Robert Cowan (1784-1870) and Elizabeth Colville (1793-1865)

Robert Cowan and Elizabeth Colville are my 4X Great Grandparents.

Robert Cowan was born June 22, 1784 in Washington County, Virginia. He was the son of William Cowan, who served in the American Revolution, and Jane Walker.

Elizabeth Colville was born April 15, 1793 in Tennessee. She is the daughter of Joseph Colville and Sarah Lusk.

It is said that Robert and his brother James went to Tennessee with Joseph Colville. Both Cowan brothers married daughters of Joseph Colville. Robert married Elizabeth Colville in about 1808.

The book “A History of Tennessee and Tennesseeans: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry, and Modern Activities” mentions that in 1809 the town of McMinnville, Tennessee chose land of Joseph Colville (my 5X Great Grandfather, father of Elizabeth Colville), John A. Wilson, and Robert Cowan for the building of a permanent courthouse.

On the 1820 US Census, Robert Cowan was head of a household in Franklin, Tennessee. There were 12 in the household: 3 males under age 10 (Larkin was 4, and the other two are unknown); 1 male aged 26-44 (Robert was 36); 2 females under age 10 (Louisa was 7 and the other two are unknown); 2 females aged 10-15 (unknown); 1 female aged 26-44 (Elizabeth was 27); 1 male slave under age 14; 2 female slaves under age 14.

On the 1830 US Census, Robert Cowan was head of a household in McMinn, Tennessee. There were 10 in the household: 2 males under age 5 (Marvel was 1 and John was 3); 1 male aged 10-14 (Larken was 14); 1 male aged 20-29 (unknown); 1 male aged 40-49 (Robert was 46); 2 females aged 5-9 (Martha was 5 and Nancy was 7); 1 female aged 10-14 (Jane was 10); 1 female aged 15-19 (Louisa was 17); 1 female aged 40-49 (Elizabeth was 37).

Members of the Cowan, Hubbard and Colville families, including three Cowan brothers – Robert, Samuel and James – came by wagon train from McMinn County, Tennessee to Benton County, Arkansas.

Robert Cowan appears on the 1836 tax list for Washington County, Arkansas.

On December 31, 1836 Robert Cowan was made Postmaster of Hubbards, Benton County, Arkansas. His brother James Cowan took over the position in May of 1844.

On the 1840 US Census, Robert Cowan was head of a household in Bailey, Benton County, Arkansas. There were 11 in the household: 1 male aged 5-9 (Walker was 7); 2 males aged 10-14 (Marvel was 11 and John was 13); 1 male aged 20-29 (Larkin was 24); 1 male aged 40-49 (Robert was 56); 1 female under age 5 (perhaps the Mary I’ve seen listed as their daughter, born in 1835); 2 females aged 15-19 (Martha was 15 and Nancy was 17); 1 female aged 20-29 (Jane was 20); 1 female aged 30-39 (Louisa was 27); 1 female aged 40-49 (Elizabeth was 47).

US General Land Office records show that Robert Cowan purchased 40 acres in Benton County, Arkansas on August 1, 1844.

On the 1850 US Census, Robert, a farmer, was 66 and Elizabeth was 57. They lived in Osage, Benton County, Arkansas. Four children were at home: John, age 22, a carpenter; Louisa, age 37; Marvel, age 20; Walker, age 17.

On the 1860 US Census, Robert was 76 and still farming. Elizabeth was 67. Living with them was 17-year-old Larkin Creager, their grandson. They lived in Colville Township, Benton County, Arkansas.

US General Land Office records show that Robert Cowan purchased an0ther 40 acres in Benton County, Arkansas on October 1, 1860.

Elizabeth died December 26, 1865 in Arkansas. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Robert died in September of 1870 (according to the Federal Census Mortality Schedule) in Lowell, Benton County, Arkansas. His Find A Grave memorial is here.

The known children of Robert Cowan and Elizabeth Colville:

Louisa Cowan – Louisa was born September 17, 1813 in Tennessee.  She is found at age 37 living with her parents on the 1850 US Census.

