Fox Valley Chapter Patriot Profile


Private John Gowdy 1759 - 1854

This page contains information on John Gowdy, one of the soldiers who fought in the American Revolution and who are buried in the counties served by the Fox Valley Chapter.

This page contains his biography and photographs of his grave. He enlisted in 1776 just 3 weeks after his 17th birthday. His activities in the Revolution were primarily guard duty and fort construction. John Gowdy lived to be almost 95 years old, and is buried in the East Batavia Cemetery in Batavia, Kane county, Illinois.


Biography of Patriot John Gowdy


John Gowdy was born in Summers, Hartford County, Connecticut on May 10, 1759 the second son of James and Anna (Collins) Gowdy.

On about June 1, 1776 at the age of 17 years and 21 days he enlisted in a company of state troops in Summers, Hartford County Connecticut, where he then resided, for a term of seven months in a company commanded by Abial Pease belonging to the regiment commanded by Colonel Erastus Wolcott. The regiment was immediately moved to New London, Connecticut. John Gowdy spent his entire seven month enlistment here and was utilized to stand guard and assisted in building Fort Trumbull. At the end of his seven month enlistment he was discharged.

Fort Trumbull was built to protect the residents and the harbor of New London from British attack, and later served as part of the country’s coastal defense system. Fort Trumbull occupies a key site in the approaches to New London Harbor. From its position it could fire upon any ship entering the Thames River and work in coordination with Fort Griswold on the Groton side of the river. Work was started on Fort Trumbull prior to the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775. On October 2nd, 1775 the Connecticut General Assembly ordered that the fort be completed in response to the outbreak of the Revolution. The superintendent of construction was Colonel Erastus Wolcott.

On April 10th, 1776 Commodore Esek Hopkins of the fledgling United States Navy was asked to place cannon at Fort Trumbull. These guns had been captured by the United States Marines at Nassau in the Bahama Islands, earlier in the war.

On June 1, 1777 John Gowdy again enlisted in Summers, Harford County Connecticut in a company commanded by Captain Robinson again for a term of seven months in a regiment under the command of Col Ely. The company was marched to Groton, Connecticut opposite New London and was stationed there at Fort Griswold until about the 1st of September.

Fort Griswold, East of the Thames River on Groton Heights commanded the New London Harbor and the surrounding countryside. It was somewhat square with projecting fortifications on two corners and a projection on the east side. A deep trench surrounded the fort on three sides. The lower walls were faced with stone and were topped with a barrier of cedar pickets projecting outward. Above this was an earthen wall with openings (embrasures) for cannon. A tunnel-like passageway (sally port) led to a covered ditch, which ended at a battery for cannon southwest of the fort. A V-shaped earthen mound protected the gate at the north end. Barracks for 300 men paralleled the innermost wall and the magazine was set into the southwest bastion near the flagpole.

After September 1st, John Gowdy's regiment then marched down to Providence, Rhode Island and joined the army of General Spencer for a planned attack on Newport Island. When this expedition was eliminated the regiment then marched to Little Compton for about two weeks and then returned to Groton where they remained about a week to 10 days. From here the regiment marched to Westchester County, New York. It was while stationed here that John’s seven month enlistment expired and he was discharged.

While the regiment was stationed at Fort Griswold John Gowdy's father served as a substitute in his place for a period of one month.

In September 1778 John Gowdy was drafted for a two month term in the company of Captain Olcott in the regiment commanded by Colonel Chapman. From Summers the regiment was marched once again to Newport Island and joined the army of General Sullivan who had occupied a portion of the Island, with the British troops occupying the remainder. John Gowdy was stationed here about two weeks, until the American forces were forced to retreat from the Island to Providence, where he remained about another two weeks assisting in the construction of fortifications and standing guard until his two month enlistment expired and he was discharged.

