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Meet the Author: Ric Murphy

Ric Murphy is the President General of the Society of the First African Families of English America, and the past National Vice President for History for the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. He has published in numerous historical, genealogical, and literary journals, and is the author of numerous publications including the Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia in 1619 (History Press, 2020); Section 27 and Freedman’s Village in Arlington National Cemetery: The African American History of Americas Most Hallowed Ground (McFarland Publishers, 2020); the biography of Rear Admiral Larry Chambers, USN: First African American to Command an Aircraft Carrier (McFarland Publishers, 2017); and Freedom Road: An American Family Saga from Jamestown to World War (Franklin Pearson Publishers, 2014). He is currently working on his next book, Liberty: The Legacy of 1776 and Cuffee’s Lane, expected to be released in the summer of 2023 and The Thirteenth Amendment, expected to be released in the winter of 2023 (History Press). His family lineage has been evaluated and accepted by several heredity societies, including but not limited to the General Society Sons of the Revolution; the National Society of the Sons of Colonial New England; the Sons of the American Revolution; the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War; the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage; and the Society of the First African Families of English America. Mr. Murphy was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University, Kennedy School; he earned a Masters from Boston University, and a Bachelors from the University of Massachusetts. 

His article New Evidence in the Proof Argument:  John Gowen through his son Mihil Gowen were the progenitors of Henry Gowen of Granville County, North Carolina presents John Gowen and Margaret Cornish of James City County, Virginia, who were the progenitors of one of the largest African American families in English America, with descendants found across the United States and beyond. Their descendants, particularly by the third and fourth generations, had large, multi-racial families that followed the path of economic opportunity to new territories in Virginia and North Carolina opened to land development and purchase. By the fifth and sixth generations, descendants of John Gowen and Margaret Cornish were found in all the newly formed states along the western frontier. Throughout the family’s lineage, there are significant periods when vital records were not kept, and though there were several interracial marriages in the family, especially on the frontier, these marriages were technically illegal. With western expansion, lack of vital and other records to prove familial relationships, and the complexity of legal issues around interracial marriages and parentage, the Gowen family is one of the most difficult families to trace and document genealogically. This study took existing research conducted primarily in the 1990s based on existing land records and used modern day technology to determine if Henry Gowen and his descendants of Granville and Rockingham Counties, North Carolina, are the progeny of John Gowen and Margaret Cornish.