Family of Hugh Cowan of Octoraro Creek




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Source:Fleming, 1971?


Person:Hugh Cowan (4)
Document. Will of Hugh Cowan of Octoraro Creek, Chester County PA, 1776


This article is an extract from Source:Fleming, 1971. It needs a lot of work to make it a stand-alone article on WeRelate. Somewhere along the way, this article became a bit jumbled, with some text moved out of the original order. Flemings footnotes, in particular seem to have been inserted in the body of the text, more or less with out warning.

1) Hugh Cowan 369 acres an allowance. Situated in West Caln Township in the County of Chester. Surveyed by Warrant of the 9th of October 1734 - the 23 day of October 1736 by John Taylor.

2) Another as follows: “Whereas, Thomas Penn and Richard Penn,Esqs., the honorable Proprietaries of this Province in and by their Patent orGrant of the 28 day of October, 1747, did for them, theirs and Successors, give,grant and confirm unto Hugh Cowan a certain Tract of Land, situate in the said Township (Sadsbury), by Metes and Bounds in the same Patent specified containing 270 acres together with the appurtenances to hold to him the saidHugh Cowan, his Heirs and Assigns forever, paying unto them the saidProprietaries, their Heirs and Successors one half penny sterling per acre of the whole thereof in coin current as in and by the said recited Patent under the Hand of Anthony Palmer, President of the Council of the said Province and Proprietary Commissioner in that behalf and great Seal of the Said Province recorded at Philadelphia.

The above two tracts gave Hugh Cowan a total of 639 acres. Doubtless during his life-time he came into possession of a good many other acres, butrecords of such have not come to the attention of this writer.On the original tract in Sadsbury Township, Chester County, HughCowan established his Pennsylvania home. Here he erected a dwelling house.Construction is said to have been in 1720. This was a log structure which he andhis sons replaced in 1740 with a stone building. Only the east wing was built atthat time, and in 1799, Hugh’s granddaughter, Jane Cowan, and her husband,George Richmond, built the west wing. Recently the Stoltzfus family, presentowners, restored it and__________1 Ramsey, Robert W., op. cit., p. l8: “The proprietary land office was closed from1718 to 1732, during which period the Penn heirs refused to issue land patentsor clear title to the land -- James Logan wrote to John Penn in 1727 that - theScots ‘frequently sit down on any spot of vacant land they can find, without asking questions’”. 2 From Early Pennsylvania Land Records, Patent Book A, Vol. 14, p. 109.

added a number of interesting features to this fine old Colonial structure. When Hugh Cowan married, the log structure was in readiness for residence. His first wife was Ann Mathias who was born in 1701. Since theScotch-Irish had not begun settling in Pennsylvania that early, it can be assumed that she, too, was born in one of the Ulster counties. Many years ago aninteresting statement concerning the marriage of Hugh Cowan to Ann Mathias was made by one of their descendants, to wit, “Hugh Cowan and Ann Mathias, were married January 20, in the year of our Lord 1723, and he brought her home on the first day of February”.


A. James Cowan -b. 5-4-1725; d. 10-1-1751.
B. John Cowan-b. 7-29-1727; d. 3-15-1748.
C. Joseph Cowan -b. 2-20-1729; d. May 1777.
D. Jean Cowan-b. 3-24-1731.
E. Mathias Cowan -b. 1734; d. 2-25-1819.

Ann Mathias, first wife of Hugh Cowan, died March 17, 1734, and was buried in the cemetery of Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church. The inscriptionon her grave-stone is said to be the oldest that can be read in that historicgraveyard. Following is a notation by Mrs. James E. Orr, Sr., of Johnstown, Pa.,in some of her genealogical work:“Mathias Cowan was mentioned in his father’s will. Since his name wasMathias, Hugh Cowan’s first wife’s maiden name - that he was their sonand she, possibly died in childbirth.“From burials in Upper Octorara Cemetery her tombstone reads “Ann Cowan, died March 17, 1734, age 33 years”.

Hugh Cowan’s second marriage was to Mary Scott. Date of her birth, marriage and death have not been found. They had the following children:

F. Hannah Cowan - b. 1741?
G. David Cowan-b. 8-31-1742; d. 3-11-1786.
H. Ann Cowan-b. 1743?
I. Elizabeth Cowan-b. 1745?
J. Margaret Cowan-b. 1747?
K. William Cowan - b. 1749; d. 1838.

From the above record it is seen that Hugh Cowan was the head of a large family, five children being born by his first marriage and six by his second. His death is reckoned to have occurred early in 1781. He left a will, made July 20, 1776, and probated January 17, 1782. This will is as follows[1]

[missing, probably mixed into the text at a later point]

__________3 Cowan, David, A Cowan Sketch, prepared in Richland, Rush County, Indiana, November 23, l869.********** 4


While it is regrettable that a full biographical record has not been left of this remarkable man, fortunately there have been preserved a few glimpses intohis religious life, and these show that he zealously participated with other religious leaders in the establishment of an excellent order of Christian faith inthat part of his County.Presbyterianism came into Pennsylvania with the arrival of the Scotch-Irish; however, it did not gain in strength until churches were organized. Amongthe first Presbyterian Churches to be established in Pennsylvania were Fagg’sManor, New London, and Upper Octorara. We are concerned at the moment withthe latter.“Upper Octorara, the second oldest Church in Chester County, was organized in the Fall of 1720 by Scotch-Irish emigrants from NorthernIreland who were among the first settlers in this part of Pennsylvania”. “The first Minister who preached here was the Rev. David Evans. This was in May, 1720. In September, 1721, the name Octorara first appears upon the Minutes of Presbytery”. [2]

Hugh Cowan was vitally associated with the early life of this Church. Most likely he helped to bring about its organization in 1720. He was one of its earliest Elders.[3] One thing that revealed his zeal in the Lord’s work was his connectionwith the Presbyterian Schism of 1741. This schism was brought on largely byintensive revivals which had been in progress for several years. These werepopularly conducted all over the New England and Middle Atlantic Colonies.They were led by great preachers like Gilbert Tennant, Jonathan Edwards,George Whitefield, and others. Multitudes who had been out of the Church werebrought into the fold, and many who had grown cold were quickened; however,large numbers of the more conservatively-minded Presbyterians were staunchlyopposed to the movement. The result was a division into New Side and Old SidePresbyterians. Those who supported the Revival Movement became the NewSide Synod of New York, while those who opposed it became the Old Side Synodof Philadelphia.

