James Goin





These are two newspaper clippings about James Goin. The following was contributed by Florence historian Lee Freeman: James Goin (1836-aft. 1892) was a free person of color, (a mulatto) who moved to Florence, probably from Lawrence County around 1857. The apparently educated Goin was a barber, the second in Florence, the first being John H. Rapier, Sr. Goin had at least one brother who he says was conscripted into the Confederate Army (probably a labor battalion) during the Civil War but escaped. In 1855 Goin married Mary Jane Logwood in Lawrence County, AL and the couple had at least five children, two of which John B. and Logwood, became physicians. In July of 1871 Goin went into partnership with John Calhoun.

During the Civil War Goin served for three months in 1861 as the cook of the 4th AL Inf, CSA, being paid $40 a month (he was hired by Wat Foster). Also, during the war, Goin says "Col. [James] Jackson [of the Forks of Cypress] of the 35th [AL Inf, CSA] regiment told me to stay there and he would protect me from the Confederates while he was there." Goin had earlier worked for Jackson & Cheatham for three years prior to opening his barbershop in ca. 1857.

After the war Goin filed a (disallowed) claim with the Southern Claims Commission (which reimbursed Southerners who could prove they had been loyal to the Union for livestock and provision confiscated by the Union Army during the war), among other things claiming he spied on Hood's movements for the Union Army and aided a Union spy named Maggie Mitchell in reaching the Union lines in 1864. When asked by the Commission examiners how he could claim to be a Unionist when he had voluntarily served for three months as a cook in a Confederate mess Goin basically replied that the 4th AL needed a cook and he needed the $40 a month, but that, while present with the 4th AL at the battle of First Manassas, he "didn’t take any arms (take up arms).” Former Unionist and Lauderdale County Probate Judge the Hon. Thomas T. Allington testified in Goins' claim that he and others believed that "claimant was carrying news and supplies from the Federal lines to the Confederates all the time he put on a show of loyalty . . ."

In 1874 Goin unsuccessfully ran for probate judge of Lauderdale County. Earlier, in October of 1872, Goin had made a well-received speech "on behalf of Greeley and Brown," which the editor of the Lauderdale Times averred was "one of the best speeches we have heard during this canvas." He had also attended the Republican Convention in Decatur as a delegate. During his 1874 campaign some sort of issue was raised wherein Goin was accused of being in the employ of the Democrats or perhaps, out of feelings of revenge that he had announced himself a candidate to “create confusion in the Republican party.” In a letter to the editor of the Florence Times-Journal published on April 21, 1874, Goin responded to these allegations, emphatically denying them.

In 1880 Goin left Florence with his family. By 1892 he was living in Birmingham, AL, where his sons John B. and Logwood became physicians.

James Goin most likely died in Birmingham, Alabama though no death record has been found as of yet.


Lauderdale Times


Lauderdale Times



Lee Freeman


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“James Goin,” Shoals Black History, accessed February 29, 2024, https://shoalsblackhistory.omeka.net/items/show/345.