Samuel Cowan & Ann Walker Cowan
Samuel Cowan and Ann Walker were the parents of John Cowan (1768-1832). This is known from the History of the Maxwell Family. Samuel Cowan was probably born about 1740 in either Chester County, Pennsylvania, or the Valley of Virginia. He was the son of John Cowan and Elizabeth (Unknown) Cowan. His father was a Scotch-Irish immigrant who arrived from North Ireland, in Pennsylvania, between 1715-1730. His parents moved to the Valley of Virginia in the 1730-1740's, in what is now Augusta County. They purchased a tract of land in Beverly Manor, not far from where the Walker family obtained a farm in Borden's Tract.
Ann Walker, a daughter of John Walker III (1705-1778) and Anne Houston, was born in the Valley of Virginia about 1745. She would have married Samuel Cowan about 1766. John Cowan (1768-1832), was their eldest surviving child. They may have had other older children who died in infancy.
During the French and Indian War, Samuel served for Augusta County at Fort Lytleton, under Captain Henry Woodward. He was listed on the muster roll of 23 August 1757. (Virginia's Colonial Soldiers, page 103) He appears to have remained in the militia until he left Virginia about 1767.
In 1763, King George III issued a proclamation that none of the colonials could settle west of the Blue Ridge, after a costly war against Chief Pontiac and a coalition of Indian Tribes. This meant that the next generation of young families had to go south to seek land upon which to settle. This meant that the Carolinas and Georgia, were the destination of those Virginians seeking new land upon which to settle. About a thousand persons a year heading south, driving their cattle, hogs, and horses overland.
The wars were hardly over when, in 1765, the Stamp Act incited the colonists to protest against the British taxation. The next ten years would be punctuated with one controversy after another, as the umbilical cord between Great Britain and her colonies, became tenuous.
In 1767, it appears as if Samuel Cowan had moved to North Carolina, where his brother Andrew had gone. In History of Augusta County, Virginia, Samuel's name appears on a list of persons who were delinquent in taxes. From page 338 of Virginia's Colonial Soldiers, by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1988, it states "At a court martial held 15 April 1768, Capt. William Crow's delinquents: Capt. Peter Hogg and Samuel Cowan to appear at next court martial to show why they did not muster at the general master of 15 April 1767." Samuel's brother James also appeared AWOL, no doubt because he had moved to Carolina. Somehow the family, at least Ann Walker Cowan, was back in Virginia in December of 1768, because their son John Cowan was born there on 14 December 1768, in what is now Rockbridge County, Virginia (then part of Augusta County).
The Cowans were probably back in North Carolina when another son, James Benjamin Cowan was born in about 1770. This was the year of the inflammatory "Boston Massacre." The Scottish-Irish certainly would have been condemning Britain among their own people, but we have nothing that survives to show that they took any active part in the protests that were going on, although they probably did.
In 1772 Samuel and his brothers Andrew and William, all of whom were married to daughters of John Walker III and Ann Houston Walker, left North Carolina to settle near their brother David Cowan in what was called "Castle's Woods," a long stretch of land in the Clinch River Valley, in what are now Russell and Scott counties in Virginia. At the time, Castle's Woods was the western-most settlement on the Virginia frontier. Technically the settlers were defying the British Proclamation of 1763, which forbade white settlement west of the Blue Ridge. Castle's Woods lay on the Wilderness Road, which was to become the pioneer trail from Virginia and the Carolinas, into Tennessee and Kentucky. Also settling there in 1771 were John Snoddy (husband of Margaret Walker) and Patrick Porter (husband of Susanna Walker). Many of the settlers in the area were kin of the Cowan-Walker-Houston family.
In 1772, Samuel, Ann and the Cowan-Walker families, settled in the Clinch River Valley in a stretch of it called Castle's Woods in present-day Scott County, Virginia (then Washington County). Among those who settled on the Clinch were Samuel's brothers: William, Andrew, and David Cowan, and their families; Ann's parents John Walker III and Ann Houston Walker, and some of their children; and at least one kinsman of Ann Houston Walker, William Houston. On April 03, 1774, Samuel would register the surveyed 284 acres lying on both sides of McKinney's Run, that he had settled upon at Castle's Woods two years earlier. It was registered in Fincastle County, the parent county of the present-day Scott County. The Cowan land lay in what was called "Upper Castle's Woods," meaning it was further down the Clinch toward Cumberland Gap, than was "Lower Castle's Woods".)
1773 was the year of the Boston Tea party, and the harsh British crackdown on the Massachuesetts Bay colony. The Committees of Correspondence which had been organized, made sure that the goings-on in Boston, would be spread throughout the colonies. Although the news may have been delayed in places as remote as Castle's Woods, it eventually would have trickled in, and had the British-hating Scotch-Irish grumbling about the actions that they viewed as tyrannical.
Castle's Woods lay on the Wilderness Road near the Cumberland Gap, a natural passageway through the Appalachian Mountains. What little traffic to Kentucky and Tennessee there, was in 1773 traved from Virginia and the Carolinas along this route. (Before long this road would lead thousands through the Gap.) In the fall of that year, Daniel Boone arrived at Cowan's Fort leading an ill-fated emigrant party from the Yadkin River Valley bound for Kentucky. Capt. William Russell, in charge of the small militia group stationed at Cowan's Fort, and others of Castle's Woods settlers were of the Cowan-Walker family, it is probable that some of Capt. Russell's group included some of our family. Boon and Russell's group now contained about forty members.
Because it would take the Castle's Woods emigres awhile to prepare for their journey, Boone's North Carolina contingent headed out alone, probably having agreed to meet the latecomers at the Gap if they hadn't caught up with the vanguard. Perhaps having agreed that the latecomers should carry most of the commissary goods and tools, the Boone group ran low on flour and salt and found the need for additional tools. He sent his teenaged oldest son, James Boone, back to locate the Russell group to collect these items. James reached the Russells, and there a young Henry Russell, son of the captain who had become a chum of James Boone, asked to accompany his friend to the forward group. Russell sent two white workmen and two slaves with the boys to assist with the supplies. The group headed out in the late afternoon and made their way toward Cumberland Gap. They were within three miles of the Boone party when darkness determined that they should camp for the night.
Daniel Boone expected his son momentarily with the supplies, but it wasn't James who came rushing into the Boone camp-- it was one of William Russell's slaves that had accompanied the boys. It had to have been with great emotion that the negro told Boone that his son James and Henry Russell and the others in the party were dead. They ahd been attacked by Indians just before dawn. After shooting both boys, the Indians had tortured them and the others, while the escaping slave hid under a log and heard the screaming.
The massacre ended the emigration. Some of Boone's folowers returned to North Carolina. Those from Castle's Woods decided to stay there. The grieving Boones wintered along the Clinch in a cabin provided by David Gass. The Boones and the Russells, no doubt found each other's support comforting.
That spring of 1774, "Dunmore's War" began. Governor Dunmore of Virginia had declared war against the frontier Indians due to the many atrocities being committed upon white frontier settlers, but the war had been started when the family of Chief John Logan had been massacred by some drunken white ruffians. Being a captain in the Virginia militia, William Russell was given orders to assist in the campaign against the Shawnee Indian Chief Cornstalk. Worried about leaving his family unprotected in the Clinch Valley, Russell was relieved when his North Carolina friend Boone, agreed to take charge of the forts and militia in Castle's Woods until his return. Samuel Cowen and his brothers David Cowan and William Cowen were in Capt. Russell's company that defeated Cornstalk in the Battle of Point Pleasant. Their brothers-in-law Patrick Porter and John Snoddy were there too. For sixty-one days Boone had been in charge of the Clinch Valley forts, including Fort Russell on David Cowan's land. Then Boon was on his way again. The man who later became a legend, had been an acquaintance of the Cowans and Walkers of Castle's Woods. William Russell was to be a part of the Cowans' lives for years to come. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Russell was brevetted a general. It is for him that Russell County was named. The grief of Boone and Russell was an ominous portent of the fate that lay in store for the Cowans and Walkers at their location near Cumberland Cap, the gateway to Kentucky and Tennessee. If it was gateway for the pioneers out of Virginia and the Carolinas, it was also a gate into those colonies for the Indians.