The Upper Octorara Church was so affected by this movement anddivision that the Congregation divided into two separate Churches:“The New Side members who composed a large majority, withdrew, andorganized ‘the Second Congregation of Upper Octorara’, leaving thePastor, the minority who adhered to him in undisputed possession of theChurch property. This occurred in 1741. The Second Congregation, after this secession, worshipped for a time in a board tent which they erected onthese Church grounds, a short distance of the Meeting-House, but theysoon took measures for the erection of a new Church, and for this purposetook out a warrant from the properties on the 10th of February, 1743, inthe name of Hugh Cowan, John Robb, and John Henderson, for twenty-five acres of vacant land - - - and in the same year erected thereon nearthe south-east corner, a frame Meeting-House, about thirty-five by fortyfeet, and a stone Session-House, and also enclosed a grave yard.[4]

“The leading families in this new Church were the Hamills, Boggs, Cowans, Sloans, Glendennings, Kyles, Sharps, Dickeys, Moodys, Kerrs, Summerills, Robbs, Hendersons, Sanfords, Allisons, and others. A warrant had been taken out by the Rev. Adam Boyd, dated May 23, 1743,for the lands occupied by the Congregation of which he was Pastor, and a survey was made in pursuance thereof. A patent was granted for these lands on the 26th of April, 1769, to the Rev. William Foster, William Clingan, Hugh Cowan and John Fleming. The tract of twenty-five acres and allowance on the north valley hill, for which a warrant had been granted to Hugh Cowan, John Robb and John Henderson on the 10th ofFebruary, 1743, was by direction of the united congregation, patented on the 7th of June, 1769, to Joseph Cowan and Hugh Cowan, ‘in trust to and for the use of the United Congregation of Presbyterians at Octorara'

The schism in the Presbyterian Church gradually healed through adjustments and reconciliation, so that by 1758, the two Synods reunited into one known as the Synod of New York and Philadelphia. Reunions also took place in many congregations; thus, the Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church wasreunited, so that whereas a few years before strife and dissension had been active, now tranquility, love and unity prevailed. As noted in the above quoted paragraph, Hugh Cowan who had been zealous in promoting Evangelism, wasalso zealous in the restoration of a reconciled and spiritually strengthened congregation.

During the first fifty or more years in the life and work of this Congregation, he was evidently one of the most influential men among its officers and members. The name, Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church involves some historic designations which the reader may be interested in. It was named for Octorara Creek, which from the beginning of Chester and Lancaster Counties, has beenthe boundary line between them for a number of miles. It is an old Indian name. The word "Upper" indicates that this was not the only Church bearing the name of Octorara, and that is true. In fact, during the Colonial era there were three Octorara Presbyterian Churches. They were:

(1) Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church, located in Chester County, not far from the head of Octorara Creek. This is the oldest of the three Octorara Presbyterian Churches.
(2)Middle Octorara Presbyterian Church, located a number of miles tothe south, in Lancaster County, not a great distance from Octorara Creek; and
(3)Lower Octorara Presbyterian Church, located in Maryland near the Pennsylvania border, and in the vicinity of the mouth of Octorara Creek.

The Upper Octorara Church from early Colonial days to the present timehas continued as a strong and influential rural Church. The Rev. J. H. Brown has been the Pastor of this Congregation for approximately twenty-five years. Under his effective leadership this Church is progressing nicely in an excellent program of high spiritual quality. The sesqui-centennial celebration of the Church was held in 1870, at which time one of Octorara’s sons, Judge J. S.Futhey, delivered an outstanding historical discourse. Since then anniversary celebrations have been held at intervals of twenty five years. At this writing plans were underway for the 250th anniversary. Octorara naturally calls to mind Hugh Cowan, whose descendants have served faithfully to the present time, some as Ruling Elders. Several have been ordained to the Gospel Ministry. 9 Ibid, pp. 57, 66-67.

James Cowan

A. James Cowan. The oldest of Hugh Cowan’s children, James, was born on May 4, 1725, and died on October 1, 1751. At death he was little more than twenty six years of age. The brevity of his life largely prevents any conclusion asto what his ability or usefulness might have been. The little information obtained about him indicates that he was just getting settled and was in the process of establishing a home when he was cut down by severe illness and death. He married Catherine, a daughter of Thomas and Jannet Hope. Date of his marriage has not been learned. It was probably in the early or middle part of1748, for on November 7 of that year, his father, Hugh Cowan, deeded him atract of 100 acres of land. In this deed is a genealogical record of high importance. It identifies James as Hugh Cowan’s oldest son:

“THIS INDENTURE made the 7th day of November in the year of ourLord 1748 between Hugh Cowan of Sadsbury Township in the County ofChester Yeoman of the one part and James Cowan of the same place, Wheelwright, the eldest son and Heir at law of him the said Hugh Cowan of the other part”.1It may be observed from the above that James’ occupation was that ofWheelwright. His business then would be that of making and repairing wheels,especially of wagons. This was a most important kind of work during pioneerdays.When he died, his wife Catherine was expecting a baby. It is believed thatthe child died at birth, for there is no further mention of the matter. His will made two days before his death, follows: THE WILL OF JAMES COWAN In the name of God. Amen, the twenty ninth of September in the year of our Lord 1751, I James Cowan in the County of Chester being very sick and week in Body, but of perfect Mind and Memory thanks be givenunto God, therefore, calling unto Mind the mortality of my Body, and knowing that it is appointed for all Men once to die, do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament That is to say, principally and first ofall, -I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it;and for my Body, I recommend it to the Earth, to be buried in a Christianlike and decent manner at the discretion of my Executors, nothingdoubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same againby the mighty Power [5]of God. And as touching such worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleasedGod to bless me in this Life, I give, devise and dispose of the same in thefollowing manner and form.Imprimis, It is my Will, and I do Order, That in the first place, allmy just Debts and Funeral Charges be paid and Satisfied.Item I give and bequeath unto Jean my Dearly beloved Sister theSum of ten pounds Currency of good and Lawful Monies to be raised andLevied out of my Estate.Item I give and bequeath unto my Dearly Beloved Father my blackbritches and Saddlebags and fur hatt. Item I give and bequeath unto Joseph my Dearly beloved brother my pocket Byble.Item I constitute and - allow my Estate together with all my Household goods and Moveables to be Set up at Publick Vendue and afterbeing Sold the Produce to be Equally Divided Unto three parts Katren[6]my Dearly beloved wife to Injoy the One third part the remainder to be forthe - (benefit) of the child or children and if it please God to bring thischild that she shall suckle and provide for it or cause to be suckled andprovided for till it Arive to two years of Age. I likewise constitute, and ordain Hugh Cowan my Father and Thomas Hoapp[7] My only and Sole Executors of this my Last Will and Testament, Ratifying and Confirming this, and no other to be my Last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have here unto Set my Hand and Seal, the Day and year above written Signed, Sealed Publshed,Pronounced and Declared by the Said James Cowan as his Last Will andTestament, in the Presence ofus the Subscribers viz: James Cowan.John Russell) 4th of November 1751 James Leard) Inventory 4th of DecemberChester County November 4th 1751 THEN personally appeared John Russell and James Leard and made oath on ye holy Evangelists ofAlmighty God that they were personally present and did See and Heardye testator above named, Sign, Seal Publish pronounce and declare yeabove writing to be their Last Will and Testament and That ye doingthereof he was of sound mind and Memory to ye best of theirunderstanding. Surratte L. Cowan Jo. Parker, D. Reg.

John Cowan

John Cowan was born July 29, 1727, and died in March, 1748, age of twenty one. He never married, and was the first of Hugh Cowan’s children to die. No other records or facts concerning his life have been obtained.


