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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Cowee

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1622-1624 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

James Cowee was born in the old world in 1726 or 1727 of unknown parentage. He died April 29, 1801. He was the ancestor of those distinguished by that name in this vicinity, if not in the entire country. While yet a lad, as the story goes, his mother died. A stepmother coming into the family did not take kindly to him or his brother Bartholomew, but neglected and abused them. The father, as they grew older, conceived the idea of sending them to America to seek their fortunes and work out their destinies. He made an arrangement with the captain of a vessel about to sail thither, a warm personal friend of his, to take the youths with him, paying him liberally for their passage and entrusting him with additional funds to be given them when they should disembark, as a means of getting a start in the new land. During the voyage Bartholomew, the younger brother, died, which was a sad misfortune to the survivor. The captain of the ship proved recreant to his trust, betraying the confidence of his friend and cheating an innocent, destitute and needy young man, a stranger in a strange land, out of his rightful due. He not only withheld from the lad what he had received from the father for the sons' special use to be paid upon landing here, but actually sold him into temporary service, as the custom sometimes was in those days, for the second payment of the passage money across the sea. After the term of servitude he worked his way back into the country among the new settlements, tarrying here and there as he could find employment, at length reaching Chocksett (now Sterling), where he remained a while, but ere long he came to Narragansett No. 2, where October 1, 1750, he bought of Rev. Elisha Marsh lot number 96. He at once began improvements, cleared six acres, erected a good cellar house, set out an orchard and had things well under way before the following July. He was an industrious, skillful, prosperous farmer, a man of much independence and force of character, becoming one of the largest land holders of the town and having one of the most valuable residences at the time of the levying of the general United States tax in 1798.

He married, March 3, 1757, Mary, daughter of John Pearson, of Rowley. She died March 11, 1813. Children:

  1. John, born July 20, 1758, married Mary Rand, settled in Chittenden, Vermont.
  2. Sarah, October 12, 1759, married Zeeb Green.
  3. Mehitable, March 21, 1761, married Nathan Wood.
  4. David, of whom further.
  5. James, February 21, 1765, married Susannah Baldwin.
  6. Mary, January 17, 1767, married John Bigelow.
  7. Rebecca, September 14, 1768, married (first) Jonathan Eager, (second) John Bigelow.
  8. Nathan, June 19, 1770, died April 21, 1814.
  9. Rhoda, April 30, 1772, married William Sawin.
  10. Joel, February 15, 1774, died in infancy.
  11. Pearson, October 9, 1775, married Susannah Upton.

(II) David, son of James and Mary (Pearson) Cowee, was born March 2, 1763. He spent most of his life near the North Common, but about the year 1826 removed to Troy, New York, where he died in 1828. He married Millicent, daughter of Edward and Jemima (Trowbridge) Jackson, December 22, 1789. Children:

  1. Farwell, of whom further.
  2. David, born 1792, died September 9, 1814.
  3. Adolphus, no date recorded, disappeared in 1841.
  4. Ann Maria, July 5, 1810, married Nahum P. Dole.

(III) Farwell, son of David and Millicent (Jackson) Cowee, was born in 1790, died in 1837. He was an active, enterprising, public-spirited man. He started in trade with Timothy Doty; they built the Doty store and ran it for several years. He removed to Troy, New York, where he engaged in the hotel business. He married (first) Abigail, daughter of Nathan and Abigail (Holden) Meriam (see Merriam VII). She died September 15, 1830. He married (second) Eliza Dole in 1832. Children of first wife:

  1. David, of whom further.
  2. Farwell Malcolm, of whom further.
  3. Millicent, born June 22, 1822, married James Pierpont.
  4. Abigail, April 24, 1824, died April 6, 1830.
  5. Ann Eliza, July 19, 1829, married David Judson.

Children of second wife:

  1. George R., born 1833, died 1862.
  2. Mary, 1835, died November 27, 1887; married Edgar T. Wait.

(IV) David (2), eldest son of Farwell and Abigail (Merriam) Cowee, was born at Westminster, Massachusetts, June 16, 1818, died November 27, 1887, at Troy, New York. As a young man, he entered the store of John L. Thompson as a clerk, and in 1841 was admitted a partner and so continued during his lifetime. He was a director and vice-president of the Manufacturers National Bank and interested in other Troy business affairs. He was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church, and a Republican in politics, serving as school commissioner. He married, December 28, 1843, at Troy, Mary Elizabeth Young, born August 19, 1819, now (1911) living in Troy in her ninety-second year. Children:

  1. James Farwell, of whom further.
  2. David, born September 30, 1849, a teller in the United National Bank of Troy.
  3. Mary Louise, married Walter R. Bush, Jr.
  4. Clara Elizabeth, a resident of Troy.
  5. Eleanor Gertrude, also a resident of Troy.

