Genealogical Keynotes[edit | edit source]

Page created by Margie Cowan

Vita[edit | edit source]

There is a fourteen year gap between the known birth dates of Robert Cowan (b. 1784) and his brother James Walker Cowan (b. 1798). This 14 year gap can account for the births of the three children referenced by both Miss Jessie Lee Cowan and the Andrew Finis Cowan (AFC) letter: Polly Cowan, her sister Anne Cowan, and William Cowan. In fourteen years, there could have also been one or more (additional ... unnamed) children who died in infancy or stillbirth.

Charles Lee Peery's book gives an approximate birth date of 1790 for George Peery's wife, Ann. The statement in the Spence & Spence book that Ann was from East Tennessee would fit with William Cowan coming from Virginia to East Tennesse and living either in Blount Co., TN (or its predecessor counties).

Ancestry[edit | edit source]

Ann COWAN was the daughter of William COWAN (1750-1809)‎‎ and Jane Walker (1755-1806). (Named in the AFC letter.)

Spouse(s)[edit | edit source]

This information is based on the AFC letter stating that Ann Cowan married "Mr. Peray" and lived "below Nashville", as well as other conclusions stated in the Alternative Interpretation section:

Religious Affiliation[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian -- Swans Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Centerville, Hickman Co., TN

Campground or Swan Cumberland Presbyterian Church was established in 1826 on Swan Creek. Robert Peery and James Peery, Jr. were the first elders. Alexander Peery donated the land.

Child List[edit | edit source]

Presuming that the conclusions drawn in the Alternative Interpretation section are correct, Charles Lee PEERY's book lists the following children of George PEERY and Ann COWAN:

  1. Nelly G______ PEERY b: 21 NOV 1808
  2. David Cowan PEERY b: 16 JUN 1811
  3. Jane W______ PEERY b: 23 JAN 1813
  4. Marcenus G______ PEERY b: 20 APR 1814
  5. Aldazena PEERY b: 26 JAN 1816 in Hickman Co., TN
  6. Martha Ann PEERY b: 4 SEP 1817 in Hickman Co., TN
  7. Mary J______ PEERY b: 22 OCT 1820
  8. Malinda PEERY b: 2 AUG 1822
  9. Lorinda PEERY b: 13 MAY 1824
  10. George W______ PEERY, Jr. b: 25 NOV 1827
  11. Margaret P______ PEERY b: 25 NOV 1829
  12. William J______ F______ PEERY b: 28 FEB 1832
  13. Priscilla PEERY b: ABT 1838 in TN
  14. Franklin PEERY b: 1838 in TN

NOTE: If the conclusions in the Alternative Interpretation section are correct and, adding the information in the AFC letter, then the names of the first three children would match names of William Cowan's family as follows:

  • Nellie G. Peery -- possibly named for Ann Cowan's sister, Eleanor "Ellen" (Cowan) Gillespy?
  • David COWAN Peery -- named for her brother?
  • Jane W. Peery -- named for her mother, Jane (Walker) Cowan?

Surname Variations[edit | edit source]

Peray, Peary, Pearey, Peerie, Perie, Pirie

Family History[edit | edit source]

The AFC letter confirms that AFC's father, Andrew Cowan (William1), had three sisters (named Anne, Polly, and one married James Gillespie of Blount County, TN but does not give her name; however, the latter sister could only be Eleanor Cowan, wife of James "Smoking Jimmie" Gillespy.).

Both Jessie Lee Cowan's correspondence and the AFC letter indicate that Andrew Cowan (William1) had a sister named Anne Cowan. The AFC letter states Anne Cowan "married Mr. Peray" and "lived below Nashville."

Alternative Interpretation[edit | edit source]

Some genealogists say the maiden name of George PEERY's wife was Carson, others say it was COWAN. However, no TN marriage has been found for George Peery and, while both he and Ann are supposedly buried in the Hickman Co., TN cemetery their tombstones no longer exist.