The news of Lexington and Concord reached the Cowans in Castle's Woods in 1775, and there was no question on which side the Scotch-Irish would committ themselves. The British had persecuted them because they were Presbyterian Scots long before they had left Scotland.
For a while, all was quiet as both sides recoiled at the state to which the relations between Britain and the colonies had deteriorated. It was a time to think and to prepare for the upheaval that lay ahead. The British parleyed with the Shawnee Indians, encouraging them to side with the mother country. They remained the Indians that King George had attempted to prevent the colonists from settling west of the Blue Ridge with his Proclamation of 1763. Should the colonists win the war, as the British pointed out, the settlers would be streaming westward over the mountains into Indian lands.
The logic of the British made sense to the Shawnees and most of the northern tribes allied themselves with the Crown in early 1776. The British urged them to contact the Southern Indians to sway them to the British side. In April of 1776, a delegation of northern Indians, mostly Shawnee, went to the Cherokee town of Chota to accomplish this end. Most of the Cherokee tribes refused to war against the colonists, but Chief Dragging Canoe was passionately against the decision of his fellow Cherokees. He withdrew his tribe of Chickamauga Cherokees from the Cherokee Nation and made an alliance with the British and the Northern Indians. The year before, in 1775, at the Transylvania Treaty conference, Dragging Canoe had spoken against the sale of Cherokee land:
Whole Indian nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man's advance. They leave scaresly a name of our people except those wrongly recorded by their destroyers. Where are the Delawares? They have been reduced to a mere shadow of their former greatness. We had hoped that the white man would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Cherokee land. They wish to have that action sanctioned by treaty. When that is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Cherokees. New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country, which the Cherokees and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of Aniyunwiya, THE REAL PEOPLE, once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge on some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only a short while, until they again behod the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Cherokees, the extinction of the whole rase will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks and incur all consequences, rather than submit to further loss of our country? Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will have our lands! A-WANINSKE, I have spoken.
In late June of 1776, a small army of Indians from both southern and norther tribes, including Dragging Canoe and his chickamaugas, headed toward Cumberland Gap and the Clinch River Valley. When someone spotted the Indians along Big Moccasin Creek, a tributary of the Clinch, riders were sent to warn the other settlers of the valley that the Indians were upon them. Virginia Militia Capt. Daniel Smith and Capt. John Montgomery and their compainies marched in pursuit of the Indians. Samuel Cowan took it on himself to warn those at Houston's Fort, lying on Big Moccasin Creek, because the fort was the home of William Houston, a kinsman of Ann Walker Cowan's deceased mother Ann Houston Walker. It was the first week of July 1776, the time when the delegats at Philadelphia were preparing a declaration of independence.
Cowan arrived at Houston's Fort and gave the warning. The following morning the soldiers under Captains Smith and Montgomery arrived and reported that there were Indians in the area of Houston's Fort and there were also some stalking the settlers holed up in Fort Russell across Copper Ridge. Samuel panicked about the safety of his family and prepared to leave. He was strongly urged not to leave the fort due to the Indian menace. Not to be stopped in his mission to protect his family, Samuel replied "I don't care if there is an Indian behind every tree, I'm going to protect my family."
These may have been his last words because he immediately left the fort. Within a minute or two, shots were heard. The men went outside the fort to investigate. They found Samuel Cowan shot and scalped, but still alive. He was brought into the fort and died there that night.
Back at Fort Russell, the riderless horse that Samuel had been riding, arrived sweating and covered in Samuel's blood. The gate of the fort was opened to allow the horse to enter. Samuel's wife, Ann Walker Cowan, seeing the lifeblood of her husband spilled over the horse, fainted away.
There are a few recorded accounts of persons who were at Houston's Fort at the time of Samuel's death. An eyewitness to the scene was Charles Bickley, who lived at Castle Wood's and was in Blackmore's Fort as a militia soldier in 1776. In his pension statement from Russell County on 08 September 1835, he stated:
Information reached the fort through Captain Daniel Smith, that Indians were up the waters of Mocassin Creek, whereupon Captain (John) Montgomery with his company, joined Captain Smith and his company, and marched in pursuit of the Indians and pursued their trail within a short distance of Houston's Fort upon Moccasin Creek....Upon arrival at the fort, they found no assault had as yet, been made upon it by the Indians and found there a man of Cassell's Woods of the name of Samuel Cowan, riding as this declarant now remembers a stud horse belonging to one Deskin Tibbs.
Cowan proposed to leave the fort and return to his family, but was admonished of the danger of an attempt to do so, as the Indians were in the immediate neighborhood, but he persisted in his determination and set out, but proceeded a short distance when the firing of guns was heard in the fort and the forces sallied out to attack. When soon they came upon the body of Cowan, shot from his horse and scalped, and although still alive, was taken to the fort and died the same evening. Relief came in from the Holston (River Valley) and then they left.
Yet another account was told by Captain John Carr of Livingston Tennessee, whose son wrote to an historian named Draper in 1854, seventy-eight years after the event quoting his father. Carr was about 4 years old and living on Carr's Creek in Russell County at the time. (These accounts available from the Southwest Virginian, Box 1128, Wise VA 24293.)
We forted in Houston's Fort in Washington Co, VA, on a creek called Big Moccasin Cree, about 10 to 15 miles north of the Clinch River. The Indians (Cherokee) made an attack on the fort. They killed a man by the name of Cowan. After firing on the fort for nearly half a day they were driven off. He recollects that his father sit him so as to enable him to see through the port holes the Indians as they were firing on the fort.
This account, an extract from "Narrative of Captain John Carr in Indian Battles, etc." was published in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1853 and has more details:
I was born in South Carolina in September 05, 1773. My father left there before my recollection to go to Kentucky, having heard of Boone's having been there. The first thing I remember was being in Houston's fort, about twenty miles below Abingdon, Virginia, on a creek called Big Moccasin. It was at the time of an attack upon it by Indians. They killed a man by the name of Cowan at the time. He lived about ten miles north of Clinch River, and came over express to give us worked of a projected attack on the for by the Northern Indians. The next morning, a little after sunrise, Captain Smith, afterward General Smith, who died in this (Summer) county, came in with a party of men and old us the Cherokees were all around the fort, and a terrible screaming ensued among the women, who at the time were out milking. This Mr. Cowan mounted his horse in the fort, but men begged him to stay until they could eat a few mouthfuls, when they would guard him home. But he declared he would go "if there was Indian behind every tree." He started, and had scaresly left when we heard the reports of guns and he was brought in, mortally wounded, and died that night. The Indians kept firing all day, and finally left after stealing several horses.
(From: Thwaite's and Kellogg's Dunmore's War, Madison, 1905, page 80, Rev. John Dabney Shane's interview with Mrs. Samuel Scott, Jessamine County, Kentucky, about 1850. Mrs Scott was a daughter of John McCorkle.
Mr. Campbell was the preacher in North Carolina, where I am from, after I left. I think on Haw River
We moved on to Clinch, at Moore's Fort. Was wintering at one place, eight miles off from the fort and about a mile from the river. One Phillips family was killed between us and the river, near to the river. Mamma was gone up with a neighbor, Mrs. Kilgore, to Castle's Woods, near the fort, to buy some sheep at a sale. Mr. Kilgore was away in Carolina at the time. One (Phillip) boy escaped, I think by crawling under the bed. All of the rest of the family were killed. About two years after this we moved over on to Holston (The Holston River Valley) to get rid of the Indians. We lived on Clinch eight years. Went on to Holston to spend one year and get ready to come to Kentucky.
