Sunset at Arie den Boer Aboreteum
Not very often, you run across a family in the ancestral tree that is easier than others to research simply because the research has already been done. This is the case for the Cowles line of my family tree. I've researched a bit back to my 4th and 5th great grandfathers in this line but it really starts with John Cowles, my tenth great grandfather, who came over here in 1634 settling in what would become Farmington, Connecticut.
John Cowles, though a farmer, was politically and religiously well to do having served as the town constable along with various other political positions and also was described as "one of the pillars of the Congregational Church" that was organized 13 Oct 1652. He also served on the jury of the famous witchcraft trial of Nathanial Greensmith and his wife Rebecca and perhaps as a conflict of interest, was the appraiser for the estate of Nathanial after his execution.
His son Samuel Cowles, grandson Joseph Cowles, great grandson Samuel Cowles and great great grandson Samuel Cowles were all active in the church and community in Connecticut during the early colonial years. But it wasn't until John Cowles 3rd great grandson Noah Cowles that I am able to add a little depth to this story.
Noah Cowles was born 17 Oct 1759 in Torrington, Connecticut where he lived a good portion of his life. Like his father Samuel who fought in defense of Fort William Henry in the French and Indian War and later as an ensign during the Lexington Alarm of April 1775 in the Revolutionary War, Noah was destined to be a military man. He enlisted as a volunteer in the Revolutionary Army in May of 1776 under Captain lacy of Col. Herman Swift's regiment of the Connecticut State troops. He marched from Norfolk, Conn to Bennington, Vt., Whitehall and Mount Independence where he joined the arm and remained there until September 1, 1776. At that time, with permission of his officers he enlisted as a marine on board a galley called the Washington commanded by Captain Thatcher and Lieutenant Gould on Lake Champlain. There under General Benedict Arnold in the famous Battle of Valcour Island, his ship was pursued up the lake and eventually captured by the British. Noah and all on board became prisoners of war. He remained as such until April 1781 when he was exchanged and after being paroled, returned to Norfolk, Conn.
Soon after his parole, he married Olive Mills, became one of the first deacons in the Kensington Congregational Church and started a family. Not content to take over his father Samuel's potash company or gristmill, he decided that the west was calling him. Along with his son and my 4th great grandfather Salmon, Noah Cowles walked on foot to Ashtabula County in Ohio in 1800 to the present city of Austinburg with other home seekers from Norfolk. There they erected cabins, walked back to Connecticut, gathered up the ox team and the rest of the family and walked back again to Ohio, a 500-mile journey done three times over.
Noah's son Salmon was described as "5 feet 8 inches in height and spare of build and showed his Yankee lineage by always asking questions." Nothing was said of his father's restless gene which he undoubtedly inherited since Salmon soon set off by flat boat down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers all the way to New Orleans where he became a teacher. He eventually came back home and would marry a lady by the name of Polly Miner who some credit as the first white child born where the city of Rochester, Ohio now stands. Though he started a family, settling down wasn't part of the plan and two years after marriage, he was on the road again to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. There he entered college and graduated in 1818, then went to Steubenville, Ohio where he began the study of divinity with Rev. Dr. Jennings. In 1820 he moved to Hagerstown and began the ministry in the Presbyterian Church. Never one to be tied down, he was there for one year before accepting a call to Crabapple Church in Belmont county Ohio where he remained for eight years. While there, he was one of the first incorporators, trustee and the first president of Franklin College at New Athens, Harrison co., Ohio in 1824-5. Soon after in 1826, his eighth child and my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Trimble Cowles was born. Young Joseph soon realized what kind of family he had been brought into for a mere five years later in 1831, Salmon Cowles and his family moved to Stillwater, Ohio and then in October of 1840, moved to Iowa Territory. There, he preached a couple tours of duty at the O.S. Presbyterian Church in West Point, Iowa, which is the oldest Presbyterian church organization in the state, was also the first brick church in Iowa and the first brick building in West point. While the original church doesn't stand, the "new" one that Rev. Salmon Cowles helped build in the 1860's still stands to this day. Several other Presbyterian churches, including one in Oskaloosa, were started up by Rev. Salmon Cowles and he rode a lengthy circuit five to six times a year to preach at many more. Salmon Cowles, described with kindness and a good word for everyone, he lived and died universally loved and respected by a wide circle of friends, died 25 Mar 1869 at the family homestead near West Point, Iowa. His son Joseph Trimble Cowles would migrate up to the Morning Sun area in Louisa County, which I have spoken of before on this blog. The name of that town just attracts me like a moth to a flame. One of Joseph's daughters, my 2nd great grandmother would marry into the another branch of my family tree from that area and thus end the Cowles branch of my tree.