Were Our Gwin Origins in America the Same?
Are We Beginning to See Some Light at the End of the Tunnel?

On Possibly Tying Together Some of the "As-Of-Yet-Unrelated" Gwins in America: Some Thoughts in Summary

by John M. Gwin
September 2010

As I got interested in my genealogy, I ran across several lines of Gwins of various spellings and misspellings that were not related to me--or at least it seemed that way at the time.  And so I began building pages for some of these As-Of-Yet-Unrelated Gwin lines.  As the number of these pages grew, I created an index for them so we'd be able to find them more easily when we wanted to.

From time to time I've gone back and reviewed what we know and what we think we know about these "unrelated" lines.  Little clues here and there--common name patterns, common Virginia counties, etc.--seem to pop up that lend themselves to  speculation that from one Gwin family in 18th century Virginia came three separate groups of Gwins.  While this speculation is based on current collections and research that others have submitted, it is still just that--speculation--and nothing more.  I'm not sure even I believe it!

Nevertheless, it seems to me that these three groups could descend from ONE Virginia family, and I theorize that the following could have happened.

If this theory is true, what I'll call GROUP ONE moved south into North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, leaving descendants along the way.  Some of these moved into Alabama and became the ancestors of the Jefferson County Gwins et al.  Well-known names in this group MAY or COULD include, but is certainly not limited to, Littleton Gwin, Baysden Gwinn, Margaret Gwin, Maltimore Gwin, Mordecai Gwin1, et al.

About the same time, if this theory is true, what I'll call GROUP TWO moved west into what became West Virginia, then across Ohio and into Indiana, again leaving descendants along the way.  Well-known names in this group MAY or COULD include, but is certainly not limited to, George Holmes Gwin, Chesley S. Gwin, et al.

Again, if this theory is true, what I'll call GROUP THREE moved southwest into what became Tennessee.  Well-known names in this group MAY or COULD include, but is certainly not limited to, John B. Guinn, Champion Gwin, Malcolm M. Gwin, Andrew J. Guinn, et al.

One of these in Group Three, my gggg-grandfather Isham Gwin, married Mary Canterbury in Montgomery Co., VA, and settled in what became the Wear Valley of Sevier Co., TN.  He had a 249-acre plantation there and evidently held not a few slaves.  All of Isham's and Mary's 11 known children were born in Greene or Seiver Co. or in VA on the way there. He became a pastor and, becoming convicted of the evils of slavery, freed his slaves, sold his farm, and moved with most of his family (including Polly, Elizabeth, Virginia Jane, Sarah, Nancy, Richard, and Mahala) and some of his neighbors into southern Indiana where their descendants are often confused with those of Group Two.  But at least two of his sons, William and John, disagreed with him to the extent that they moved south into Dallas Co., Alabama, where their descendants2 are often confused with those of Group One.

Gwin descendants, if you have anything that will throw additional light on this theory, please feel free to join the discussion.  My email address is jmcdgwin@zianet.com.

1Update, Oct 2010: Joyce Gwin Hornback has published what may be the definitive work on the descendents of Mordecai Gwin, and her cousin Frank Mitchell has purchased this volume and is sharing with me things he is learning from it.  She evidently has documented that Mordecai was born, not in Virginia, but in Wales.  If this is true--and I have absolutely no reason to doubt that it is--then Mordecai and his descendants are eliminated from my theory.  They may relate to my own family from connections even farther back--from across the Atlantic but not from Virginia. --John Gwin.

2 Update, August 2015: Recently while doing further research on one of my Gwin pages (Isham Griffin Gwin and Mary Etta Self of middle Alabama), I learned that one of my third cousins, Hal Sanders Gwin, Sr., had died in 2001.  I also learned that he had married a Joy Hargett who had survived him.  When I was able to contact Joy, I learned from her that she is a Gwin not only by marriage but also by birth!  She descends from Littleton Gwin of the "Group One" Gwins, and her late husband Hal descends from John Gwin of the "Group Three" Gwins (as do I).                           --John M. Gwin