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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Lee 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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Gen. D. C. Govan was born in Northampton County, N. C, July 4, 1829, and is a son of A. R. and M. P. (Jones) Govan, the former of whom was born in Orangeburg, N. C, and was educated in South Carolina College at Columbia, some of his schoolmates being William C. Preston, George McDuff, Langdon C. Chevies, Hugh S. Lagree and other men of the South, who afterward became noted. After graduating from the above-named college he began his career as a planter in Orangeburg District, and was elected to Congress from there about the year 1825. About 1830 he emigrated with his family westward to Tennessee, and there made his home until the removal of the Chickasaw Indians from the State of Mississippi, when he made that State his permanent abode, his death occurring there in 1841, at the age of forty-seven years. His wife was born in North Carolina in 1801, and by Mr. Govan became the mother of a large family of children, her death occurring at the age of eighty-seven years. Gen. D. C. Govan grew to manhood in Northern Mississippi, and was prepared for college by Rev. Francis L. Hawks, and graduated from the Columbia (S. C.) College, in 1848. There was a military company kept in drill at this institution, then the best in the State, and of this company Mr. Govan was a member. Immediately upon graduating he joined his fellow-kinsman, Gen. Ben McCullough, on an expedition to California, their company consisting of twenty-one men, all of whom, with the exception of two or three, were experienced Texan and old Indian fighters. They left Mississippi on October 1 and traveled through Texas and Mexico north to Monterey, thence to the seacoast, where they took passage on board a vessel bound for the Golden Gate, and reached San Francisco late in December. They engaged in hunting and trapping until the next spring, and then found that they had accumulated sufficient money to engage in mining, which they did (with the understanding between our subject and Mr. McCullough that they were to share equally in the results of their western expedition) and fitted out a party to go to the mountains and commence operations. Just at this juncture the Territorial legislature of California passed a law imposing a tax on all foreigners mining in the Territory. California was then divided into two districts and Mr. McCullough received the appointment of collector for the Southern District, a position which he and Mr. Govan supposed would prove fabulously remunerative, and Mr. Govan took charge of the mining expedition and went up the San Joaquin River. He met with fair success in mining, and said that had they not been trying to make a competence in a few days, might have amassed a fortune. He mined on various rivers until he reached the North Fork of the American River, when he received a letter from Gen. McCullough saying that the foreign tax could not be collected, and the law was a failure, and requested him to meet him in Sacramento, where they would prepare for another mining expedition. When they reached that place the sheriff of the county had been killed and a special election was being held, whereupon Mr. McCullough became a candidate and was elected. Mr. Govan then sold out his mining outfit and became deputy sheriff, the former gentleman officiating in that capacity from October, 1850, to July, 1855, and did the first legal execution in the State of California after it had been admitted into the Union, hanging three men for highway robbery. He returned to his home in Mississippi immediately after retiring from the sheriff’s office, Mr. Govan returning at the same time. The latter was married in Mississippi, in December, 1853, to Miss Mary F. Otey, a daughter of the Rt. Rev. James Otey, of Mississippi, and the following December he came to Arkansas, locating in that part of Phillips County, which subsequently became Lee County. He was a successful planter until the opening of the war, then began raising a company for the Confederate army, which afterward became a part of the Second Arkansas Regiment, under Gen. Hindman. They operated first in Southeastern Missouri, but were soon transferred to the Army of Tennessee, of which they formed the advance under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. Mr. Govan was appointed lieutenant-colonel in October, 1861, and at their request acted as colonel in the battles of Shiloh, Perryville and Murfreesboro, after which he was given command of a brigade, and acted as brigadier-general at Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold and other places, receiving his commission after these battles. He was all through the Georgia campaign, and was in some of the bloodiest fights around Atlanta, but showed through all great intrepidity and courage. In the memorable fight on July 22d, he captured the Sixteenth Iowa Regiment with its colors, and fractions of other companies. Gen. McPherson was killed in front of his command. After almost twenty years had passed away he still had the colors of the Sixteenth Iowa Regiment, and about this time entered into a correspondence with Gen. Belknap, and upon being invited to attend a Federal soldiers’ reunion held at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he did so and returned the colors to the Sixteenth Iowa which he had captured, and received in return a gold-headed cane. In the battle of Chickamauga, the great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson was killed in front of Gen. Govan’s command, he being Maj. Sidney Collidge, and his sword fell into the hands of Gen. Govan. It was afterward recaptured, and this led to an inquiry from Collidge’s friends as to his whereabouts, and the facts of his death was related to them by Gen. Govan. The name of this intrepid general will live in the hearts of the Southern people as long as they revere the heroes who fought in their service, for he was among the bravest of the brave, and stood shoulder to shoulder with Gen. P. R. Cleburne, Cheatham and others, as far as bravery and ability as a commander is concerned. At the close of the war he returned to his plantation and here has lived a quiet and retired life ever since. Although he is very popular and much beloved by all, and could easily obtain any office he might desire and which the people of Arkansas could confer upon him, yet he has never been an aspirant for any civil office, and is of a rather retiring disposition, although he possesses the true courtesy and polished manners for which the people of the South are famous.

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This family biography is one of 104 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Lee County, Arkansas published in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Lee County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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