Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tid-Bits William Cowan

From this website:

1. WILLIAM1 COWAN was born Abt. 1801 in Knox Co., TN1, and died January 25, 1865 in Whitwell, TN. He married CYNTHIA MORGAN December 08, 1822 in TN.

Notes for W
ILLIAM COWAN:
William Cowan was born about 1800 in Tennessee, according to census records. On December 8, 1822, he married Cynthia Morgan and they had 11 children: Seabird, Samuel C., Sarah, Reuben, William, Esther, Mary, Caroline, Benjamin Franklin or “Doc”, Francis M., and Joseph. Most of their children were born in Marion County, Tennessee.

We can get an idea of the way William lived from the following information on William Cowan. This is from a letter written by Minerva Shacklett’s Aunt Grace, who was a daughter of Benjamin Franklin Cowan. Benjamin Cowan was a son of William Cowan.
"William Cowan had a large farm and owned a big flour mill on the Sequatchie River;he also owned a big saw mill and handled lots of timber. Grace often heard her grandmother tell of hauling logs out with teams of 4 oxen and floating them down the river to Bridgeport, Alabama, just across the state line in Jackson county. He owned land from Victoria to the Sequatchie county line from the tops of mountains clear across the valley. He grew the first cotton in Marion county and was a lover of fine horses. He owned a stable full and raised many fine horses. Grace could recall the nice barn that was still in good condition when she was about 12. He was considered a wealthy man; they had a nice colonial home 4 miles above Whitwell(TN); the place is still known as the 'old Cowan place'. She remembered tht her brother, John Seaborn Cowan, Minerva's father, saying that he would love to own half of the place."

We do not know the parents of William Cowan or of his wife, Cynthia Morgan Cowan. The first reference to a Cowan in Marion County, TN is in the County Deed Book A (pg. 4, dated 1785) in which 20,000 acres of land is awarded to a Stokely Donaldson. One of the witnesses was a William Cowan. This is some 15 years before our William was born. Could this William be his father or grandfather?

The first census in which our William Cowan appears is in the 1830 Marion County, TN census. He and his wife, Cynthia, are shown as age 20-23 with 2 sons under 5, one son 5-10 and one daughter under 5. He is also shown on an 1836 tax list with his brother Samuel Cowan. Marion County is known as a “burned county”, meaning that many of the records including deed and marriage records burned when the courthouses caught fire. From 2 deed records dated October 20, 1829, we see the sale of 20 acres of land in Marion County and a tract of land 65 acres for $75 to William Cowan.

The 1840 Marion County census shows William, Cynthia and 4 sons and 3 daughters. On March 5, 1847, William Cowan purchased 120 acres of land for $400. The 1850 Marion County census lists William and Synthia, and lists the names of 5 of their children. By 1860, William lists his occupation as a farmer with value of his real estate as $3000; personal property at $1000. The agricultural census of Towney’s Creek shows the following information: 70 acres improved land, 60 acres unimproved, with a cash value of $1500 for the farm and $20 value of implements and machinery; 2 horses, 2 milk cows, 2 other cattle, 7 sheep, 30 swine, with total value of livestock at $300. In the year preceding 1 June, 1860, the farm produced 22 bushels of wheat, 350 bushels of Indian corn, 10 lbs. wool, 3 bushels peas and beans, 11 bushels Irish potatoes, $4 orchard products, 50 lb. butter, 60 gallons molasses, 2 lbs. beeswax, 60 lb. honey; $30 of homemade goods manufactured and the value of slaughtered animals was set at $60.

Since William Cowan died in 1865, in Whitwell, TN, he was not in the 1870 census, but his widow, Cynthia, is shown with her youngest son, Joseph, living at home with her. In the 1880 census, Cynthia is shown with son Benjamin Franklin and his family in Whitwell, TN.

William Cowan and Cynthia are buried at Red Hill Cemetery in Whitwell, TN. William’s granddaughter, Sarah Cowan, and her husband G.W. Pickett continued to live on at the W. Cowan farm, according to the notes of Paul Cowan, Sr. Today there is a Cowan-Pickett Road in Whitwell, TN, but there are no longer any descendants carrying the Cowan name in the town. 

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