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John Cowan (1763-1837)/Notes

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Source:Hill, Sarah H., March 2005. Cherokee Removal: Forts Along the Georgia Trail of Tears
Electronic Source:Cherokee Removal
Extract: In 1803, the Secretary of War succeeded in

persuading the Cherokee Nation to grant permission for a wagon road “not to exceed sixty feet in width” to originate at two sites on Cherokee land, Tellico and Southwest Point (later Kingston), Tennessee, and to run through the Cherokee Nation to the Georgia town of Athens….

Soon after the road agreement was signed, Col. William Barnett and Brig. Gen. Buckner Harris of Jackson County wrote to Tennessee governor John Sevier in their capacity as commissioners responsible for laying off the road….[and] proposed meeting the Tennessee commissioners at James Vann’s house on August 15th. Sevier promptly agreed to the meeting and wrote Tennesseans Joseph McMinn, Samuel Wear, and John Cowan to attend.


Source:Regimental Histories of Tennessee Units During the War of 1812, Prepared by Tom Kanon, Tennessee State Library and Archives
Electronic Source:http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/history/military/1812reg.htm
Unit: Separate Battalion of Volunteer Mounted Gunmen
Commander: MAJOR WILLIAM RUSSELL


Dates:September 1814 - March 1815
MEN MOSTLY FROM: Franklin, Bedford, Blount, Madison (Ala.), Rutherford, Warren, and Wilson Counties
CAPTAINS: William Chism,John Cowan, Fleman Hodges, George Mitchie, William Russell, John Trimble, Isaac Williams
BRIEF HISTORY: Along with a battalion commanded by Major Chiles, this unit served in the Pensacola/Mobile region and was a part of Major Uriah Blue's expedition that roamed along the Escambia River in Florida in search of renegade Creeks toward the end of the war. Approximately 500 men served in this battalion, one of whom was David Crockett, a sergeant in Capt. John Conway's [sic Conwan's ?] company.

From Fayetteville, where the battalion was mustered in, they traveled to Fort Stephens (crossing the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals); leaving their horses behind, the battalion marched to Pensacola (via Fort Montgomery) where they participated in the battle of 7 November 1814; and returned to Fort Montgomery. At Fort Montgomery they were put under the command of Major Uriah Blue.





From: Ryan Cowan
Date: February 27, 2000
Text: John Cowan, born 1763 in Franklin County, Tennessee. He served in the War of 1812 as a Major. David Crockett served as a 3rd Sergeant with him. While the War of 1812 goes on against the British, the Tennessee Militia has been fighting the Creek Indian War. Major John Cowan served with the Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Gunmen, from 28 September 1814 to 27 March 1815.

On June 1, 1796, the Territory of the United States south of the Ohio River became the sovereign State of Tennessee. From 1769, pioneer men and women had been conquering this wilderness. The laws and constitution drawn by these magnificent pioneer men were called by Thomas Jefferson as "the least imperfect and most republican" system of government yet adopted by an American State.

One of the participants in this grand experiment was Major John Cowan. Born in the early 1760's his life spanned a period of American History never to be repeated. Patriot, Pioneer, Soldier; Husband, Father, Christian. In this age when patriotism is not fashionable, the memorial words in honor of this man speak out loudly and clearly. Placing himself in voluntary service to the land he loved, John Cowan belongs with the first of those honorable men who gave to Tennessee the proud nickname, "The Volunteer State". Buried in beautiful Goshen Cemetery, his epitaph stirs the imagination.

Sacred to the memory of John Cowan
who departed this life
on the 22nd April 1837
after a long servitude to his country and state
in the 74th year of his age
he surrendered himself into the hands of his Creator
and now sleeps with his fathers.

(Taken from the "Cowan Bell" of 19 September 1974.)

Lying broken on the ground, soon to be lost to the ravages of time, is the tombstone of Agnes Martin Cowan, wife of Major John Cowan. She died in 1827 and is buried in Goshen Cemetery beside her husband.

Both of these stones are unusual, not only for the inscriptions found on them but for the way in which the letters are formed. What appears to be a capital J is an S, a small h is a p, and two s's written together in a word look like f's. In all the cemeteries we have searched, only three are written this way, these two and one in Montgomery Cemetery. We should remember, too, that words were spelled as they sounded and what may seem to us as unacceptable spelling was not considered so then.

The words which John Cowan had inscribed for his wife's epitaph tell us something of the quality of life they shared together. She was his wife, his companion, his partner. They had shared together the life of the pioneer since their marriage in 1788. John Cowan chose two special words to honor his wife - consort, which means not only companion but partner or colleague; and patron, which means one chosen or honored as a special guardian, protector and supporter.

Her inscription reads:

Sacred to the memory of Agnes,
The wife and consort of Major John Cowan.
She departed this life on the 29th Sept 1827
in the 64th year of her age.
She died as a Christian
and patron for her surviving friends.
Not a doubt can arise
to darken my skies
or hide for a moment
my Lord from my eyes.


Acknowledgement: John Cowan history shared by Effie Cowan Jenkins. Acknowledgement: Agnes Martin Cowan information from Jenny Lou Brock's, SHADES OF THE PAST, story taken from the "Cowan Bell" of October 1974.


JOHN COWAN - 200 acres lying in the 2nd District, 1st and 2nd Sections, 9th Range of White County on the Boiling Fork of Elk River, entered 3rd of August 1807 - surveyed 20th of August 1807 - Occupant Claim - State of Tennessee #259, entered by #27 - DEED BOOK A, B, C, E & H, pg19.

JOHN COWAN - Listed on the Franklin County, Tennessee, Tax & Voter Registration List, 1812.

PUBLIC OFFICE HELD BY JOHN COWAN - An act of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, passed November 22, 1809, provided for the holding of an election, "for the purpose of electing seven fit and proper persons as commissioners to fix on and establish a permanent seat of Justice in and for the said County of Franklin", "with power to fix on a place for the seat of Justice", and to purchase a tract of land "not less than forty acres;" to lay off the same into lots, streets and alleys, and to reserve in the most convenient place two acres for a public square, on which to erect the public buildings." (Documentation: Acts of the Legislature, Tennessee, State Library and Archives; The Goodspeed Histories of Giles, Lincoln, Franklin & Moore Counties of Tennessee, published 1886, reprint by Woodward & Stinson Printing Co., pg789-790.) The election was held and George Taylor, Jesse Bean, Samuel Norwood, James Dougan, JOHN COWAN, John Bell and George Davidson were duly elected as such commissioners.

A PORTION OF THE TOWN OF COWAN IS BUILT ON A PART OF JOHN COWAN'S 1807 OCCUPANT CLAIM - A plaque in Cowan, Tennessee today has this inscription:

Named in honor of Major John Cowan, early pioneer settler 1849 - 54. N & C Railroad constructed the world's longest & steepest railroad in 1885.

Nine mile spur line to Sewanee Mountain completed to mining company near Sewanee.

1863 - 64 Confederate & Federal Armies camped in Cowan. Failure of Confederate Forces to destroy the tunnel provided General Sherman with a direct line of supply for his march through Georgia.

Acknowledgement: John Cowan research shared by Effie Cowan Jenkins. (Modified by Diana Cowan Taylor)

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