Person:William Cowan (12)

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William Cowan
b.1750
d.1809
  • HWilliam Cowan1750 - 1809
  • WJane Walkerest 1756 - 1806
m. BEF 1774
  1. Eleanor Cowan1774 - 1831
  2. John [Alexander] Cowan1775 - 1821
  3. Samuel Cowan, Sheriff1779 - 1828
  4. Andrew Cowan1782 - 1872
  5. Robert Cowan1784 - 1869
  6. Ann Cowanabt 1790 - abt 1850
  7. Polly Cowan
  8. William Cowan
  9. James Walker Cowan1798 - 1870
  10. David Luther? Leonidas? Cowanabt 1799 - bet 1870 and 1880
Facts and Events
Name William Cowan
Gender Male
Birth? 1750
Marriage BEF 1774 to Jane Walker
Death[1] 1809

Contents


Smoky Mountain Cowan Tapestry
Cowan Tapestry
Register
Data
Notebooks
Analysis
Bibliography
Graphics
YDNA
Cowan Links
Index

The Tapestry
Families Old Chester Old Augusta Germanna
New River SWVP Cumberland Carolina Cradle
The Smokies

Sources

This article is based on one originally prepared by Margie Cowan, on FamilyPedia

Related

Register Summary
Notebook:Military Service of William Cowan (12)
Bibliography:William Cowan (25)
Notebook:Land Records of William Cowan (12)
Notebook:Military Service of William Cowan (12)
Analysis:Evidence for William Cowan (12) in Kentucky

Overview

Castles Woods About 1770 William Cowan (12), came to the Castles Woods area of Virginia, (modern Scott County, VA) along with Person:Samuel Cowan (1), person:Andrew Cowan (4), and Person:David Cowan (1). These four persons are commonly thought to be brothers. David's parents have been firmly identified as John Cowan and Eleanor of Bedford County PA, but direct evidence for the others limited or non-existent. . David's parents have been identified as . If the four Cowans of Castles Woods were in fact brothers, then John and Eleanor would be their parents as well; unfortunately, while we know that the four are kinsmen based on YDNA results, whether they are in fact brothers is not certain. William's parents may in fact be John and Eleanor, but there is no direct evidence for this.

About 1773 William married person:Jane Walker (60), the daughter of John Walker III (1705-c1776) of the Wigton Walker line. [2]The family of John III came to SW VA at about the same time as the Cowans. John III settled settled a few miles distant from Castle's Woods in the Sinking Creek area, while his son, John IV, settled further south on Moccassin Creek at Houston's Fort. William's presumed brothers, Samuel and Andrew, also married daughters of John III, though whether these marriages occurred in Castle's Woods, or earlier in North Carolina, or perhaps even earlier in Borden's Grant (modern Rockbridge County, VA), is not clear. In any case, the Walkers and Cowans were among the first settlers of this community, which at the time of their arrival was the most westwardly frontier settlement in Virginia.

Location of David Cowan and kinsmen in the Castles Woods vicinity, c1774
Enlarge
Location of David Cowan and kinsmen in the Castles Woods vicinity, c1774
Key:Red Circles
1. Cowans Fort
(David Cowan)
2. Moore's Fort
(John Snoddy)
3. Houston's Fort
(William Houston)
4. The Block House
5. Blackmore's Fort
Key:Blue Circles
6. John Walker III
7. Patrick Porter
8. John Walker IV
9. Wm and Samuel Cowan
10. David Gass



Blount CountyThe Walkers and Cowan's remained in this area until shortly after the close of the Revolution. At that time William and his brotherinlaw, John Walker IV (?-c1817) moved their families south to what is now Blount Co, TN. William settled on the west bank of the Little River; his property extended from the mouth of Crooked Creek southeastwardly almost to Davis Ford. Brotherinlaw John Walker IV (aka, "Indian Killer"), settled slightly further upstream, probably in the Long Bottom area near Tuckaleechee Gap.

Location of the land of David Cowan (Green), Andrew Cowan (Yellow), and William Snoddy (blue) on Boyd's Creek, Sevier County, TN, based on mappings at Sevier County Library
Enlarge
Location of the land of David Cowan (Green), Andrew Cowan (Yellow), and William Snoddy (blue) on Boyd's Creek, Sevier County, TN, based on mappings at Sevier County Library
Land of :1.David Cowan:2.  John Walker IV and :3. William Cowan,In Sevier and Blount Counties, TN about 1786
Enlarge
Land of
:1.David Cowan
:2. John Walker IV and
:3. William Cowan,
In Sevier and Blount Counties, TN about 1786
[3]

William spent the remainder of his life in Blount County though there are indications that he considered moving to Warren County before his death. In any case, he died in Blount County in 1809. The DAR erected a bronze marker for him at the Clarks Grove Cemetery, though it is likely that he was not actually buried there. While Jane's death is claimed to have occurred in 1806, there is no proof for the date nor is her finally resting place known. There is a possibility she may have died in Warren County (see Alternative Interpretation below).

Vita

Vita DatePlaceComment
Birth1750 VA
Marriagec 1773 Fincastle Co., VA]. The eldest child of this couple was born in 1774, implying a 1773 marriage. It is possible that the marriage occurred earlier than this. Given her birthdate in 1755, as commonly accepted but unconfirmed, Jane Walker would have been about 18 in 1773. A marriage earlier than 1770 would be hard to accept without good evidence.
Death1809 Blount Co.? TN
Burial Clarks Grove Cemetery Maryville, Blount Co., TNDAR monument in cemetery, but it is clear that this is a cenotaph, not an original burial. William's actual burial site is probably at another location in Blount County.

Ancestry

The identity of William Cowan's parents is not known. It is generally assumed that his family was on Beverly's Manor prior to 1756. Many think that his father was John Cowan, though the basis for this is not clear. It is worth noting that identifying his father as "John" is consistent with child nameing patterns among the Scot-Irish (See Albion's Seed referenced below — i.e., naming the:

  • first son for the paternal grandfather
  • second son for the maternal grandfather;
  • first daughter for the maternal grandmother; and
  • second daughter for the paternal grandmother.

The first-born son of William Cowan and Jane Walker was named John [Alexander] Cowan; this may indicate that the name of William's father was indeed "John". The Beverly Patent map (by Hildebrand) for this time period shows parcels belonging to a John Cowan and a William Cowan. It is reasonable that one or the other could be William's father. (See "Research" below).


Child List

Children of Jane Walker (1755-1806) by William Cowan (1750-1809) Edit This List
Name DOB POB DOD POD Spouse DOM POM Notes
Person:Eleanor Cowan (2) 1774 Washington Co, VA 23 Nov 1831 Blount Co., TN James "Smoking Jimmy" GILLESPY (1772 - 1861)      
Person:John Cowan (33) 1775 Washington Co., VA 12 Oct 1812 Dallas Co., AL Rosanna GILLESPY (1777-1857)     Name sometimes given as John Alexander Cowan
Person:Samuel Cowan (4) 23 Jul 1779 Washington Co., VA 30 Dec 1828 Blount Co., TN Ester Jane Gillespie HOUSTON (1792-1844)     Ester was b: 22 August 1792 d: 1844
Person:Andrew Cowan (9) 02 May 1782 Washington Co., VA 10 Jan 1872 Cleveland, Bradley Co., TN 1) Effie F. "Hettie" HOUSTON    
2) Margaret FISHER (?-?) 12 January 1859 McMinn Co., TN Margaret may have been previously married.


Person:Robert Cowan (13) b: 22 Jun 1784 Washington Co., VA 17 Sep 1869 Lowell, Benton Co., AR Elizabeth COLVILLE (1793 - 1865)     Elizabeth b: 15 April 1793 d: 26 December 1865 in Benton Co., AR
Person:Polly Cowan (2)         ? Mitchell     b: Bet. 1785 - 1798
Person:Ann Cowan (14) b: Abt. 1790   Bef. 1850? Hickman Co., TN? George PEERY?      
Person:William Cowan (37) Abt. 1796              
James Walker Cowan 09 Apr 1798 TN 22 Jul 1870 AR Person:Catherine Colville () (1799 - 1872)]]     spouse was sister to Elizabeth Colville (1793 - 1865), b: 10 November 1799 d: 07 July 1872 in Benton Co., AR


