Account by Alfred Magowan

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Click Here for:  Testimony of a Witness for the Defence

About Alfred Magowan

Alfred is sometimes called by the nickname “Alphie.”  His last name is pronounced Ma-GOW’-an, and is sometimes misspelled “McGowan” or “McGowen.”

Alfred Magowan was born in 1883, died November 1960 in Dublin, Ireland, aged 77 years. (See December 7, 1960, and December 20, 1960, Letters in book: Selected Letters of Fred Wood 1890-1986 by Patricia Roberts). He used the address of Drumlellum, Portadown, N. Ireland in his publication A Testimony of the Witness for the Defence. Drumlellum may have been his hometown or name of his residence.

In 1902 when he was 19, he professed in a mission held by Joe Kerr and Edward Cooney in Balteagh School, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Alfred went into the work sometime around 1907.  His first mission was reportedly held in 1907 in Kentucky.  Alfred would have been 24 years old at that time, and his companion, John Burns, was 19. He and John Burns also preached in Ohio.

Seventeen years later on September 27, 1919, Alfred was reportedly excommunicated by George Walker.  According to Alfred, the cause was a letter he wrote:  “That was all and it was enough.” Willie Edwards wrote Caseys in New Zealand, on December 20, 1942: “When Alphie McGowan was on trial with the head workers and judges, he asked if he might read a letter from me. [me=Willie Edwards]  Jack Carroll asked if he corresponded with me.  He said, “Yes.” “Well then,” he said, “We need no further witness, as that is enough.” Fred Wood gave the reason as:  “Alfred trespassed on another man’s field…in America…and he was put out by George Walker for doing that…” (Early Memories of Fred Wood).

Alfred married Sara Dawson, a sister worker from the Indiana USA workers’ staff.  Sara was a twin to a sister worker Jessie Dawson, who labored in Pennsylvania.  Sara died in May 1934 “at the age of 52 at the home of John West, Rossahilly, formerly of Crocknacrieve.” (The Go Preacher Movement – An Anthology by Patricia Roberts). She and Alfred preached together and were in fellowship with Edward Cooney.

In 1938, Alfred visited Wm Irvine in Israel for three weeks, along with Ed Cooney and R. Irwin.  (See Wm Irvine’s Letters to Edwards dated 5/18/38 and 6/2/38).  It was during this visit in 1938 that Wm Irvine made his famous, often quoted statement to Alfred Magowan,


to which Alfred replied, “It was A GREAT EXPERIENCE. (See Testimony of a Witness for the Defence by Alfred Magowan 1/13/56, p 5)

In 1939 the war had just started, Alfred married Isobel.  He was 55 and Isobel was a 31-year-old friend of Sara.  They had four sons and made their home near Portadown, Co Armagh, Ireland. Currently, two sons reside in Ireland, one son lives in Africa and Stephen, the youngest son born in 1948, lives in Kentucky, USA with his wife and family.  The source of some of this information was Stephen Magowan, 1997.