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Below is a family biography included in The History of Fayette County, Tennessee published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1887.  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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John S. R. Cowan, a merchant of Moscow, Tenn., was born in Fayette County, October 16, 1846, and is a son of Alexander F. and Rebecca (Bull) Cowan. The father was a native of Rowan County, N. C., born in 1822 and died in Marshall County, Miss., January 25, 1855. The mother was born in Dickson County, Tenn., in 1829, and died in Marshall County, Miss., in July, 1862. They married in Fayette County in 1845, and soon after settled in District No. 2, eight miles northeast of Somerville, where they lived five years, then moved to Byhalia, Marshall Co., Miss., and spent four years, when they moved to Early Grove, in the same county, and spent the rest of their lives. The father was a successful carriage-maker by trade, and a Democrat in politics and a consistent member of the Episcopal Church, and the mother also belonged to that church. Our subject was the oldest of six children, and is now the only one living. He secured a good education at Wilson Hall Academy, in Marshall County, Miss., then engaged in the printing business at Holly Springs, Miss., in the office of the Southern Herald, conducted by Col. Thomas A. Falconer, and was associated in business with the late distinguished Col. Kimlock Falconer, a son of Thomas A. Falconer. Mr. Cowan spent three years in this business. In the spring of 1862 he entered the Confederate Army, and although so young remained until the war closed. His company was known as Goodman’s Guards and formed a part of Samuel Benton’s Thirty-fourth Mississippi Regiment. Thomas A. Falconer was captain of the regiment; Mr. Cowan participated in the battles of Farmington, Miss., Perryville, Ky., Chickamauga, and Lookout Mountain. The latter is known as the “battle of the clouds,” and our subject was captured in the Walthall’s brigade, and was immediately sent to Rock Island, Ill., via Nashville, Tenn., and was at the Maxwell House when the catastrophe of the stairway occurred, but sustained no serious damage. He was held a prisoner at Rock Island until the summer of 1865, then returned to Fayette County after an absence of three years. In 1866-67 he engaged in farming; in 1868 he established a store at Moscow, commencing with very little money but by good management, he now owns a stock valued at $7,000 several town lots at Moscow, and 500 acres of land in Arkansas. February 10,1869, he married Miss Elizabeth A. C. Thompson, who was born in Fayette County in 1850. Six children were born to this marriage—five sons and a daughter—four are dead. Walter B., aged fifteen, and Lulie, aged seven, are living. Mr. Cowan is a Democrat, and while he is not connected with any church, is a strictly moral man. His wife died about three years ago. September, 1886, he was the Democratic nominee to represent Fayette County in the Legislature but was defeated by the Republican candidate by 150 votes, the county having a Republican majority of 1,500 votes, and to reduce the majority so much speaks well for the esteem and popularity of Mr. Cowan, and his standing in the county.

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This family biography is one of 77 biographies included in The History of Fayette County, Tennessee published in 1887 by Goodspeed.  The History of Fayette County was included within The History of Fayette and Hardeman Counties of Tennessee. For the complete description, click here: History of Fayette and Hardeman Counties, Tennessee

View additional Fayette County, Tennessee family biographies here: Fayette County, Tennessee

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