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Early Cowan Burials in Lancaster County, PA

Early Cowan Burials in Lancaster County, PA

Posted: 1245795549000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Cowan, Fleming, Clemson, Rutter
I recently visited the Pequa Valley of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. David Cowan emigrated here from Scotland about 1720. He was the father of what is usually termed the “4 brothers immigrant group,” or the “1720 immigrant group” among Cowan researchers. Up until earlier this year, these Cowan were erroneously lumped together with the Hugh Cowan family of neighboring Chester County. There were 4 known brothers, but they did not include Hugh, as DNA evidence confirms. The known brothers were Henry, John, David and William. I have taken to calling them the “Pequa Valley Cowans,” to head-off any confusion that may linger from the earlier designations.

These early Cowans were members of St. John’s Episcopal Church, founded in 1729, and a number are buried in the adjoining cemetery. Technically, this church and cemetery is in West Caln Township, Chester County, PA. One could toss a rock into Lancaster County from the cemetery fence. Most of the early families lived to the west, in the Pequa Valley of Salisbury Township, Lancaster County, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the church and cemetery are located in Chester County.

The Cowan plot is in the very oldest portion of the cemetery, surrounded by the graves of their early neighbors: the Skiles, the Darlingtons, the Douglasses, the Lytles. There are only 5 remaining marked Cowan family graves in this section, as follows:

Olevia Cowan Fleming, 21 September 1807-19 March 1895
(daughter of William and Mary Rutter Cowan)

William Cowan, no dates
(son of Thomas Cowan and Susannah Cowan)

Mary Rutter Cowan, no dates
(wife of William Cowan)

George Cowan, 1762-21 February 1799
(son of Thomas Cowan and Susannah Cowan)

Susannah Cowan Cowan Connell, 20 March 1744-19 March 1829
(daughter of William Cowan and Susannah Fleming, wife of cousin Thomas Cowan, wife of Philip Connell—tombstone simply says “Susan Cowan)

There is a long empty row to the north of these 5 graves. Here undoubtedly lie the graves of those Cowans whose markers have been lost through the years. These would certainly include:

David Cowan, the immigrant
Henry Cowan, immigrant
John Cowan, immigrant, d. 1760
Elizabeth Cowan, his wife, d. 1777
Thomas Cowan, their son, d. 1770
John Cowan, son of Thomas and Susannah Cowan, d. 1771
David Cowan, immigrant, d. 1757
Mary Fleming Cowan, his wife
Robert Cowan, son of David and Mary Fleming Cowan
Henry Cowan, son of David and Mary Fleming Cowan, d. 1760
David Cowan, son of David and Mary Fleming Cowan, d. 1785

There would undoubtedly be others. I visited with a member of the cemetery committee at St. John’s and we discussed erecting a single marker in the old Cowan plot in memory of these Cowans. If anyone is interested in this project, please contact me.

Other Cowans buried outside the old family plot in St. John’s include:

Rebecca Cowan Clemson, 30 September 1796-14 February 1890
(daughter of William Cowan and Mary Rutter)

Davis Clemson, 15 October 1787-29 November 1871
(husband of Rebecca Cowan)

James Clemson, 12 July 1822-12 April 1891
(son of Davis Clemson and Rebecca Cowan)

Mary Ann Fleming, 06 April 1821-27 December 1914
(daughter of Davis Clemson and Rebecca Cowan)

Susan Rebecca Clemson, 11 August 1835-4 January 1910
(daughter of Davis Clemson and Rebecca Cowan)

Harry H. Clemson, 1858-1902
(son of Davis Clemson, Jr.)

Anna L. Clemson, 1864-1899
(wife of Harry H. Clemson)

There are undoubtedly others whose married names I do not yet know.

In 1819, a new parish was founded about 6 ½ miles west of St. John’s Episcopal Church. This was Christ Episcopal Church. This church was actually much closer to the old Cowan property, and some of the remaining family members in the area transferred to that congregation. Cowan family members buried in the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery include:

Joseph C. Cowan, 1814-27 October 1842
(son of William Cowan and Mary Rutter Cowan)

Nathaniel Rutter Cowan, 1808-26 March 1833
(son of William Cowan and Mary Rutter Cowan)

Thomas Cowan, 1812-March 1837
(son of William Cowan and Mary Rutter Cowan)

James Fleming, 1804-24 January 1844
(husband of Olevia Cowan who is buried at St. John’s)

Nathaniel Rutter, d. November 1844 (?)
(husband of Ann Cowan)

Ann Cowan Rutter, ca. 1766-16 May 1842
(daughter of Thomas Cowan and Susannah Cowan, wife of Nathaniel Rutter)

Note: There are many Rutters buried in this cemetery, some in close proximity to Nathaniel and Ann. Some are undoubtedly children of this couple, including perhaps, James Rutter, 24 June 1792-1 June 1828, and Anderson Rutter, 1796-2 September 1851.

