My thanks to Jim Mitchell for the photocopy of a typewritten transcript of this letter. My web transcript is below.
Petersburg, Tenn. June 5 1904
Dr. J. T. Mitchell
New Ridge Bldg.
Kansas City, Mo.
Your letter of May 24, 1905 was handed me a few days ago. Knowing that I was the oldest Cowden now living in this state that might be able to answer some of your questions about our ancestors.
My father, William Cowden died when I was only 5 years old, leaving me to get all of my family history from my mother. First I will say that my great grandfather and great grandmother Cowden had four children. John, William, Martha and Elizabeth. My mother referred to them as Aunt Patsey and Betsy. After this, my great grandfather died and my great grandmother married a man by the name of Nichols and had three children, Joshua, Joe and Jennie Nichols.
Note: This will be easier to comment on paragraph by paragraph as John Chambers Cowden doesn’t present his material in the clearest fashion. The writer, John Cowden, was born 6 Oct 1834, and died 1912 in Petersburg, Marshall TN. He married Mary Hannah Leonard. His father was William Cowden b. 1806 in Rowan, NC, died 1839 in Cornersville, Marshall, TN. John skips his grandparents at this point and talks about his great grandfather John Cowden, b. Jan 6 1735 in Lancaster PA, died before Aug 1777, and his wife, sometimes given as Jane Jean Brown (her death date would be after 1795 as she is mentioned in her son Matthew’s will as his leaving her a scarf). He relates they had four children, which includes his ancestor John Cowden b. 6 April 1772, died Feb 1 1843, and also Martha “Patsy” Cowden, b. 1780 in Rowan, NC and died 1853 in Huntsville, Randolph, MO. She is down my line and married, on 17 Aug 1798, James Dysart, b. 1777 in Mecklenburg, NC and died July 5 1853 in Huntsville, Randolph, Mo. John then relates that John b. 1735 died and that Jane married a man by the name of Nichols and had three children with him.
There might of been other Cowdens and Nichols children but this is all I ever heard my mother speak of. My grandmother, John Cowden’s mother’s maiden name was either Norris or Brandin, both family names. Grandfather’s sister, Patsy, married a man by the name of Dysart and settled near Farmington. Then a part of Murry City, afterward cut off to Marshall county. They lived there a short time and then moved to Mo.
Note: Now he relates his Grandfather John Cowden b. 1772 (sibling of Martha Cowden Dysart) marrying Elizabeth Norris.
His sister Betsy married Allen McCord and settled near what is now known as Chapple Hill, Marchall County, then a part of Murry county. Second – My grandfather John Cowden and his family, William Cowden, his brother and family, his sister Patsy Dysart and Martha and the Nichols family all moved from Dendall County, North Carolina about 1806 to 1814, to this state and settled in and around this part of the state. I have often heard my mother speak of visiting Aunt Patsey Dysart while they lived. Now I think you are mistaken when your great grandparents left here as my father and mother was married in 1822, must have been after that my father and mother visited them in Murry County. There was two old men by the name of Dysart raised families near Farmington, Marshall County. They were related to the man you are writing about, I don’t know him closely. A part of those families are living there at this time. Will make inquiry about their ancestors.
Note: John relates how the families of John Cowden b. 1772, and his siblings, Martha Cowden Dysart b. 1772 and Sarah Elizabeth Cowden McDavid, and their families, moved to Tennessee. I think there is perhaps a mistranscription here of his parents marrying in 1822, as his mother was born abt 1811 and his father about 1806. I see them elsewhere given as married in 1828.
My grandfather, John Cowden raised a good large family here, most of whom was born in North Carolina and moved with him about the time mentioned to this state and married here and moved to different states to rear their families.
Aunt Mary Cowden (nee Polly) married John Collins and settled near Springfield, Missouri and raised a large family and died only a few years back. She has 1 or 2 sons practicing physicians now in Missouri, you may know something of them. They attended the Vanderbuilt University and while there came out to see us for a few days. The rest of my grandfather’s family. I can give you a history at any future time you may wish to hear about them.
My father, William Cowden, died in 1859 [sic] leaving 3 sons and 1 daughter. Myself and W. N. Cowdens of Lewisburg who died in 1892 leaving three sons and two daughters making their homes at or near Lewisburg, Marchall County, Tenn. I, John Cowden, married Miss M. H. Leonard from this union was twelve children. Eight of whom are mostly living, three boys and five girls. The boys, a Dr. C. N. Cowden, a practicing physician and surgeon at Fayetteville, Tenn. E.E. Cowden, a grain dispatcher at Middleboro, Kentucky and John R. Cowden, a Prof. in a select school at Gallatin, Tenn. My children are all married but two, John R. and Sarah are yet single.
Note: The above death date of his father is a mistranscription. He died in 1839.
I am seventy years old, have been a practicing physician for fifty years, reasonably good health for a man of my age. I still practice medicine at Petersburg, Tenn. Would be glad to meet you suppose you turn loose for a few days and come out and let us compare notes for a few days and see what we can learn about each other for I think we are related, I am sure that the Dysarts at Farmington, Tenn. are related to your grandfather, do not now recollect their given names, think one was Elliot and the other George thought I may be mistaken as to their given names, will try to find out later on.
I am most truly yours,