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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Cleveland County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Dr. Thomas W. Chowning, retired, Rison, Ark. Dr. Chowning owes his nativity to Lancaster County, Va., born September 3, 1814, and is one of the old and much esteemed citizens of Cleveland County. His father, John S. Chowning, was born in the same county as the Doctor, and the grandfather, William Chowning, was a native of Wales. The latter came to America when a young man, settled in Virginia, and was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. John S. Chowning was a farmer, and was married in his native State to Miss Hannah Gresham, a native of King and Queen County, Virginia. They became the parents of five children, and both died when the Doctor was quite young. He attended the common schools, where he received a good education, and after the death of his parents, lived until grown with a cousin, John Chowning. In the winter of 1835 and 1836 he left Virginia with two negroes, went to Sumter County, Ala., and there soon found employment for his negroes for about two years. He then took a trip on horseback back to Virginia, but only made a short stay, and has never been back since. From there he went to Mobile, Ala., was engaged in trading in sugar at that place until about 1840 or 1841, and then went to New Orleans, with the intention of going to Cuba. In the meantime he had been reading medicine at Mobile merely for improvement and his own satisfaction. He later took four courses of lectures at the Medical Department of Louisiana University at New Orleans, and at the same time assisted in the charity hospital there. He graduated in 1844, and soon after came to Arkansas, where he entered a very successful practice in the vicinity of Warren. He was married there in October, 1845, to Miss Martha V. Barnett, a native of Alabama, and the daughter of Nathaniel and Mary M. Barnett, and to this union were born eight children, one son and a daughter now living: Nathaniel Barnett (an attorney) and Frances S. (wife of E. W. Emerson). Mrs. Chowning’s parents were early settlers of what is now Cleveland County, where the father died in 1855. The mother died in Alabama, before he left that State. In 1847 the Doctor settled in the woods, on his present farm, and there he has resided ever since, practicing his profession with his usual success. He has a good farm of 480 acres, although at one time he had 2,500 acres, but since then he has divided with his children. He is one of the oldest practitioners in Southeastern Arkansas, and is also one of the most successful and well-known. In politics he was reared a Whig, and remained with that party until the war, since which time he has been a Democrat. His first presidential vote was cast for Harrison in 1840. He has been a member of the Masonic fraternity since about 1855, now of Culpepper Lodge No. 186, and of Kingsland Chapter.

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This family biography is one of 75 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Cleveland County, Arkansas published in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Cleveland County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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