Copied from Cowan Clan Newsletter dated August 1977
From Charlotte Henderson (21 July 2005)
JOHN MAXWELL COWAN From History of Greene County Missouri published 1912, sent by Mrs. Hazel Michler, 631 Northeast 39th Terr, Kansas City, Mo 64116 and submitted to us by Alma Cowan.
John Maxwell Cowan springs from a sterling old family on both sides of the house, which may be traced back to the old Colonial days in American history. He was born 6 Dec. 1821. He enjoys two distinctions worthy of note, one is that he was the first white child born at Indianapolis, Ind, and he is the oldest living graduate of Wabash College, one of the oldest and most important schools of the Hoosier state.
John Maxwell is the only child of John and Anna (Maxwell) Cowan, and he is a pure Scotch ancestry and inherits the sturdy qualities of his forefathers, who were all frontiersmen of Virginia, in Colonial and Revolutionary times, who helped blaze the trails into Kentucky and Tennessee.
John Cowan was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1768, and at an early age went to Tennessee, locating at Knoxville, where many of his family still live. From there he went to Charlestown, Indiana, and joined the army under Gen. William Henry Harrison, remaining in the service during the entire campaign against the Indians in 1811, taking part in the famous battle of Tippecanoe, 9 Nov 1811. He was a mounted ranger during the War of 1812.
Mr. Cowan was a son of Samuel and Ann (Walker) Cowan, both natives of Virginia. Samuel Cowan was killed by Indians while working in the harvest field, and his wife was taken prisoner and the same day and held captive many years; was finally ransomed and returned to her home in Virginia.
John Cowan married first, Margaret Weir, in Virginia, 1769 and his second wife was Anna Maxwell, who was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1781. They were married in Jefferson County, Indiana, 30 Dec 1819, and she died in Indiana, in 1854, and he died in 1832 in Indiana.
Anna Maxwell was a daughter of Bezaleel and Margaret (Anderson) Maxwell, the former born in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1751, the latter born in Virginia in 1755; they were married in 1775; his death occurred in 1824, and she died in 1834. Bezaleel Maxwell was a son of John and Fannie (Garner) Maxwell, and Margaret Anderson was a daughter of John and Ann (Irwin) Anderson, the former born in Virginia in 1723 and died in Kentucky in 1796. Ann Irwin was a daughter of Mathew and Elizabeth Irwin; the father died in Augusta County, Virginia in 1762.
John Maxwell, who was a son of Bezaleel and Rebecca (Boyd) Maxwell, became a captain in the Revolutionary War, and both he and his son fought at the great Indian battle of Point Pleasant.
John Anderson, mentioned above, was also a soldier in the war for independence and these three men all fought in the battle of King's Mountain and other engagements.
John M. Cowan, of this sketch, grew to manhood in Montgomery County, Indiana, where he parents removed soon after his birth, locating near Crawfordsville, where he received his early education in the common schools, later attending Wabash College there, graduating with the class of 1842.