Joseph Cowan was born February 24, 1729. On May 14, 1752, he married Mary Scott. Two months after his marriage he received from his father a tract of land which had been part of the 100 acres deeded in 1748 by Hugh Cowan to his son James. [8] Here Joseph and Mary enjoyed a happy home life oftwenty-five years.A Contributor To Independence. Joseph Cowan displayed the spirit andmarks of real patriotism. He was forty-five years of age, a man of mature judgment and wisdom when the troubles reached their peak that finally broughton the American Revolution. On December 20, 1774, he was chosen as a member of the Chester County Committee of Observation, General Anthony Wayne beingthe Chairman. [9]About this time, and almost spontaneously, such committees were being set up throughout the Thirteen Colonies. These did not receive a uniform name. In some provinces, particularly North Carolina, they were called Committees of Safety. In other provinces they were known as Committees of Correspondence, while in Pennsylvania they were designated as Committees ofObservation. The purposes of these committees were to alert the people to the seriousness of their country’s condition; to devise means of resisting tyranny; and to furnish dependable leadership. When hostilities began, Joseph enlisted, and became a soldier in General Washington’s Continental Army. The full record of his military service has not been found. But he was with Washington in the severe winter campaign of 1776-77, and from that it is assumed that he must also have been with the Army in its discouraging retreat from Long Island in the fall of 1776. He participated with Washington in the heroic crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Night of 1776; and had part in the next day’s glorious victory at Trenton, New Jersey. He was with Washington’s men in the terrible winter at Valley Forge, near Philadelphia. Soldiers were in rags. There was little food. The ground was often covered with snow. There was much sickness. During the winter Joseph Cowan was taken with a severe fever. He lived till the spring of that year but was too weak to survive, and died in May, 1777.[9]. Recently an excellent paper was placed in the hands of the writer which bears out the facts narrated above. It is entitled The Spirit of ‘76, and is as follows:“Joseph Cowan was the third child of Hugh and Ann Mathias Cowan, and was born February 24, 1729. Hugh Cowan came to America in 1720 from Newry, County Down, province of Ulster, Ireland and received270 land on the 23rd of October, 1736, from John, Thomas and Richard Penn, Governors In Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania. Joseph married MaryScott on May 14, 1752. He owned 270 acres, 4 horses, 4 cattle, 5 sheep,and 1 servant.“He is listed, the 20th day of December, 1774, as one of ‘a veryrespectable number of inhabitants of the County of Chester convened atthe Court House, in the Borough of Chester’, for the purpose of choosing a committee ‘to carry into execution the association of the late Continenssex) on the Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina’. To the people of Great Britain from the delegattal Congress’. Probably the oldest act of the Congress was to set up theAmerican Association, which bound the Colonists not to trade with GreatBritain or to use British goods until their trade and taxation policies changed. The Articles of Association is the only original paper preserved from the Congress of 1774. The restoration of union and harmony betweenBritain and the Colonies was the wish of the First Congress, and onlywhen the Congress of 1775 assembled was it seen that the time was ripefor action.‘We his Majesty’s most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island,Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, three Lower Counties (New Castle, Kent and Sues: ‘When a nation led to greatness by the hand of liberty, and possessed of all the glory thatheroism, munificence and humanity can bestow, descends to theungrateful task of forging chains for her friends and children and instead of giving support to freedom, turns advocate for slavery and oppression, there is reason to suspect she either ceased to be virtuous, or has beenextremely negligent of the appointment of her rulers’.“The Scotch-Irish emigrants having recently fled oppression in the Old Country (the eras of emigration 17181750 and 1771-1773) made a powerful contribution to the cause of liberty.“Besides being one of the Chester County Associators of the Committee of Observation, under the Chairmanship of Anthony Wayne, Joseph Cowan is listed as a Private in the 8th Battalion under Colonel Patterson Bell, and a member of Captain Gilbert Gibbs Company. He was a blacksmith and received fifty shillings (twelve dollars) a month. He crossed the Delaware with Washington. In 1777 he camped at Valley Forge and brought home a comrade, Private Caleb Phipps of Captain Bentley’s Company, 8th Battalion, who was sick with Camp fever. Private Phipps recovered (listed in 1780) but Joseph Cowan died of it in the spring of 1777. Food as well as clothing were desperately needed by the defeated soldiers who lived in the crude huts they had built for themselves. Washington wrote on December 23, 1776, ‘We have this day no less than 2,873 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked’“.[10]

The above paper bears out the unselfish and sacrificial spirit of Joseph Cowan, for it is noted how he most thoughtfully attended to the needs of his sickcomrade who recovered, while a little later Joseph himself succumbed. Occasionally there are instances where a father and son are simultaneously Ruling Elders in the same Presbyterian Church. Thus it waswith Joseph Cowan and his father, Hugh Cowan. As noted earlier, Hugh Cowan had been an Elder in Upper Octorara Church since soon after its founding. J. S.Futhey in his Historical Discourse of 1870, shows that Joseph Cowan was anElder there prior to 1799. Since Joseph died in 1777, his Eldership in the Churchevidently was prior to or during very early part of the American Revolution. Joseph Cowan’s Last Will and Testament [11] was made on February 25,1777. This was on the occasion of his bringing his comrade home to minister tohim in his illness, and his being taken with the fever. His will was probated onMay 8 1777, indicating that his death must have been early in the month.

To Joseph Cowan and his wife Mary Scott were born seven children:

1. Jane Cowan was their first child. She was born in 1753, and died January 22, 1830. She married George Richmond who was born in 1734, and died June 28, 1806. In 1783, about two years after the death of Hugh Cowan, George and Jane Richmond came into possession of Hugh Cowan’s old homeplace in Chester County. There the family lived during the remaining years of the life of Jane and George Richmond. The property continued the possession of the Richmond family for many generations. Mr. and Mrs. Chris D. Stoltzfus are the present owners of this historic colonial structure, concerning which previous mention has been made to the work of restoration. Each year Mrs. Stoltzfus prepares her own Christmas Greeting on which is carried a hand-drawn picture of the old Hugh Cowan house. Her December, 1966, greetings were:
About 1720 from Ireland to Penns’ Wood Hugh Cowan did come, And built a log cabin that soon proved for him and his sons, who in 1740 Built with stone the East end of this home to raise a family of 12 and farm his land. Later Hugh’s granddaughter Jane Cowan and her husband George Richmond were thrifty And constructed here the West end of the home in 1799; Which stood the test of time until the Stoltzfus family restored and added new structure to add to the old home’s colonial features. So - Hugh built the East, the Richmonds built the West; and we added the rest! As Jane Richmond prepared her Christmas dinner In seventeen hundred ninety nine, She knew she had just the latest In modern kitchen design. But as we prepare our Christmas dinner In nineteen hundred sixty-six, If we had to use such primitive equipment We’d think we were in quite a fix. We’ll use the same kitchen she did To get ready our Christmas food And we may well be thinking “Jane never had it so good”.

George and Jane Richmond had six children. They were :a. Joseph Richmond, married Hannah Mitchell. b. James Richmond. c. George Richmond, married Ann Humphrey. d. Mary Richmond, married Charles Mowery. e. John Richmond, married Sarah McClellwn. f. Thomas Richmond. married Jane Cochran.

Very little is known of the next four children of Joseph Cowan.

2. Ann Cowan was born in July, 1755. She married John Sample. No other information of her and the family.
3. Mary Cowan was born in July, 1758. She married John Boyd, a tanner, near Coatesville, Pennsylvania. He is reported to have served seven years as asoldier in the American Revolution.
4. Elizabeth Cowan was born June 6, 1761. She married the Reverend Nathaniel W. Sample who served for many years as Pastor of the Leacock and anumber of other Presbyterian Churches in the northern part of Lancaster County, Pa.
5. Margaret Cowan was born July 8, 1764. She married John Ramsey, a farmer of Lower Oxford Township, Chester County, Pa.
6. James Cowan. b. 11-12-1767; d. 11-18-1850.m. 1797, Mary Hope, b. 6-11-1774; d. 3-11-1855. Issue:
a. Mary Cowan, b. 3-20-1797; d. 1892. m. Robert Cowan, b. 10-10-1792. A further account of him will begiven in Section II.
b. Joseph Cowan, b. 11-26-1799; d. 2-28-1887.********** 14m. 4-11-1833, Elizabeth Fleming Scott, b. 1814; d. 6-23-1902.

Jean Cowan

Jean Cowan was the fourth child of Hugh Cowan and his first wife Ann Mathias, and was born March 24, 1731. In 1751, her brother James Cowan bequeathed to her the sum of ten pounds. She probably preceded her father in death, as she is not mentioned in his will, made in 1782. No other information has been obtained about her.

Mathias Cowan

Mathias Cowan, b. 1734, in Chester County, Pa.; d. 2-25-1819 in Westmoreland County, Pa. His birth 1734, is thought to have been on March 17th, the day on which his mother died. m. Rachel Gray, b. 1731 (sic); d. 4-10-1815. The following Court Records give about all that is known concerning the family left by Mathias Cowan.

WESTMORELAND COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA Orphans Court at Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., Pa., May 24, 1819 Petition of MATHIAS COWAN of North Huntingdon Township -5C 116 M1819. MATHIAS COWAN lately died, leaving 9 children.

James Cowan- eldest son.
Joseph Cowan- second eldest son.
George Cowan -
Martha Cowan - married to William Ekin.
Mary Cowan - married to John Hoey.
Ann Cowan- married to George Hoey. Ann deceased in 1819 and left 3 children.
Elizabeth Cowan - married to William Hoey.
Rachel Cowan -
Sarah Cowan- Farm of 250 acres to be divided.

Rachel Cowan’s will recorded - WB206 14 1858. Mentioned: John Ekin’s dau. RachelJ. Ekin, and a niece Margaret Ekin********** 18Rachel and Sarah Cowan No. 14 of 1858 - Will 2163.Sarah Cowan’s will recorded - 4 WB 558 4 1865. Mentioned: Niece, Sarah C. Cristy.Niece, Mary Eccles. To Martha Elizabeth Ekin, all the rest of the estate. Grave Markers in the Cemetery of the Long Run Presbyterian Church, Circleville, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania: Martha Cowan- d. 2-17-1834 (dau. of Joseph and Fanny Cowan).Mathias Cowan- d. 2-25-1819, aged 84 years. Rachel Cowan- d. 4-10-l8l5, aged 84 (sic) years. James Cowan- d. 10-11-1826, aged 51 years. Rachel Cowan- d. 3-29-1813. aged 16 years. Sarah Cowan- d. 12-26-1857, aged 68 years. George Cowan - (Illegible).

Thus has ended the narrative accounts dealing with the first and very important section of Hugh Cowan’s family. But of equal importance is the secondsection of this large family which begins with Hugh Cowan’s marriage to Mary Scott. The reader will doubtless remember that Hugh Cowan’s son, Joseph, alsomarried a lady by the name of Mary Scott. While the two ladies were probably ofsome distant kinship, their exact relationship is not known. Neither is known the date of Hugh Cowan’s second marriage. It must have occurred in the late 1730’s for the first birth from this union was in 1742.********** 19********** 20 [blank]


Of the six children born by Hugh Cowan’s second marriage, it possible to gather some narrative material on the family of one only, and some genealogical data concerning the other five. In their order, these will be given in relation to the total number of Hugh’s children, beginning with

David Cowan

G. David Cowan - He was born on August 31, 1742. His first marriage wasto Mary Gray, and this was on September 12, 1769. He and Mary probably lived in Chester County for two or more years, but seem to have moved to Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, prior to the American Revolution. While very little recordof his activities has been preserved, it can well be assumed from the following certificates of Church membership that he and his wife were truly exemplary and useful in their life: That David Cowan and wife Mary have resided in this Congregation for near the space of a year; have behaved in a Christian like manner,enjoyed the sealing ordinances and are now free from scandal, is certified at Middle Spring this 20th of June 1775 by Robt. Cooper Minr1 That David Cowan and Mary his wife were admitted to the sealing ordinances on this certificate and never forfeited their right while in this Congregation is certified at Big Spring, this 20th of October, 1781. William Linn, V. D. U.2 Descendants of David and Mary Cowan are said to still be in possession of the above certificates. The two Churches: Middle Spring and Big Spring, named above, were in Hopewell Township, Cumberland County. The record therefore indicates that David and his family resided in that county during the entire period of the Revolutionary War. David and Mary had seven children. The first two were probably born in Chester County, and the remaining five in Cumberland County. The first wife, Mary Gray, who was born February 19, 1747, gave birth to her last child in 1784, and died soon thereafter.

After the death of his first wife, David Cowan seems to have moved back to Chester County. There he entered into his second marriage, this time to Elizabeth, daughter of John Parke and his wife, Elizabeth McKnight. As will be shown later, one of David Cowan’s sisters married David Parke, brother of Elizabeth Parke. In very early days the Parke family was prominent and influential in public affairs, and has continued so in the succeeding generations. Date of the marriage of David Cowan and Elizabeth is not known. She was born February__________1 Breckenridge, J. M. - William Clark Breckenridge, p. l36.2 Ibid.********** 2126, 1748. Their home life was of short duration, for on March 11 the husband died.

Life in Kentucky - The widow, Elizabeth, having no children of her own, was left with the care and support of six growing children, all born by her husband’s first marriage. Their ages at this time were 16, 12, 9, 6, 4, and 2. At this point the family enters a new and remarkable stage of its career. It here becomes a part of the movement to further settle and develop a great section of the Ohio Valley.Independence had been won from Great Britain. The United States of America had been set up under the Federal Constitution as a Republic and westward expansion of the young nation was not long in getting into full swing. One of the first steps in this expansion consisted in occupying the fertile lands of the Ohio Valley. During the first decade following the close of the American Revolution, many eyes were turned toward the beautiful blue grass lands ofKentucky. Indeed, prior to the Revolution, Daniel Boone, another Pennsylvania native, had explored Kentucky, and in 1769 had blazed the Wilderness Train from North Carolina out through the Cumberland Gap into the blue grass country.

During the Revolution Boone and other hardy pioneers had waged many conflicts with the Indians, so that by the early 1780’s Kentucky was safe for the arrival of settlers.It was, perhaps, with a feeling that these fine agricultural and grazing lands offered excellent opportunities for the children, that Elizabeth Cowan decided, about 1788 or 1789, to move with them to Kentucky. They settled in Bourbon County. Neither the record nor the date of the death of Elizabeth Cowan is known, but she probably lived long enough to see her step-children grow up and settle in their respective homes.

In this family Hugh was the first born.

1.Hugh Cowan. Hugh was born July 10, 1769, and died June 1, 1838. He was named for his grandfather, Hugh Cowan, the Immigrant. On May 26, 1795, at the age of twenty-six, he married Rachel Breckenridge. She was born April 12, 1776; and died March 15, 1845. [12] Hugh Cowan and his wife, Rachel Breckenridge, raised a large family of nine children, as shown in the following table: Children of Hugh Cowan and his wife Rachel Breckenridge: a. Alexander Cowan, b. 5-17-1796; d. February 1863 at Richland, Indiana. m. 1st _________ Cunningham, in Kentucky. ISSUE(1) Hugh Cowan, b. 4-1-1831; d. December 1906 at Eaglesville, Harrison County, Missouri. Left a wife and two sons. One son was named Robert Cunningham Cowan.(2) Margaret Cowan.(3) Robert Cunningham Cowan. m. 2nd. Eliza Stockwell, of Decauter County, Indiana. d. August l890, in Richland, Indiana. ISSUE(4) Rachel Ann Cowan. b. Mary Cowan, b. 10-7-1797; d. 1867 at Richland, Indiana. Never marrieda nd was known as “Aunt Polly”. c. Magdalene Cowan, b. 7-8-1799 d. Monmouth, Illinois. m. 1st A cousin ________ Breckenridge of Kentucky. No Children.m. 2nd __________ RobinsonI SSUE(1) Hugh Robinson, d.1899(2) William Robinson. Had 1 son who was a Physician in Chicago,Illinois.(3) John Robinson.(4) Ann Robinson, m. Robert Frein.(5) Lovisa Robinson, m. _________ McCorkled. Elizabeth Cowan, b.6-5-1801 d. in northern Indiana m. Dr. ________ Barnese. Ann Cowan, b. 3-13-1803; d. 5-2-1891 at Richland, Indianam. 3-25-l841, James McCorkle who died 7-22-1859.

4 Fleming, John K.--Historic Third Creek Presbyterian Church, pp. 65 and 101.********** 23ISSUE(1) Mary McCorkle, b. 9-14-1842.m. 1-11-1876, Elias Valentine Ralston.(2) Pressley McCorkle, b. 1844; d. 1863 of wounds receive in the Battleof Chickamauga.(3) David McCorkle, b. 11-11-1846.f. David Cowan (See on a later page story of this family written by adescendant), b. 12-4-1804; d. 7-23-1887 in Richland, Indianam. 2-11-1834 Lovisa Nelson Stewart, b. 12-11-1813 d. 8-2-1862.ISSUE(1) Margery Ann Cowan, b. 6-30-1843; d. 1886.m. 1st September 1861, William J. Rankin who died 7-20-1864 inthe Battle of Peachtree Creek near Atlanta, Georgia.ISSUE(a) William Cowan Rankin, b. 3-5-1864; d. 8-4-1940.m. 1st Harriet Walker who d. 2-5-l891. ISSUE1) Hugh W. Rankin, b. I2-28-1890 in Lockland, Ohio.m. Faith Ireland, b. 8-9-1889 in Cincinnati, Ohio.ISSUEa) Hugh William Rankin, b. 11-25-1917.m. Dorothy Lawrence, b. 8-10-1940.m. 2nd. Mary Anderson, of Franklin, Ohio, who d. 4-10-1932.m. 3rd. 5-9-1934, Jane Lottm. 2nd 6-28-1877, John G. Crosier.ISSUE(a) Carl Dinwiddie Crosier, b, 3-12 1878.(b) Frank John Crosier, b. 9-23-l880.(2) Elizabeth Rachel Cowan. b. November, I845; d. 10-18-l894, inFranklin, Ohio. A neat little volume was dedicated to her memory byher husband.m. William Hutchinson, a Presbyterian Minister.(3) Hugh Chambers Cowan, b. 6-14-1848; d. 3-22-1891, in Dayton, Ohio.m. 5-6-l869, Anna Lorraine Langstroth, b. 7-16-1840.ISSUE(a) James Langstroth Cowan, b. 10-16-1870; d. l0-16-1870(b) David Lorraine Cowan, b. 10-3-1871

(c) Aurelia Hull Cowan, b. 3-13-1873.(d) Hugh Chambers Cowan, Jr., b. 3-16-1875.(e) Elsie Belle Cowan, b. 3-16-1878.(f) William Langstroth Cowan, b. 2-8-1880.(g) Anna Louise Cowan, b. 1-4-1882.(h) Julia Stewart Cowan, b. 7-17-1883.g. Rachel Cowan, b. 5-18-1808.m. Fleming Powell and lived in Iowa.********** 24ISSUE(1) Jeremiah Powell, lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota.(2) Thomas Powell, m. and lived in Omaha, Nebraska.(3) Richard Powell, m. and lived in Spokane, Washington.(4) Frank Powell, m. and lived in Spokane, Washington.h. Abby Cowan, b. 11-13-1812. m. John Robinson of Washington, Iowa. ISSUE(1)(2)(3) Mary Robinsonm. ______ Glenn ISSUE(a) Zella Glenn, m. ________ Ferguson, United Presbyterian Ministerin Dennison, Kansas.i. Hugh Breckenridge Cowan, b. 10-12-1817; d. 12-5-1893. m. 1st September 1839, Mary Patton. ISSUE(1) John Alexander Cowan, b. 9-23-1840; d. 8-10-1911. He owned and lived on a farm 2 1/2 miles southeast of Richland, Indiana; Served through the Civil War in 37th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers; in politics, was always a Republican; was for many years an Elder in the United Presbyterian Church; was buried in East Hill Cemetery.m. 9-24-1865, Sarah Elizabeth Meek, b. 5-30-1846.ISSUE(a) Samuel Elbert Cowan, b. 3-3-1870; d. 9-9-1911.m. 12-26-1894, Mary L. Nesbit.(b) William Cowan, b. 12-15-1872.m. 10-13-1897, Scietha F. Miller.(c) Anna Mary Cowan, be. 4-6-1876; d. 12-25-l937.(d) Inez Meek Cowan, b. 5-2-1878.\ m. 12-13-1899, Frank McCorkle.(e) Hugh Patton Cowan, b. 4-5-1882.(f) Nellie Louis Cowan, b. 9-1-1885; d. 11-30-1886.(2) Elbert Newton Cowan, b. 4-19-1842; d. 7-20-1920.He served through the Civil War in 37th Regiment, Company K,Indiana Volunteers; and was an Elder in the United Presbyterian Church.m. 1-11-1866, Ann Eliza Stewart, d. 10-30-1922.They lived on a farm in Monmouth, Illinois.(3) Melissa Jane Cowan, b. 2-14-1844; d. 3-29-1908.m. September 1867, Thomas Scott Butler, d. 1-24-1894.ISSUE(a) Elizabeth Butler, d. November 1908.(b) Anna May Butler, d. 1-24-1902.(c) Lena Butler.(d) Frances Butler, d. March 1925.(e) Etta Blanche Butler.(f) Guy Butler, d. 9-7-1935.Hugh Breckenridge Cowan [See i above].********** 25m. 2nd. 4-19-1845, Mrs. Mary Ann Buck. Her maiden name was Huddleson. ISSUE(4) James Patton Cowan, b. 5-16-1847.(5) Ann Eliza Cowan, b. 6-18-1848.m. 5-23-1876, George W. Souder.(6) Esther Ellen Cowan, b. 2-8-1850.(7) Almyra Lucinda Cowan, b. 12-5-1853 d. 4-3-1886.(8) Horace Morton Cowan, b. 7-22-1855; d. 3-2-1921 in Wilkensburg, Pa.m. 10-1-1884 in Homer City, Pa., Sarella B. Graham, d. 9-23-1935. ISSUE(a) Mary Lois Cowan, b. 11-30-1890.(b) Kate Graham Cowan, b. 12-9-1892(c) Mildred Elizabeth Cowan, b. 6-8-1897.(Children of David Cowan and Wife Mary Gray Continued):