  • From Peery's 1997 book (p. 69) ... “Some genealogical records state that George married either Ann Carson or Cowan from East Tennessee. Spence’s history states that he married Ann Carson. Our James brother, John Peery, moved to Franklin County, Tennessee. It appears logical that the family, including George, would have visited John and his family in Franklin County, which includes a town named Cowan…. The writer wonders whether Ann’s mother’s maiden name was Cowan since her [first] son’s name was David Cowan Peery…”
  • [NOTE: Spence & Spence’s book is poorly-documented and provides no documentation whatsoever for claiming Ann’s maiden name was Carson.
    Even the DAR file on James Peery/Perry does not provide proof of Anne’s maiden name, even though there have been several applications from their descendants. In fact, the proof provided with these applications was references from Spence & Spence's poorly-documented book.]
  • On the Beverly Patent map, James Peery’s (father of George Peery) land and a William Cowan’s land are separated by two parcels of land.
    • This William Cowan cannot be Ann's father because her father was born in 1750 and this William Cowan is shown on Hildebrand's map as of 1749.
    • One of the parcels of land is owned by Alexander McPheeters who married into the Walker family.
  • The Peerys were in Augusta Co. and Fincastle Co., VA at the same time as the Cowans.
  • White, Kathrine Keogh, The King’s Mountain Men …, Joseph K. Ruebush Company, Dayton, VA; 1924,
    • p. 216: “John and Thomas [Peery] were of the company that joined Campbell on Wolf Creek. The Peerys were early settlers on the Clinch, and took part in the warfare with the Indians. In 1773, three brothers, Thomas, William, and George, and a cousin, John Peery, were living in Tazewell, where the name is still prominent. At Guilford, John was badly sabered by Tarleton’s men and his son Thomas was killed.”
    • Ibid., p. 162: “Andrew and William [Cowan] are listed by Summers and Eckenrode. They were captains in the militia of Washington county, 1777-1780, and were under Campbell at King’s Mountain.”
Thus, the Cowans and Peerys were both at King’s Mountain and served under William Campbell. Campbell was under Russell’s command.
  • Ann’s niece, Jane Walker Gillespy (daughter of Eleanor "Ellen" COWAN and James "Smoking Jimmy" GILLESPY), married the Rev. David Carson. It is possible David Carson’s circuit (before removing to Cannonsburg, PA) may have caused him to visit Hickman Co? Knowing that Rev. Carson was “related” to Ann, people may have remembered the good reverend’s name but not have remembered Ann’s maiden name and, thus, associated his name with her and handed down the misinformation. A deteriorated tombstone inscription might have looked like Carson? Poor or faded handwriting in an old document (now lost?) might have interpreted Cowan as Carson ... a COWAN military record was found filed under Courson because the handwriting was so bad.
  • Jane [Walker] Cowan supposedly died in 1806. Ann may have married George Peery right around the time of her mother’s death.
  • By both online accounts and Spence & Spence’s history of Hickman Co., Ann was probably born about 1790 in East TN. There is a 14-year gap between the births of James Walker Cowan (1784) and David Cowan (c.1799) … so, her birth about 1790 fits very aptly into that time period. By 1790, William had land in Blount Co., TN   (which had been Green Co., NC and then Sevier and Knox Co., TN)
  • Spence's book makes reference to one of the Peery brothers going back to East TN and that George went with him and when he returned, he had married Ann and brought her back with him.
  • Ann would have been about 16 or so when she married, if she was born in 1790. Thus, her youth and “limited” association (after removing to Hickman Co.) with her aunts/uncles would be yet another reason for her immediate family not knowing/remembering who her parents were and/or knowing anything about her siblings/aunts/uncles ...
  • Her going off to the remote Hickman Co, would also account for why her siblings and their descendants would have “lost track” of her.
  • Communications between a relatively remote Hickman Co. and East TN … were probably “primitive” and/or limited until sometime after Ann’s death. (It is logical to assume that even Warren Co. was somewhat remote.) Need to look at a history of communications and railroads, etc. But, with Ann dying before 1850 … communications and travel were not likely “easy” or “modern” until after her death.
  • There are Peery's who were also in Warren Co. ... with the Colville's and Lusks ... and COWANs (this is where the Cowan brothers met and married the Colville sisters).
  • William Cowan and Jane [Walker] Cowan’s sons, Robert Cowan and James Walker Cowan, married Elizabeth and Catherine Colville (respectively) in Warren Co. in 1806 and 1808 (respectively) according to family Bible records. They were daughters of Joseph Colville (b. June 18, 1764 in Washington County, VA d: January 01, 1834 in Warren County, Tennessee) and Sarah LUSK (b. June 15, 1765 in Augusta Co., VA d: 1810 in McMinnville, Warren Co., TN).
    • Now, since there were Lusks and Peery’s in Warren Co. in 1806 or so (since the first child was born 1808) … could George have met Ann going to/from East TN via Warren Co., as Warren Co. was on one of the early migration paths? That they may have married there?
    • Sadly, the early White Co. and Warren Co. marriage records appear not to exist any longer.
  • William Cowan had taken land by an 1803 grant in White (later Warren) Co. on which sons Robert and James were living.
  • George & Anne’s first three (3) children were named: Nellie G. Peery (possibly named for sister Eleanor [Cowan] Gillespy?), David COWAN Perry (named for her brother? – obviously, the family was proud of the COWAN name as it is the only middle name to survive from their children), and Jane W. (for her mother, Jane Walker?)
  • George Peery’s father was James Peery who married Jane GILMORE …
  • John Cowan and Rosanna Gillespy named a son … Campbell GILMORE Cowan … .
  • There’s yet another interesting “coincidence” that links Ann to Andrew Finis Cowan … and may indicate that her children may have had contact with her cousins in McMinn/Bradley Co., TN
    • Andrew Finis Cowan m. Elizabeth Clingan (a 4th generation Cherokee) … They had a child named Cherokee Pocahontas Cowan.
    • From the Peery line …
George’s brother, Robert m. Jane Brown … they had
Charles Brown Peery m. Mary Ann LUSK … they had
James Rufus Peery m. Willie Meece … they had
Carrie Pokahuntas PEERY (Cherry/Cherokee? Pocahontas?)
  • This Carrie P. Peery was born about the same time AFC’s child (Cherokee Pocohantas Cowan) married and died … so, Carrie Pokahuntas PEERY could have been named for her as was so common then to name a child for a recently deceased relative.
  • It is unknown at this writing what relationship, if any, there is between Sarah [Lusk] Colville and Mary Ann [Lusk] Peery.
  • There is a LUSK family cemetery about one mile south of the Flint Springs Presbyterian Church Cemetery, where Andrew Cowan and wife Hetty (Houston) Cowan are buried.
  • Joseph Colville and wife, Sarah (Lusk) Colville are buried in McMinn Co., TN (neighboring county to Bradley Co., TN).
  • The Andrew Finis Cowan letter states: "The third [daughter of William Cowan and Jane Walker] was Annie [who] married Mr. Peray when I last hear [sic] of her lived below Nashville, Tennessee." [Davidson Co., TN] This information was unknown to Charles Lee Peery when he wrote his book in 1997. Sadly, he died 2 weeks before discovering his book at the DAR Library and, thus, was unable to share this information with him and/or get his opinion on conclusions about Ann PEERY's ancestors.

