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Below is a family biography included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.   These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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ROBERT WILSON COWAN, engineer, Emsworth, son of Robert and Elizabeth (McMahan) Cowan, was born near Oakland, this county, in April, 1832. His father was born in Franklin county, Pa., in 1792, and died in 1854, having located in Pittsburgh prior to 1800. His mother died in 1834. His paternal grandparents, Joseph and Mary (Thompson) Cowan, were Scotch-Irish, and settled in Franklin county previous to 1771. His maternal grandparents were from Ireland. The subject of these lines received his education at Minersville, Pa., and the East End, and at the age of seventeen learned blacksmithing, which he followed for six years. In 1854 he began as engineer on the Ohio river, afterward buying an interest in a boat, of which he became captain in 1869. This vessel being sold in 1887, Mr. Cowan, after a year’s work on the Bellevue railroad, returned to the river as engineer. He was married in February, 1859, to Mary Jane Colvin, and five children have been born to them, viz.: Margaret Riddle, wife of Morrison Gilliland, and Frances M., Mary E., Sara Emma and Helen Hamilton, at home. The family are members of the M. E. Church. Mr. Cowan moved to Emsworth in 1867, and has been one of the main supporters and builders of its public school.

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This family biography is one of 2,156 biographies included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.

View additional Allegheny County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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