Benjamin Cowan of Monson, Maine—His Families

Benjamin Cowan, 1897

Cowan, 1897

Continued from part one, Benjamin Cowan of Monson, Maine--a Brief Ancestry.

Benjamin Cowan was born between 1834 and 1838, probably in Salem, Maine, where his parents James and Lucretia Cowan were living in 1840.  The earlier date reflects his age as given on his censuses, while the later date comes from his age at death in 1903.

A descendant has stated that Benjamin was orphaned when he was about 16, so 1838 may be accurate, since Lucretia died in Hampden on 19 Jan 1855. James was not found on the 1850 census and Lucretia and her younger children were living with her son Zenas in in Hampden. Her age was fifty on that census, but a different source says she was born in 1792.

On 26 Jul 1856 in Orrington, Maine, Benjamin married Rosanna Inman, daughter or granddaughter of Benjamin and Rhoda (Davis) Inman. The Cowans' first child, Martha Ellen, was born about September 1858 or 1859, probably in Hampden. Their second child, Augustus, was born about 1863.

I'll let a descendant of Benjamin's pick up the story here:

'Ben went off to the Civil War. His wife Roseanna put Martha and Augustus in the Hampden, Maine "poorhouse" (which appears to have been a boarding house that the local sheriff ran - that was pretty common then - that the sheriff boarded the poor) while Roseanna worked as a housekeeper for a family named Carey.

`Ben acknowledged Augustus and Martha as his children, but it appears that when he came home from the war there was a third child, Eva. Ben never claimed Eva as his child; Ben and Roseanna divorced and Roseanna married a son of the Carey family that she had been working for. (Probably Eva's father). Even after she married [Daniel Carey], Augustus, Martha and Eva remained at the Hampden poorhouse.'

The 1870 and 1880 censuses of Hampden both show Augustus and Eva in the poor house. Martha was with them in 1870 but not in 1880, having married Oscar Stover Page in 1877.

The image at of page 7 of 1870-71 Report of the Selectmen of the Town of Hampden, Maine, shows Martha, Augustus, and Cora E Cowan as pauper inmates of the alms house during the year ending March 1871. Page 8 says that Hampden received $351.34 from Salem, Maine, in the past year for the support of the Cowan children. This likely came from Benjamin.

Then in 1889-90 "Benjamin Cowan and family at Monson" are listed on the 1889-90 Annual & School Report of Hampden, Maine, as having provided  $135.21 for Supplies to Persons not on the [town poor house] Farm. This may have been still for Augustus or Eva, both well into their twenties if still alive, or it may have been for support of another relative.

Concluded in Benjamin & Sarah (Newell) Cowan of Monson, Maine.


Sources include

correspondence with descendants
US Federal Censuses
American Civil War Soldiers, at
Maine Vital Records, images at New England Historic and Genealogical Society
Marriage Returns of Penobscot County, Maine prior to 1892, Ruth Gray, editor, (Picton Press, 1994)