(Here a portion of Mrs. Scott's narrative was removed for use further on in this work.)
Matthew (Samuel) Cowan brought the express (news) from Moore's Fort to Houston's Fort that 300 Indians were coming to attack Houston's Station. The next morning he would start and go back and thought he could go through, but was shot. His horse got in safe (to Cowan's Fort in Castle's Woods). His wife fainted when she saw the horse-a stud horse, all in a power of sweat. He was brought in wounded and died. There my father, John McCorkle, was at the time. There were 300 Indians to 21 families (in the fort). I think the men did not exceed thirty. The Indians stayed there about eight days killing the cattle. They were Cherokees. None of the people in the fort were killed. Relief came in from Holston, and then they left.
My father bought a tract (of land) on one Mr. Zeams (?) from Botetourt (County) or Augusta (County) where these Moores and Cowans all first came from---All Pennsylvania people.
In the Draper Manuscripts of the Wisconsin Historical Society (#4QQ53) is a letter written by Colonel William Russell on July 07, 1776, to Colonel William Preston, County Lieutenant of Fincastle County. The following is not part of the actual letter, but is a summary of its contents.
Two men killed at Blackmore's Fort: John Douglas killed at LIttle Moccasin Gap; the militia from New River anxious to get back to their crops; visit to his family; enlistment of men in the different forts; Madison's appointment by the convention; spies sent to people of the Kentucky River to give notice of the war; Thomas Price's deposition sent to the governor; copy enclosed. Al L.S. 1 page; Endorsed: W. Russell. May 1776 (sic).
This was the beginning salvo of twenty years of Indian atrocities on the frontier, for the Indians did not sign the treaty ending the Revollution and were still fighting to prevent intrusion of settlers west of the Appalachians until 1795. But that was later; the Revolution was still being waged in 1778 when Samuel Cowan's widow, Ann Waker Cowan, was walking away from Fort Russell with her brother Samuel Walker, crossing a field of rye. Indians attacked, killing Walker, and capturing Ann.
No one knew if Ann Cowan was dead or alive after her disappearance. The worst had to be presumed. While she had been at Castle's Woods, there had been no reason to probate her husband's estate, but now this was undertaken so that Samuel and Ann's estate could be divided among the heirs. Samuel's brother William Cowan was appointed administrator of the estate on August 19, 1778, with John Waker (Ann's father) and Andrew Colvill as securities. An inventory of the estate was filed in Washington County, now available from the Virginia State Library Archives:
> One Bay Mare, L.35; One Bay Hors, L.48; One Do.(Ditto) Two Years old, L40; one Yearling Filly, L.20; One Black Mare, L.35; Red Cow, L.12; One Brinald Cow, L.11; One Cow and Calf, L.13; Black Cow, L.8; Brinald Cow, L.9; One Heifer, L.5; Heffer Pyed, L.5; Do., L.12; Cow and Calf, L.12; One steer, L.5; Ten Sheep, L.25; Pair of Plow Irons, L.6.10; Saddle 10/; Pair of Trizens (?) 10/; Ap, L.5; Bridle Bits, 6/; One Iron Wag, 7/6; a Quantity of Puter, 6.10; Two Razors 12/; Two Bells, L.3.12; One Candle Stick, 4/; One Pair of Pinchers, 6/; A Pot, 18/; To Cash, L.50.
For six years Ann Walker Cowan was being held captive by the Indians, serving as a slave. The following was part of the above-cited recollections of Mrs. Samuel Scott of Jessamine County, Kentucky.
.....One year while we lived on the Clinch, we had no need to fort, and did not fort. Cowan's fort was about two miles from Moore's. We went to it one year, but it was too weak, but seven or eight families did. The Indians attacked it. Miss Walker, then the Widow Ann Cowan, was taken (captive by the Indians), going from Cowan's to Moore's. Her and her sister's son, William Walker, were taken. (It was the son of her brother John Walker IV.) As soon as the dead were buried, we all left, and went to Moore's fort. Her brother Matthew (Samuel, not Matthew) Walker, that went with her was killed, and the other man that went with her was shot at, but escaped and got into the fort. This Mrs. Cowan had just gotten back from her captivity, as I passed the Crab Orchard coming out to Kentucky. Captain John Snoddy, William and Joe Moore's wives were sisters to her. They was forted there (in Crab Orchard). (By this Mrs. Scott means that as she was moving west in Kentucky and was passing the Crab Orchard settlement in Lincoln County, Kentucky, she heard the news of Ann Walker Cowan's escape from the Shawnees, no doubt from one of Ann's sisters there.)....
The above quote makes it clear that Ann Cowan's escape route from the Shawnee village in Ohio took her down one of the rivers in Ohio in the Shawnee nation that feed into the Ohio River. From its mouth at the Ohio River she would have turned west, going down the Ohio to the mouth of the Kentucky River. Mrs. Scott did not say the Ann Walker Cowan was physically there at Crab Orchard when her family passed through there. Ann wanted no more of the frontier after her return to her family. She moved back to Rockbridge County Virginia, where some of her family still lived. Although her sons remained on the frontier, we know that they returned to visit their mother there. John Cowan married his wife Margaret Weir there in 1796. Ann was alive as late as 1810. One of her grandchildren recalled seeing her as an old woman in his childhood.
(THREE) CHILDREN OF SAMUEL COWAN AND ANN WALKER COWAN
(1) John Cowan (1768-1832)
John Cowan & Margaret Weir Cowan, Anna Maxwell Cowan
Our evidence for John Cowan's being Esther Cowan's father is circumstantial. His was the only Cowan family in Indiana during Esther's childhood. Records show that John Cowan lost his wife Margaret Weir about the time that Esther was ten years old. Isaiah and Elizabeth Cooper were given to Esther to rear in Clark County Indiana. It was common to give children to relatives or friends to rear, after a frontiersman lost his wife. Military records show that John Cowan and his son James Cowan served in the same company of roving rangers during the War of 1812 as did Isaiah Cooper, and so they were well acquainted with each other. The county history of Pike County Illinois, shows that Enoch Cooper married "Esther Cooper, adopted daughter of Isaiah Cooper," in November of 1829. Rose Cooper Goodrich testified to her grandmother's maiden name being Cowan. Genealogy records of John Cowan, in a book co-written by his granddaughter, Laura Cowan Blaine, show a four-year gap between the births of children where Esther would fit in. Esther Cowan named a daughter Rosanna Margaret Cooper, probably for her mother. Isaiah and Elizabeth Cooper named a daughter Margaret Cooper in 1808, probably for their friend Margaret Weir Cowan. Census records show that Esther was born in Tennessee, where John and Margaret Cowan were living in 1803.
John Cowan was born December 14, 1768, in what is now Rockbridge Co, VA, the son of Samuel Cowan and Ann Walker. Rockbridge Co, which is nestled between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains at the northern end of the Valley of Virginia, was then on the frontier. Rockbridge County was formed in 1778. When John was born, the area where the Cowans lived was part of Augusta County. The Cowans probably lived near other family members along Hays and Walker creeks, near the present-day Augusta-Rockbridge county line. There were many other Scotch-Irish families in the area, and kinsmen of the Cowans and Walkers: the Moores, Campbells, Weirs, Todds, Houstons, and Breckenridges. Several famous persons emerged in this branch of our family: Sam Houston, the hero of Texas; Joseph Reddeford Walker, the mountain man for whom several geographical locations are names; Mary Ann Montgomery (Mrs. Nathan Bedford Forest) wife of the Civil War Cavalry leader; and Jeb Stuart, also a Civil War Cavalry leader. The two presidents Bush are also descended from a Weir, probably of our family.
