With an impressive beard and an unusual name to match, Champaign County, Ohio resident Hartland Duportal Gowey was an active citizen in that county for over six decades, being involved in both civic and political life in the town of North Lewisburg. Gowey served as postmaster of that town for over three decades and was also elected to multiple terms as Mayor of North Lewisburg.
A native of Madison County, New York, Hartland Duportal Gowey was born in the small town of Nelson in that county on November 20, 1821. His parents, John and Fanny Judson Gowey, were the parents of nine children (Hartland being the second born) and looked to have enjoyed bestowing unusual names upon several of their children, these being sons Galesey, Florian and Ossian and daughters Arvilla and Lovanica. Rolland, John F. and Floretta completed the family. Hartland's education began in Allegany County, New York, where he is recorded as attending school "in a cabin in the pine woods" in that county. In 1836 the Gowey family left their native New York and resettled in Licking County, Ohio. At just sixteen years of age Gowey began a teaching career in this county and later removed to Champaign County in 1844, continuing in the same line of work for a period of two decades.
Gowey married in Champaign County on February 11, 1846 to Eliza Arvilla Willey (1824-1850), with whom he had two sons, John Franklin (1846-1900) and Marcus C. John Franklin Gowey followed his father into public service, serving as an Ohio state representative and prosecuting attorney of Champaign County. He would later reside in the Washington Territory, where he would serve a term in territorial legislature, and was also president of Olympia's First National Bank. John Gowey would later be named U.S. Consul to Yokohama, Japan, where he died in 1900. Following his wife's death in 1850 Hartland would remarry to Lydia Fowler in March 1855. He became a widower for a second time in the mid 1880s, and in 1887 married his third wife, Susan Wilson.
Hartland D. Gowey first entered public life in Champaign County in 1853, when he was appointed as postmaster of North Lewisburg. He would serve in this capacity for thirty three years, retiring in 1886. In the same year as his appointment Gowey was elected to his first term as North Lewisburg mayor, serving continuously until 1858. He would later serve multiple terms as recorder of North Lewisburg (1859-1867) and as town treasurer (1868-1880). Gowey also held the offices of justice of the peace and notary public, occupying the latter post for three decades.
Several years after taking the reins as both Mayor and postmaster Gowey entered into publishing, establishing a small publication called The Experiment in 1860. This pamphlet would later morph into the Lewisburg Weekly Magazine in March 1861, which is recorded as lasting for a period of six months. He also maintained a lengthy connection with the Blazing Star Lodge #268 of Free and Accepted Masons, being a founding member of the lodge in 1855 and would serve as its Grand Master from 1859 to 1868. Gowey was affiliated with a number of other fraternities in Champaign County, including the Chapter Star #206 of the Royal Arch Masons and the Launcelot Lodge, Knights of Pythias of Urbana.
In 1893 Hartland Gowey was reelected for another term as Mayor of North Lewisburg and during the final years of his life was described as being "active in astronomical and meteorological researches", being an "observer for the government weather bureau", making reports of his findings on a weekly basis. Gowey died in North Lewisburg as the result of fall on September 8, 1909 at age 88. A burial location for both he and his third wife Susan is unknown at this time.
From the Lima Morning News, September 12, 1909.