Person:David Cowan (10) 1799   1870-1880 McDonald, MO Matilda Euphura Templeton      


Burial

While many written sources claim William Cowan was buried in Clarks Grove Cemetery, there are questions and reservations about where he died and where he is buried. The bronze marker erected by the DAR is in the middle of a row of approximately 12 tombstones for Christopher Columbus Cowan and his descendants. This row of stones is in chronological order beginning with Christopher Columbus Cowan (d. 1873) and ending with Margaret (Eagleton) Cowan (d. 1904). It would be difficult for someone to plan things out so that William, who is thought to have died in 1809, would be buried in the exact middle of that future row of graves. This suggests that at a minimum, he is not buried where the marker is placed. It may also be that he is not buried in Clarks Grove cemetery at all.

The question arises whether William Cowan and Jane (Walker) Cowan died in Blount Co., TN -- as he does not appear on the Blount Co. tax rolls for several years immediately preceeding his death. In 1803, he settled/lived on land owned by sons Robert and David in Warren Co., TN.

  • Womack, Walter; McMinnville at a Milestone, 1810-1960; Standard Publishing Co., Inc. & Womack Printing Co., McMinnville, TN; 1960, p. 120-121. [DAR Library]
“The Bentley papers aver that Robert and David Cowan were living somewhere on the eastern side of the present Riverside Cemetery [need the county] as early as 1803. The same source states that a grant to William Cowan in 1803 is described as beginning at a poplar tree on the north bank of Baren Fork at Polly Black’s ford.”]

Thus, there is reason to believe that he and wife, Jane, were living in Warren Co., TN when they died. Think this has been disproven. Need update. Q 08:01, 7 April 2011 (EDT)

Records

Printed Sources:
  1. Clarks Grove Cemetery, Maryville, Blount Co., TN ... transcriptions at DAR Library.
  2. Cowan Bible Records in possession of Margie Cowan, Reston, VA (as of August 2006) ... starts with John [Alexander] Cowan and his wife, Rosanna Gillespy/Gillespie.
  3. Fischer, David Hackett, Albion’s seed: Four British folkways in America, Oxford University Press, New York, 1989 (ISBN: 0195037944)
  4. Fleming, John Kerr; Cowans of County Down, Derreth Publishing Co., Raleigh, NC; p. 371-376. (DAR Library)
  5. Houston, Blaine and others, Maxwell History and Genealogy; C. E. Pauley & Co., Indianapolis Engraving Co., 1916, p. 6. [DAR Library]
  6. Houston, Samuel Rutherford, Brief Biographical Accounts of Many Members of the Houston Family accompanied by a genealogical table, Elm Street Printing Co., Cincinnati, 1882. [DAR Library]
  7. White, Emma Siggins; Genealogy of the Descendants of John Walker of Wigton, Scotland, with Records of a Few Allied Families. Also War Records and Some Fragmentary Notes Pertaining to the History of Virginia. 1600-1902, Tiernan-Dart Printing Company, Kansas City, MO; 1902, p. 282-283. [DAR Library]
  8. Wiseman, Eugene M.; The Warren County Story, Genealogy Publishing Service, Franklin, NC 28734, 1995 (DAR Library)
  9. Womack, Walter; McMinnville at a Milestone, 1810-1960; Standard Publishing Co., Inc. & Womack Printing Co., McMinnville, TN; 1960, p. 120-121. [DAR Library]

