Selected Works from the Book, “Historic Douglas County.”
Copyright 1982, Douglas County Historical Society

History of Jean and Iva Cowan

Page 112 (there are pictures of Jean and Iva Cowan)

Jean Cowan’s grandfather Robert Cowan was born in Scotland in 1822; he was a tanner by trade. When Robert was nineteen he left Scotland to find a a home in “free America.” He first came to Missouri and married Caroline Jones (1844) , they had 12 children over the years.

In the spring of 1847 he and Caroline joined an emigrant wagon train of 800 leaving Missouri for Oregon Territory. After four months they reached Salem in September 1847 (the book says 1947, I am sure that this is a typo),

but on hearing that the Umpqua Valley had richer farmland then the Willamette they moved on South to Yoncalla, which was in Umpqua County (the county’s division change was noted in Douglas County Census of 1870). They proved a donation claim which still remains in the family through Sarah Cowan Kingerly. At that time the only other white man in Yoncalla was Levi Scott (Scottsburg).

Caroline and Robert had two daughters before they started the trip across the plains with their ox team. After they arrived their first son James was born (1849) –the first white child born in Douglas County. The mother and father received their citizen papers three years later in Umpqua County Court.

In 1865 the father Robert was killed in a woods accident and Caroline continued raising their nine surviving children on the Yoncalla homestead.

Her Youngest son, John Walter, became a blacksmith and married Dora McKee of Yoncalla in 1887. They had three sons: the oldest was Dale, born 1894, (one son died). The youngest , Jean Cowan was born in 1908. The boys received their education in Yoncalla and worked in the blacksmith shop. When it was moved from the main street south on the highway, it became a garage where the two boys worked on cars and farm equipment repairs while Walter maintained the shop.

Dale and Jean married sisters. The older Grace Adams, a teacher there, married Dale in 1928, and Jean married Iva Adams in 1937.

Iva Adams Cowan was born in Caro, Michigan, October 16, 1908, daughter of Helen Stacy (born 1869) and James W. Adams. Her parents had married in Michigan and with their three children, Grace, Iva and Stacy, came to Salem, Oregon in 1927.

Iva finished high school and entered nurse’s training at Pacific Christian Hospital in Eugene, graduating in 1930. She then did private duty in Eugene and the Portland hospitals until she married Jean and came to live in the Cowan home which had been built in 1893 and was the birthplace of both Jean and Dale.

Dale and Grace had one son, Walter Dale, who after the death of his father, lived with Iva and Jean until age fifteen.

After 40 years of operation Jean closed the garage and went into road construction work.

Iva and Jean both retired in 1971 to hunt and garden by but Iva still looks after her neighbor’s health and keeps up her nurse’s license.

they had two children – Jon Robert, a wood working specialist, and Susan Caroline, a teacher of buisness courses in the Washington Junior College. Iva Cowan

History of Cowan-Kingery Donation Land Claim

Page 113

The farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Dar Kingery is located approximately two miles southeast of Yoncalla, Oregon. This far was originally a Donation Land Claim filed in 1850 by Dare’s grandparents, Caroline and Robert Cowan.

Robert Cowan came to the United States from Scotland about 1840. On September 12, 1844 he married Caroline Jones in Cooper County, Missouri. They settled at Liberty, Missouri, until they and their two small daughters joined a wagon train to Oregon on May 1, 1847. They arrived in Salem, Oregon, on September 25 and remained there until fall of 1848, at which time they moved south to Yoncalla, arriving there October 2, 1848.

They built a log cabin by a creek two miles southeast of Yoncalla. This house was the only one between the Willamette Valley settlement and Sacramento, California. Caroline ws the only white woman in this area and her son, James Levi, born April 19, 1849, was the first white child born in Douglas County.

On March 22, 1852, Robert became a Citizen of the United States. About 1856 they built a large frame house at this same location. By 1862 their family consisted of ten children, five boys and five girls. On March 9, 1865, Robert was killed by a falling tree during a storm. His widow buried him on a high hill under the oak trees on the claim. This was the beginning of a family cemetery.

Caroline and her children ran the farm quite successfully, and as her children married, each was given a share of the farm. In 1894 Caroline built a house for herself in Yoncalla where she lived until her death January 19, 1904.

On October 26, 1884, Caroline’s daughter Sara Alice, married John Wesley Kingery who had come by train from Astoria, Illinois, about 1882. Caroline gave them 60 acres on which they built a house and barn and planted an orchard. Some of these trees are still bearing fruit, through almost 100 years old. Four boys were born to Sara and John. Clyde and Earl died infancy and Jim in 1911. Dare was born June 23, 1894.

Eventually, Sarah and John bought out the other heirs to the farm and in 1904 they moved into Caroline’s farm home. In 1915 they built the present house in the exact location of the old one. On February 16, 1918, John passed away. On June 18, 1918, Dare and Anna Hunington were married and made their home with Sarah until her death in 1930.

Dare and Anna had six children: Mabel, Mary, Elbert, Doris, Donald, and Molly. All are living except Elbert who served in World War II and was killed in Germany, April 11, 1945.

Don and his wife, Alice, have a home on this farm as he has always worked in partnership with his father.

The Kingerys have fourteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. The “Century Plus” farm now totals about 1200 acres. Sheep, Cattle, and pigs are raised and the hay and grain to feed them.

Dare, who is now 87 years old, and Anna who is 85, will attribute their longevity to hard work and clean living. Both love working the land and contributing their share to this small community. In time, this farm will again be passed on to another generation. It is their hope that it will remain in the family for many years to come. By Mary Alice Kingery Bohlander.

Ernest Rowe
1915 – On the Umpqua River

Page 260
One of the most unforgettable years was living in a stilt house on the Umpqua River. It was built on piling over the river. My father, Ernest Rowe had a job building a large barn on the opposite side. Our house was on Smith River side of the Umpqua. Only trails connected the two rivers. Our cousins lived on the Smith River.

Everyone had a boat as that was the only means of transportation. The paddle boat the Eva, was so pretty as she churned her way with passengers and freight on her way to Scottsburg. She would pick up milk cans at the farms on the way. We loved to wave at the passengers and crew, and watch her go by.

An Indian family lived on a farm down the trail from our house. They were named Maceys. The younger ones were close to my mother’s age. Gus and Anna Macy were their names. She loved to come and visit with my mother and tease us kids. She made nice biscuits but my brother wouldn’t eat any. She was a little dirty and greasy and that bothered this stomach.

My two brothers, Milton and Wilbur, were 9 and 8; I was 5, my sister, Thelma, was 3. My mother loved to fish. We all got in our row boat with our cousin, Delta Keith, who was 14. Mom tied the trowling line to her foot and started rowing up the river where she caught a nice salmon. Then we heard the dogs barking; all of a sudden out jumped a nice big buck deer into the water. It started swimming toward us. Delbert sad, “Shall we get it?.” The only weapon was Delbert’s pocket knife and the oar. Mom grabbed its tail and hung on. Delbert did the rest. IT wasn’t long before they got it in the boat when we heard the Eva whistle before coming around the bend. We had a gunny sack and coats to cover it. We all waved and showed them our nice salmon. They wished us lots of luck as they passed by.

Our dad was one surprised man when he came home from work and saw the deer hanging in the wood shed.

When the rains came with the high water, I noticed my mother was worried but she never frightened us kids. She tied the row boat to the tree on the lower side of the house on shore. Then we went to bed.

We woke up hearing water sloshing our wash tub on the porch and water slowly creeping in under the door. Mom told us to get on the bed and watch the river. It was swiftly going by when we saw a rooster on a shed going by and crowing. Then we saw two beautiful horses swimming down the river with their heads held high. Later we learned they were rescued close to Reedsport.

Lots of logs, lumber, sheds and boats went by while we watched. Mom stayed busy trying to get hooks onto our boat to bring it close to the porch. She didn’t have any luck so came in and said, “I sure hope our house isn’t washed off the piling.” We heard someone yelling help. Dad went to the door and looked out. IT was our cousin, Harry Bernhardt. He made a raft to try to get to us and our boat, but his raft hit a tree and broke up. So we had to rescue him out of the tree. Dad tied a stick to a fish line and threw it to him. HE caught it so Dad tied a rope on the fish line and Harry tied it to the tree, then Dad tied the other end to our porch. Harry came in hand over hand, while we prayed. Soon we heard Uncle Elmer Keith with his powerful fishing boat to our rescue.

This is a true story and real people.
Pioneers of Douglas County, by: Elveta Rowe (Barnes)

Additional Information about Ernest Rowe and Brother Alfred:
From the Roseburg Review, late in the year 1904 Paper:
“Alfred and Ernest Rowe, who live at Gardiner, came in yesterday at the call that their mother was critically ill. They missed the stage and had to walk 45 miles of the way, which they accomplished in 18 hours.”
Anyone having any knowledge of this Rowe family is invited to contact the webmaster, as Alfred B. Rowe is her great grandfather.

Excerpts taken from the still available:
“Historic Douglas County, Oregon”
$49.95, plus $3 mailing charge.
Published 1982 – 376 pages, hard cover, family histories and county data.

Send Orders to:
Douglas County Historical Society
P.O. Box 2534
Roseburg, Oregon 97470

One Response to History

  1. Melanie Fackrell says:

    Robert & Caroline Cowan are my 3x great-grandparents. I was delighted to learn of this article from my sister, Kimberlee. I love learning more about my family history. ‘Hi’ to all my relatives still living in the area! To any of them interested to know more – I think I found where Robert Cowan and his brother Thomas came from in Scotland, and it wasn’t Kirkudbright!

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