William Jones Cowan – My Texas Hero

My 2nd great-grandmother, Martha Cowan Christy Robbins (1836-1926) was named after her maternal grandmother, my 4th great-grandmother, Martha Cowan(1778-1857).

In researching my Cowan ancestry I came across two family histories – The Cowans of County Down by John Kerr Fleming and A Cowan Lineage of 400 Years by John Kerr Fleming. I requested both books through my local library.

In these family histories, I found Martha Cowan (1778-1857) was the daughter of Matthias “Matthew” Cowan (1734-1819) and the granddaughter of Hugh Cowan . Hugh Cowan (1700?-1782) was one of four brothers (John, David, Hugh and William) that sailed from County Down, Ireland to the American Colonies in 1720.

William Cowan, married Susannah Fleming in 1732 . Susannah died about 1755 . William moved to North Carolina. He purchased property in Rowan County, North Carolina in February 1759 . William married Sarah Stewart in December 1759 .

As I read of William and his descendants, I came across William Jones Cowan.

In reading each book, they both refer to William Jones Cowan. However, A Cowan Lineage of 400 Years, lists him as a descendant and refers the reader to The Cowans of County Down for a more information.

William Jones Cowan, the son of Benjamin Cowan (1773-1828) and Jane Locke (1775-1816), was born 25 March 1808 . In 1835, William left North Carolina to visit cousins in Jackson County, Georgia. On 17 November 1835 he signed on with W.A.O. Wadsworth and joined the Columbus Company . From there he sailed to New Orleans. On December 9, 1835, William J. Cowan signed a declaration stating he was bound to Texas to “relieve our oppressed brethren who have emigrated thither…”

William Jones Cowan was a private in Captain Wadsworth’s First Company, Georgia Battalion, First Regiment, Texas Volunteers. He was stationed at Fort Defiance under Col. James W. Fannin, Jr. He participated in The Battle of Coleto Plains . William Jones Cowan is not listed in any surviving documentation indicating he was wounded or killed prior to the surrender of troops by Col. Fannin .

25 March 1835 William Jones Cowan celebrated his 28th birthday as a prisoner of war inside Fort Defiance. Along with his other captives, he was anticipating being taken to port and shipped back to the United States . Unknown to the prisoners, General Santa Anna had ignored the conditions of surrender and ordered all prisoners to be shot as pirates .

William Jones Cowan was murdered along with his fellow soldiers on Palm Sunday, 27 March 1836 . Their bodies are buried under the Goliad Massacre Memorial.

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