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Genealogical Keynotes[]


  • Born: between 1784 and 1798
  • Married:
  • Died:
  • Burial:

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 letter: Polly Cowan, her sister Anne Cowan, and William Cowan. In fourteen years, there could have also been one or move children who died in infancy or stillbirth.


Polly Cowan is the daughter of William COWAN‎ and Jane Walker.


______ ______ MITCHEL

Child List[]

Family History[]

Extremely little is known of Polly (Mary?) Cowan.

What is known is primarily from the 1960s and 1970s correspondence with Miss Jessie Lee Cowan.
Her correspondence and writings contended that William Cowan and Jane Walker had three children not listed by Rev. Fleming in Cowans of County Down: William, Polly, and Anne.

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.).

Other than Jessie Lee Cowan's comments and the AFC letter stating that Andrew Cowan (William1) had a sister named Polly Cowan who "married Mr. Mitchel," there is nothing known of Polly, her husband, or any descendants.

Alternative Interpretation[]


  • 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 Cowan (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),
  • John [Alexander] Cowan (William1) (d. 1821), and
  • Samuel Cowan (William1) (d. 1828).
  • 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).

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.)

The AFC letter states:

"All the sisters I have [heard/knew] of his (Andrew = son of William1) having were three. The oldest married James Gillespie [sic], lived and died in Blount County, Tennessee. The next was Polly, who married Mr. Mitchel [sic] and live [sic] & died in McMinnville, Tennessee." [McMinnville is in Warren Co., TN]


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