John Newton Cowan (1843-1900)

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Genealogical KeynotesEdit

The content of this page contributed by: Margie Cowan


  • Born: 07 January 1843 in Pleasant Hill, Lowndes Co., AL
  • Married:
#1 -- 27 February 1866 in Lowndes Co., AL to Emma Clopton
#2 -- 13 November 1879 in Louisville, Jefferson Co., KY to Laura Blanche Kerr


John Newton Cowan was the son of James Gillespie COWAN and Mary MOOR


  1. Emma CLOPTON b: ? d: 14 March 1874, presumably in Pleasant Hill, Lowndes Co. AL and most likely buried in the Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church Cemetery there; although there is no stone for her or several other family members.
  2. Laura Blanche KERR b. 09 October 1852 in Montgomery, AL d: 06 October 1935 in Birmingham, Jefferson Co., AL

Religious AffiliationEdit


Child ListEdit

  1. Alvin Ethelbert Cowan, MD b: 18 November 1880 in Pleasant Hill, Lowndes Co., AL d: 27 November 1923 in Birmingham, Jefferson Co., AL
  2. Ethel May Cowan b: 16 February 1885 in Pleasant Hill, Lowndes Co., AL d: 20 May 1921 in Huntsville, Madison Co., AL

Military ServiceEdit

  • “The records show that John N. Cowan … a private of Jeff Davis Alabama Artillery, Confederate States Army enlisted 1 July 1861, at Selma, Alabama age 19 years. The company muster roll for 31 October 1864 to 1 March 1865, latest on file, shows him absent “Taken Prisoner Spottsylvania C.H. May 12/64.
  • Union Prisoner of War records show that he was captured 5 May 1864 at Wilderness, Virginia; imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland and Elmira, New York, where he was paroled 14 March 1865 and sent to James River for exchange. He was received at Boulware’s Wharf, James River, Virginia, between 18 and 21 March 1865, by the Confederate Agent for Exchange. No later record of him has been found.”
  • “While at LaGrange, Private John Purifoy contracted the mumps. Privates William Breithaupt and William J. Dennis, as well as Lieutenant William J. Reese also fell ill. Both Breithaupt and Reese, not to mention Purifoy, would have to leave the service temporarily to recuperate. Privates John N. Cowan, John J. S. Crosby, James A. Melton, Charles T. Watts, and Francis M. Wootan had also been incapacitated by disease and were either convalescing in camp or in hospital. Those men were most likely only a small percentage of those that suffered from some sort of malady during the months of July and August [1861].”
  • “Cowan, John N. (fr. Lowndes Co.)
Enlisted 10 July, 1861 at Selma, Ala; mustered in July 27, 1861; July 1-Aug. 31, 1861 shown as sick in camp; Aug. 31 – Oct. 31, 1861 shown as sick at hospital in Richmond, VA; taken prisoner at battle of Spottsylvania Court House on May 12, 1864; received at Elmira from Pt. Lookout, Md. on August 17, 1864; transferred for exchange on March 14, 1865.”

Family HistoryEdit

Alternative InterpretationEdit


  • Cowan family Bible (in possession of Margie Cowan as of 2006)
  • Tombstone at Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church, Pleasant Hill, Lowndes Co., AL
  • Selma Morming Times, March 2, 1866, p. 4, col. 4 [Microfilm, Selma Public Library, Selma, Dallas Co., AL]
Also, at the same place [residence of Mrs. M. E. Moore, in Lowndes county], and by the same [Rev, Wm H. Meredith], Mr. Jno. N. Cowan to Miss Emma Clopton; both of Lowndes county, Ala.
[Emma Clopton was the daughter of Dr. Albert Gallatin Clopton and Eliza Walton. Eliza Walton was daughter of Robert Walton of VA.]
  • Handwritten narrative of James Gillespie "Zach" Cowan about his 13 days of Confederate Service, when forced to walk home from Tuscaloosa, AL when Croxton's troops burned the University of Alabama in 1865. One page describes his visit to his uncle's house ... the home of James Gillespie Cowan and Virginia (Clopton) Cowan.
  • Marriage Bond, witnessed by John N. COWAN and Joseph S. KERR, dated 12 November 1879, Louisville, KY
  • Death certificate and Alabama Deaths, 1908-1959 (online at
Laura B. Cowan; Oct 1935; Jefferson; Vol. 44, Role 3, Page 21814
  • Alabama State Archives, Pension record of Laura Blanche Kerr Cowan for John Newton Cowan's CSA service
  • Civil War artifacts of John Newton Cowan, Samford University Library, Special Collections, Cowan Collection, Birmingham, AL
    Alabama Archives and History displays a 1840's quilt from the ancestral  Cowan home.


  • Memorial Records of Alabama in 2 volumes, Brant & Fuller, 1893, Madison, WI ... pg. 1135 (Vol. II)
“R. W. CLOPTON, attorney-at-law, at Scottsboro, Ala., was born in Jackson County, Ala., in March, 1857. While he was a small boy, his parents moved to Winchester, Tenn. and he was educated at that place. Leaving school at the age of fourteen, he went to his father’s farm near Winchester, and remained there three years. He then removed with his father to Dallas county, Ala., and became clerk in a store, remaining there until the summer of 1875, when he removed to Jackson county, and began teaching school. After following this profession for two years, in 1877, he went to Huntsville, Ala., and there became a law student in the office of Humes & Gordon, and was admitted to the bar in 1878, at the fall term of court. He then returned to Jackson County, Ala., and, on account of ill health, taught school for three years, instead of practicing law. In 1888, he began his practice, however, in Scottsboro, and has remained thus engaged ever since. He has taken some little interest in politics, and has been a delegate to several democratic senatorial conventions. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South. He was married, in 1884, to Effie Barnard, daughter of J. L. Barnard, of De Kalb county, Ala., and to this marriage were born two children, Effie and Albert. [should be a second paragraph here to be able to read this without confusion.] The father of Mr. Clopton, Dr. A. G. Clopton, was born and reared in Madison County, Ala. He was a graduate of the medical department of the University of Kentucky, at Lexington. He practiced principally at Winchester Tenn., and in Jackson and Madison counties, Ala. He organized a. company at Winchester, Tenn., in the spring of 1862, for the Confederate service, and was made its captain. Soon afterward he was made regimental surgeon, and served in that capacity through the war. He was taken prisoner at Ft. Donelson, in 1862, and made his escape almost immediately, from the fact that he had on citizens clothes, having removed his uniform to have it washed. He was thus caught inside the Federal lines, but was given a. pass by Gen. Grant, who, later on, discovered, much to his chagrin, that he had given a pass to a Confederate officer. Dr. Clopton married Eliza Walton, daughter of Robert Walton, of Virginia, and to this marriage were born six children, of whom three survive, viz.: Mollie, wife of J. W. Jeffers, of Ft. Payne, Ala., Elizabeth, wife of W. C. Quarles, of Lowndes County, Ala., and R. W. Of the three that died, two died in infancy, and, Emma, wife of John M. [sic] 'Cowan', died in 1874. The mother of these children died in 1858, and the father married, for his second wife, Jennie M. McKenzie, nee Rigney, of Madison County, Ala., by whom he has five children, only one of whom is living, viz.: Mattie, wife of Mr. Fisher, of Florida.”

Research NeedsEdit

Please help other researchers by posting your tombstone photos at

Date and place of marriage to Anne M. Campbell
Place of marriage to Virginia Clopton

Page NeedsEdit



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