In the late 1760's many family members left the Valley of Virginia to go to what is now Orange County, North Carolina. John's parents moved there about 1767 as did his grandparents John Walker III (1705-1778) and Ann Houston Walker and many Cowan and Walker uncles and aunts. For some members of the family, North Carolina would remain their home, but for Samuel Cowan and his brothers, and John and Ann Houston Walker and their children, North Carolina was merely a respite.
In 1772 the Cowans and Walkers left North Carolina and settled in the Clinch River Valley in southwestern Virginia near Cumberland Gap, the historic pioneer pass through the Appalachian mountains into Kentucky and Tennesssee. John Walker III and his wife Ann Houston, settled on a 300 acre tract of land they named "Broadmeadows" at the "sink" of Sinking Creek. Nearby, Samuel and Ann Walker Cowan settled on both sides of McKinney's Run (now called Cowan's Creek). This area along the Clinch River was called Castle's Woods. The area then designated as Castle's Woods, today lies in present-day Russell County. Samuel Cowan's brother, David Cowan had lived at Castle's Woods since 1769 and had built a fort on his land ten miles upriver from where his brother Samuel settled.
There were two forts in Castle's Woods. The one on David Cowan's land was called Cowan's Fort but in official correspondences, it was referred to as Fort Russell because the comander of the militia there was Capt. William Russell. This fort was also called Fort Preston, Bickley's Fort, or Blackmore's Fort. It was located behind the present-day Masonic Lodge hall in Castlewood, Russell County, Virginia. The other fort, Moore's Fort, was the home and fort of two sisters and brothers-in-law of Samuel Cowan. It was a larger and more substantial fort. The brothers-in-law were first cousins to Ann Walker Cowan, sons of her aunt, Jane Walker Moore.
It was to these forts that area settlers would flee in times of Indian peril. Moore's Fort was the larger of the two. It generally had about twenty families living there and about twenty or twenty-five militia soldiers stationed there. During Dunmore's War in 1774, Capt. Russell and the settlers of Castle's Woods worked together to expand the forts to make them large enough to accomodate the area's families. Houston's Fort, on Big moccasin Creek was the home and fort of William Houston, a brother of John's grandmother.
The Castle's Woods settlers also worked together to support a teacher for their children, James Russell. For a number of years he taught the children in the area and was John Cowan's teacher. When a militia officer accused Russell of being a deserter, he was able to clear himself of the charges, but to save his good name, he joined up for service in Kentucky and left the community in 1778.
The Scotch-Irish, persecuted for generations by the British, had no love for them and vice-versa. The British encouraged these thorns in their side to settle on the frontier as a buffer from the Indians for the established English tidewater settlements. When the Revolution came, the Scotch-Irish, almost to a man, volunteered for the Patriot Cause.
The British were quick to make alliances with the Indians, and so it was while the Declaration of Independence was being signed in Philadelphia, Indian tribes allied with the British were approaching Castle's Woods, then the westernmost settlement on Virginia's frontier. Learning of some 300 Indians' presence sin the valley, John's father, Samuel Cowan, went to spread the word to his wife's uncle William Houston and those "forted up" at nearby Houston's Station (a.k.a. Houston's Fort) that the Indians were in the Clinch Valley. His journey would have taken him southeast over Copper Ridge into Copper Creek Valley and then over Moccasin Ridge into Big Moccasin Creek Valley into Houston's Fort.
Cowan spent the night at the fort and in the morning a rider had come to report that the residents at Fort Russell (a.k.a. Cowan's Fort) were being menaced by the Indians. Hearing that his own family was in danger at Fort Russell, Samuel left the safety of Houston's Station despite warnings as to the danger. He was determined to go to his endangered family. Just outside the Houston's Station palisade he was immediately shot and scalped by the Indians. He was brought to the fort and died that evening. His bloody horse, spooked by the shooting, had returned home to Fort Russell where Samuel's family saw blood on the saddle of the riderless horse and knew that Samuel had met his end. Young John's mother fainted away upon seeing her husband's blood-spattered horse. The seven-year-old boy would have witnessed this event.
In the spring of 1778, a coalition of northern and southern Indians again attacked Castle's Woods. Ann Walker Cowan had just begun walking the two miles from Fort Russell to Moore's Fort with her brother Samuel Walker and another man. The families were forted up due to the Indian danger. The three were crossing a field planted in rye, not far from Fort Russell, when they were attacked by Shawnee Indians. The Indians shot and scalped Samuel Walker, and took Ann Cowan and her daughter Jane Cowan, captive. A third man was only injured, and he managed to return to the fort and warn those inside. This "third man" may have been ten year old John Cowan, because we are told in the Maxwell History and Genealogy, that John ran for his life with the Indians right behind him in pursuit. He just made it inside the gate of the fort as an Indian raised his tomahawk to dispatch him.
In a nearby field, eleven-year-old William Walker, John's first cousin, just a year older than John, was riding a plow horse while an uncle plowed his field. Delaware Indians stormed out of the adjacent forest and shot the uncle in both arms. He began running toward his cabin, but he was downed just as he approached his cabin. They quickly tomahawked and scalped him. William attempted to reach the cabin as well, but the Indians quickly overcame him and took him captive. He was carried away to a spot that the Indians, who were from north of the Ohio River, planned to rendezvous with the Shawnees after the attack, before heading north. William Walker was a son of John's uncle John Walker IV. John was never to see his cousin again.
John's brother Jim (James Benjamin Cowan), who was about eight years old at the time, was captured by the Cherokees and taken away to their nation and adopted into their tribe. He did not make his escape from the Cherokees until he was about fifteen. (These ages are estimates. They do not agree with the stories told by Dr. James Benjamin Cowan of Tullahoma, TN, who was rather inventive in his telling of family history.)
Ann Cowan was taken by the Shawnees back to their predetermined rendezvous with the Delawares. When William Walker was brought in by the Delawares, he was suprised to see his aunt and cousin Jane there. Youn Jane, who continued to cry loudly, was suddenly tomahawked by an Indian, probably because the crying girl was a threat to their being located. The Indians told the captives not to speak to one another.
After crossing the Ohio River, Ann Walker Cowan was taken by her Shawnee captors, to the west and WIlliam Walker was taken by his Delaware captors to the east. Looking backwards as they were led away, aunt and nephew sadly took one last look at each other. They were never to see each other again.
Ann arrived in the Shawnee Indian villiage where captives were made to run through Indians lined on two sides with sticks. The captive had to run through the lines to get to the other end. The indians would beat the captive with the sticks as he/she passed through. If he/she failed to reach the other end, or displayed less than strong behavior through the ordeal, he/she would then be tortured and burned to death. Mary must have passed through the ordeal satisfactorily because she was kept as a slave of a squaw for the next six or seven years.
John's grandfather, John Walker III, was greatly grieved at the loss of so many of his family: two of his children, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren. He died later that year.
Even with the protection of the forts, life on the frontier was precarious and brutal: Indians attacked Cowan's Fort again in 1779 and Abraham Cooper and his son were killed. (Not connected to "our" Coopers yet). Another son, Christopher, documented this event in his application for a Revolutionary War Pension and delared that "two young women were taken prisoner and he was one of the party that pursued and retook them again."
It was about 1783 that John Cowan moved to what was then Greene County, Tennessee. It was soon after this move that the heirs of Samuel Cowan had their father's land surveyed. On August 20, 1784, the Washington Co, VA, Book #1 of the Record of Surveys and Entries, page 153, this survey, done more than a year earlier, is entered:
Surveyed for John Cowan, heirs, etc. 230 acres of land in Washington County, by virtue of a certificate (some kind of deed), lying on both sides of McKinney's Run (Cowan Creek), a south branch of Clinch River, and beginning at the foot of Copper Creek Ridge at a popular corner to William Cowan's land he now lives on and with the lines thereof etc. March 25, 1783.