      Other Sources:
  10. Clarks Grove Cemetery, Maryville, Blount Co., TN ... personal tombstone photos taken by Margie Cowan (many posted at Find-a-Grave.com). See the online transcription for ... Clarks Grove Cemetery.
  11. TN Land Grant #544 for William Cowan [Tennessee State Archives, Nashville, TN] ... dated October 17, 1783 for 250 acres in Greene Co., NC (part of Greene became Sevier Co., TN; then part of Sevier became Knox Co., TN; then part of that became Blount Co., TN)
  12. TN Maps -- 1820-1840
  13. Key document to establishing identity of several of William Cowan & Jane Walker's children is Andrew Finis Cowan's (AFC) Letter (June 7, 1906; Indian Territory/Oklahoma) to Columbia Cowan (John Alexander4, Campbell Gilmer3, John [Alexander]2, William1) in Pierce City, Lawrence Co., MO.
    (Original in possession of James E. Freeman (Ruth (Ginder) Freeman6, Florence Edna (Cowan) Ginder5, Richard Tankersley4, Campbell Gilmer3, John [Alexander]2, William1), Camas, WA as of August, 2006).
    Note:   A copy of the AFC letter was included with Margie Cowan's First Families of Tennessee applications for William Cowan and John [Alexander] Cowan (William1)
    • Of note, Andrew Cowan (William1), father of Andrew Finis Cowan, was 90 when he died in 1872.
    • Since Andrew Finis Cowan was 43 when his father died, it is likely he heard many stories first hand about his grandparents (William & Jane) as well as his aunts/uncles, interacted with the remaining aunts & uncles and/or their children (his first cousins), was aware of correspondence between the families, and/or that the families visited each other ... especially so since many of these aunts/uncles remained in Knox/Blount/Loudon counties, which were in relatively close proximity to McMinn and Bradley counties, where AFC and his father lived for many years.
    • The letter was written by Andrew Finis Cowan (Andrew2, William1), who was 77 years old (b. December 1829), in an apparent response to Columbia’s request for information about their ancestors, initiated because of a “claim” (scam?) that the Cowans were potential heirs to a part of Central Park and she was trying to “prove” whether her Cowan ancestors tied into the Central Park “ancestors”.
    • Thus, Andrew responds with information about his aunts and uncles, makes “honorable” mention to several of their children, and a reference to his grandmother, Jane (Walker) Cowan.
    • While Andrew Finis Cowan's eldest three aunts and uncles died at relatively young ages (either before AFC was born or shortly thereafter), their spouses did not die until many years later.
    • The 1857 letter written by Andrew Cowan (William1) to Rosannah (Gillespy/Gillespie) Cowan shows, that despite considerable distance, the two branches of the family remained in contact.
  14. Key document to establishing relationship of Andrew Cowan to John [Alexander] Cowan is the letter written Andrew Cowan (William1) on May 17, 1857 from Bradley Co., TN) to Rosanna (Gillespy/Gillespie) Cowan (addressed as "Dear Sister Roseanna") ... original in possession of James E. Freeman, Camas, WA (as August, 2006).
    (Copy of the Andrew Cowan's 1857 letter was included with Margie Cowan's First Families of Tennessee applications for William Cowan and John [Alexander] Cowan, along with a copy of his pension application for War of 1812 service to prove that the signatures matched on both documents.)

    Both letters below have similar details to the AFC letter and/or either further substantiate his info or add further details of family relationships.
  15. W. E. Parham Letter to W. D. Newberry re Cowans [McClung Library, Knoxville, Parham Collection; Blount Co., TN Library]
  16. R. M. Johnston (Jane Walker (Cowan) Johnston3, Andrew2, William1) letter to first cousin, James H Cowan (George Washington3, Samel2, William1) [McClung Library, Knoxville, Parham Collection; Blount Co., TN Library]
    • R. M. Johnston's mother was Jane Walker (Cowan) Johnston (Andrew2, William1), a daughter of Andrew Cowan (William1) and his wife, Esther F. "Hettie" (Houston) Cowan.
    • Thus, R. M. Johnston was a grandson of Andrew & Hettie ... and AFC's nephew.
    • (The Johnston family is buried at Steekee Creek Cemetery, Loudon, Loudon Co., TN. ... listed at findagrave as [Steekee Cemetery]. While I have many pictures of Johnston tombstones, I have not had time to post them at findagrave. However, see the online transcription of the Steekee Creek cemetery ... Part 1 and Part 2)


      Cemetery Records/Tombstone Photos

  17. Clarks Grove Cemetery (Findagrave.com), Maryville, Blount Co., TN ... Clarks Grove Cemetery transcriptions.
  18. William Cowan's DAR marker, Clarks Grove Cemetery, Maryville, Blount Co., TN
  19. Eleanor Gillespy's tombstone, Clarks Grove Cemetery, Maryville, Blount Co., TN.


