Cowan's Gap Subgroup




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Source:Maurer, 1899
Source:Cowan, 1928
Source:Orr and Cowan, 1970
Source:Fleming, 1971:377

Data:Cowan Land Warrants Old Chester PA
Cowan Tax Records|Cowan Tax Records
Data. Cowan's in the 1790 PA, US Census
Document. Excerpt from Orr, January, 1970
Document. Burning of the Old Cowan House
Document. Romance of Cowan's Gap
Document. The Real Story of Cowan's Gap
James Cowan Land Transfer
Notes for Cowans of Cowans Gap
Letter Miller to Cowan 1865

YDNA. Cowan Surname
Mary Unknown
Person:Samuel Cowan (17)
person:Hugh Cowan (7)
Person:Robert Cowan (17)
person:Edward (1)
person:Archibald Cowan (2)
Cowan's Gap Cowans
Octoraro Creek Cowans
Wife of Samuel Cowan
The Cowan Homestead
Lower Path Valley Prebyterian Cemetery



In 1781 Samuel Cowan (17) and Hugh Cowan (7) appear on the tax records of Bedford County. We can probably assume that they were present in this area prior to that date. A James Cowan begins to appear in these records by 1783. On the same day in 1785 Samuel and Hugh secure tracts of land by land warrants. Their lands were within a few miles of each other in what is now Dublin Township in Fulton County. Samuel's land lay at a gap in the ridge line now known as Cowan's Gap. Hugh's land lay a bit further to the west, on a north flowing branch of Licking Creek. Given the fact that they took out land warrants on the same day, and settled within a few miles of each other, it seems likely that Samuel and Hugh were related to each other, and possibly brothers. Tax records for Dublin township show that Hugh was present in the area, presumably living on his Licking Creek property, until about 1793. While the name "Hugh Cowan" appears in later records, it appears that the original Hugh of Licking Creek either died before the turn of the century, or left the area. Samuel, on the otherhand, continues to appear in tax records for Dublin Township until 1821. Since his son James is known to have received the Cowan's Gap property from his father (Document. James Cowan Land Transfer) we can probably assume that Samuel died in Bedford County around 1821, rather than moving away from the area.

Property of Hugh and Samuel Cowan in Fulton/Bedford County, PA, 1785
Property of Hugh and Samuel Cowan in Fulton/Bedford County, PA, 1785

Person:Edward Cowan (1) settled at Roaring Springs by 1786, in what is now Woodbury Township, in southern Bedford County. Edward had a number of sons who also settled in that area. Together these Cowans' are referred to as the "Roaring Springs Cowan's", and are discussed separately. While Edward came into the area at about the same time as Cowan's Gap Cowans there is no immediate indication that he was related to them. This bears further examination, but Edward and his family are not discussed here. (See Roaring Springs Cowans).

The Romance

The Cowan's Gap Cowan's are discussed in Source:Fleming, 1971 The Cowan's of County Down. Flemings work has greatly influenced the knowledge and understanding of this group, primarily because his work has received widespread dissemination.

Family tradition and Mr. Maurer's report tell us that John Cowan was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1753. As a British solider he came to New York in 1772, and after a short stay there was sent to Boston. There he met his future wife, who had been born in Germany in 1755 or 1757. Her father, a well to do merchant of Boston, forbade Cowan's visits to see his daughter. After about a year Cowan was sent back to Ireland and was there discharged from the service. He then returned to Boston, and again he was not permitted to see his sweetheart. One night the young couple met secretly and decided to elope. This they did and at once set out for Pennsylvania where they bought a farm in Lancaster County, now Franklin County. After living there approimately two years, they heard of the bluegrass country of Kentucky and determined to move westward to it. They sold their farm, loaded all their goods on a covered wagon and traveled through Chambersburg, Campbellstown, and Fort Loudon. In crossing the Conococheague Creek their wagon broke down 7 miles from a repair shop. Fortunately they met a Tuscarora Indian Chief who traded 100 acres of land to them for their team and wagon. They went to the gap in 1776, or 1784 or 1785, where they built a log cabin. There were four boys in John Cowan's family: Hugh, William, David, and Samuel who died at the age of 46.

Fleming took this information from an article in "Cowan Clan United" Source:Orr and Cowan, 1970. Orr's story, in turn, was taken from Romance of Cowan's Gap by Mauer, 1899. Orr states that Maurer interviewed the woman described above; Maurer himself only says that one of those who interviewed her told him about the woman the next day. The story was recorded in 1878 in a newspaper article in the Chambersburg Chronicle (Burning Down the Old Cowan House). The author was likely the editor of the newspaper, and probably Maurer himself. Yet another version of the story, though unpublished, is given in 1928 by Archibald Cowan, (The Real Record of Cowan's Gap a descendant of the family in question. Archibalds version of the story makes mention of the Maurer 1899 version, and is probably influenced by that story to some extent. However, the fact that he entitles his version as "The Real Record", suggests that he took exception to some of the facts given by Mauer.


Yellow Hexagon, Samuel Cowan's Land

Green Hexagon, Hugh Cowan's Land (very approximate (best guess)
Blue line, Licking Creek
Green line, LIttle Auguinet Creek
Light blue line, Conochogue Creek
Purple line, Conodoguinet Creek
Red dashed line, Forbes Road

Salmon Hexagon: Samuel Cowan (17) at Cowan's Gap (1785)
Orange Hexagon:Hugh Cowan (7) on a branch of Licking Creek (1785)
Purple Hexagon:John Cowan land on Licking Creek (1870's)
Pale Blue Hexagon:Edward Cowan land at Roaring Springs 1786

A puzzle

Transcript:Letter from D.C. Miller to kinsman John Cowan, Blue Springs, TN, 1865