Octoraro Creek Cowans




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Source:Fleming, 1971 Cowans of County Down


Interpreting a Similarity Matrix
Person:Hugh Cowan (4)
Person:Robert Cowan (17)
person:Joseph Cowan (4)


Hugh Cowan is said to have immigrated to America from Ireland sometime in the 1720's. The first data we have for his family is the gravestone of his wife, dated March 1734 in the Graveyard of the Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church. Hugh settled in this same area, taking out his first land warrant on Octoraro Creek in the same year that his wife died. He remained here the rest of his life. John had six sons by two wives. Three of those sons have no known descendants. Son Joseph and Mathias settled on the Youghiogheny River near Scott Haven in what was then Bedford County, but later became Westmoreland. Son David moved initially to Cumberland County, but after the death of his first wife, he returned to the Octoraro where he died shortly after remarrying. His widow raised the children by the previous marriage. His three sons are believed to have moved to Bourbon County, Ky. None of Hugh's descendants moved south into the tapestry area, at least prior to the Revolution.


The Cowan YDNA project has a single kit whose descendant MAY have descended from Hugh Cowan (4). That kit shows a YDNA similarity to the Cowan's Gap YDNA group. It is distinct from the YDNA signature of other Cowan Groups, including that of the Pequea Creek Group. Fleming, 1971, believed that Hugh was a brother of what is now described as the Pequea Creek Cowans, and placed him in his "Four Brothers Group". If the kit owner for the kit in question does indeed descend from Hugh (4), then Hugh can not have been a brother of the Cowans who settled on Pequea Creek. In this view, Fleming's Four Brothers is seen as an artificial group, composed to two separate and independent lineages.

The problem with this is that we are unable to confirm the lineage for this kit. The kit owner was not personally interested in genealogy of any sort, and only took the YDNA test as a personal favor to Laura Cowan, the previous list administrator. While some contact has been had with the kit owner in the past, there was relatively little that he could add to our information base. Indeed, his lineage data in the FTDNA Cowan project was left blank, so it's difficult to even tell which kit is his! To complicate the matter, both Laura and the kit owner are no longer among us, and so there's little hope for further insight into the lineage of this particular person.

Something that would help resolve this problem is to find another descendant of Hugh (4). If they took the YDNA test, we might be able to do more with their lineage, and confirm (or deny) the connection to the Cowan's Gap Cowans.