Records[edit | edit source]

  • 1906 letter written by Andrew Finis Cowan (Andrew2, William1) to Miss Columbia Cowan (John Alexander4, Campbell Gilmer3, John [Alexander]2, William1)
  • Columbia Cowan, the recipient of the letter, was living in Pierce City, MO.
  • At the time the letter was written, Andrew was 77 years old (b. December 1829) and was living in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma).
  • AFC's father, Andrew (William1), was 90 when he died in 1872 in Bradley Co., Tn.
  • AFC's three eldest aunts and uncles died at relatively young ages either before Andrew Finis Cowan was born or shortly thereafter:
  • Eleanor (William1) (d. 1831); spouse, James Gillespy d. 1861
  • John [Alexander] Cowan (William1) (d. 1821); spouse, Rosanna Gillespy/Gillespie d. 1857
  • Samuel Cowan (William1) (d. 1828); spouse, Esther Jane Gillespie Houston d. 1844
  • Many of the remaining aunts and uncles remained in Tennessee in neighboring counties to McMinn and Bradley Co., TN.
  • Thus, it is likely he interacted with them and/or their children (his first cousins), was aware of correspondence between the families, and/or that the families visited each other.
  • Therefore, he likely knew first-hand at least the names of aunts and uncles (living or dead), cousins and some details of their lives, as well as information about his grandparents (William Cowan and Jane Walker) ... which he knew./learned from his father and/or living aunts and uncles.

