Enslavement and the Antebellum History of the Good Family of Jennings County, Indiana

As we continue to try to reconstruct the family histories of the seven men brutally lynched in October 1878 by white vigilantes in Mount Vernon, Posey Couny, Indiana, I have been curious about the family background of James (Jim) Good. As previously noted in my overall discussion of the descendant lines, James Good in Posey County, Indiana married Emily Hensley in January 1875. Two years after the lynching, the widowed Emily married Civil War veteran Frank Odem in 1880; the couple remained in Posey County for the rest of their lives.

I think it most likely that the murdered “Jim Good” appears in the 1870 census in Center, Jennings County, Indiana (about 175 miles northwest of Mount Vernon, Posey County, Indiana) as “James L. Good”, born 1857. He is the apparent son of Merrit Good Sr (b. 1815, Kentucky) and Georgiantha Good, (b. 1822, Kentucky). His siblings include:

Warren Good, 1845-1916. b, Kentucky
Randle Bowen, b 1850, Kentucky
Elizabeth (Betty) Bowen, b 1851, Kentucky

Georgiantha Bowen (b. 1853. Kentucky)
Archibald Archy T Goude, (1859-1936, b Kentucky)
William Goude, (who may be the same person as George W Goode) b. 1862, Kentucky
Merrit Good, Jr. b. 1864, Kentucky
Hulbert Good, b. 1865, Kentucky

Merrit Good family, 1870 census, Center, Jennings County, Indiana, p 1
Merrit Good family, 1870 census, Center, Jennings County, Indiana, p 2

Since there were no free persons of color with any of the names in Merrit’s famiy in antebellum Kentucky, we may safely infer that this family was enslaved prior to Emancipation. Given that all the children, including Hulbert (b. 1865) were born in Kentucky, we may also infer that the Good family emigrated from Kentucky after Emancipation, at some point between 1865 and 1870, settling in Jennings County, Indiana, across the Ohio River. (The 1870 census records about 220 people of color residing in Jennings County, of whom 150 were born in Kentucky.)

Given that the younger Georgiantha Bowen shares the name of the elder Georgiantha Good, we may speculate that the three Bowens are the children of the older Georgiantha, and that they were fathered by someone other than Merrit Good Sr (who is listed as their father in the 1880 census). As noted below, there is some circumstantial evidence that Georgiantha and/or her children had at one point been enslaved by a slaveowner named Bowen. Perhaps Merrit Sr adopted Georgiantha’s children after the couple married.

Possible Goode Slaveowners


First, let us consider where Merrit Good Sr and his children were enslaved. An intriguing hint is found in the marriage record for James’s brother Archibald Good, born 1859, who on 12 July 1899 in Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana, married Ada Lucinda Lyle (who had previously married, it would appear, a man with the surname Easton). In this record, Archibald lists as his birthplace “Campbellsburg” in Henry County, Kentucky, about 50 miles southeast of North Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana, across the Ohio River.

The 1850 slave schedule lists only two slaveowners with the surname Good or Goode residing in Henry County, Kentucky: Samuel or Lemuel Goode (1793-1870) and his brother Richard Young Goode (b. 1795, North Carolina, d. 1873, Sheppardville, Bullit County, Kentucky), who both reside in District 1, Henry County. Lemuel owns 12 slaves and Richard owns 13 slaves. (Matters are a little confusing since Lemuel Good and Richard Young Goode eacg have sons named Richard, born respectively in 1822 and 1824). Richard Young Goode was a veteran of the War of 1812.

Three are several potential matches between the black family of Merrit and Georgiana Good and the slaves owned by the brothers Lemuel and Richard Young Goode, as indicated in the 1850 slave schedules (which records age, sex, and color, but no names). For example,

The 33 year old male slave of Lemuel Good, born 1817, could be Merrit Sr
The 23 year old female of Lemuel could be Georgiantha
The 4 year old male of Lemuel could be Warren

Alternately, the 31 year old male slave of Richard Young Goode could be Merrit Sr
The 4 year old male slave of Richard Young Goode, could be Warren
The 6 month old male, owned by Richard Young Goode, could be Randle Bowen

Richard Good slave schedule, p. 2, 1850, Henry County, KY
Richard Good slave schedule, p. 2, 1850, Henry County, KY

Ten years later, the 1860 slave schedule indicates that Lemuel Good now resides in McCuistians District, Ballard County, Kentucky (about 275 miles southwest of Campbellsburg, KY) owning four persons:

Male, age 40
Female, age 16
Female, age 12
Female, age 30

Perhaps the 40 year old male, born around 1820, could be Merritt Good, Sr., and perhaps the 30 year old female, born about 1830, could be Georgiantha Good.

The 1860 slave schedule indicates that Lemuel’s brother RIchard Young Goode now resides in District 2, Bullit County, Kentucky, about 60 miles southwest of Campbellsburg, Kentucky, where he owns 16 slaves. Adjacent to Richard Young Goode, “E Good” (presumably Edward Good, the son of Richard Young Good) owns one slave (a 17 year old female) and Richard Good, presumably the son of Richard Young Goode, own one slave (a 30 year old male)

There may be several matches among the slaves owned by Richard Young Goode in 1860:

— a 37 year old male who might be Merrit Good, Sr.
—a 10 year old male who might be Randle Bowen
—a 9 year old female who might be Elizabeth Bowen
—a one year old male, who might be Archibald Good.

Richard Young Goode, Slave schedule, p. 1, 1860, Bullit Co, KY
Richard Young Goode, Slave schedule, p. 2, 1860, Bullit Co, KY

It is quite possible that the children had been separated at some point from one or both of their parents.

Possible Bowen Slavowners

Let us now consider the possible “Bowen” connection. It seems quite possible that the wife of Merrit Good Sr, Georgiantha, born around 1822, earlier held the surname Bowen, shared by three of her children (Randle, Elizabeth and Georgiantha), or was owned by a Kentucky slaveowner named Bowen, or that the father of these children was owned by a Bowen slaveowner and used the Bowen surname. The 1850 slave census lists eleven slaveowners named Bowen or Bowens in Kentucky; one of these, Burket Johnston Bowen (1812-1896) , resides in District 1, Henry County, the same DIstrict as both Goode brothers, and lives about 90 households away from Lemuel Goode. In 1850, Burket Johnston Bowen owns six slaves: male, age 24, female age 11, male age 26, male age 16, female age 20, male age 3. There is not a clear match with Georgianatha and her children, but perhaps there is some connection between these enslaved people and her family.

1850 slave schedule for Burket Juhnston Bowen, Henry County, KY

In 1860, Burdett Johnston Bowen is residing in Oregon, Holt County, Missouri, as a wealthy merchant. He does not appear to own any slaves, so perhaps he sold his enslaved property before leaving Kentucky. Speculatively, perhaps one or more of these slaves was acquired by the Goodes, leading to the integration of Good and Bowen families.

Enslaved Persons in Goode family Probate Records

Goode family probate records may provide some hints as to the background of Merrit Good, Sr. Lemuel Good and Richard Young Goode’s father Richard Good VI served as a major in the Revolutionary War, residing in Abingdon, Wythe County, Virginia. After his death from gangrene in 1801 en route to Kentucky, his widow Rebecca Young Goode and her children, including Lemuel Goode and Richard Young Goode, continued to travel with a number of slaves to Kentucky. See:
https://griffintree.tripod.com/id15.html

Richard Good’s will was testated in June 1801 (Henry County Will Book I, p. 17; and in Virginia will records), He bequeaths several slaves to his wife and children:

To Charles Good, my beloved son, a negro boy David

To Susie (?) Good, my beloved daughter, a negro girl Jude

To my beloved daughter Dice (Dicey?). a negro girl Lina (?)

To my beloved daughter Margaret, a negro girl Esther

To my beloved wife Rebecca Good, a negro man by the name Gilbert, a negro man by the name Jesse, a negro woman by the name of Patt, one by the name of Joe (?).

To my beloved son Joel a negro Peter

To my beloved son Samuel a negro Ede (?)

To my beloved son Richard Goode a negro boy named Elas (?)

Rebecca Goode’s will in Henry County, Kentucky, (Henry County Will Records, 1800-1812, Vol. 1, p, 72) in turn references a negro woman Patt and a negro woman Jude who had been bequeathed to her by her late husband Richard Goode for her lifetime (widows normally did not receive full ownership of their husband’s property). She bequeaths Jude to her son in law William Bartlett, the husband of her daughter Dicey. She bequeaths the negro woman Patt and her other slaves and their “increase” (meaning the future children of the females) to her other children.

It is possible that some of the slaves of Lemuel Good and his brother Richard Young Goode,discussed above, were derived from or related to this set of enslaved people.

Please share any information or insights into the early history of the Good-Bowen family dating back to the period of enslavement.

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