biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
JAMES P. COWAN, a resident of Oskaloosa Township, owns and occupies a fine homestead on section 25, which has been in his possession since 1868. He was one of the pioneer settlers of this locality, coming here while Oskaloosa was yet a village, and with his estimable wife has reared a family of children. Their lives have been attended with the trials and disappointments incident to pioneering, but at the same time they have had their joys and pleasures, and an abiding faith in Providence which has enabled them to meet adversity with brave and cheerful hearts. All their children have been spared to them, and in their comfortable and attractive home they are surrounded by many friends who have learned to both love and respect them for the principles of truth and honor which they have made the rule of their daily lives and in which they have trained their children. The subject of this history was born in Wasington County, Pa., Feb. 22, 1823, and is the son of John and Sarah (Proudfit) Cowan, both natives of Pennsylvania. The father was born in Allegheny County in 1789, and the mother in Washington County in 1799. Both died the same year, 1867, John Cowan being seventy-eight years of age and his wife, Sarah P., sixty-eight. The grandfather of our subject, Henry Cowan, was of Irish birth and parentage, and left his native isle when a young man. He was united in marriage with Miss Jane Allen, and they became the parents of five sons and four daughters. This warm-hearted old gentleman and his wife lived to an advanced age and were held in great respect by the community where they lived. His grandfather, James Proudfit, was a Scotchman by birth and one of the early advocates of the abolition of slavery. His farm in Washington County, Pa., was said to have been one of the important stations of the underground railroad, by which many fugitives escaped to freedom. Alter making for himself a good record as a father, friend and citizen, he passed from earth with a clear conscience, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. James P. Cowan remained with his parents in Allegheny County, where they moved when he was an infant, until fourteen years of age, when the family removed to Guernsey County, Ohio. There he learned the blacksmith's trade, serving his apprenticeship in Cumberland and working there for five years afterward. Then, in the spring of 1852, he crossed the Mississippi, coming to Iowa, and located in this township, of which he has now been a resident for nearly thirty-five years. He has always possessed in a marked degree the industry and energy of his forefathers, has lived economically and met his obligations promptly, and each year managed to save something from his honest earnings. In 1868, as the result of this course, he found himself the possessor of sufficient means to buy a farm, and consequently purchased the homestead which he now occupies. It has materially changed in appearance since that time. He has made many modern improvements, has a handsome and substantial set of frame buildings, everything in good order, and in fact all the appliances of a first-class farm estate. He has learned to take good care of his accumulations and can look the world in the face feeling that he is indebted to no man. Mr. Cowan was married, April 10, 1849, to Miss Clementine Duer, a native of Trumbull County, Ohio, and the daughter of Joseph and Mary Duer, natives of New Jersey. Early in their lives their parents had emigrated to Western Pennsylvania, and they were there married in Brownsville. Thence they removed to Trumbull County, Ohio, where they reared a family of ten children. To our subject and his wife have been born five children, of whom the record is as follows: William A. is a miller at Beacon, Iowa; John is a blacksmith in Oskaloosa; Clarence V., a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is stationed in Brooklyn, Iowa; Joseph D. and Mary E. are at home. Mr. and Mrs. Cowan have been lifelong members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and have adorned their profession by blameless lives, and are endeavoring to carry out the principles of the Master, who commanded that His disciples should do unto others as they would that others should do unto them.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy