Cowan's Gap Group



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Source:Fleming, 1971


Fleming Cowan's of County Down includes a number of short sections on place names that contain the name Cowan. One of these was Cowans Gap, Pennsylvania. Fleming traced the origin of the name of the area to one Samuel Cowan, a British soldier who settled there either during or shortly after the Revolution. The discovery of Samuel came with an interesting, intriguing, and romantic backstory. Fleming seems to have been a bit suspicious of it, but apparently found it to be too good to ignore. So he included it in one of his Appendicies. There may well be elements of truth in the story, but the emphasis on the story definitely seems to be on the "story part". Samuel, though is real enough, land records show that he was in the area well before the Revolution.

While we may never know the truth of the story, we now believe that Samuel was probably related to person:Hugh Cowan (4), one of Flemings "Four Brothers Group". YDNA evidence seems to show that "The Four Brothers" was composed of two separate and independent lines, the Pequea Creek Cowans on one hand, and the descendants and kin of Hugh Cowan (4) on the other. That conclusion is based, in part, on negative evidence: specifically, there seems to be no documentation that shows Hugh (4) had a family relationship with the Pequea Creek Cowans. There is, however, limited YDNA evidence to show that Hugh (4) is related to the Cowan's Gap line, and in fact, may be their Patriarchal ancestor.

Currently, the Cowan's Gap Group is divided into three subgroups:

Cowan's Gap Subgroup which lived in or near Cowan's Gap
Octoraro Creek Subgroup which includes Hugh (4) and his immediate kin who lived on or near Octoraro Creek in Chester County PA
Roaring Springs Cowans who lived in Bedford County ner the Cowan's Gap line, appeared at about the same time as they did, but for whom no YDNA evidence is available to establish a firm connection.

Currently, lineage data for some of these kits is very limited. Detailed analysis for this group is difficult in the absence of this data.


YDNA data is available for four descendants of the Cowan's Gap Cowans. Similarity analysis gives the following:


Kit WeRelateLineageDOBDODDOMSpouseFatherMotherNotes
131187 Person:Hugh Cowan (4)Son Mathias, son James, son Amos. Only a single kit claims descent from Hugh Cowan, one of Flemings original Four Brothers. 1679c1782bef1725
1) Ann Mathias
Mary Scott
--Believed to descend from Person:Hugh Cowan (4), of Octoraro Creek through a son who settled in western Pennsylvania, Hugh's DOB and DOD gives an age at death of 103, which probably means the DOB is in error.
170459 Person:James Cowan (72)James Cowan/Beaton; b 1858 Furnace, Argylshire, Scotland; in Cumlodden Scotland in 1861, immigrated to America in 1872 with grandparents 1858, Furnace, ScotlandIsabella Dixon McMackinPresumably shares a common ancestor in Scotland with the Cowans who settled at Cowans Gap. This places the common ancestor as living in Scotland before 1700.
140726 Person:John Cowan (49)John Cowan, b1831, d1902, Fulton County, PA18311902 Fulton PACatharine MathiasPerson:John Cowan (43)Elizabeth
111074 Cowan's from Cowan's Gap, PAInsufficient Lineage Data
117266 Joseph Cowan b 1827Insufficient Lineage Data