Larkin Farrell Cowan – Larkin was born January 31, 1816 in Tennessee.  He married Martha Evelyn Stroud in about 1823 in Warren County, Tennessee. On the 1850 US Census, Larkin was 34,  and Martha was 27. They had 2 sons and Larkin was a farmer. He died in 1856 in Benton County, Arkansas. On the 1860 US Census, widowed Martha lived with 4 children and farmed next to her in-laws.

Jane Lusk Cowan – Jane was born May 4, 1820. She married George Lewis Creager on November 21, 1815 in Arkansas, and they had 4 children. He died in about 1855. She married Elisha Johnson, a widower with 6 kids, in 1858. They had a son. Jane died in 1893 in Benton County, Arkansas. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Nancy Laura Catherine Cowan – Nancy was born July 14, 1823 in Tennessee. She married George McGarrah in about 1824. They had 6 children. It’s not known when she died, but her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Martha Ann Cowan – Martha was born 24 April 24, 1825 in Warren County, Tennessee.
She married Christopher Columbus Nail in about 1849. They had 5 children. She died January 2, 1900 in Benton County, Arkansas. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

John Gillespie Cowan – John was my 3X Great Grandfather. Read about him here.

Marvel Valero Cowan – Marvel was born November 30, 1829 in Tennessee. He married Margaret Peaks. They had 3 children. He was a blacksmith. He served as a Private in Company H of Gordon’s Regiment, Arkansas Cavalry. He married Mary McCall, and they had 5 children.

Walker S. Cowan – Walker was born March 16, 1833 in Benton County, Arkansas.  He married Nancy Jane Wilmoth and they had at least 2 children. He served in Confederate Army, Company A, 15th Northwest Arkansas Infantry.

Mary Elizabeth Cowan – Mary was born March 31, 1835 in Benton County, Arkansas. I have no record of her, but many genealogists list her and there’s a space for her on the 1840 census as a female under age 5.


Am I related to Lana Turner on the Cowan side?

My mom died 6 years ago today, and she was a big fan of all things Hollywood. She’d get a kick out of the possibility that she was related to Lana Turner.

I received the following comment on one of my blog posts:

“Hello, I saw your post, and would like to ask you, are you related to “Henry Arthur Cowan”, whom was married to “Julia Ann (Cullum) Cowan, as Julia was my Great Grandmother, she was born march 24, 1885, and died in July 1904, at her age of (19) yrs. old, her death was due to complications with her “RH factor blood type, and her Pregnancy, her baby girl “Mildred Frances Cowan” was born on Feb. 12, 1904, she was 4 months old when her Mother died, they lived in Arkansas. I know we were also related to some people named “Reece”, “Minnie Reece”, (her married name), and she had a son, named Oran Reece, we were also related to some people named Hinson,”

First, I checked my tree. I knew there was a Mildred Cowan, because she was my grandfather’s cousin and I have an amazing (sad, and yet also hilarious) letter she wrote to him. But, unfortunately the commenter wasn’t referring to that Mildred Cowan. My Cowans were definitely in Arkansas (and as it turns out, in the same county) and my great grandmother Cowan’s maiden name was Hinson, so I thought it was possible that we intersected somehow.

Through a quick Google search I learned that Mildred Frances Cowan, born February 12, 1904, the daughter of Julia Ann Cullum Cowan, was the mother of the famous Lana Turner. Her father’s name, however, appears to have been William Arthur Cowan or Willis Arthur Cowan, not Henry Arthur Cowan as the commenter said. Through further Googling I discovered that Mildred Frances Cowan was the only child of both parents, since her father didn’t remarry. Mildred had only one child, Julia Jean Turner, who became known as Lana Turner. It appears that Lana had only one child too, Cheryl Crane, who is still living and has no children.

I found a tree online and followed it back from William/Willis Arthur Cowan to my 5x Great Grandparents William Cowan (1750-1809) and Jane Walker (1755-1806). It seems possible that Lana Turner descends from William and Jane’s son Samuel, while I descend from their son Robert.

Soon, maybe this week even, I will work on pushing my Cowan line back two more generations, documenting back to William Cowan and Jane Walker, and see if it all connects.