Cowan YDNA Project Groups

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Cowan Tapestry
Cowan Links

……………………..The Tapestry
Families Old Chester OldAugusta Germanna
New River SWVP Cumberland Carolina Cradle
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Seven Cowan Brothers Kit and Lineage Data
Category:Cowan YDNA List of articles related to Cowan YDNA
Cowan YDNA Project
Simple Similarity Coefficient
Interpreting a Similarity Matrix
YDNA data from Laura Cowan Coopers Webspawner site
Haplogroup/SNP Correlation for COWAN YDNA project (may not be publicly viewable)


FTDNA provides data on the results of YDNA tests taken by their clients. Some clients choose to join "YDNA projects" where test results, identified as a rule only by "kit number" are publically available. [1] Currently [2] there are 182 members of the Cowan YDNA project. Most have taken the 37 or 67 marker tests, though about 25% have limited their results to 12 or 25 marker tests. Similarity analysis has been used to organize kits in the Cowan YDNA project into groups that are presumed to share a relatively recent common ancestor. In some cases, subgroups within the overall group, can be recognized. [3]

Currently, there are 12 major groups, plus a group that includes kits that match no other kit in the project at the acceptance criteria of 13% dissimilarity. In most cases the kits in each lineage group are believed to share a common ancestor (Patriarch), who lived in a genealogically meaningful timeframe (GMT).[4]In some cases we can identify the Patriarch for the Group, but in most cases we do not know his identity. Some lineage groups can be divided into subgroups based on their YDNA results. These subgroups may represent separate lineages that arose from descendants of the groups Patriarch, though the identity of that Patriarch may not be known. The Sullivan County Group is an exception to the foregoing discussion. In the case of the Sullivan County Group, the presence of numerous kits with 25 or fewer markers makes it difficult to recognize relationships between kits. In this case the subgroups are basically arbitrary and it is quite likely that at least some of these subgroups do not share a single common ancestor.

GroupSubGroupPresumed PatriarchPatriarch LocationEarliest DateDispersionNotes
Seven Cowan BrothersSeven Brothers Core Person:Andrew Cowan (4)

person:David Cowan (1),
Person:James Cowan (13)
Person:Samuel Cowan (1),
Person:William Cowan (25)

PANominal 1726 Throughout the Tapestry area. Spread south into Shenandoah Valley, and Bedford Amherst on the east side of the Blue Ridge, then south into the Carolinas, SW VA, and NE TN, and Blount County TN. We do not know what basis Fleming had for identifying the Seven Brothers. We do not know that they were in fact Brothers or that there were seven of them. Fleming provides no information about Mathew, and he remains unknown. There are several candidates for John Cowan. He may be the John Cowan who initially settled in Augusta, but later removed to Albemarle where he died. His son is believed to be David (1). Alternatively, he may be John son of John of Albemarle. After John of Albemarle's death his property descended to son David. David in turn sold the property to a John Cowan, who may be John of the Seven Brothers. He might also be a cousin. The other five "brothers" can be reasonably identified with kknow persons in the Tapestry area, though questions remain about their exact relationship to each other.
Seven Brothers Cecil Countyperson:John Coen (1)Baltimore Co MD1690western PA and the old NWDispersion not examined in detail. Either the Patriarch of the Seven Brothers, or an independent immigration.
Seven Brothers Cowan-MorganPerson:William Cowan (43)Marion County, Tennessee1801Not examined in detailMembers of this group either trace their descent to Person:William Cowan (43)=Person:Cynthia Morgan (2), or are closely related to him. Exact relationship to the Seven Brothers is unknown.
Seven Brothers Bridge----Kits in this subgroup show a similarity to at least one other member of the other Seven Brothers groups, with dissimilarity ranging from 0.0% to 4.4%. However, because they tested at marker levels less than 37 markers, those results are not considered reliable..
Seven Brothers Distant---Kits in this subgroup show a dis-similarity other kits in the Seven Brothers Group mostly well in excess of 10%. Close matches occur with some kits in the Bridge group, but it is not clear that these matches indicate a relatively close common ancestry. As a group, these kits bear little relationship to each other, and are included as a separate group only because their matches with kits in other groups are worse than that obtained with the Seven Brothers.
Pequea Creek CowansNo subgroupsThree brothers, Person:David Cowan (15)
Person:William Cowan (28)
Person:John Cowan (39)
Salisbury, Lancaster Co, PA1720Lancaster, CarolinasOriginally Flemings "Four Brothers Group", which included what is now seen as an independent line, the Octoraro Creek Cowans.
Cowan's Gap GroupCowan's Gap SubgroupPerson:Samuel Cowan (17) and Person:Hugh Cowan (7)Cowans Gap, Bedford, PAby 1781
Octoraro Creek SubgroupPerson:Hugh Cowan (4)Octoraro Creek, Lancaster, PA1720'sWestern PAFlemming thought Hugh was one of the Four Brothers. A single descendant of Hugh has taken the YDNA test and matches the Cowan's Gap line; however, the lineage data for this line is weak and the relationship to Cowan's Gap may be unsound. Accepting this thin evidence suggests that Hugh is the Patriarchal ancestor of the Cowan's Gap subgroup.
Roaring Springs CowansPerson:Edward Cowan (1)Roaring Springs, Bedford, PA1786Not examinedPossibly part of the Cowan's Gap subgroup (same general area); No YDNA signature data.
Allegheny CowansNo SubgroupPerson:John Cowan (86)Based on Mutation rate weighting, the three kits in this group show a 5.9-8.9 dissimilarity, indicating that they share a relatively recent common ancestor.
Wythe County CowansNo SubgroupsPerson:Samuel Cowan (29)Wythe Co VAc1816Not examinedminimal information available on the line
Knoxville Merchant CowansNo SubgroupsPerson:John Cowan (71)
Person:John Cowan (61)
Hunterdon Co, NJ 1730 Va, SC, Alabama, Knoxville TNThis group contains a number of separate lineages which almost certainly share a common ancestor, though that ancestor can not be identified as such. With one exception, descendant YDNA signatures for all members of this group match each other "tightly" and are presumed to have a relatively recent common ancestor. John Cowan (71), born in 1735 in Hunterdon County NJ, appears to be the earliest known patriarch within this group. Other members flourished somewhat later than John (71), and are known from records in the Carolina's, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. One interpretation is that descendants, or perhaps kinsmen of John (71), moved south into the Carolinas about the time of the Revolution, and then spread south and west into Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Another interpretation is that John 71 represents an independent importation, and that the other members of the group share an ancestor in England in common with John (71). Other lineages in the Cowan YDNA project identify JOhn Cowan (61) as their earliest ancestor, born about the same time as John (71). The two John's may share a common ancestor, Patriarch of the entire group. However, John (61) is commonly identified as related to the Pequea Creek line of Walkers, who have a very different YDNA. This may indicate an issue with the lineage of those in the Knoxville Merchant Group traceing their ancestry to John (61), or alternatively with the view of Pequea Creek researchers that John (61) is in fact in their line.

Sullivan County CowansSullivan County BridgeGrouping these kits together is driven by numerous 12 and 25 marker kits which tend to show similarity to what are largely independent, unrelated, groups. Expansion of the markers tested in these groups would probably result in substantial reorganization of the kits.
Sullivan County A
Sullivan County BA mix of distantly related kits, which probably include several more or less independent linages. These kits are more like each other than kits in the Sullivan County A subgroup, but match some of the Kits in the Bridge Subgroup. Matches with those latter kits may not indicate a close relationship since they are for 25 markers or less.
Scituate CowansScituate Cowans APerson:John Cowen (1)Scituate Mass1652Not examinedThere are two independent lines who claim John as their ancestor. YDNA evidence suggests this is not the case, but current data does not allow us to say which is the "correct" line descending from John of Scituate Mass.
Scituate Cowans B

Isaac CowanNo SubgroupsPerson:Isaac Coen (1)b 1784 Penn d.1864 Wetzel W VaNot examined

Old Cumnock YDNA GroupNo SubgroupsThis is probably an artificial group, driven by 12 marker tests results. A single 12 marker kit traces to a James Cowan in "Old Cumnock" in Scotland, later settling in Connecticut. The only other kit providing significant lineage data is a non-surname match. It seems likely that if the numerous 12 marker kits were expanded that many of these "matches" would disappear.

Francis McCowan GroupNo subgroupsPerson:Francis McCown (3)b Ireland c 18101740

Cowands of Bertie CountyNo subgroupsperson:William Cowand (1)Bertie County NCprobably present by 1727.Some children remained in the area, but others moved south and west to Georgia, Mississippi, Texas; and northwest to Cass County Illinois. Some project members who claim descent from William Cowand (1) do not share the same haplotype characteristic of this group. Instead they match the Knoxville Merchant Group. While we can't say which set of Cowands, if either, descend from William Cowand (1), we know they both can't. Presumably at least one of these sets of Cowands has an error in their lineage, and has incorrectly attached their ancestry to William Cowand.
Ungrouped CowansCurrently, 22 kits in the Cowan YDNA Project match no other kit within the acceptance criteria of 13% dissimilarity. These kits are presumed to NOT share a relatively recent ancestor with any other kit in the project.


  1. Kit owners vary in terms of their willingness to share their results. In order to compare results from kit owner to kit owner the basic YDNA test results have to be publically available. Kit owners and project administers can choose how much personal information they wish to reveal. IN the case of the Cowan YDNA project, lineage data is shown if the kit owner chooses. Kit owner identities are not shown to preserve privacy.
  2. September 2013
  3. Similarity analysis shows how closely each kit in the project compares to the other kits in terms of their YDNA values. As a rule, kits with less than about 13% dissimilarity are considered to most likely have a relative recent common ancestor.
  4. That is, during the relatively recent past when it is at least theoretically possible to identify specific ancestors, and from that construct a family tree. The beginning of GMT varies from location to location, and culture to culture, depending on record keeping, and the survival of those records. In England, the GMT nominally dates to about 1100 AD.