Terry J. Cowan
23 June 2009

Re: Early Cowan Burials in Lancaster County, PA

Posted: 1246073898000
Classification: Query
Thank you for sharing the valuable Cowan family information that you gathered from your trip to Lancaster County, Pa.

The furthest back I am able to trace my paternal Cowan roots are to 1782 in Lincoln County, North Carolina to the birth of my 2nd great grandfather, Richard Dickey Cowan(Sr).
The only information that I have on his parents are that they were poor and that his father died young.

His first wife was Hannah Seitz, daughter of Jacob and Mary Clubb Seitz. He is believed to have been a bounds boy. Seitz family lore says that he was bound out to Jacob Seitz until he became of age and was highly regarded by Jacob and the family. Many years after Hannah's death, following their move to the Missouri Territory, R.D. married Susannah
Landers, the widow of John Waller,who was my great-great grandmother.

One of R.D.'s many accomplishments was that after obtaining land in the Missouri Territory, in exchange for his service in the War of 1812, he went on to become an early Missouri
state representative serving in three secessions in the 1800's.

I know that offers genetic testing for ancestry
research purposes. Do you know how the results are then
applied to a particular line,such as the four Cowan brothers/immigrant group, etc, for example?

Also, have you any knowledge of Richard Dickey Cowan? I know the chances are slim but I'm sure you will understand my reason for inquiring. Again, thanks for sharing your information.

Barbara Cowan Olendorf

Re: Early Cowan Burials in Lancaster County, PA

Posted: 1246134956000
Classification: Query
Hi, Barbara.

I do not know anything about the Richard Dickey Cowan family. I highly recommend your family's participation in the Cowan DNA project. The site is here: It might be better to go ahead and contact Laura Cowan Cooper first, and she can fill you on how to go about this. The DNA project has been invaluable. It has shown that all the Cowans listed in Fleming's "Cowans from County Down" are in fact, separate, unrelated families. There are several major groupings of Cowans within the DNA project. If a male Cowan of your family participated, then it could be determined which of these groups of Cowans you fit into, which would then allow you to concentrate your research there and compare notes with others in that line. The biggest recent DNA news is the confirmation that the Hugh Cowan line of Chester County, PA is completely unrelated to the Cowan brothers of neighboring Lancaster County (my line.) So, my suggestion is to have one your Cowan brothers, uncles or cousins give the DNA sample and then see what branch of the family that puts you in. You might want to spend some time on the DNA site, for it could be that someone in your family already has done this. Good luck, Terry J. Cowan

Re: Early Cowan Burials in Lancaster County, PA

Posted: 1246207005000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Cowan
Barbara, As far as I know we do not have a DNA sample from your line. Our project is with Family Tree DNA and there is a half price sale if you go through our Cowan Project.

then just follow the links for surname project with the choice being Cowan of course.

Re: Early Cowan Burials in Lancaster County, PA

Posted: 1247627855000
Classification: Query
This information is very fascinating but a little hard to understand. I an looking for any research done on my great great great grandfather, Joseph Cowan, Sr. I know he was a hatter and born in 1758 in Mecklenburg county, NC. His wife's (Nancy Buchanan) father was Samuel Buchanan from Lancaster county PA. Is there any evidence on who could have been Joseph Cowan, Sr.'s father.

Re: Early Cowan Burials in Lancaster County, PA

Posted: 1248379738000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Cowan, Sawyer, Grey, Means, Black
I guess my question now is: who are the parents of Hugh from Chester Co.? I have documentation that proves my lineage back to Hugh through his son Mathias >Joseph >John >Culbert [my gg grandfather]. Since Hugh has been proven not to be one of the 4 "brothers," to whom does he belong?

I show him to be from Newry, County Down, Ulster Province, Ireland, died 13 Jan 1782 Sadsbury Twp, Chester Co., PA. He's buried in Upper Octorara Cem., Chester Co., PA, as are many of his family. Many others are buried in Long Run Presby Church Cem., Circleville, N. Huntington Twp., Irwin, Westmoreland Co., PA.

Does anyone have a clue to his parentage?

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