The story of Catherine Gougar – early Ohio pioneer

I found this 1922 article on this interesting woman who was an early Ohio settler, who was captured by Indians at one point, and who’s family – at least in 1922 – were still living in the same spot. The formatting is a little screwy, but I’m not taking the time to fix it.

BY FRANK WARNER, M. D., D. SC., COLUMBUS, OHIO. Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

“Catherine Cougar: Probaby the Earliest Pioneer Resident of Ohio Who Has Descendants Living Upon the Original Place of Settlement,” Volume 31, Number 3, July, 1922, pp. 295-303.

On the farm of Alfred Immell, situated on the pike
from Columbus to Chillicothe, some ten miles north of
the latter city, lies buried Catherine Gougar. Her
remains have lain here since 1801, when she died at the
age of sixty-nine years. She died within two years
of the establishment of Ohio as a State and within
view of its first capital, Chillicothe; having lived under
the shadow of Mount Logan from which Ohio has taken
its great seal.

View of the house that the owner, Mr. Davis, indicated was built around the still standing log house of Catherine Gougar.

Mrs. Alfred Immell is a direct descendant of Cath-
erine Gougar and lives upon the same farm where her
great-great-grandmother lived when she was brought a
captive here by the Indians in 1744.

As related in the inscription on the monument, after
having returned to her old home in Pennsylvania, she
married George Goodman; bore a son, John, and came
back to Ohio in 1798; settling upon the same spot where
she had been brought captive. Mrs. Immell was a
Goodman before her marriage and is a direct descend-
ant of the little girl, Catherine Gougar, who was but
twelve years of age when she was brought here 178
years ago.

The following is the inscription on the monument:

View of the historic marker looking south along the back edge of the farm field.


Pioneer wife and mother, born in New Jersey in 1732. Cap-

tured by the Indians in 1744, in Berks County, Pa., and for five

years held a captive at and near this place. Sold to French-

Canadian Traders, she served in Canada for two years, finally

gaining her freedom, she returned to her former home only to

find her parents gone and herself homeless. She lived with friends

until 1756, when she married George Goodman who died in 1795.

With her son John, came to Ohio in 1798 and, by a strange for-

tune, settled on this spot where she had been held a captive while

with the Indians. Died in 1801, and lies here in the place chosen

by herself and cleared by her own hands.

This monument is erected to her memory by her great grand-

children in 1915.

Hildreth, in Memoirs of the Early Pioneer Settlers
of Ohio, observes that the settlement of Ohio first com-
menced on the 7th of April, 1788, at the confluence of
the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers; that the settlement
was called Marietta in honor of the friend of their
country, the Queen of France. He further observes in
reference to the settlement: “This was directly athwart
the Indian war path; for it was down the Muskingum
and its tributary branches that the Wyandotts, the
Shawnees, the Ottawas, and all the Indians of the North
and Northwest, were accustomed to march, when from
time to time, for almost half a century before, they
made those dreadful incursions into western Virginia
and western Pennsylvania, which spread desolation,
and ruin, and despair, through all these regions.”

View of the log structure that the owner, Mr. Davis, indicated also dated back to the days of Catherine Gougar.

It was on one of these incursions of the Indians,
forty-four years before the earliest settlement of Ohio,
1788, that Catherine Gougar was captured, in 1744, and
brought to the Ohio country. She was then only twelve
years old and remained here captive five years, living
with Indians near Chillicothe. What a wonderfully
strange circumstance that she should have returned
here later, in 1798, to make her home with her son as
her escort and protector. Almost as interesting is the
fact that the descendants of Catherine Gougar, who
first came to Ohio thirty-two years before the signing
of the Declaration of Independence and the war of the
American Revolution, should be living and owning the
land upon which this early pioneer first located, though
captive, in the very dim light of the early morning of
Ohio history. How her life was mingled with tragedy
and romance!

An Ordinance for the government of the Territory
Northwest of the Ohio River was passed by Congress
July 13, 1787. Forty-three years before this, the sub-
ject of our sketch had lived here; and she returned
eleven years after that. She lived under this territorial
government for three years before her death which
occurred in 1801, or one year before the adoption of
the constitution of the State of Ohio. What wonderful
civic history was in the making in Ohio during the clos-
ing years of her eventful life!

Catherine Gougar, after a residence of five years on
the banks of the Scioto, near Chillicothe, was just leav-
ing here with her new owners, the French Canadian
Traders who had purchased her, and was on her road
to Canada, where she was to make another enforced
residence of two years, when Louis the Fifteenth of
France was taking formal possession of a vast territory
of which Ohio was a part, though a small part. This
was in 1749. This formality consisted, says Hildreth,
in his Pioneer History, published in 1849, of- “Erect-
ing a wooden cross, near the mouth of a stream and
burying a leaden plate at its foot on which was en-
graved a legend, setting forth the claim of Louis the
Fifteenth to the country by the right of prior discovery,
and by formal treaties with the European powers.”

