FRAME COWAN was born on November 27, 1840 in Sudbury,
Pennyslvania to William and Cedney Cowan. The 1850
Census shows William working as a hatter. The children
then at home were Edwin, age 23; Nathan, age 10; Susan,
age 19; Deborah, age 12; and Sarah, age 8. Edwin Cowan
was also working as a hatter. Four other brothers,
Isaac, William, Henry, and Franklin, were not at home
when the Census was taken. William Cowan was 47 in 1850
and did not survive the decade. The
family had established itself in Camden during the
1850s. When North
Baptist Church was organized on November 15, 1859
older sisters Susan and Deborah Cowan were among the 37
original members. Nathan Cowan, however, remained
affiliated with St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
When the 1860 Census was taken, his widow and all the children
save Henry and William were living in Camden's Middle Ward. Isaac
Cowan was then a practicing physician. Dr. Cowan moved to
Cranford, New Jersey by the middle of 1880. All the family went
with him, except for Nathan Cowan, who had married.
Cowan became well-known in Camden as a baseball player, playing
centerfield for the Camden club beginning around 1861 and not
leaving the game for
twenty-seven years. He was a contemporary
of Weston D.
"Wes" Fisler, who, in 1865, crossed the river
to play for the Philadelphia Athletics, a team that in 1870
joined the National
Association, the professional baseball league that evolved into
the National League. Fisler's claim to baseball immortality
occurred during his final season, 1876. On opening day, April
22, the first game of the National League's first ever season,
Wes Fisler of Camden NJ, scored the very first run in National
League history. Nathan
Cowan did not make the jump to the major leagues, his future lay
in business. He
began working as a clerk during these years, and eventually went
Cowan was a Mason, originally a member of Camden Lodge,
No 15. On February 2, 1871 members of Camden Lodge constituted a
new lodge, Trimble Lodge No.
117, named for Joseph Trimble,
master of Camden Lodge and three years as grand master of the
organizers of the new lodge were George H. Fairfield, George F.
Fort, Marmaduke E. Taylor, Dr.
H. Genet Taylor, Dr. William S. Fort, Wilbur F. Rose, Nathan
F. Cowan, Frederick
A. Rex and J. Graham Milligan.
lodge was constituted in Morgan's
Hall, Fourth and
Streets, then known as Masonic Hall.
Fairfield was the first worshipful master; George F. Fort,
senior warden; Marmaduke Taylor, junior warden; Dr.
Taylor, treasurer; Milligan,
secretary; Cowan, senior
deacon; Rose, master of ceremonies, and Charles H. Gordon, tiler.
the first meeting, Rev. Joseph F. Garrison, rector of St.
Paul's Episcopal Church, was presented for membership. He
was the father of former Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison
and the late Supreme Court Justice Charles
Cowan's work as a clerk led in 1872 to a position with the First
National Bank of Camden. About the same time another young
man, Richard Coates
Wilkins, began working their as well. When,
on June 1, 1874 Richard Coates
Wilkins married Laura Stokes,
Nathan F. Cowan,
witness for the marriage license. The wedding was performed by
Reverend Garrison of St.
Paul's Episcopal Church.
Wilkins' sister Sallie
Ann Wilkins had married a young physician, Dr.
Henry Ackley, at some point during the Civil War. There was
a child, Henry
Wilkins Ackley, who sadly was born and died the same day,
January 17, 1865. Sallie Ackley would be a widow before the year
was out, her husband passing away in Philadelphia on 17, 1865. On
January 22, 1877, she married her brother's friend, Nathan F. Cowan, and bore
a son, William Genet Cowan on March 31, 1878. Twins Edgar Nathan
Cowan and Herbert Richard Cowan arrived on April 27, 1880.
William, & Edgar Cowan
Cowan was active in the affairs of St.
Paul's Episcopal Church, and between his activities there,
in business, sports, and Masonry numbered many of Camden's
prominent citizens among his friends and acquaintances, as
exhibited by St. Paul's church officers in 1886. The officers of
the church then were the following;
Rector, Rev. Thomas A. Tidball, D.D.; Wardens, Abraham Browning,
Esq., Marmaduke B. Taylor; Vestrymen, Maurice
E. Lafferty, Samuel H. Grey, Edward R. Shubrick, Joseph Fearon,
William Joyce Sewell, Dr. Henry Genet
Taylor, James H.
Carpenter, Henry C. Alexander, Robert F.S. Heath, Wilson H.
Jenkins, Nathan F.
Cowan, Harry Humphreys, Edward H. King;
Treasurer, William E. Lafferty; Secretary, James H. Carpenter.
at the National
the 1880s and 1890s included Albert D
Ambruster, John T. Frazeee, Wilbur F. Rose, William Wolcott,
Howard M. Heulings and Howard B. Lippincott.
Nathan Cowan was associated with the National
for 50 years, retiring in 1922 when
it merged with the
National Bank. The Cowans lived at 228 Cooper
Street in Camden before moving to a mansion at 105 North
Cove Road in Pennsauken (Merchantville is/was on the other side
of Cove Road). William Cowan would own the home next door at 113
North Cove Road. Sallie Wilkins Cowan died in 1912 and was
buried at Colestown Cemetery in Delaware Township (present-day
Cherry Hill), New Jersey. Nathan Cowan died
suddenly, at home, in 1927, and was interred next to his wife.
Their three sons are also buried in the family plot at Colestown