Notes


  • Orphan Court minutes in Dallas County, AL tie brothers Robert (William1) and John (William1) together ... separate transactions, but on the same day and same page. (Dallas Co., AL Orphan’s Court records, p. 73-74 … where (i) there are 2 transactions at the top of the page involving Robert and a (ii) third transaction at the bottom of the page where Robert (William1) and John (William1) are involved in the estate of David Mitchell and, in the same transaction, James G. Cowan (John [Alexander]2, William1) is named guardian of the Mitchell minor children.)

  • Additionally, the 1820 Dallas Co., AL State census shows three Cowan brothers: John (William1), Robert (William1), and David Cowan (William1) residing in Dallas Co. </ul>

    Bibliography

    • First Families of Tennessee applications for William Cowan

    Two Tennessee DAR books list William’s children:

    • Bates, Lucy Womack, TN Society NSDAR, Roster of Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution Buried in TN, 1974 (revised 1979 by Helen Crawford Marsh), p. 42 … lists children: “Andrew b 5/2/1780 m Hetty Houston; Samuel b. 7/23/1799 m. Ester Jane Houston; Eleanor b. 1774 m. James Gillespie; John Alexander; James; Robert; David. Ref: DAR #435539 [Barbara Gillespie]”
    • Hudson, Mary Kay Parrish, TN Society DAR, Register of Qualified Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution Buried in Tennessee, p. 24 … lists children: Andrew, Samuel, Eleanor Gillespie, John Alexander, James, Robert, David.
    The dates listed above for Andrew, Samuel, and Eleanor are also found in DAR applications 475597 (Francis Thornton Bryant) and 489340 (Lorinda Farley Thornton).
    • Hagy, James W., Castle's Woods Frontier Virginia Settlement, 1769-1799, Masters Thesis for Department of History East Tennessee State University, 1966 [Virginia State Library, Richmond, VA ... by interlibrary loan]
    • DAR Applications, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1776 D Street, NW, Washington, DC.
    The following is a list of applications submitted to the DAR on the Revolutionary War service of either William Cowan or James Gillespy, Sr.
    Most of the applications are on James Gillespy Sr’s service, through his son (James “Smoking Jimmie” Gillespy). The (S) beside the child’s name indicates this was a supplemental application applying for membership based on William Cowan’s service, through his daughter Eleanor Cowan.
    (Copies of DAR applications are available from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 1776 D Street, NW, Washington, DC. Cost is $10 for each application, which includes the four pages of each application.)
    DAR # Date Applicant's Name Cowan Child's Name Rev. War Ancestor
    088306    10/04/1911    Annie (Cowan) Stephens   Andrew Cowan William Cowan
    224549 06/09/1926 Bessie Helen (Cowan) McCall Samuel Franklin Cowan    William Cowan
    166093 03/20/1943 Mayme R (Maxery) Bissnar Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    265374 10/15/1930 Sallie E. (Gillespie) Ambrister Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    281000 04/01/1933 Maude (Ambrister) Wyche Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    362422 10/11/1946 Carrie Irene (Ambrister) Clark Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    379812 09/17/1980 Emma Elizabeth (Ambrister) Carpenter   Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    423729 11/20/1953 Sabina E (Ambrister) Beckman Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    426464 04/17/1954 Elizabeth (Gillespy) Brinegar Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    435539 02/25/1955 Barbara (Gillespy) Jarrett Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    475597 09/20/1960 Francis (Thornton) Bryant Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    489340 08/10/1962 Lorinda (Farley) Thornton Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    608878 04/06/1976 Lorinda (Thornton) Williams Eleanor Cowan (S) James Gillespy, Sr.
    667362 07/15/1982 Lorinda Christine (Thornton) Orlowski Eleanor Cowan (S) James Gillespy, Sr.
    706026 12/11/1986 Lynne (Farley) Williams Eleanor Cowan (S) James Gillespy, Sr.
    712988 10/25/1987 Mary (Wyche) Rescendes Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    717908 08/01/1988 Ann Maude (Rescendes) Guttierez Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.
    781773 09/30/1997 Kenlyn Christina (Foster) Spencer Eleanor Cowan James Gillespy, Sr.


