Friday, June 23, 2006

Hector Cowan Biography

Delaware County, NY Genealogy and History Site:

BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW; 6th Section - pages 252 through 300

HECTOR COWAN, who died on July 4, 1878, at his home in the town of Stamford, N.Y., where he was an influential and valued citizen, was born here on October 2, 1824. His father, John Cowan, was a Scotchman, was born in the old country on June 4, 1798; and his mother, Helen Grant Cowan, was born two years later, September 15, 1800, in Stamford.

John Cowan's father, whose name was Hector, came to America with his wife at the beginning of the century, while John was only two years old, and settled in Stamford, on what is now known as the old Cowan farm, which he reclaimed from the wilderness, building a frame house, wherein he resided till his death, at ninety-three years of age, in 1843. The children on the emigrant Hector were as follows; James Cowan, born June 29, 1794; William, on August 3, 1796; John, in 1798; Isabella, on June 14, 1800- all before the emigration. Afterwards, in Stamford, came Mary, March 12, 1803; Agnes, July 1 1805; Andrew, December 13, 1808. Grandfather Cowan was an Elder in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church in South Kortright. Politically, he was a Whig. He lost his wife when she was sixty years old, nearly thirty years before his own demise.

John Cowan grew up on his father's farm, and attended the district school, his educational opportunities being, however, very meager. In the course of years he purchased the homestead from the other heirs, and added thereto so largely that finally he owned six hundrend acres, and stood at the head of the agriculturists of this neighborhood. Not only was he his father's successor as a farmer, but as an Elder in the Kortright Parish. His marriage to Helen Grant took place on New Years's Day, 1824; and Grandfather Hector Cowan was greatly pleased the next autumn, when they named their first child after him, Hector. On September 18, 1826, came a sister Ann Eliza, and on December 11, 1830, another sister, Marietta; but all three have joined "the innumerable caravan," Ann Eliza on February 21, 1843, the same year with her grandfather, as above mentioned. Hector died in 1878, and Marietta in April, 1893.

Young Hector went to the local school, like his father before him, and likewise worked on the home farm, devoting himself wholly to agriculture. In 1851, November 5, at the age of twenty-seven, Hector Cowan married Helena Jane Rich, who was born on the Rich family homestead at South Kortright, the daughter of James and Helena [Marshall] Rich; and more particulars concerning her family may be found in the sketch in the volume of Mrs. Sarah Rich. Like his progenitors, Mr. Cowan took an active part in church affairs, and succeeded them as an office-bearer, holding the position of Ruling Elder. As they had been Whigs, so was he in sentiment, and cast his first vote for Taylor and Fillmore; but a few years later the Republican party arose, and he at once joined its fortunes. He was also influential in town affairs. At his death he left a widow and eleven children, eight of whom are still living.

The eldest of these, John A. Cowan, born in 1854, is a Stamford farmer and an Elder in the Presbyterian church in Hobart. Helena Cowan, born in 1856, married Dr. F. H. McNaught, of Denver, Col. Of James Rich Cowan more will be said presently. Robert F. Cowan, born in 1860, ia a Stamford farmer. Hector William Cowan, born in 1862 amid our Civil War, and named for his father and great-grandfather, is a Presbyterian clergyman in Lawrence, Kan.

Henry Marshall Cowan, born in 1864, resides on the ancestral acres. Charles Cowan was born in 1868, and lives in Stamford, unmarried; and so does Frank B. Cowan, born in 1870. The children no longer living in this world are: Thomas Rich Cowan, who died at the age of twelve; Stephen, at age seven; Annie, at four. Since the death of their father the large farm has been carried on by his widow, who owns it.

Of course she is aided by her efficent sons, but is herself a very capable manager, as well as a bright and intelligent woman. She is especially proud of her son, the Hon. James Rich Cowan, who bears her own family name.

The Hon. James R. Cowan was born on May 22, 1858. He was educated in the local school, like two generations of his ancestors, and then went to Stamford Seminary. He lived at home till his majority, and did not give up farming till the year 1891, having six hundred acres under his control. Like other farmers in the region, he gave special attention to cattle, having from seventy-five to one hundred. In politics he has been active being commissioned a Justice of Peace. In 1889 he was made Town Supervisior by the Republican party, and acting as chairman of the board the latter part of the time. In 1891 he was elected to the State Assembly, and served a term at Albany. The same year he was chosen President of the National Bank of Hobart, which has a capital of fifty thousand dollars; and this place he still fills, the Vice-President being Oscar I. Bennett, and the Cashier J.A. Scott. Mr. Cowan is still unmarried, and gives his main time and attention to finance. In religion, as well as politics, he retreads the inherited foorsteps, and ia a member of the United Presbyterian church in South Kortright. The Cowan homestead is a noble old place, the house standing amid fertile fields not far from the village of Hobart.


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