(IV) Farwell Malcolm, son of Farwell and Abigail (Merriam) Cowee, was born in Westminster, Massachusetts, January 8, 1820, died in Berlin, New York, February 13, 1895. He lived in Westminster during his boyhood days; in 1838 he removed to Troy, where he entered business. In 1841 he bought a farm in Berlin, New York, where he was also interested in the Henry Harrington Manufacturing Company, makers of mowing machines, but his principal business was farming. He was a Republican and was elected and served as supervisor for several years. He was a very prominent church worker, a member of the First Baptist Church and a deacon, and was active in Sunday school as a superintendent for many years. Farwell M. Cowee was married, February 15, 1844, to Sarah Elizabeth Godfrey, born in Berlin, August 8, 1820, died July 14, 1889, daughter of Josiah Godfrey, of Rhode Island, and Sarah (Burnell) Godfrey. Josiah Godfrey was the son of Robert Godfrey, born 1733, son of John (2) Godfrey, born January 31, 1703, son of John (1) Godfrey, born 1680, married, May 28, 1701, Elizabeth, daughter of Caleb Carr, who was governor of Rhode Island. Children of Farwell Malcolm and Sarah Elizabeth (Godfrey) Cowee:

  1. Abigail;
  2. Millicent;
  3. Malcolm G.;
  4. Anna;
  5. Arthur;
  6. Willis Judson;
  7. James Clarence, born August 25, 1863, a prominent business man of Troy, president and treasurer of the David Judson Coal Company, married, June 25, 1891, Bertha, daughter of Theodore and Matilda E. (Price) Hyatt; children: Marjory H., Constance H., Theodore H. and James Farwell.

(V) James Farwell, eldest son of David (2) and Mary Elizabeth (Young) Cowee, born in Troy, New York, September 23, 1844. He was educated in the public schools and Troy Academy, entered Williams College, class of 1865, but left college during his junior year. He entered the store of John L. Thompson Sons, as a clerk, January 18, 1864, was admitted as partner, February 1, 1869, and so continued until the incorporation of John L. Thompson Sons & Company, July 1, 1903, when he was elected president of the company, a position he now (1910) most worthily fills. He is a director of the Manufacturers' National Bank and is interested in other Troy enterprises, but his greatest interest through his entire business life has been the John L. Thompson & Sons Company.

He is an elder of the Presbyterian church and actively interested in church work. He is a member of the Masonic order, Sons of the Revolution, and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. His social clubs are the Troy and Pafraets Dael, both of Troy. He married, April 22, 1869, Nancy Louise Denison, of Berlin, New York, daughter of Pardee N. and Aurora (Streeter) Denison. Child;

  1. Harvey Denison, born May 22, 1874; educated at Albany Boys Academy and Sheffield Scientific School, Yale University; he was elected vice-president of the John L. Thompson Sons & Company in 1903, after a previous service of six years; he married Louise Bontecou Cluett.

(The Merriam Line)

Nathan Merriam was a lineal descendant of Joseph Merriam, who came to America about 1638 and settled in Concord, Massachusetts; with him came brothers Robert and George. They were sons of William Merriam, of Hadlow, Kent county, England. Joseph was the founder of the Merriam family of Westminster, Massachusetts.

(II) Joseph (2), son of Joseph (1) Merriam, married Sarah Stone.

(III) Thomas, son of Joseph (2) and Sarah (Stone) Merriam, was born in 1672, married Mary Harwood.

(IV) Thomas (2), son of Thomas (1) and Mary (Harwood) Merriam, married Tabitha Stone, of Waltham, and located in Lexington, Massachusetts.

(V) Samuel, eldest son of Thomas (2) and Tabitha (Stone) Merriam, born December 21, 1723, was dismissed from the Lexington church to the Westminster church. He married Anne, daughter of David and Rebecca Whitney, of Waltham, June 4, 1752, and had seven children.

(VI) Nathan, sixth child and second son of Samuel and Anne (Whitney) Merriam, was born April 29, 1764, married Abigail, daughter of Abner and Elizabeth (Darby) Holden.

(VII) Abigail, daughter of Nathan and Abigail (Holden) Merriam, born January 29. 1795, died September, 1820, married Farwell Cowee.

(The Holden Line)

Abigail Holden, wife of Nathan Merriam, was a descendant of Justinian Holden, who at the age of twenty-one years, in the year 1634, sailed from Ipswich, England, for America; became one of the first proprietors of Watertown, Massachusetts, where he died. He became a man of substance and owned a farm of two hundred and ninety-four acres, now (1910) one of the most valuable tracts in the suburbs of Boston. Name of his first wife is unknown; he married (second) Mary, daughter of Thomas Rutler, who bore him four sons, all of whom were prominent in the growth and development of Westminster, Massachusetts.

(II) Deacon Joseph Holden, son of Justinian and Mary (Rutler) Holden, was born at Watertown, Massachusetts, September 6, 1683. The inscription of his gravestone best expresses his standing in Westminster, "Deacon Joseph Holden, deceased November 3, 1768, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. He brought his family into this town in ye year 1737, being ye second family; was ye first Deacon of ye Church gathered here and faithfully discharged the duty thereof. Mark ye perfect and behold ye upright for the end of that man is Peace." He married (first) Abigail Shattuck; (second) Elizabeth ————, who survived him. He had seven children, all by his first wife.

(III) Abner, fourth son of Deacon Joseph and Abigail (Shattuck) Holden, was born November 2, 1722. He was clerk of the district and town of Westminster for many years, was repeatedly on the board of assessors, for nearly twenty years selectman, and for twenty years was the leading magistrate of the town. He was a member of the first provincial congress in 1774, a delegate to the convention called to adopt the state constitution in 1779, and the first representative of the town to the general court established by that constitution. He was a brave and devoted champion of the cause of independence, and did his utmost for its success. He married, February 25, 1752, Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew and Elizabeth Darby, who shared his fortunes more than half a century and survived him seven years. He died October 22, 1805, aged eighty-two years; she died November 12, 1810, aged eighty-three years. They were the parents of nine children.

(IV) Abigail, eighth child of Abner and Elizabeth (Darby) Holden, was born August 25, 1767, married Nathan Merriam (see Merriam VI).

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