d.25 January 1865 Whitwell, Marion County, Tennessee
Facts and Events
William Cowan was born about 1800 in Tennessee, according to census records. On December 8, 1822, he married Cynthia Morgan and they had 11 children:
Most of their children were born in Marion County, Tennessee.
The following information from a letter written by Grace, daughter of Benjamin Franklin Cowan, son of William.
"William Cowan had a large farm and owned a big flour mill on the Sequatchie River; he also owned a big saw mill and handled lots of timber. Grace often heard her grandmother tell of hauling logs out with teams of 4 oxen and floating them down the river to Bridgeport, Alabama, just across the state line in Jackson county. He owned land from Victoria to the Sequatchie county line from the tops of mountains clear across the valley. He grew the first cotton in Marion county and was a lover of fine horses. He owned a stable full and raised many fine horses. Grace could recall the nice barn that was still in good condition when she was about 12. He was considered a wealthy man; they had a nice colonial home 4 miles above Whitwell (TN); the place is still known as the 'old Cowan place'. She remembered tht her brother, John Seaborn Cowan, Minerva's father, saying that he would love to own half of the place."
We do not know the parents of William Cowan or of his wife, Cynthia Morgan Cowan. The first reference to a Cowan in Marion County, TN is in the County Deed Book A (pg. 4, dated 1785) in which 20,000 acres of land is awarded to a Stokely Donaldson. One of the witnesses was a William Cowan. This is some 15 years before our William was born. Could this William be his father or grandfather?
From 2 deed records dated October 20, 1829, we see the sale of 20 acres of land in Marion County and a tract of land 65 acres for $75 to William Cowan.
The first census in which our William Cowan appears is in the 1830 Marion County, TN census. He and his wife, Cynthia, are shown as age 20-23 with 2 sons under 5, one son 5-10 and one daughter under 5.
He is shown on an 1836 tax list with his brother Samuel Cowan. Marion County is known as a “burned county”, meaning that many of the records including deed and marriage records burned when the courthouses caught fire.
The 1840 Marion County census shows William, Cynthia and 4 sons and 3 daughters.
On March 5, 1847, William Cowan purchased 120 acres of land for $400. The 1850 Marion County census lists William and Synthia, and lists the names of 5 of their children.
By 1860, William lists his occupation as a farmer with value of his real estate as $3000; personal property at $1000.
The agricultural census of Towney’s Creek shows the following information: 70 acres improved land, 60 acres unimproved, with a cash value of $1500 for the farm and $20 value of implements and machinery; 2 horses, 2 milk cows, 2 other cattle, 7 sheep, 30 swine, with total value of livestock at $300. In the year preceding 1 June, 1860, the farm produced 22 bushels of wheat, 350 bushels of Indian corn, 10 lbs. wool, 3 bushels peas and beans, 11 bushels Irish potatoes, $4 orchard products, 50 lb. butter, 60 gallons molasses, 2 lbs. beeswax, 60 lb. honey; $30 of homemade goods manufactured and the value of slaughtered animals was set at $60.
William Cowan died in 1865, in Whitwell, TN, so he was not in the 1870 census. His widow, Cynthia, is shown with her youngest son, Joseph, living at home with her. In the 1880 census, Cynthia is shown with son Benjamin Franklin and his family in Whitwell, TN.
William Cowan and Cynthia are buried at Red Hill Cemetery in Whitwell, TN. William’s granddaughter, Sarah Cowan, and her husband G.W. Pickett continued to live on at the W. Cowan farm, according to the notes of Paul Cowan, Sr. Today there is a Cowan-Pickett Road in Whitwell, TN, but there are no longer any descendants carrying the Cowan name in the town.
Cynthia Morgan Cowan Of all of the Cowan ancestors, Cynthia Morgan (1802-1886), wife of William Cowan, seems to have the most confusion about her birthplace. In the Tennessee censuses of 1850, 1860 and 1870 the birthplace of Cynthia is listed as Tennessee, but in 1880 she lists her birthplace as Ohio. According to the memoirs of Alice Cowan Lewis, Cynthia came to Tennessee from Kentucky. Go figure?! Some family hearsay report her as a descendant of General Daniel Morgan; others as a descendant of General Henry Morgan. At this time nothing more is known about her ancestry. According to a relative, Aunt Grace, Cynthia was a schoolteacher; although this may not have been a fact.
From: Memoirs left by Alice Lewis Cowan about her grandmother:
"Cynthia Morgan came to Tennessee from Kentucky to visit some relatives about 1820, as near as I remember being told by my mother. How or where she met and married my grandfather, William Cowan, I was not told. He died at the age of 69, leaving her with a family to rear: Sam, Seabird, Sally, Rheuben, William, Esther and Joseph.
After the Civil War ended, Uncle Seabird and his family came from Alabama to live with Grandmother.
When I was a child, Grandmother would come to our house and spend several weeks at a time. She wore a black lace cap in the daytime, that being the custom of old ladies at that time. She wore a woolen shawl about a yard square folded in a triangle. She smoked a clay pipe, and many times I have taken a coal of fire out of the fireplace to light her pipe.
As I remember, she did not ever help with the work, but she was not sick. She was of French extraction, about 5 ft., 3 inches tall, had black eyes, dark curly hair that was not gray when I knew her. She was what is known as dark-complexioned: from her, I inherit my dark eyes and complexion. (I have a small tintype of her).
After Uncle Joe married, he migrated to Kansas, taking Grandmother with him. She was dissatisfied there, and later they moved back to Tennessee, where she died at the age of 84, and is buried in Red Hill [Church] Cemetery."
According to Aunt Grace, Cynthia died as a result of falling and hitting her head against a bedpost.
More About WILLIAM COWAN:
Children of WILLIAM COWAN and CYNTHIA MORGAN are: 2. i. SEABERD2 COWAN, b. August 25, 1823, Marion CO,TN; d. 1886, Grapevine, TX. 3. ii. SAM C. COWAN, b. February 14, 1825, Marion Co, TN; d. June 26, 1878, Hunt Co, TX bur. Ingram Cem. Commerce, TX.
iii. SALLY (SARAH) COWAN, b. April 01, 1827, Jackson CO,AL or Marion CO, TN; d. May 16, 1904, (bur. red Hill Cem.); m. WILLIAM HIXON GRAYSON. iv. REUBEN COWAN, b. September 17, 1828.
4. v. WILLIAM HENRY COWAN, b. October 07, 1831, Marion CO,TN; d. November 04, 1910, Roanoke, Denton CO, TX 100F Cem.. 5. vi. ESTHER COWAN, b. May 03, 1833; d. July 27, 1897. 6. vii. POLLY (MARY)(AUNT POP) COWAN, b. July 25, 1836.
viii. CAROLINE COWAN, b. November 25, 1839. More About CAROLINE COWAN:
Fact 1: 1850, not on census, might be deceased
7. ix. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (DOC) COWAN, b. April 13, 1842; d. November 22, 1920, died of asthma.
x. FRANCIS M. COWAN, b. July 06, 1844.
8. xi. JOSEPHUS (JOE) COWAN, b. October 07, 1847.