2. Martha Cowan, b. 12-27-1771; d. 10-10-1774. 3. Mary Cowan. b. 11-8-1774. m. 3-29-1793, William Mitchell. 4. James Cowan, b. 5-18-1777.m. 6-18-1801, Nancy Kincaid. 5. Elizabeth Cowan, b. 2-14-1779; d. 3-17-1844.m. 3-3-1796, George Breckenridge, b. 7-24-1768. d. 11-131852. George was a brother of Rachel Breckenridge who married Hugh Cowan, the brother of Elizabeth. George and Elizabeth had a remarkable career. He was born near Fisherville, Virginia, and she in Pennsylvania. They were both buried in the Cemetery of Bellevue Presbyterian Church Caledonia, Washington County, Missouri where their family had moved. They were married, however, in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Family information has it that George Breckenridge was the youngest person to participate in any of the fighting of the American Revolution.He is said to have fought by his father’s side in the Battle of King’s Mountain, which was on October 7, 1780. At that time the boy George was twelve years and three months of age. His father, Alexander Breckenridge gave considerable service as a soldier. ISSUE a. Vicy Breckenridge, b. 12-11-1796.m. Thomas Rankin Harris.b. Alexander Breckenridge, b. 2-6-1798; d. 8-l4-18l5.c. Polly Breckenridge, b. 1-22-1799; d. 11-29-l815d. David Breckenridge, b. 3-6-1801; d. 1865.m. 7-24-1823, Mrs. Hannah (Gillespie) Matthews, b. 9-14-1803; d. 12-25-1850e. James Breckenridge, b. 12-10-1802; d. 1-26-1860.m. 1-31-1833, Elizabeth Ann Bryan. She was a native of Botetourt County, Virginia, but they were married in Washington County, Missouri.ISSUE(1) Permclia Ann Breckenridge, b. 11-22-1833; d. 11-7-1910.********** 26m. 9-25-1856, William Sumner Jennett, b. 9-28-1827; d. 3-29-1911.(2) George Breckenridge, b. 4-19-l835; d. 8-20-1900.m. 1-16-1862, Julia Clark, b. 11-8-1840; d. 10-28-1912 ISSUE(a) William Clark Breckenridge, b. 10-19-1862; d. 10-23-1927.m. 6-1-1893, Annie L. Stark, b. 3-31-1869; d. 1-20-1902. (b) James Malcolm Breckenridge, b. 1-23-1865; d. 1955.m. 10-18-1893, Antoinette Wicox Schuarte.(c) Elizabeth Breckenridge, b. 10-1-1867; d. 1964.m. 10-16-1890, William Dallas Groves, b. 3-12-1845; d. 2-19-1931.(d) Mary Kerr Breckenridge, b. 12-1-1869; d. 7-12-1900.m. 2-9-1898, Charles James Kavannaugh, b. 7-7-1858; d. 11-29-1914.(e) George Preston Breckenridge, b. 10-22-1872; d. 1955.m. 11-15-1900, Lelia McAlister Plinley, b. 4-15-l866; d. 1964.(f) Julia Breckenridge(g) Clarence Edward Breckenridge, b. 4-4-1877; d. 11-2-1963.m. 1st. 2-19-1903, Eleanor Ferguson Jayne, b. 1-10-1877; d. 9-3-1951.ISSUE1) George Jayne Breckenridge, b. 10-7-1904.2) Clarence Gamble Breckenridge, b. 2-12-1906.3) Walter Ferguson Breckenridge, b. 12-1-1908.Clarence Edward Breckenridge.m. 2nd. 4-14-1924, Erma Gritschke, b. 8-22-1895.ISSUE4) James Douglas Breckenridge, b. 8-8-1926.(h) Earl Breckenridge, b. 1-31-1879; d. 12-29-1884.(3) James Bryan Breckenridge, b. 12-18-1836; d. 9-22-1912.m. 1-14-1874, Sarah Olympia Villma, b. 6-29-1847.(4) Francis Marion Breckenridge, b. 4-13-1838; d. 1-16-1863,(5) Elizabeth Sarah Breckenridge, b. 3-30-1840; d. 2-9-1923.m. 1st. 9-20-1870, Alfred Harris d. 1873.m. 2nd. 12-20-1882, Charles Hamilton.(6) John Cowan Breckenridge, b. 2-23-1842; d. 9-2-1907.m. 1st. Mrs. ________ Chester, d. 1894.m. 2nd. Nellie E. _________.(7) Theodore Frelinghuysen Breckenridge, b. 5-30-1844.Never married.(8) William Robert Breckenridge, b. ll-14-1846; d. ll-3-1847.(9) Narcissa Jane Breckenridge, b. 1-24-lS48. Never married.(10) Thomas Rankin Breckenridge b .2-17-1851; d. 9-1-1914(11) Mary Catherine Breckenridge, b. 8-21-l853; d. l-23-1926.m. Charles Grossman, be. 9-5-1849.f. Palmer Breckenridge, b. 4-25-1806.m. 10-5-1826, Molly Moye. g. Elizabeth Breckenridge, b. 2-17-1808; d. 5-24-1853.********** 27 m. 1-29-1824, Robert Sloan, b. 2-24-1803.h. George Cowan Breckenridge, b. 2-3-1810.m. 3-7-1839, Mary S. Benning.i. Melissa Breckenridge, b .3-18-1813, d. 12-22-1837.m. 1-5-1837, John Woods.j. Lucretia Breckenridge, b. 12-31-1814. d. same day.k. Smith Gamble Breckenridge, b. 11-3-1816. .m. 1st. 2-23-1843, Jane Shelton, b. 2-20-1819, d. 5-8-l857m. 2nd. 1-5-1858, Elizabeth Green Phelps, b. 9-24-1830 d. 11-20-1907.l. Willy Ann Breckenridge, b. 4-20-1819.m. William Sloan.

6. Ann Cowan, b. 4-24-1782. m. 9-23-1802, Joseph Patten. 7. David Cowan, b. 1-8-1784. m. 5-14-1806, Jane Steele. In Pennsylvania, David Cowan and his father’s family had been near neighbors of his Aunts Mary Kyle and Jane McKnight and of his cousin Hannah Hershberger. Notice the name Kyle appearing in a name of one of his children. ISSUEa. Jane Cowan, d. 12-13-1810.b. Margaret Cowan, m. Jesse Cunningham.c. Susan Cowan.d. Eliza Cowan.e. Harriet Cowan.f. John Kyle Cowan.Thus has been compiled at least a partial list of the descendants of David Cowan and his wife Mary Gray. In looking through the preceding genealogical table showing the descendants of David and Mary Gray Cowan, the reader will no doubt observe that the family originated in Chester County, Pennsylvania; that in Bourbon County, Kentucky, three or more Cowans married into the Breckenridge family; that after a few decades some of the descendants moved to Missouri, becoming part of the historic Bellevue Presbyterian Church at Caledonia; and that others moved first into Indiana and later into Ohio. In these different places of residence, a number became Ruling Elders in the Presbyterian Church, andseveral were Ministers of the Gospel.