We the Commissioners for the district of Washington and Montgomery Counties do certify that John Cowan, heir at law of Samuel Cowan deseased, is entitled to 284 acres of land by settlement in the year 1772, lying in Washington County on a branch known by the name of McKenney's Run, and adjoining William Cowan. At witness our hands the 8th day of August 1781. Teste James Reid, C.C. Jos. Cabell, Harry Innes, M. Cabell, Commission
On the same page in the Book of Surveys is an entry for John's uncle David Cowan's land. This makes it likely that David Cowan had moved to Greene County Tennessee also. Where the Cowans moved to was the part of Green County that became part of Knox County in 1792 and in 1795 became Blount County. Many of the Scotch-Irish were moving to this area: the Cowans, Walkers, Houstons, Gillespies, McClungs, Weirs, etc.
On 18 November 1788, the following document was recorded in the new Russell County, Virginia, clearly a sale of the land Samuel Cowan had settled upon arriving in the Clinch Valley, the same land that had been surveyed in 1783:
THIS INDENTURE, made the eighteenth day of November in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, between James McKinney, of the County of Russell, in the State of Virginia of the one part and John Cowan, of Green County and state of North Carolina (Tennessee was still officially part of North Carolina at this time), of the other part witnesseth that the said John Cowan for and in consideration of the sum of sixty-six pounds of current money of Virginia to him in hand paid by the said James McKinney doth grant, bargain and sell unto the said James McKinney and his heirs a certain tract or parcel of land in the County of Russell containing two hundred and thirty-five acres by survey bearing date the twenty-fifth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, lying and being in the County of Russell, on both sides of McKinney's Run a short branch of Clinch River and bounded as followeth, to wit: Beginning at the foot of Copper Creek Ridge at a popular corner to William Cowan's land and with a line thereof north fifty-one degrees west one hundred fifty-three poles to a white oak and ash sappling on the east side of the ridge. North thirty degrees east one hundred and fifty-five poles to a black oak and a white oak at the foot of a rocky ridge thence, leaving said line, North forty-seven degrees East, one hundred and forty-nine poles crossing the branch to two white oaks at the foot of a ridge South thirty-two degrees east forty poles to a black and white oak of the side of a ridge south forty-three degrees west forty-five poles to three white oak saplings on the west side of a ridge south Twenty-five degrees east eighty poles to a beech near a branch south four degrees west one hundred poles crossing the branch to a white oak and ridge at the foot of Copper Creek ridge and along thereon south forty four degrees west one hundred and twenty-six poles to the BEGINNING, together with all its appurtenances to have and to hold the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtenances unto the said James McKinney and his heirs to the sole use and behoof of him the said James McKinney and his heirs forever, and the said John Cowen for himself and his heirs doeth covenant with the said James McKinney and his heirs that the said John Cowan and his heirs the said land with the appurtenances unto the said James McKinney and his heirs against all persons what so ever will forever warrant and defend. In Witness whereof the said John Cowen hath hereunto subscribed his name and affixed his seal the day and year above written. John Cowen. (seal) At a Court held for Russell County the 18th day of November 1788. This indenture of Bargain and sale of land from John Cowen to James McKinney was acknowledged in court and ordered to be recorded. Teste: Henry Dickenson, C. R. C. A Copy, Teste: E. R. Combs, Clerk Circuit Court, Russell County Virginia.
The next story extracted from "The Shadow of Chilhowee" by Dr. James Benjamin Cowan of Tullahoma, TN, James Benjamin Cowan's grandson, as written by P.D. Cowan.
John's mother resurfaced in a rather dramatic way about 1785. A half-breed French-Indian and his Indian wife arrived at the Shawnee village where Ann was captive. She convinced them to help her escape. They buried her under a pile of furs in their canoe and headed to a French trading post somewhere in Kentucky. Arriving at the trading post and knowing that the Indians would follow after discovering Ann's absence, the half-breed and the owner of the trading post, hid Ann in a small cellar under the trading post floor and sent a rider to seek help among Ann's people.
The rider rode day and night to what is now Blount County, Tennessee, where Ann somehow had learned that her Scotch-Irish community had moved. The Blount County settlers were assembled outdoors at meeting (religious services) listening to a sermon. He rode to a stump, which served as the podium, and called out, "Is there a man here named Russell, Major Russell? Or Colonel Walker or any man named Cowan?"
Major Russell Spke up. "I'm Major Russell. What is it you want?"
The rider spoke excitedly, "There is a woman at the French trading post making her escape. Her name is Ann Cowan and the Indians are in pursuit to recapture her, and I am to come here and tell her friends to come quickly as possible to rescue her. Within an hour, a well-provisioned army of one hundred men was on a forced march northward toward the trading post, among them Ann Cowan's sons.
It was dark when the small army reached the trading post. The Indians had been loitering around the trading post asking questions about their missing slave and probably buying whisky at the post. Hearing the approaching hoofbeats, the Indians fled as Major Russell and his men arrived. And from the dark depths of the cellar, still in the dress of the Shawnees, Ann Cowan emerged and was reunited with her now grown sons.
In Deed Book 1, Page 44 refers to John being in Green County on the 10th of November, 1788
From the Book "American Militia in the Frontier Wars, 1790-1796", page 102, we learn that John Cowan served in Captain Hugh Beard's Company of Guards at the treaty on the Holston River near the mouth of the French Broad River, May 28 to July 11, 1791.
On September 24, 1799, in Deed Book 1, page 298, a transaction was recorded between John Cowan of knox County, Southwest Territory and James McKinney of Russell County. It is probably a lease or a deed of sale.
On June 23, 1796, John Cowan II, his uncle William Cowan, and Robert Wood, were among the registered surveyors of the Powell Valley Tract in Southwest Virginia and Tennessee. John was a newlywed at the time. (pg 66 Calendar of the Tennessee and King's Mountain Papers of the Draper Collection of manuscript, Wisconsin Historical Society Publications, Madison , WS, 1929)
John's mother had retreated to Rockbridge County after her captivity among the Indians. On May 9, 1796, John paid a $150 marriage bond there to marry Margaret Weir, a daughter of James Weir of Rockbridge County.
William Gault Wear, Blount Co, Tennessee 11 Dec 1817- Eureka Springs Arkansas c. 1900 m. Cooper Co, Missouri, 02 Nov 1837; son of James Hutchenson Weir.
James Hutchenson Weir, Virginia, 30 Sep 1789 - Cooper Co Missouri April 1832, Knoxville Tennessee 27 October 1812
About 1800, many of the residents of Blount County were moving southwestward into the Sewannee Valley in what was to become Franklin County, Tennessee, Alabama State Line. John's brother Jim moved there and John moved there briefly, but we are not sure when. There was another John Cowan there, a cousin of our John's no doubt, so it is impossible to discern which of the records are our John Cowan. The other John Cowan was elected as one of the first county commissioners of Franklin County in December of 11807. The first court met at the home of Major William Russell, the man who had lived at Castle's Woods with the Cowans in Virginia, and then in Blount County with them. L ater in Franklin County, a town would spring up that would be named Cowan, Tennessee, named for a family member.
We know that John moved his family to Mercer County, Kentucky, about 1804. In Beckwith's History of Montgomery County Indiana, in John's son's biography, it states that John lived in Tennessee for twenty years, so our dates are about correct here. It was in Mercer County that John and Margaret's daughter Sally was born. There were probably Cowan relatives already living in Mercer County. Another John Cowan had taken the census of that county in 1777. That john waslikely a brother to the subject John Cowan's father, Samuel Cowan.
About 1807, the Cowans moved again, to waht is now Charlestown, Clark County, Indiana. John had purchased the land grant of one of George Rogers Clark's soldiers there. The grant contained 8 acres in the settlement and 100 acres outside for farming.