John Gowdy remained in Summers, Connecticut until 1784, when he moved to Sandersfield, Massachusetts where he remained about four years. He then relocated to Colebrook, Massachusetts and resided there about four years. He then moved to Westmoreland, Oneida County, New York where he lived several years. From here he moved to Litchfield in Madison County, New York and lived there about 13 years. He then relocated to Gates County New York and remained there 8 or 9 years. From here he moved to Howard, Steuben County, New York, where he was residing in October 1832 when he applied for his pension.

By May 1853 John Gowdy had relocated to Batavia, Kane County, Illinois. It was here on February 3, 1854 at the age of 94 years, 8 months and 24 days that John Gowdy passed away, and was laid to rest in the East Batavia Cemetery. On May 29, 1854, Lucyann Gowdy, the wife of John Gowdy's grandson, John Francis Gowdy, passed away and was buried beside the Patriot.

John Gowdy’s Revolutionary War Pension File #S.31066
Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot Index, Vol. II, page 1,102
Abstract of Eastside Cemetery Batavia, Illinois, Michael Fichtel, Fox Valley Genealogical Society
Ron Carlton’s Home Page:


Photos from the East Batavia Cemetery

John Gowdy's grave and the grave of his grandson's wife Lucyann are located about 100 feet from Illinois Route 25 just where main north-south cemetery road bends east. Nearby are the graves of his grandson William, his wife Amelia and their children.
Click for MapQuest map to cemetery.

Gowdy ProgramOn July 3, 2004, there was a memorial ceremony to unveil a memorial stone to mark John Gowdy's grave as the final resting place of a Revolutionary War soldier. Five organizations -- the Batavia Historical Society, the City of Batavia, the Elias Kent Kane Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Fox Valley Chapter of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Kane County Genealogical Society -- actively participated for over 8 months to plan and execute a memorial ceremony to dedicate a memorial stone to John Gowdy. This was a model of civic cooperation and fellowship. Even the weather cooperated as 200 enjoyed a memorable 45 minute ceremony.

Click on thumbnails and enlarged photos will autoclose in 15 seconds.

Gowdy Graves at Corner The graves of John Gowdy and his grandson's wife, Lucyann, are easy to locate at the corner of the road. John and Lucyann Gowdy graves Lucyann Gowdy's grave is on the left and John Gowdy's grave is on the right.
John Gowdy Grave Close up of John Gowdy's headstone which proclaims that he lived to be 94 years old. William and Amelia Gowdy Graves of John Gowdy's grandson, William and his wife Amelia. Their children are buried next to them.

Gowdy Committee The memorial committee represented 5 organizations and had a wonderful esprit de corps. A great job, team! Linda Eder Interview Linda Eder was one of many interviewed. Fox Valley SAR officers Chuck Sener & Bob Baird are in background.
Susan Lye Susan Lye, head of memorial committee, in front of graves of Gowdy descendants checks details before the ceremony. Gowdy Descendants Gowdy descendants journeyed from as far away as Ohio to attend the memorial ceremony.
Reenactors The Northwest Territory Alliance provided historical authenticity and dignity to the proceedings. MusketVolley They provided 3 rounds of musket fire to honor John Gowdy at the July 3, 2004 dedication ceremony.
Unveiling Memorial Stone Pat Winter, DAR Chapter Regent, and Don Parrish, SAR Chapter President, unveil the memorial stone. Gowdy Memorial Stone Five organizations were actively engaged in a spirit of cooperation to place this memorial stone.
Mayo rSchielke Mayor of Schielke Batavia was one the 6 speakers at the memorial ceremony. Here he displays a new permanent sign announcing that an American patriot is buried in this cemetery. Fife and Drum The Mississippi Valley Fife and Drum played 6 great songs: The Star Spangled Banner, Hail Columbia, A Mighty fortress is Our God, Death of General Wolf, Fureral Hymn #1, Merry Men Home from the Grave.
Crowd Overview The crowd, estimated at 200 by police, enjoyed the speeches, the soldiers and the music. Paying Respect Paul Nelson [l] & friends [r] of Northwest Territory Alliance and Don Parrish [c] of the SAR pay their respects.