Exactly one hundred years ago, David Cowan, a great-grand-son of HughCowan the Immigrant, in order that some of the family story and records might be preserved, wrote several paragraphs that should have special interest for the Cowans of this generation. Historically this paper covers the family of David and Mary Gray Cowan, and is given below:

HISTORY OF THE COWAN FAMILY Richland, Rush County, Indiana. May 20, 1869. Herein is found the family record of the Cowan Family since the year 1723, descending in direct line from the marriage of Hugh Cowan and Ann Mathias in that year to the present date, in the person of the present writer David Cowan (son of Hugh Cowan and Rachel Breckenridge Cowan). This book is dedicated to Hugh Chambers Cowan by his father David. Hugh Cowan and Ann Mathias were married on January 20, in theyear of our Lord 1723, and he brought her home the first day of February. Their children were:
James Cowan born May 4, 1725
John Cowan born July 29, 1727
Joseph Cowan born February 20, 1729
Jean Cowan born March 24, 1731.
Their mother Ann Mathias died on March 17, 1733. Here appears to be a want of completeness in the family record of Hugh Cowan as the mother dies and leaves no son David. There must have been a second marriage. David Cowan was born December 4, 1804. Lovisa Nelson Stewart was born December 11, 1813, and they were married February 11, 1834 inHarrison County, Kentucky. Margery Ann Cowan was born June 30, 1843.Elizabeth Rachel Cowan was born November 11, 1845. Hugh Chambers Cowan was born June 15, 1848. Below is the birth of a grand-child William Cowan Rankin, was born March 5, 1864 (he was Margery’s son. His father never saw him, his wifereceiving news of his death on the day she was expecting him home). Lovisa N. Cowan, the mother of this family, departed this life August 2, 1862 in Richland, Indiana, and was buried in the Richland UnitedPresbyterian Cemetery.The history of the Cowan family is remarkable. They are descendantsof the Protestants of Ireland or the Scotch-Irish who emigrated to America in an early day and settled in Pennsylvania and so far as is known to thewriter were farmers. David Cowan, grand-father of the writer, died in Pennsylvania the 11th of March, 1786. The widow with six childrenemigrated to Bourbon County, Kentucky about 1788 or 1789. HughCowan, the oldest son of the family, married Rachel Breckenridge, the daughter of Alexander Breckenridge of Bourbon County, Kentucky near Paris which family was from Virginia and removed to Kentucky about 1791. There is a real authenticated tradition that this family of Breckenridges was descended from the Scotch Presbyterians or Old Psalm Singers. This Cowan family resided in Bourbon and Nicholas Counties,Kentucky until October, 1835, then removed to Rush County, Indiana. Hugh and Rachel Cowan, the heads of this family have their last resting place in the New Zion Cemetery, Decatur, Indiana (now Springfield United Presbyterian Church).********** 29Lovisa Cowan, wife of the present writer, David Cowan was the daughter of Robert Stewart of Harrison County, Kentucky. This family of Stewarts could trace their history back to Scotland. (Signed) David Cowan, May 20, 1869.

Following is an explanatory paragraph by Mrs. Anna W. Cowan:

David Cowan the writer of the preceding history died at the home ofhis daughter Mrs. William Hutchinson of Franklin, Ohio, July 23, 1887. He was buried in Richland Cemetery. The following bit of history was furnished by Mrs. James P. Cowan of Indianapolis, Indiana. She was the wife of Reverend James P. Cowan who was a son of Hugh Breckenridge Cowan. David Cowan, born January 7, 1784, a brother of Hugh Cowan who married Rachel Breckenridge moved from Kentucky to Springfield, Ohio about the time his brother Hugh moved to Rush County, Indiana. This David Cowan was the father of three sons and two daughters, namely David, James and Hugh Cowan and Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Stewart. Thesewomen died in Springfield, Ohio many years ago. David Cowan, Sr., the father of the family, also died in Springfield, about 1859 or 1860. DavidCowan, son of the above moved to Bloomington, Illinois and died there.James Cowan died at Springfield, Ohio. His son James Cowan married aMiss Anderson near Cedarville, Ohio, then Clifton, Ohio, then with hisfamily moved to California. He only lived a short time after reachingCalifornia. When a College girl I visited in his home in Ohio. Hugh Cowan(David Senior’s son died in 1899 or 1900 at Springfield, Ohio). (Signed) Mrs. Anna W. Cowan, Indianpolis, Indiana January 30, 1919.The above narrative written by David Cowan in 1869, accompanied withthe explanatory comments by Mrs. James P. Cowan and Mrs. Anna W. Cowan,were placed in the hands of John K. Fleming by the Reverend Howard McKnight Wilson, D.D., 114 Boddington Road, Staunton, Virginia.

Hugh Cowan and his second wife, Mary Scott, had four daughters but little record of them has been preserved. They were:

F. Hanna Cowan.
H. Ann Cowan.

Elizabeth Cowan

I. Elizabeth Cowan m. David Parke. He was a son of John Parke, Sr., and he was an Executive of the will of Hugh Cowan.Issue:1. John Parke. He was a grocer in Philadelphia, and died 1797 of Yellow Fever.2. Matthew Parke. He moved to Olena, Ohio.3. Mary Parke.m. ________ Hope Issue:********** 30a. Thomas Hope, b. 1806.b. Adam Hope. c. Mary Hope.m. John Cowan, of Sadsburyville, Pa.d. Phebe Hope, b. 1809.m. James Barr.e. Jane Hope.m. 2-1-1830, in St. John’s Church, Delaware County, Pa., JosephWarden.f. William Hope, be. 1811. m. Mary Filton, of Virginia.Issue:(1) Thomas Hope, b. 1833m. Theresa Monaghen, of Norfolk, Virginia.Issue:(a) Thomas Hope, Jr.(b) Theresa Hope.(c) Agnes Hope(d) Irene Jennet Hope(e) William Parke Hope.(2) Margaret Hope, b. 1835.m. William Murphy.(3) Mary Hope, b 1838.m. William Parsons.g. Sara Hope.m. James Morton, of Wilmington, Delaware.h. John Hope.m. Ann Carter, of Philadelphia, Pa.i. Elizabeth Hope.m. Frank Rhodes, of Chester County, Pa.Issue:(1) Mary Rhodes.m. _______ Lee, in Philadelphia, Pa. Issue: (a) Elizabeth Lee.

Margaret Cowan

J. Margaret Cowan. m. Robert Cowan. His full identity is undetermined, and he was an Executive of the will of Hugh Cowan.