Margaret Weir Cowan died about 1811, leaving John alone with their seven or more children. It is believed that John turned over the care of Esther and an infant daughter, to Isaiah and Elizabeth Montier Cooper at this time. This was a common occurence on the Frontier. The men had to work and had no one to care for an infant. Why Esther also was let go may have been because Esther was attached to Rachel Cooper, who was her own age, or perhaps because she was very attached to the baby. This can only be speculation, but it was a common occurence.
Margaret may have already been dead when John served under General William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippicanoe on 07 November 1811, in Captain Charles Begg's Company of Light Dragoons of the Indiana Militia. In this battle the Shawnees, fighting under the leadership of "The Prophet," brother of Tecumseh, were defeated. Shortly thereafter, the War of 1812 began and the Indians allied themselves with the British.
On 01 April 1813, at Charlestown, Clark County, Indiana, John joined Captain James Bigger's company of mounted rangers who roamed throughout Indiana to prevent Indian attack. The company was mostly made up of men from Clark County, but there were also about eleven men from Vallonia. John's fifteen year old son, James Weir Cowan, also enlisted in the company. Isaiah Cooper, whose son Enoch would one day marry John's daughter, Esther Cowan, was also a member. Each ranger received a dollar a day and had to furnish his own horse, arms, provisions, and ammunition. John and James were privates. Their company was in the regiment of Colonel William Russell, the man who had commanded Fort Russell at Castle's Woods. The soldiers were fighting against the famed Shawnee Indian Tecumseh and his allies.
Captain Bigger's company took part on June 11, 1813, in a deployment commanded by General Joseph Bartholemew. They attacked the Delawar Indians' upper towns on the west fork of the White River. When the force reached the Indian towns, they found that they had mostly been destroyed already, probably by a company from White Water settlement. They did find one band of Indians near Strawtown and surrounded them. The indians were boiling deer heads in a large copper kettle. The Indians fled with but one casualty to the whites: David Hays was wounded. David Maxwell (one day to be John Cowan's brother-in-law) dressed Hays' wounds. The patient was then carried on a horse litter to the mouth of Flat Rock, now Columbus, Indiana, where two canoes were made. With a guard, Hays was sent back to his family in Vallonia, but he died shortly afterward from his wounds at the fort. The captured Indian horses and kettle were sold to the highest bidder in the expedition.
John remained unmarried through most of the decade. His daughter Mary Ann Cowan, about twelve when her mother died, probably assumed the househodl duties. Mary Ann died in August of 1819, and this probably prompted John to remarry. Four months later, on 30 December 1819 in Jefferson County Indiana, he married Anna Maxwell, 37, a spinster woman who was the sister of David Maxwell, who had served with John Cowan and Isaiah Cooper in the same company during the War of 1812. Their marriage was performed by Rev. John McClung, who was a minister in the Reformed or Newlight Church.
Apparently John was feeling that it was time for some changes in his life. Not only did he take a new wife, but, in 1820 soon after their marriage, he moved his family to the newly-created capital of Indiana, the village of Indianapolis. They lived there about two years. During that time a son, John Maxwell Cowan, was born on 06 December 1821. Because Anna was along in years, this was to be John and her only child.
The following year, 1822, the Cowans moved to Montgomery County, Indiana. There they purchased land 2 1/2 miles southwest of the town of Crawfordsville on Oldfield's Creek. John was fifty-four at the time. The land would have needed clearing. John had two grown sons at home, Jim 23, and Walker 20. The three men would have worked together to make a cabin and farm out of the virgin land. Original land patent entries of Montgomery County show that on 04 july 1822, John purchased or claimed 80 acres that were the east one half of the southeast one quarter of Township 18, Section 11, Range 5. It was patent #135496.
For the next ten years, John and Anna lived on this land, but in 1832 John became ill. He was either visited or taken to the home of his daughter Sarah "Sally" Cowan Maxwell in nearby Frankfort, in Clinton County. Sally was married to Anna's nephew Samuel Dunn Maxwell. John's son probably took care of the farm in his absence. It was in Sally's home that John died on 17 Aug 1832, at the age of sixty-three. He was buried in the Old Town Cemetery in Frankfurt.
By then, John's daughter, Esther Cowan, had married Enoch Cooper adn was living in Pike County, Illinois. Only the previous month she had given birth to their first child, and Enoch was just returning from having served in the Black Hawk War.
Whether or not Esther had maintained contact with her natural father is lost to us. She is not mentioned in his will.
James Montgomery was the executor of John's will, which was filed for probate on 13 May 1833, in Montgomery County, Indiana. It stated as follows:
In the name of God, Amen. I, John Cowan, of Montgomery county of the State of Indiana, considering the frailty of my body and the uncertainty of this mortal life, and being of sound mind to make this my last will and testament, in the manner & form following, that is to say, I give & bequeath to my beloved wife Anna all of my personal property to have the use of while she lives single: after my death I also give & bequeath to my two sons, James W. Cowan and John M. Cowan, my land with all the apurtenances (sic) thereon & belonging; situate in Montgomery county & state above written to belong to them and their heirs forever, and at the death of either of them, if he died having no issue, then his part to descend to the other, and also that my beloved wife Anny is to have her part support off the plantation while she does live single, after my death, and at ther death all my personal property to descend (sic) to my two sons above named, each to possess an equal part; I also give and bequeath to my son Samuel W. Cowan, ten dollars to be paid to him in twelve months after my death; I also give & bequeath to my daughter Sally Maxwell ten dollars to be paid to her in twelve months after my death. I hereby appoint James Montgomery of Parke county, and state aforesaid eecutor of this my last will and testament. In witness whereof I do have here unto set my hand and seal this first day of november, in the year of our Lord 1828. Signed, sealed, and delivered by the above named John Cowan to be his last will and testament in the presence of us who have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses in the presence of the testator.
> James Cowan
This was an inventory filed 10 July 1833 of the personal property of John Cowan
1 sythe (sic) and findings
1 log chain
1 falling axe
1 iron wedge
1 set brest chains
1 pot rack
1 man saddle
1 side saddle
1 cory (?) plow
1 double tree
1 shovel plow
1 drawing knife & sundries
1 kettle & bales
10 kettle & hooks
1 sythe & cradle
1 old tea kettle
1 waffle iron
1 little skillet & lid
1 ovin & hooks
1 ovin (sic) and lid (probably a dutch oven)
1 smoothing iron
Some old tine ware
Shovel tongs and hand irons
1 set of hand irons
1 cotton wheel
1 check (?) reel
cupboard furnature (sic)
1 old gray horse
1 Reep (?) hook
1 waggon (sic)
1 bed and furnature
1 ash bedsted bed & bedding
1 lot of books
1 candle stand
1 lot of hogs
2 cows & calves
One Note of hand on John Hughes
And William Galloway for
John's second wife, Anna Maxwell Cowan, had been born 11 December 1781, in Virginia, and died 09 January 1854, in Frankfort, Clinton County, Indiana. She was also buried in the Old Town Cemetery in Frankfort. Anna received a 160 acre land grant in the early 1850's for her husband's military services in the War of 1812. She was the daughter of Bezaleel Maxwell II (175101829) and Margaret Anderson (175501834). Her grandfather, Bezaleel Maxwell I had emigrated from Scotland to Philadelphia then to Albemarle Co, VA. Her father was born in Albemarle and died in Jefferson Co, IN. Her brother John Maxwell, was the father of her nephew Samuel Dunn Maxwell, who married Sally Cowan. Her brother Dr. David Hervey Maxwell, later of Bloomington, IN, was in the same military company as John Cowan and Isaiah Cooper in the war of 1812.