    • 1906 letter written by Andrew Finis Cowan (Andrew2, William1) to Miss Columbia Cowan (John Alexander4, Campbell Gilmer3, John [Alexander]2, William1)
    • Columbia Cowan, the recipient of the letter, was living in Pierce City, MO.
    • At the time the letter was written, Andrew was 77 years old (b. December 1829) and was living in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma).
    • AFC's father, Andrew (William1), was 90 when he died in 1872 in Bradley Co., Tn.
    • AFC's three eldest aunts and uncles died at relatively young ages either before Andrew Finis Cowan was born or shortly thereafter:
    • Eleanor (William1) (d. 1831),
    • John [Alexander] Cowan (William1) (d. 1821), and
    • Samuel Cowan (William1) (d. 1828).
    • Many of the remaining aunts and uncles remained in Tennessee in neighboring counties to McMinn and Bradley Co., TN.
    • Thus, it is likely he interacted with them and/or their children (his first cousins), was aware of correspondence between the families, and/or that the families visited each other.
    • Therefore, he likely knew first-hand at least the names of aunts and uncles (living or dead), cousins and some details of their lives, as well as information about his grandparents (William Cowan and Jane Walker).

    The original of this letter is in possession of James Freeman, Camas, WA. (A scanned digital copy of this letter was submitted by Margie Cowan with applications for First Families of Tennesse for William Cowan and John [Alexander] Cowan ( William1). Interested researchers can obtain a copy either from the McClung library, Knoxville, TN or from Margie Cowan.)


  • Parents of William Cowan (1750-1809. Oral tradition suggests his father was John Cowan. This is consistent with child naming patterns among the Scot-Irish, as characterized in Albion's Seedi.e., naming the first son for the paternal grandfather; second son for the maternal grandfather; first daughter for the maternal grandmother; and second daughter for the paternal grandmother. The first-born son of William Cowan and Jane Walker was named John Cowan; this may indicate that the name of Williams father was John.

    Jane's parents are identified as John Walker III and Ann Houston of the Wigton Walker line. Her parents were living in Borden's Grant or perhaps Beverly Manor in Virginia in the early 1750's. It is commonly speculated that William's parents came from Beverly Manor, though evidence for this seems lacking. However, the Beverly Patent map (by Hildebrand)for this time period shows parcels belonging to a John Cowan and a William Cowan. It is reasonable that one or the other could be William's father.

    Footnotes

    </references>

    References
    1. Analysis:Death of William Cowan, 1809
    2. This is based on the DOB of their eldest known child. See: Analysis:DOB of Eleanor Cowan, daughter of William Cowan and Jane Walker.
    3. There is reason to believe that William at least considered moving to Kentucky, and may have done so initially, before finally settling in Blount County. Emory Hamilton notes that:
      David Gass - Capt. David Gass was born in Pennsylvania in 1729. He settled early in Albemarle Co., Va., where he was serving in the militia in 1758. In 1769 he moved to Castlewood and prepared to go with Boone to Kentucky in 1773. After the Indians attacked Boone's party in Powell Valley, Boone came to Castlewood and lived in a cabin on Capt. Gass' land until he moved to Boonesboro in 1775. Capt. Gass made seven trips to Kentucky before finally moving his family there in 1777. Gass sold his home place on the Clinch to his brother-in-law, Capt. WILLIAM COWAN, who in turn sold it to James Osborne. Gass died in Madison Co., Ky."
      That would seem to tell us that either William had married a sister of David, or that David had married a sister of William. Since we believe William's wife was Jane Walker, we conclude that David's wife was as sister of William. Since we also know that both David Cowan and David Gass came to Castle's Woods from Bedford County, VA we can probably guess that this is where William also came from. A land transaction in Kentucky (see Notbook:William Cowan Land records) shows that in 1787 a William Cowan acquired a parcel in Madison County Ky, based on a warrant from a David Gist. David Gist is presumably David Gass, and the brotherinlaw of William Cowan (12).