(Submitted by Patti Singleton Williams) I've been trying for a long time to find out about Robert Goudy, who was a trader in Ninety-Six District, South Carolina from the 1750's on.  He had a son James and daughter Sarah, plus three daughters who were half Indian Cherokee probably).  James Gowdy was a Revolutionary veteran and lived in Greenwood County/Abbeville County all his life.

Robert built the Fort at Ninety-Six on his own land (he amassed quite a fortune in those days) - which figured prominently in the Revolution in upcountry South Carolina.  The fort is also known as the "Star Fort"  The children were listed by name in Robert's will, ca. 1775.

Robert spent a lot of time among the Cherokees, ferrying supplies to Ft. Prince George and the "Overhill Towns."

Will of Robert Goudy

In the name of God Amen I Robert Goudy of Ninety Six in the Province of South Carolina being weak in Body, but of Sound and perfect mind and Memory thanks be to Allmighty God for the same do make and publish this my last will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say first of all my will is that all my just debts be paid out of my estate, and also that my funeral expenses be ordered according to the discretion of my Executors whom I shall hereafter nominate and appoint - Item. I will and bequeath unto my well beloved Wife Mary Goudy the equal One third part of all my real and personal estate and the other two thirds of all my real and personal estate to be equally divided between my two Children James Goudy and my daughter Sarah Goudy Share and share alike, and also my will and desire is that my wife One third part shall be after her decease divided between my said two Children James and Sarah Goudy and their Heirs for ever -----And also my will and desire that all my whole both real and personal be sold to the best advantage as soon as possible after my Decease, and the Money arising therefrom to be put to Interest for the uses before Mentioned - Item. I will and bequeath unto my three Indian Daughters Namely Peggy Goudy, Kiunagree Goudy and Nancy Goudy One hundred and fifty pounds or two hundred pounds Currency to Each and every one of these My three Daughters before Mentioned to be paid out of my Estate in twelve Months after my decease --------And Lastly I do hereby Nominate and Appoint my Well beloved Wife Mary Goudy, Robert Waring, and Robert Dickie to be my true and Lawful Executors to this my last Will and Testament, Hereby revoking all former will or wills by me made heretofore.   In Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my Hand and Seal this Second day of July, in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and seventy five.

Robert Goudy (LS)

Signed Sealed published and declared by the above Named Robert Goudy to be his last Will and Testament in the presence of us, who have hereunto Subscribed our Names as Witnesses in the presence of the Testator and of each other.

William Moore
Hector Dickie
Susanna Dickie

Robert Goudy's will was found in Charleston County Will Transcripts Vol. 17 (1774-1779) pp. 413-414

(Submitted by Kenneth K. Gowdy) I bought "The History of the Presbyterian Church in SC by George Howe," Vol. 1.  One page 341 makes the only mention of Gowdy in the two volumes. 

"Abbeville district embraced the extensive settlement known formerly far and wide as Long Canes.  It is the upper portion of what was originally called Granville county and afterwards Ninety-Six District. The first important settlement was made in February 1756 by about eight families, Presbyterians in faith, who emigrated from Pennsylvania to the upper parts of Virginia and North Carolina, and thence to this place.  The majority of these settlers being of the name Calhoun, the particular settlement took its name from them.  Previous to the settlement of Patrick Calhoun and his friends at Long Cane Creek, there were only two families of white settlers in the northwestern extremity of the province; one by the name of Gowdy, another by the name of Edwards.  Gowdy was born in Ireland, and settled in that distant portion of the province about 1750.  By the year 1759 the number of Presbyterian families had increased to between twenty and thirty, and would probably have been many more had not Governor Glen for some years discouraged settlers by the encouragement he gave the Indians."

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