CHILDREN OF JOHN COWAN AND MARGARET WEIR COWAN
(1) James Weir Cowan was born 30 June 1797. He was married to Isabel Hunter (21 January 1810-?) on 02 Aug 1831. He was living in Clinton County, Indiana, as late as 1851. Two of his known children were Samuel Walker Cowan, born 25 Sep 1833. Company B Seventy-Second Indian Volunteers, U.S. Army during Civil War from 09 Aug 1862 to 24 July 1865, married Mary Richards Sep 1865, died 04 February 1900, buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Crawfordsville, IN; and Margaret Ann Cowan, born 06 Oct 1835, married Issac N. Reath 18 Feb 1857, died 03 Jun 1904. James obtained 160 acres of bounty land in the early 1850's for his service in the War of 1812. He was in the same company as his father and Isaiah Cooper when he was just fifteen years old. He had a horse stolen, killed, or lost during the war on March 01, 1814. (See Maxwell History and Genealogy for more descendants.)
(2) Mary Ann Cowan was born 18 April 1799 and died in August of 1819. She is not known to have married. She was no doubt the woman of the house after he mother's death. It was probably because Mary Ann died, that John Cowan decided to marry a second time to Anna Maxwell, which he did four months after Mary Ann's death.
(3) Samuel Walker Cowan ("Walker") was born 02 December 1801. He died 30 August 1834 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Nothing else is known about him at this time. His obituary, which gives the impression that he was not married, says:
He was a vigilant and faithful public officer, an ardent friend to human nature; one who wept with, and soothed those who wept, and aided and lifted up those who were bowed down. Those who were allied to him by ties of blood have felt the parting pang, and while they have loved to remember that he was an honor to the name which he bore, they also remembered the presence of the Deity; their murmurings have been repressed. Oh! They know that God has taken one of his noblest works. C.
(4) Esther Cowan 1803-1865.
(5) Sarah "Sally" Tilford Cowan was born 30 October 1805, in Mercer County, Kentucky. She married Samuel Dunn Maxwell (19 Feb 1803-03 Jul 1873), the nephew of her stepmother Anna Maxwell Cowan (1782-1854). He was the son of John Maxwell (1775-1824) and Sarah Dunn (1780-1817) and grandson of Bezaleel Maxwell (1751-1824 and Margaret Anderson (1755-1834). They married on 15 December 1822. Sally died 01 Jan 1856, in Pisgah, Kentucky. John Cowan died in his daughter Sally's home in Frankfort, Clinton County, Indiana. Samuel Maxwell was a lawyer and the justice of the peace in Frankfurt in 1851 and twice mayor of Indianapolis Indiana (1860-1864). One of Sally's children was Margaret Maxwell Allen. Sally's narrative about her family was written by Margaret:
My grandfather Cowan (Samuel Cowen) was killed by the Indians, and his wife (Ann Walker Cowan) taken prisoner at the same time, and was with them six years before she was rescued. Later, was taken the second time and was with them six months. They lived at the Fort at this time. The son (John Cowan) just escaped by fleetness of foot, and got inside the gate of the fort as the Indian's tomahawk was uplifted to kill him.
Sally had the following children: Sarah Jane Maxwell, 11 Sep 1823 - 21 Oct 1823; John Cowan Maxwell born 21 Nov 1824, married Julia Ann Firestone 11 Mar 1851, died 12 Jan 1888; Irwin Maxwell, born 29 Sep 1826 - died 26 Nov 1826; Margaret Ann Maxwell, born 23 Oct 1827, married Rev. Dr. Robert Welch Allen 06 Apr 1846, died 15 Apr 1905 in Los Angeles CA; James Maxwell, born 13 Mar 1831 - died 09 Mar 1832; Sarah Maxwell, born 30 April 1934, died 10 Oct 1934; Martha Ellen Maxwell, born 27 Sep 1837, married Lewis Jordan; Samuel Howard Maxwell, no information; Williamson Dunn Maxwell, born 1 May 1842 - died 26 Jun 1873; David Maxwell, died 1845; Emma Turpin Maxwell, married first Elisha Brown, married second Mr. Lemist. (See Maxwell History and Genealogy for more descendants.
CHILD OF JOHN COWAN & ANNA MAXWELL COWAN
(6) John Maxwell Cowan was the only child of the second marriage of John Cowan. His mother was Anna Maxwell. He was born in the new town o Indianapolis on 06 Dec 1821, being the first white child born in that town. John was born when his father was fifty-three years old and his mother, forty. He was his mother's only child. In 1822, the family moved to a farm near Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana. When young John was ten, his father died, and hard times fell on the boy and his mother.
He entered the preparatory school of Wabash College in 1836 and graduated in 1842 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Soon after his graduation he was appointed Deputy Clerk of Clinton County and moved to Frankfort, where his sister Sally and her husband Sam Maxwell lived. There he studied law in his spare time and was soon able to attend the University of Indiana Law School at Bloomington. Graduating after one year, he returned to Frankfort and began practicing law.
On 13 November 1845 he married Harriet Doubleday Janney in Stockwell, Indiana, with whom he had four children. Harriet was born 29 July 1826 and died 28 June 1905, in Springfield Missouri. In politics, John was a strong Whig and later a strong Republican after the rise of that new party. Like most Scotch-Irish of the time, he was Presbyterian. He was also a member of the Society of Colonial Wars. He was of medium height, slender build and erect carriage.
In 1858 he was elected judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit and re-elected in 1864. In 1870, after finishing his second term on the bench, he moved his family to Crawfordsville, where he had grown up, forming a law partnership with Thomas M. Patterson, who would later become a United States Senator in Colorado. He afterward went into law practice with M.D. White and his second son, James P.E. Cowan. After three years he retired from practice and began working for the First National Bank of Crawfordsville as assistant cashier and legal advisor. He was for a number of years, a trustee of Wabash College.
In 1881, his wife became ill. A friend of John's had moved to the Ozark Mountains near Springfield, Missouri, and recommended the climate as highly healthful. This influenced the Cowans to move to Springfield Missouri, where he purchased a farm two miles south of town, where they farmed and raised stock. In 1889 the Cowans' sold the farm and moved into a new home they had built on South Jefferson Street in Springfield. John was a pioneer in the development of Walnut Street as a business center. John purchased the Springfield Republican, which his two sons, James Cowan and William Cowan, ran. John lived to an advanced age, dying at the age of ninety-eight on 03 June 1920. He was buried in Crawfordsville Indiana.
The oldest child of John Maxwell Cowan and Harriet Janney was Edward H Cowan. He was born 21 Dec 1846 and was still alive in 1915, living in Crawfordsville Indiana. In the spring of 1864 he graduated from the Preparatory Department of Wabash College in Crawfordsville Indiana. He joined Company H of 135th Indiana Infantry and was discharged Sep 29, 1864. He re-entered Wabash College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a M.D. in 1873 from Miami Medical College in Cincinnati Ohio. He started a medical practice in Crawfordsville at that time and remained there for the rest of his life. He married Lucy L. Ayars on13 Nov 1877. They had two children; John Ayars Cowan (1880-1891) and Elizabeth L Cowan, born 21 Jun 1884, who was a home economics teacher at Crawfordsville High School in 1915. This line probably died out.
The second child of John Maxwell Cowan was James Porter Ellis Cowan, born 1848. He was a special pension examiner for the federal government in Washington DC in 1915. On 30 Jan 1873, he married Louana Burnett. They had one child: Harriet Janney Cowan, born 12 Nov 1873. She married Lewis T Gilliland and lived in Portland Oregon in 1915. They had one child, Maxwell Porter Gilliland born 15 Aug 1901. James married a second time to Lalula R Bennett on 31 Dec 1883, and had Janet L Cowan on 07 Jul 1885; Mary Bennett Cowan on July 20 1888, and Anna J Cowan. All three lived in Marietta Ohio, while their father worked in Washington. In 1914, James and his family were living in Springfield Missouri where he was the editor of the Springfield Republican, of which his father was the co-owner.
