Genealogical Keynotes[]

The content of this page contributed by: Margie Cowan


  • Born: 1775 in VA
  • Married: 23 August 1797 in Blount Co., TN by Gideon Blackburn, Presbyterian Minister
  • Died: 12 October 1821 in Dallas Co., AL
  • Burial:


John [Alexander] COWAN is the son of William COWAN‎ and Jane Walker.

There is no solid proof that John's middle name was "Alexander" as there is no document, will, military record, pension, etc. that lists his middle name as "Alexander" or even showing a middle initial "A." However, a number of his descendants were named John Alexander Cowan and several of his grandchildren had vanity publications that stated his middle name was Alexander. Thus, the middle name is shown in brackets as [Alexander].



  • Rosanna "Anna / Annie" GILLESPY, reportedly the sister of James "Smoking Jimmy" Gillespy. If so, Rosanna is the daughter of James GILLESPY and Elizabeth FINLEY.

Military Service[]

Private in Captain Bradford's company of the Tennessee Regiment of Mounted Volunteers under the command of Col. Dougherty in the War with the Cherokee Indians in the year 1793 or 1794. (per Rosanna's pension application for his military service, located at the National Archives, Washington, DC)

Religious Affiliation[]


Child List[]

  1. Jane Walker COWAN (1798-1827) b: 25 Aug 1798 in Blount Co., TN d: 1827
  2. Elizabeth Finley Cowan (1800-1884 ) b: 11 Jul 1800 in Blount Co., TN d: 16 Dec 1884 in Waco, McLennan Co., TX
    m. Hezekiah George JOHNSON, Rev. (1797-1852) b: Abt. 1797 in SC d: 14 Feb 1852 in TX
  3. James Gillespie COWAN (1802-1872) b: 27 Apr 1802 in Blount Co., TN d: 13 Apr 1872 in Pleasant Hill, AL;
    m. #1 Mary MOOR b: 07 Jul 1799 d: 15 Dec 1846 in Pleasant Hill, AL ;
    m. #2 Ann M______ CAMPBELL, Mrs. (Frederick) d: Sep 1849
    m. #3 Virginia CLOPTON b: 24 Jul 1813 in (Cowan Family Bible) d: 02 Oct 1876 in Pleasant Hill, AL
  4. William L_____ COWAN, MD (1805-1859) b: 1805 in TN d: 04 May 1859 in Eufaula, Barbour Co., AL
    m. Ann Silvia PUGH b: Abt. 1812 in Burke Co., GA d: 1869 in Union Springs, AL
  5. Campbell Gilmer (Gilmore?) COWAN (1807-1846) b: 01 Jan 1807 in TN d: 01 Mar 1846 in Pierce City, Lawrence Co., MO
    m. H_____ Elizabeth "Betsy" TANKERSLEY b: 27 May 1811 in Warren Co.?, TN d: 28 Jan 1871 in Pierce City, Lawrence Co., MO
  6. Ellen Weir COWAN (1809-1862) b: 29 Apr 1809 in Warren Co., TN d: 18 Oct 1862 near Uniontown, Bourbon Co., KS (near Ft. Scott, KS????)
    m. Cowan MITCHELL b: 29 May 1806 in KY d: 16 May 1886 in Gibbonsville, ID
  7. Maldonata COWAN (1811-1836) (dsp) b: 04 Jun 1811 in Warren Co., TN d: 17 Mar 1836 in Pleasant Hill, Lowndes Co., AL
  8. Samuel Colvin Cowan (1815-1878) b: 30 Apr 1815 in Athens, McMinn Co., TN d: 20 Nov 1878 in Union Springs, Bullock Co., AL
    m. Mary Jane LARKINS b: 17 May 1821 in Montgomery, AL d: 18 Oct 1912 in Union Springs, Bullock Co., AL
  9. John D______ COWAN (1817-1838) (dsp) b: 19 Apr 1817 in TN d: 05 Apr 1838 in Pleasant Hill, Lowndes Co., AL
  10. Alexander T[ankersley?] COWAN, (1820-1827) (dsp) b: 26 Mar 1820 in Dallas Co., AL d: 23 Sep 1827 in McMinn Co., TN

Family History[]

  • ·Land records for Warren County, TN show land transactions (before 1809) for William, John, and Robert – Surveys Around McMinnville from Tennessee’s 3rd Surveyors’ District Plat and Survey Books
    Shows land granted to:
    35-145, John Cowen 1807 156 acres
    35-124, Jno Cowen 1808 200 acres
    34-071, Wm Cowen 1808
    Colville and Mitchell families are neighbors to the Cowans on the plat map.
  • Orphan Court minutes in Dallas County, AL (02 October 1821) tie brothers Robert (William1) and John (William1) together ... separate transactions, but on the same day and same page. (Dallas Co., AL Orphan’s Court records, p. 73-74 … where (i) there are 2 transactions at the top of the page involving Robert and (ii) another at the bottom of the page where Robert (William1) and John (William1) are involved in the estate of David Mitchell and, in the same transaction, James G. Cowan (John [Alexander]2, William1) is named guardian of the Mitchell minor children.)
  • Additionally, the 1820 Dallas Co., AL State census shows three Cowan brothers: John(William1), Robert(William1), and David Cowan (William1). A James Cowan also appears in that census. His relationship to the three Cowan brothers is unknown but could be another brother as John's(William1) widow (Rosannah) and several of her children appear in the 1830 McMinn Co., TN census along with a James Cowan Sr. and James Cowan Jr. James Cowan Sr is in the same age bracket as Rosannah.

Alternative Interpretation[]


  • Blount Co., TN marriage record
  • Cowan family Bible (in possession of Margie Cowan as of 2006)
  • Rosannah (Gillespy/Gillespie) Cowan's pension application for the military service of her husband, John [Alexander] Cowan -- provides information on their marriage date (27 August 1797, Blount Co., TN by Gideon Blackburn, Presbyterian Minister) and his miltary service: "as a private in the company commanded by Captain Bradford in the Tennessee Regiment of Mounted Volunteers commanded by Col. Dougherty in the War with the Cherokee Indians in the year 1793 or 1794 ... volunteered in Blount County, Ten [sic] and mustered into service at Knoxville, Ten [sic] the month of 1793 or 94 and … was discharged at the close of the expedition in the fall of 1793 or 94 A. D. ... filed 11 April 1856 in Dallas Co., AL" [Folder at National Archives is marked "Rejected"]
  • Dallas Co., AL courthouse records -- Letters of Administration granted to Rosannah Cowan and her son, James Gillespie Cowan to administer the estate of John Cowan. (Dated: ___________, 1821 and __________, 18__)
  • Census Records
    • 1820 census, Dallas Co., AL (state census, not federal) -- John Cowan -- M 1(+21), 6(-21); F 1(+21), 1(-21)


  • Fleming, John Kerr; Cowans of County Down, Derreth Publishing Co., Raleigh, NC; p. 371-376. (DAR Library)

  • Ancestral File (R), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Publication; Microfilm: 1394414 (Submission: AF83-107286); John Alexander COWAN (AFN: C6WV-9P); Submitter(s): V. VERN HUTCHISON, 1341 S OSAGE, BARTLESVILLE OK 74003

  • First Families of Tennessee applications for John [Alexander] Cowan

Research Needs[]

Page Needs[]


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