Facts and Events
Joseph Cowan appears in the records given in Source:Chalkley's Chronicles several times between 1798 and 1809, often in conjunction with Andrew Berry.
According to Source:Waddell, 1902:337:
Some time between 1785 and 1790, several persons came to Staunton from different places, all of whom were prominent and influential in their day, and some of whom reared large families. We refer to John Wayt (the senior of that name), Joseph Cowan, Andrew Barry, Peter Heiskell, Michael Garber, Lawrence Tremper, and a school teacher named Clarke...Mr. Cowan and Mr. Barry were natives of Ireland, and leading merchants;
Elsewhere Source:Waddell, 1902:373 tells us that:
From the books of the commissioners of the revenue for the year 1800, we [find that]...Twenty-five merchants [were] doing business in the county, paid license tax the same year, and among them appear the still familiar names of John McDowell, Jacob Swoope, Andrew Barry, John Wayt, Joseph Cowan, Alexander St. Clair, Peter Hanger and others. Joseph Cowan was a conspicuous citizen of the county for many years, although he never held any public office, except that of treasurer of the Western Lunatic Asylum. He was a native of the north of Ireland, and possessed all the characteristics of his race in a prominent degree. There was no bank in Staunton during his time, and he acted as banker for many citizens of the county. His store was a favorite place of resort for elderly men. He was an elder in the Presbyterian church, and very rigid in his observance of the Sabbath day. ....Captain Robert Williamson, [was] a sea captain in the mercantile service, and by birth a Scotchman. Captain Williamson spent most of his life on the ocean, voyaging to and from China. Archangel, and other foreign countries. His family resided in Philadelphia till the war of 1812 banished trading vessels from the sea. He then removed to Staunton and engaged in merchandising, in partnership, at different times, with Mr. Cowan and Captain John C. Sowers.
From the above we see that Joseph Cowan flourished in Old Augusta in the period leading up to the war of 1812, and probably thereafter. Assuming that Waddell is correct concerning his place of birth, we can probably assume that he immigrated to America sometime after the Revolution, and did not descend from the Cowan's who settled in Old Augusta circa 1740.