The original of this letter is in possession of James Freeman, Camas, WA. (A scanned digital copy of this letter was submitted by Margie Cowan with applications for First Families of Tennesse for William Cowan and John [Alexander] Cowan ( William1). Interested researchers can obtain a copy either from the McClung library, Knoxville, TN or from Margie Cowan.)

IF the conclusion that the Anne Cowan (m. "Mr. Peray") mentioned in the AFC letter is Anne Cowan, daughter of William Cowan and Jane Walker, then the following census records for George Peery of Hickman Co., TN are pertinent.

  1. 1830 Hickman TN p1: George Peery -- M 1(0-4) 2(10-14) 1(50-59); F 2(0-4) 3(5-9) 1(10-14) 2(15-19) 1(40-49)
  2. 1840 Hickman Co., TN (listed as George PEARY) -- M 1(<5) 1(5-10) 1(10-15) 2 (20-30) 1 (50-60); F 2(5-10) 2(10-15) 1(20-30) 1 (40-50)
  3. 1850 Hickman Co., TN, roll M432_884, 19 Sep 1850, p55 (28), line 23-29 (fam# 390)
  • PEERY, George M 70 VA (farmer, $5,000)
  • PEERY, George Jr M 21 TN (farmer)
  • PEERY, Lorinda F 25 TN (idiotic)
  • PEERY, William M 18 TN (farmer)
  • PEERY, Pricilla F 15 TN
  • PEERY, Franklin M 12 TN
  • PEERY, Margarett F 12 TN

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Fischer, David Hackett, Albion’s seed: Four British folkways in America, Oxford University Press, New York, 1989 (ISBN: 0195037944)
  2. Peery, Charles Lee; Genealogy of James Peery Virginia Pioneer Revolutionary War Veteran Tennessee Frontiersman Hickman County Resident Ancestor and Descendants, Gregath Publishing Co., 1997 [DAR Library]
  3. Spence, W. Jerome and David L.; A History of Hickman County, Tennessee; Gospel Advocate Publishing Company, Nashville, TN, 1900 [DAR Library].
  4. Andrew Finis Cowan's (AFC) Letter (June 7, 1906; Indian Territory/Oklahoma) to Columbia Cowan (Pierce City, Lawrence Co., MO) ... original in possession of James E. Freeman, Camas, WA (as of August, 2006) ... stating Ann Cowan "married Mr. Peray when I last hear [sic] of her lived below Nashville, Tennessee." (Copy of the AFC letter included with Margie Cowan's First Families of Tennessee applications for William Cowan and John [Alexander] Cowan.)

Research Needs[edit | edit source]

Please help other researchers by posting your tombstone photos at

  • Marriage record for George PEERY to Ann COWAN or Ann CARSON.
  • Church records for George PEERY and wife Ann, their children, etc.
  • Pension, military, or other records for George PEERY that might disclose his wife's maiden name.
  • The link between the Blount Co., TN Cowans and the Franklin Co., TN Cowans. (There is reportedly a link but I have not clearly unraveled it.)

Page Needs[edit | edit source]

Links[edit | edit source]

If you are a COWAN male, the Cowan DNA Project needs you to help establish links between the various Cowan branches. Click the link and sign up!


Definitions[edit | edit source]

Common Acronyms and Definitions
Genealogical Definitions

Contributors[edit | edit source]


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.