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Cowan, Matthew (Captain)
B: Abt 1820, near Tipperary, Ireland
D: 23 Oct 1907, St. Vincent, Minnesota
M: Mary Caroline Gibbs (Matthew's 2nd cousin). Mary Caroline (known as Caroline) was b. abt 1836 in Brock Township, Ontario, Canada. She was dau of John Gibbs and Eleanor Louisa Robinson. She was 1 of 10 children. She d. in St. Vincent, Minnesota shortly before Easter in 1901.

FN: Matthew Cowan
MN: Elizabeth Nicholson

The family emigrated to Canada in 1827 when Matthew was 7 years old and settled near Cannington in Brock Townwhip, Ontario.

Matthew became the first Commandant of the 34th Batallion in Cannington. After the American Rebellion of 1860, a Volunteer Militia was formed and in 1868 an infantry in Cannington evolved with Matthew as its Captain. After Matthew married his 2nd cousin, Mary Caroline Gibbs, they moved to St. Vincent, Minnesota where they remained until his death on 23 Oct 1907.

Children of Matthew Cowan and Mary Caroline Gibbs:

Sarah Jane Cowan
B: Abt 1855, Brock Twp., Ontario
M: 19 Aug 1875, Anthony Moran in Beaverton, Ontario. Thought to have remarried in Canada.

John C. Cowan
B: Abt 1858, Brock Twp., Ontario

Robert Cowan (George?
B: Abt 1859, Brock Twp., Ontario

Elizabeth (Bessie) Cowan
B: Abt 1869, Brock Twp., Ontario

Frank Cowan (was manager of an elevator in Cando, ND)
B: Abt 1874, Brock Twp., Ontario
M: Unknown Thompson

Fred Cowan
B: Abt 1876, Brock Twp., Ontario

Arthur Cowan
B: Abt 1878, Brock Twp., Ontario
M: Unknown English girl, lived in Winnipeg and had 5 children

Nellie Cowan
M: Unknown McCullan, she had 2 daughters and a son

Margaret (Maggie) Cowan
B: Perhaps after the 1880 US census?
M: Fred Armstrong, they had a daughter, Ruth

Karen Bell in Germany writes:


Maria GIBBS was born on March 8th 1823 in Belfast, Ireland, the daughter of Ensign William Gibbs and Mary Glover. The family emigrated to Canada in 1827 where they also settled in Brock Township near Cannington, Ontario. Maria married John RYAN on November 25th 1845. 


Found in newspaper published Toronto, Canada: THE GLOBE, November 25 1845: On the 12th ultimo, at Thorah, by the Rev. Amable Cheriest, R.C.C., Penetanguishene, John RYAN, of the Board of Works Department, late of Castlemore, County Tipperary, Ireland, to Maria, youngest daughter of the late Captain William Gibbs, of H.M. 8th Royal Vet. Batn,

After the death of John Ryan in Newmarket, Ontario, Maria moved to St. Vincent, Minnesota, around 1879, taking with her 4 nieces and their husbands. These nieces were the daughters of her brother John Gibbs and settled with their husbands in the villages of St. Vincent and Hallock. They were:

Mary Caroline Gibbs with husband Captain Mathew COWAN.

Matilda Gibbs with husband Nicholas DURE.

Ann Mulvina Gibbs with husband George THOMPSON.

Maria Louise Gibbs with husband William THOMPSON.


The Cowan family remaining in Ontario became a very successful railway family. Matthew's nephew, William James, was a sub-contractor for Sir William Mackenzie and helped build over 1500 miles of track for the Canadian Northern Railway in and around Manitoba. The small village of Cowan, near Dauphin Manitoba was named after him.

Matthew's niece, Elizabeth, married Matthew Perry who also worked for Sir William Mackenzie and ran the work farm in Dauphin where the railroad equipment was stored and the work animals raised.

Another niece, Jennie, married Roderick Mackenzie, Sir William's nephew and they settled near Winnipeg where Roderick built a hydro electric power plant near Lac du Bonnet to supply power for the Winnipeg Street Railroad.