m. 23 APR 1861
Facts and Events
When the subject of your story is three generations removed, sometimes information is hard to gather. Often it's guesswork based on fact, or primary sources. Once in a while there have been stories already written about a particular ancestor. And, sometimes there are stories handed down from previous generations.
Some of the information about James Latta Rowan was gathered from a book written by Lucius Boltwood, "History and Genealogy of the Family of Thomas Noble of Westfield Massachusetts". The book was published in 1878, and the information was gathered from various family members. He is also mentioned in a couple of county histories, and I also have researched him for over 30 years, so have some primary sources. There were two stories handed down from my father. One is that he was a wealthy physician, and the other that he disinherited his oldest son because he did not approve of his wife. I have confidence that the information in Boltwood is pretty accurate, but difficult to document. The stories in the county history books are probably correct as well. As for the family stories, who knows.
James Latta Rowan was the 10th child of Alexander Rowan and Mary Latta. He was born in 1808, in Twenty Mile Stand, Ohio, which is now in Warren County OH, but may have been in Hamilton County at the time. His father probably died around 1809, but due to multiple court house fires in Hamilton County Ohio, there is no evidence of his death. I have found other family members buried in cemeteries in the area, but not Alexander. I have checked the records in the adjacent counties, Butler, Clermont, and Warren, with no success. I was unable to find any guardianship papers for James, but I did for his brother, Robert. Robert chose William Murray, who was his uncle, married to his mother's sister, as his guardian. Since James named his oldest son William Murray Rowan, I suspect that William was probably involved in James' life as well. I have no information on his mother, other than she was still living in 1822, when his Grandfather Latta's estate was still being probated.
James married Mary Ann Noble in 1830. She was the daughter of his medical mentor, Asiel Noble. They first lived in Westchester Ohio, Butler County and then in 1841, they built a house in Pisgah Ohio. This house is still standing, and is pictured elsewhere on this page. The house has been occupied by only 3 families since it was built in 1846. According to "History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County Ohio" Dr.James L. Round(actually Rowan) moved to Pisgah, and was the only physician there for many years. This article also said that Dr. Rowan fell from a ladder and was injured so severely that he was unable to walk without crutches for the rest of his life.
James and Mary Ann had 10 children, but only six lived to adulthood. Mary Ann died in 1859. Their second son, James Latta Rowan Jr died in 1862, as a result of illness contracted while in the Civil War.
James married Maria Thacker in 1861.
James died in 1876, and the house was sold at sheriff's auction.
Who was this man? He was very different in appearance from his descendants. There are no pictures of him as a young man, and his later photographs show him with a beard. He had very light blue eyes, which, having seen pictures of other Latta descendants, there is a real resemblance. His son William also had blue eyes, but most his children and grandchildren had dark eyes and hair, and much darker complexion. They also all had cleft chins. Since my children and grandchildren have that trait, I wonder if James is responsible for that.
Since the stories about him are almost non-existant, I can only guess about him. He must have been very sad, having lost four children and his first wife by the time he was 49. Then, he lost another son as a result of the Civil War, and he apparently had no contact with his other son.
I found his second wife, in the 1880 census, living with a nephew-James's nephew, four years after his death. By that time,his home and land had been sold at a sheriff's sale, according to the currant occupant of the house, Howard Ell. What that tells me, is that if he ever had money, he certainly did not have any when he died. I have never found a will or an estate file. His death record is in Warren county, under the wrong name.
I will continue to research this branch of the family, and hope that someday I can fill in the holes.