The third child of John Maxwell Cowan was his only daughter, Laura Ann Cowan, born 14 Mar 1851 in Frankfort, Clinton Co, Indiana. Laura graduated from Glendale Female Academy in Ohio. She married Allen Trimble Blaine (1846-1880) on 16 Feb 1876, a Civil War Veteran, and was widowed at age twenty-nine. Laura was living in Springfield, Missouri, as late as 1920. She co-authored Maxwell History and Genealogy about 1915. She never remarried. Her only child from her four year marriage was Mary maxwell Blaine, born 03 October 1877. Mary graduated from Drury College with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1898. She obtained a Master of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1900. She married Rudyard S Uzzell on 14 Feb 1906. As of 1914 she had two sons: William Cowan Uzzell, born 14 Jan 1910; and Rudyard S Uzzell, Jr., born 26 Jun 1912.
The youngest of the four children of John Maxwell Cowan was his son John William Cowan, born 06 Oct 1853 in Frankfort, Clinton Co, Indiana. John William never married. He was living in Springfield in 1915, running the Springfield Republican with his brother James.
[Sources: History of Clinton County, IN, pp. 197-8; written in 1912, sent to me by the Clinton County Historical Society; U.S. Census Clinton County 1850 page 625; Beckwith's History of Montgomery County Indiana pp. 160-1); Bowen's History of Montgomery County, IN pp. 707-710; Beckwourth's History of Montgomery County, IN, pp 160-1; The Cowans from County Down, by John K. Fleming, Derreth Printing Company, Raleigh, NC, 1971, pp 363-4; History of Green County, MO, pp 992-995, 1915; Death certificate of John M. Cowan, 1920; Maxwell History and Genealogy, by Florence Wilson Houston, Laura Cowan Blane, and Ella Dunn Mellette, C.E. Pauley & Co, Indianapolis IN, 1915; Baird's History of Clark County, Indiana, pp 37-8; Will E Parham Papers, McClung Collection, Knox County Library, 301 McGhee St., Knoxville TN; Tennessee Cousins by Worth S. Ray.]
(2) James Benjamin Cowan was born about 1770, probably in North Carolina. He was a son of Samuel Cowan and Ann Walker Cowan. "Jim" was about eight when he was captured by the Cherokees in the 1778 attack on the Cowan family and fifteen when he escaped to return to white civilization. There he grew into manhood. He married Mary "Polly" Montgomery (1773-after 1849) in Blount County, TN, on 23 April 1800 when he was about thirty years old. James was a captain in the regular army and commanded the frontier from the Tennessee line in lower middle Tennessee to Ross's Landing, now Chattanooga, and a point north of where Huntsville Alabama now lies. The land was under the control of the United States government but was still populated by Indian tribes. During the War of 1812, James was elected captain of his company and participated in the Battle of New Orleans (as did Daniel Matheny) and also a battle at Pensacola, Florida. Shortly after returning home to Franklin County in 1815, James died, perhaps of a war injury.
About 1806, James moved his family from Blount County to Franklin County, Tennessee. He was a hardened frontiersman. These are the children of James B Cowan and Mary "Polly" Montgomery, daughter of James and Elizabeth (Weir) Montgomery: Samuel Montgomery Cowan, a noted Presbyterian minister, born in Blount TN on 10 Mar 1801, married Nancy Clemens, performed marriage of his niece Mary Ann Montgomery to Nathan Bedford Forrest; Ann Cowan, born 1802-1810, married Alfred Cowan, no issue; Julia Cowan, born c. 1804, married John Davis; Martha Cowan, born 1812, married first John Griffith, married second C.W. McCord; Elizabeth "Bessie" Cowan, born c. 1805, married William H. Montgomery, widowed 1829, died after 1845; John Cowan, born c 1806 married Ann Brown; Rachel Cowan, born c 1814, died De Soto County, MS. For more descendants of James B. Cowan, see Maxwell History and Genealogy, pages 290-1.
James B Cowan's daughter Bessie was only ten when her father died. Exactly thirty years later, in 1845, the widowed Bessie Cowan Montgomery, and her daughter Mary Ann Montgomery, were being driven by a slave down a muddy road near Hernando Mississippi when their carriage became stuck. Try as he might, the slave could not get the carriage unstuck and the ladies sat marooned in the carriage in the middle of the mudhole. A rider came along and gallantly offered to help out the ladies in distress. He unstuck their carriage and escorted the ladies to their destination. The young man was love struck. He approached her uncle and guardian, Rev. Samuel Cowan of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and asked permission to court his niece. Mary Ann married her chivalrous savior, who went on to become the feared Confederate cavalry leader General Nathan Bedford Forest (John and Esther Houston Montgomery 1719-1973, p. 77) Forrest was a cotton planter and slave trader. After the Civil War, he became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but resigned when the organization became too violent for even his hardened sensibilities. The above Montgomery history attempts to whitewash Forrest's career:
From Hernado they (Nathan and Mary Ann) moved to Memphis, where he was a successful businessman, a kindly and considerate dealer in slave trading, a cotton planter who participated in city government and matters concerned with law and order. (the KKK)
Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest was the first cousin once removed to Esther Cowan, who married Enoch Cooper. The above Rev. Samuel Cowan would have been a son of James Benjamin Cowan. He is the Samuel Montgomery Cowan mentioned in the next account.
We have this account of the Indian attack in 1778 in which Ann Walker Cowan, her nephew William Walker, and her son James B. Cowan, were taken prisoner and her daughter Jane was killed. It was a part of the book entitled The Shadow of the Chilhowee, by P.D. Cowan. This account was given to him by Dr. James Benjamin Cowan of Tullahoma, Tennessee, a grandson and namesake of James Benjamin Cowan (c 1770-1815). There are some errors of names, generation, location, etc. (Corrections and additions in parenthesis.) The account gives some idea of the circumstances in the escape of Ann Cowan from her Shawnee captors.
Tullahoma, Tennessee, March 28, 1895
My father was Samuel Montgomery Cowan. My great great grandfather was Samuel Cowan. My great grandfather was Joh. He was a Major in the Continental Army, in the war for independence. The father, Samuel, and all his sons were in the army and fought to the end. My great grandfather, as stated, was Major John Cowan (Samuel Cowan?). He was killed by the Indians at some part in East Tennessee (Washington Co VA). At the time he was killed, his wife, a daughter and a son -my grandfather-, James Cowan, were captured. The Indians adopted my grandfather into their (Cherokee) tribe. He was only fifteen (eight) years old. His mother was taken by another (Shawnee) tribe. His sister was killed. My grandfather was kept a year (seven) and made his escape (at age 15). His mother was carried north and kept seven years. Her maiden name was Walker. My grandfather (James Benjamin Cowan) -had but one brother, John (John Cowan). He moved at an early day to Indiana. His son, Judge John M. Cowan, has visited my father and myself before the late war at our home in Mississippi.
There was another James B Cowan (1777-1831) who lived in Franklin County Tennessee. He is easy to confuse with our subject. Both served in the War of 1812. (For his son's biography see Goodspeed's History of Franklin County, Tennessee, Nashville, 1886).
For more information on the descendants of our subject, James B. Cowan, See Maxwell History and Genealogy, pp. 290-1.
(3) Jane Cowan was a small child, probably less than eight years old when she was captured by Indians with her mother in 1778. She was tomahawked to death by the Indians for crying.
[SOURCES: Files of Franklin County, Tennessee Historical Society, P.O. Box 130, Winchester TN 37398; The Cowans of County Down: Genealogy of the Dependants of John Walker of Wigton, Scotland, p. 13-14, John and Esther Houston Montgomery 1719-1973, Brazos Printing Co., Maryville TN, pp. 73-74]
Samuel Cowan & Ann Walker > John Cowan > Esther Cowan > John Shepherd Cooper > Rose Cooper > Lois Hodgson > Mildred Serrano > Donald Rivara > Rainie Rivara > Salman & Rehan Saeed
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