Facts and Events
From Brenda Francis, March 2012:
I believe Ned Cowan to be my ancestor. According to our oral family history, he was a Long Hunter who came to the future Middle Tennessee area in 1769. From Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee,
"The hunt continued for eight or nine months, when part of them returned in April 1770."
I don't believe Ned returned to wherever he came from, be it Virginia or North Carolina. Perhaps his family thought him dead and thus no history of him was passed down. At any rate, we don't know who his parents were, and even with our participation in the Cowan DNA study, I doubt we ever will.
Ned built a log cabin, which remains today, and the Cowan Homeplace stayed in our family until 1976. We are fortunate that the couple who bought the property was very interested in it's history. In 2005, the Cowen Homestead was placed on the National Register of Historic places
Our family also believes that Ned Cowan was killed by Indians about 1794 and therefore, could not be Jared Cowan who was killed in 1774 in Kentucky, as some have suggested. The original Cowan Family Bible was sold by one of the descendants who last owned the Cowan farm. Fortunately, his wife copied the information to her new family Bible. Therefore, we have recorded for us not only the births, marriages and deaths in the Cowan family, but also those of the slaves.
We are also quite certain Ned's son was Matthew Cowan, born 1777. There were a few other Cowan's recorded, mostly females who married in Sumner County, TN, so Ned and his wife (maiden name probably Manners) may have had other children. Matthew gave his birthplace as Tennessee in the 1850 census, while his wife, Catherine (Catron) is listed as born in North Carolina. She was the daughter of Capt James Trousdale (Rev. War) and a sister to William Trousdale, who served as governor of Tennessee 1849-1851. We believe this to mean Matthew was born and lived continuously on the land on which Ned Cowan settled -either as an intruder on Indian Land or as possible payment for supplying food for surveyors.
The land in question, in 1769, would have been Indian Land belonging to the Cherokee and/or Chickasaw. In Nov. 1777, Washington County was formed from the Washington District of North Carolina. 1783 brought the formation of Davidson County from Cumberland District of North Carolina, Washington County. By 1786, Sumner County was formed from Davidson -all still a part of North Carolina. Tennessee gained statehood in 1796 and in 1799, Smith County, Tennessee was formed from Sumner and Indian Lands. In 1801, Jackson County was formed from Smith County and Indian Lands. 1842 saw the formation of Putnam County, only to be abolished and re-established in 1854.
The first record we have of Matthew is from the records of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in 1798, Sumner Co., TN. "Matthew Cowan came into Court & submitted to Court in two suits of assault and battery ordered that he be fined fifty cents." Court during this time was held at the home of William Gillespie and was later (Oct 1802 - Jan 1803) held at Matthew's father-in-law's, the James Trousdale home. It is also oral family tradition that Matthew was captured by the Indians who killed his father, Ned, and adopted into the tribe. While no record of this has been found, a descendant born 1877, wrote a family history which included this story and one which has Matthew coming into Sumner County dressed as a Native American. She told of Matthew's wild and sometimes drunken ways. She also stated that Matthew and Catherine reared a family of 12 children, although we know only the names of 9.
Matthew served as Capt in the Tennessee militia in the War of 1812 and was present at the Battle of New Orleans. I have copies of his papers from the National Archives. He did not apply for a pension, but did apply and receive two bounty land warrants for his service. In October of 2011, a stone was acquired from the government and erected in his memory for his service. Matthew is buried on the original Cowan property in what is known as the Bockman Cemetery, Buffalo Valley, Putnam County, Tennessee.
The 1820 Census, Jackson County, Tennessee, lists Cowen, Matthew with a wife, 3 sons, 3 daughters and 13 slaves. I do not believe my Matthew Cowan was living in Franklin County, TN, as is suggested by Bill on WeRelate. Although I have registered at WeRelate, I haven't learned enough about how it works to post this information.