William Cowan

William Cowan was the last of Hugh Cowan’s eleven children. He was born January 1, 1749. Much of his early life was spent on his father’s farm in the western part of Chester County, not far from the head of Octorara Creek. “He was a man of large stature and of vigorous intellectual powers”.[13]The record of his life during the American Revolution is that of high patriotism. The story of his service has been preserved in brief biographical sketches and official documents. Readers will doubtless be interested in the following two papers:

Captain William Cowan was born on the first day of January, 1749, on a farm, in Sadsbury Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was a son of Hugh and Mary Scott Cowan. Hugh Cowan came to this country from Newry, County Down, Province of Ulster, Ireland, with his threebrothers, John, David, and William, about the year 1720, and settled on Octorara Creek; Hugh in Sadsbury Township, Chester County, and his brothers in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County. The farm in Chester County is still owned by the Cowan family. They were Presbyterians and Hugh was one of the first Elders of the Upper Octorara Church. William was brought up on the farm, and learned the blacksmith’s trade with his half brother Joseph. About 1770, he went to Cumberland County, near Carlisle, where he resided when the trouble with England began, which resulted in the Revolutionary War. On the 19th of April, 1775, he was commissioned Captain of a company of foot in the Third Battalion of Associators in the County of Cumberland, by John Morton, Speaker of theAssembly. The battalion was commanded by Major John Davis, andconsisted of four companies, and was attached to General Dickerson’s Command. He crossed the Delaware River with Washington on Christmas Night and was at Trenton on the 26th day of December, 1776, and was at Monmouth June 28th, 1778. The company was never a part of the Regular Army. They only served when needed and were called out some fifteen or sixteen times during the war, serving from two to three months at a time. After the war he went to Shippensburg where he worked at his trade and also carried on farming. His house and shop are still standing, on the corner of King’s and Queen’s Street, opposite the whipping post. In 1791 he sold his property in Cumberland County and came to Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, to a farm of his half brother Joseph, called “Cowan’s Delight”, on the Youghiogheny River, near Scott Haven, and now owned by the heirs of John Guffey, who bought it from Joseph Cowan’s heirs in 1820. He remained on this farm until about 1808, when, owing to financial troubles, he was compelled to sell out and quit farming. He worked at his trade at different places along the river until his eyes ailed him, caused by cataracts on both eyes, which eventually made him blind. He was the first blacksmith to use coal in this part of the county. Charcoal was used both before and after, but now coal is universally used. He lived for a number of years on the farm of John Milligan on the Greensburg and West Newton Road. When the Mount Pleasant and Robston Turnpike was made, he was the toll keeper at Schull’s, now Turkeytown. He remained there until 1825, when he received a pensionand six hundred (600) dollars of back pay from the Government. When he went to west Newton he bought a small brick house on what is now Railroad Street, where he lived until his death, which occurred on the26th of September, 1836. He was buried with military honors at the old Sewickley Presbyterian Church (near Bell’s Mill). The Sewickley Artillery, under the command of Captain Cyrus Markle, was the funeral escort.[14]
IN ASSEMBLY TOWILLIAM COWAN ESQUIRE, APRIL 19, 1775. SEALWe reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Patriotism, Valoury, and Fidelity, Do by these Presents, constitute and appoint you tobe a Captain of a Company of foot in the 3rd Battalion of Associators in the County of Cumberland for the Protection of the Province, against all hostile Enterprizes, and for the Defence of American Liberty. You are therefore carefully and dilligently to discharge the Duty of a Captain as aforesaid by doing and performing all Manner of Things “here unto belonging. And we do strictly charge and require all Officers and Soldiers under your Command, to be obedient to your Orders as their Captain. And you are to observe and follow such orders and directions, from Time to Time, as you shall receive from the Assembly during their Sessions; and,in their Recess, from the present or any future Committee of Safety appointed by the Assembly of this Province. Or from your SuperiorOfficer, according to the Rules and Regulations for the better Governmentof the Military Association in Pennsylvania, and pursuant to the Trust reposed in you. This Commission to continue in force until revoked by the Assembly, or by the present or any succeeding Committee of Safety. Signed by Order of the Assembly. John Morton, Speaker.[15]

The above commissioning document reveals several points of especial interest:

1st, That this commissioning was by authority of the Pennsylvania Assembly.
2nd, That it was on the day of our first battle in behalf of National Independence, that of Concord and Lexington, April 19, 1775.
3rd, That this commissioning was not only “For the protection of theProvince”, but also “for the defence of American liberty”, indicating that the Captain could be called into this service anywhere in the American Colonies.
4th, That this commissioning preceded by two months the formation of the Continental Army.

It may be seen also from the above papers that Captian William Cowan did not serve continuously during the whole conflict, but was subject to call when military emergencies threatened the Province of Pennsylvania.

Of the various campaigns that he participated in, perhaps the most notable was when he had part with Washington in crossing the Delawareon Christmas Night, 1776. Among the many dark and discouraging days facingWashington’s men, there were none more dreary than those of the several weeks preceding this Christmas Campaign. Some months earlier after suffering severe reverses, Washington had been compelled to abandon Long Island, New York.Then there followed the gloomy retreat southward, until in December the General and his army found themselves first in southern New Jersey, and thenin southeastern Pennsylvania. The seriousness of the situation was expressed by Washington himself in a letter to his brother John on December 18, 1776.

I think the game is pretty near up - - -You can form no idea of the perplexity of mysituation. No man, I believe, ever had agreater choice of difficulties and less meansto extricate himself from them.8

One of the brilliant intellect; of that generation was that of Tom Paine. Asa volunteer and member of Nathaniel Greene’s staff, he was at that time withWashington and wrote an essay entitled The American Crisis. It was printed in the Philadelphia Journal, and Washington had it read to each regiment. Following is a paragraph from it:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man andwoman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.9

As students of history may recall, the victory at Trenton and a week laterthat of Princeton, brought new hope into the hearts of the brave patriots who wintered at Valley Forge. Cowan descendants can feel just pride in the goodsupport given to Washington and his men in that trying time by William Cowan. Following the close of the War, Captain Cowan worked successively at several occupations. Since he had grown up on his father’s farm, he worked in agriculture for a while.


  1. Chester County, Pa., Wills, Book 7, p. 325
  2. From A History of Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church 1720-1945. Given at the Church’s 225th Anniversary. Futhey, J. Smith - Historical Discourse On Upper Octorara PresbyterianChurch p. 39, given in the year 1870.
  3. Ibid, p. 135. “Hugh Cowan was an Elder and in 1730 represented the Church in Presbytery”
  4. Ibid, p. 56
  5. 1 Chester County, Pa., Deed Book R, p. 513.
  6. Catharine Hoapp, presumably "Hope"
  7. Fatherinlaw
  8. Chester County, Pa., Deeds Book R, p. 511.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Hassan, William - Hassan’s Records.
  10. Taken from Genealogical notes collected by Mrs. Jesse F. Stoner, Coatesville,Penn.
  11. Chester County, Pa., Wills, Book 6 p. 241
  12. Here the Cowan family, prominent in its own right, enters into relationship with another distinguished family -- that of Breckenridge. The Breckenridge family had belonged to the Ulster Scots, and about 1730 had emigrated from North Ireland to Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Prior to 1750 they had removed to the Beverly Manor area in Augusta County at Fishersville, Virginia.3 Not many years after the close of the Revolution, part of the Breckenridge family removed from the Valley of Virginia and settled in Bourbon County, Kentucky. In 1795 Hugh Cowan married Rachel Breckenridge. For many years the Breckenridge Family was prominent and influential in both Church and State affairs in Kentucky and also the nation. Among the religious leaders from this family was the Reverend John Breckenridge, D.D. a__________3 Ibid, pp. 115-116.********** 22great Pastor, Author, and Pulpit Orator. In 1838, at a meeting or the.Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina, celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of the Synod of Carolinas, and the Twenty-Fifth of the Synod of North Carolina, Breckenridge was the chief speaker. His oration given on that occasion was remembered for decades. Another distinguished member of this family was John C. Breckenridge. He was a Confederate General in the War Between the States. He had been Vice President of the United States, 1857-1861; and in 1860 was a candidate for the Presidency in the General Election.
  13. Albert, George Dallas, History of Westmoreland County, Pa., p. 334.
  14. Sheets, Mrs. Evelyn K. - From her genealogical papers
  15. Records of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly.