James Cowan (1775-1841)/Notes

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From: "Anita Cowan" Subject: One More for the Cowan Roll Call Date: Sun, 5 Jun 2005 13:52:12 -0500 Source:Rootsweb Cowan-L Archives

My oldest proven ancestor is James Cowan (1775-1841 VA-->East TN). Through my uncle's cooperation, I am participating in the Cowan DNA Project as #16796. The link to that info is If interested, please note that, to date there are no identical matches of other Cowan surnames in the project with my Cowan line. Interesting...and perplexing...since long before I was into genealogy, the story of immigrant brothers was passed down generation after generation in the oral history of my family. The "+" alongside selected names in bold print indicates my line.

So I begin with what Penelope Allen said in Leaves From the Family Tree (Southern Historical Press. 1982) "The Cowan family came to Tennessee from Virginia and settled first in Greene, Jefferson, and Knox counties. Several Cowan brothers located on the Hiwassee River when the Indian lands opened up..."

And from the 1808 Rhea County Tax List "James Cowan, Joseph Cowan, and John Cowan were in the same tax district on the West Fork of Richland Creek (along the Hiwassee River).

James Cowan (b 1775 Augusta Co, VA - d 11 Dec 1841 Meigs Co, TN ) m. Elizabeth "Betsy" Clingan (b PA 1780; d 1859 Meigs Co, TN ) 1809- on petition to Governor re land warrants Involved in many land transactions recorded in Meigs/Rhea in period 1820-1840 n.d. On first jury, Meigs County 1829-1835 postmaster of "Cowansville" (now gone). Had a store. Part of the store ledger book is preserved in the TN Archives in Nashville. 1831 - county elections inspector, Meigs Co. 1836 - apptd commissioner to lay off Meigs Co into districts 1838- Trustee of Decatur Academy, Meigs County, TN Left detailed will listing wife Betsy, children, slaves, and properties including the Quyohnn farm (name might have been an approximation of the old Gaelic for Cowan, pronounced Cahoon or the Cherokee word "Aquone" used to designate Cherokee settlements in the region and translating in English to "resting place") The James Cowan home is still standing and in the national register of historic places.


  • Evalina Cowan m William Camp
  • + William Wallace Cowan (1800-1854) m 1) Elizabeth Chattin (b - d 1837); 2) Isabella Cozby (b 1818-
  • Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Cowan(1803-1881) m John L. McCarty
  • Joseph Cowan (1808-1873) m Susan Chattin
  • Jane M. Cowan (1810-1851/57) m William B. Russell
  • John Cowan m Paulinia___
  • James Archibald Roane Cowan m 1) ?____; 2) Martha June ____

William Wallace Cowan (b 1800 TN; d 1854, Charleston, Bradley Co, TN) (the elder )

m 1) Elizabeth L Chattin. (The Chattins came VA). in 1829 One daughter born before wife Elizabeth died. Child: Mary Catherine Cowan (b 1831; d __? ) m Wm. H. Hammond (Another researcher has worked up the Cowan-Hammond descendants)

1835- buys Ross reservation in McMinn Co. 1837 - clerks at the Indian Agency in Hiwassee Garrison. 1842 - had store in Calhoun, McMinn Co. In this year, the Hiwassee river bridge is completed and he moved to the opposite shore in Charleston, Bradley County, TN n.d. Apptd. commissioner to lay off Charleston, Bradley Co, TN 1845-1854 Cowan and Hammond Mercantile in Charleston, Bradley Co, TN

m 2) Isabella Cozby in 1839 in Rhea County, TN. Isabella Cozby (b 1818 TN-d 1870 Bradley County, TN) is daughter of John Cozbyand Abigail McBee, granddaughter of Dr. James Cozby and Isabella Woods. (Lots of history on James Cozby...Soldier in Am Rev, surgeon, saved Sevier, his sword on display in TN Archives, etc.)

Five children:

  • Sarah E.Cowan.(b 1840 - d__? )m. Thomas. L. Caldwell
  • Martha Cowan (b 1842 - 1881) m. T.A. J. Bates (another researcher has all of these Cowan-Bates descendants)
  • + William Wallace Cowan, Jr. (b 1844 TN -d 1911 TX ) m. Anna Eliza Peace
  • Ellen J. Cowan (b 1846 d 1903) m. Dr. Wallace N. Hogue
  • Evaline Cowan (b 1848 - d 1854, soon after her father's death)

His obituary reads: "Departed this life at his residence in Charleston, on the 28th February, William W. Cowan, in the 54th year of his age. He was confined to his bed for three weeks with a severe attack of fever; and also a disease of the lungs, during which time he suffered extremely. He was a man of moral habits and unparalleled honesty; was looked upon as a pattern and guide to the rising generation, and his influence beamed forth shedding its bright rays far and wide. Most of his life was spent in the mercantile business. For the last two and a half years, he was agent for the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad Company at the Charleston Depot. He had many, very many, warm and zealous friends and few enemies. But he is gone to try the realities of another world, leaving a wife, six children, and many relations and friends to mourn their loss. (Source: Athens Post, 10 March 1854 and reprinted in the Journal of Tennessee History and Genealogy, Vol.4, No.3, 2000)

William Wallace Cowan (b 1844 Bradley Co, TN; d 1911 Denton Co, TX) 26 July, 1861, two weeks after his 17th birthday, enlisted as a Private in Company "A" of the Tennessee 29th Infantry, CSA in Knoxville,TN Left service as a Corporal in October 1863 when his home county of Bradley changed from Confederate to Union control. Sometime after the war, he is "GTT"..."gone to Texas" . (His sisters had married and his mother had remarried, to John M. Bates of Bradley Co, TN.)

In Texas, he m. Anna Eliza Peace ( b 1857 AL; d 1931 TX in 1875. They settled in Elizabethtown, Denton County, TX just above Elizabeth Creek. For those driving cattle northward along the eastern route of the Chisholm Trail, the creek was the first night's stop out of Fort Worth.

Served as Elizabethtown Justice of the Peace 1878-1880, operated an inn, and farmed several hundred acres. His acquaintances called him "Squire" and they said he stood around 6' 6". Although sold after his death, his home remained standing until the mid-1990s. Today, the Elizabethtown Cemetery, with a historical marker telling of its origin, is all that is left of the community. Bradley and Rhea counties in TN were the birthplace of many of those buried there.


  • Isabella "Belle" Cowan (b 1876 TX-1962 TX ) m John Hysinger
  • Maud Cowan (b 1878 TX - died as infant)
  • William Wallace Cowan (b 1880 TX - d 1950? TX ) m Veda Caruthers
  • + James Arthur Cowan (b 1884 TX - d 1944 TX)

James Arthur Cowan (b 1884; d 1944 ) m Carrie Jackson Ogletree (b AL 1886 d OK 1956) in Texas in 1905. Children:

  • William George Cowan ( b 1907 TX; d 1959 OK ) m Jane Stamper
  • + Emory Clay Cowan (b 1909 TX d 1989 TX) m Mary Elizabeth Robinson
  • Eugene Cowan (b 1913 d 2003) m Betty Miller
  • James Arthur Cowan (b 1921) m Agnes Jeffrey Bowie

Emory Clay Cowan m Mary Elizabeth Robinson 1936

  • Ruth Anita Cowan (that's me)
  • David Wallace Cowan (b 1946 OK d 1978 TX) m. Josephine Ann Jones 1973

Thus, six generations of my Cowan line documented. Some researchers suggest that James was the son of Andrew Cowan of Greene Co, TN. I have not proved that yet. Some have connected this line back up through the Walkers. I have not seen documents to prove this either. Welcome all help and appreciate that given in the past.

Anita Cowan

Note: Anita Cowan died in Denton, TX on 11 Mar 2012. (See her obituary)

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