In 1763, fourteen years after Catherine, the girl now
seventeen years of age, was taken from Ohio to Canada,
the lands along the Ohio river as well as Canada, were
surrendered to England after the terrible struggle of
the French-Indian War which had begun in 1755.
When she again returned to Ohio, in 1798, she came
to a land no longer owned by the French, as she had
left it, nor to the English, who had possessed it for a
number of years during her absence; a new nation had
been born; the United States was now the owner of this
territory which was soon to become a state – the great
state of Ohio, the soil of which her feet had trod so
many, many years before. As Atwater observes, in
A History of the State of Ohio, (1838, p. 110), “It was
indeed a long and bloody war, in which Louis XIV, XV,
lost Canada, and all the country watered by the Ohio
river.” It was fortunate for our heroine that she was
neither in Ohio nor Canada during this bloody conflict
which cost so many lives; the lives of Logan’s family
were lost at this time, and such a bloody conflict might
well included our captive heroine when this story of
her could not have been related.

The first substantial effort at the settlement of the
Ohio river country was not made until 1748, four years
after our captive child had been residing in Ohio. This
was through the formation of the Ohio Land Company
under the leadership of Thomas Lee, of Virginia, which
had been granted a half million acres of land located
principally on the south shore of the Ohio river be-
tween the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers. The
fruition of the settlement of Ohio under the stimulus of
this company was not until the expedition which started
for the Muskingum outlet to form the town of Marietta
under the leadership of Rufus Putnam, in 1788. Just
forty-four years before the first settlement of Ohio was
formed, Catherine Gougar was a resident here.
Of these early captive settlers, history tells of two
of great interest, Mary Harris and Mary Ingles.
“Mary Ingles is often claimed,” says Randall, in Randall
and Ryan’s History of Ohio, “as the first white woman
in Ohio, but this is clearly erroneous.” She was captured in 1755 at the outbreak of the French and Indian War, on the day previous to Braddock’s defeat on the Monongahela.

Just eleven years before Mary Ingles was led captive to our Ohio soil, Catherine Gougar was living upon the fertile banks of the Scioto. It is true,
the romantic incidents, with such terribly stirring fea-
tures, especially occurring during Mrs. Rankin’s escape
and return to Virginia, gives her residence here wonder-
ful interest. But she was not the first white woman
living upon our Ohio soil. Catherine Gougar had pre-
ceded her by eleven years as a resident of Ohio. Mary
Harris, who preceded Catherine Gougar in Ohio by at
least four years or more, is reputed generally to have
been the first white inhabitant of Ohio, having lived as
the wife of Eagle Feather, after she had been brought
here as a captive, upon the banks of the Muskingum
about 1730 or 1740. But, as Mr. Randall observes,
“It is more than likely that many white women preceded
her to Ohio, either as captives or voluntary migrants.”
While Catherine Gougar was not the first white
woman to have lived upon Ohio soil, she was one of the
very earliest inhabitants.

Her early presence in Ohio
gives rise to history of the most captivating interest.
What induced her to return to Ohio after she had
gained her freedom and regained her former home in
Pennsylvania? She was now sixty-six years of age
when she made her second appearance near Chillicothe.
Was it the strong love of home which had been de-
veloped in her young impressionable mind? Or, was
it the conquering passion that seized her to do some-
thing for her son by bringing him out to what she had
seen was a land of great fertility- the fertile meadows
of the rich soil of the beautiful Scioto valley? At her time of life it was hardly likely that she would have undergone voluntarily the new hardships of a severe pioneer life for any personal advantage to have been

Today one of her descendants, Mr. Alfred Immell,
Jr., is sheriff of Ross County, where she first located in
1744, prisoner as she was of the Indians. His parents
still live in the old homestead located on the soil where
Catherine Gougar lived and near where sleeps the one
whose memory these descendants love so well.
There are a number of descendants of her living in
the county and surrounding country as well as in other
states. These are people of sterling worth and possess
high ideals of the best citizenship. They not only pos-
sess these high ideals of citizenship, but they live lives
worthy of that type of people.

It would seem she is the first white woman to set
foot upon Ohio soil who has left descendants, sterling
and worthy ones, that occupy the same home land that
she originally occupied in her life and that now enfolds
her sacred dust – the dust of a once noble woman who
sacrificed the leisure she had earned for her old days
to make a new home, a better and more prosperous one,
for her son and his descendants.
It would seem impossible to offer a parallel history
in all Ohio that can approach this wonderfully interest-
ing one of Catherine Gougar. Her voluntary return
to the land she first occupied as an Indian captive, the
continued possession of this same land by her lineal de-
scendants and the faithfulness of her relatives in rever-
ing her memory are certainly remarkable facts con-
nected with the early pioneer history of Ohio.

A short time after the foregoing contribution was received,
a brief sketch was sent to the editor by a descendant of Catherine
Gougar. Omitting the inscription on the monument which has
already been given, this sketch is substantially as follows.-ED.
West of the Chillicothe-Columbus Pike a short dis-
tance south of the Alfred Immell home, there was
erected in 1915 a fine monument to mark the last rest-
ing place of Catherine Gougar Goodman, the first white
woman in Ross County of which there is any positive
record. This monument is near the road from which
a well beaten path indicates that it is frequently visited
by the passers-by. It was erected by the descendants
of Catherine Gougar, headed by Honorable Oliver P.
Goodman, former member of the Ohio House of Repre-
sentatives and mayor of Kingston, Ohio. Many of the
family lived in Green Township and Chillicothe. The
spot where the monument stands Catherine Gougar
Goodman cleared herself and requested that she should
be buried there. It was there that she was held captive
by the Shawano Indians in the long ago. This is his-
toric ground and is visited each year by many tourists.
The parents of Catherine Gougar Goodman emi-
grated to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, when
she was a little girl, and later moved to Berks County,
being among the early pioneer families of that part of
the country, while the colonies were still under British

In 1744, when she was but twelve years old, she and
a little brother were captured by the Indians, her father
being killed in the fight. Her mother had gone to a
spring some distance away and so escaped. The Indians hurried the children westward and on the third
day the little boy was killed. Catherine was held a
captive for five years, but was not unkindly treated.
She was traded to French-Canadians who took her to
Canada where she remained two years. Finally re-
turning to Pennsylvania, she found her mother was
dead and the cabin home abandoned. She remained
with friends there until her marriage with George
Goodman in 1756.

Six children were born to them, four sons and two
daughters. In 1798, Mrs. Goodman, then sixty-six
years old, with her son John came to Ross County,
bringing with her her two youngest children, Christenia
and William. Christenia married a Mr. Moots and
located on Mad river in Logan County, Ohio. William
married and settled in Crawford County, Ohio. Both
lived to an advanced age.

John took up land in what is now Green Township,
Ross County. His mother recognized the places where
she had lived when a captive of the Shawano Indians.
Here she lived and died. The monument marks the
last resting place of a pioneer mother whose life was
marked by many changes of fortune that make it one
of unusual interest, even in the thrilling period of border
adventure and warfare.

The Indians remained in camp near the mouth of
Blackwater Creek, in Green Township, Ross County,
from 1745-1746 and then moved to Kentucky for a
short time and later to the northern part of Ohio.
The foregoing facts were obtained from the young-
est son and daughter of Catherine Gougar Goodman
and recorded about the year 1860.

Pic sources:

11 thoughts on “The story of Catherine Gougar – early Ohio pioneer

  1. Great story. I’m sure she returned because it was a beautiful place to live, and she loved it even though she was a captive.

  2. Hi I’m Gina Davis together with my husband(daughter and Husband currently live their) we own this home and 50 acres of the original congress land acquired by Catherine’s son I fill I have spoken to you at one time did you come by once ? We have had several visitors and relative’s of Catherine, currently I am tiring to get my info & sources on paper to try and get a historical marker any help is appreciated
    tks Gina Davis 7407018183

    • Hi Gina, no I’ve never been there, so it wasn’t me. I venture into Ohio every once and a while, so I’d love to visit sometime and get some better pics for this post, at the very least. And I’d be happy to assist in any way I can at obtaining an historical marker. It’s on my to do list to do the same for a couple of WV sites. I appreciate you reaching out, I’ll definitely be in touch.

  3. Catherine Gougar-Goodman was my 4x great grandmother and I am extremely proud of her. Her life was not easy losing her whole family at such a young age but she preserved. Unfortunately for me her story did not follow all the branches of her descendants. I only found her because I decide to “find my roots”. Also fortunately for me there is a book that was written that includes her history as passed down through the generations.

    • sorry to take so long but we have just erected a plaque to help document the Goodman history my contact in Gina snyder davis if you look on facebook you can see the plaque and friend me I have a ton of info and im in contact with your relatives

  4. Catherine Gourgar Goodman is my 5x great grandmother. My son had a class assignment to research genealogy so we talked to my mother and father about our family history. My mother has a family history book of the Goodman that told part of her story. It was really neat to look on the internet under her name and find this site with the photos. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Catherine Gougar Goodman’s my 8 times Great Grandmother on my mother’s side. I have visited the home and her monument many times throughout my life. The last time was about 18 years ago and the people living in it then were kind enough to take me through the house at that time. I believe the residents were direct descendants as they had some of the same photos that I had seen in the past. I am so honored to be of her lineage.❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • I’m not sure if it was me my husband or his Mother we are not related to the Goodman’s by blood but when we acquired the land I have took on the task of preserving the Goodman heritage I fill connected please feel free to contact me I was just visited by yet another Goodman decendant today 7/26/2021 I feel blessed

  6. please look at my facebook page Gina dawn snyder davis we just errected a plaque in honor/remberance of the Goodman settlers and Catherine I am in contact with relatives

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