My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

JONATHAN COWLS, a retired farmer of North Amherst, was born in that town, May 4, 1822, son of Jonathan and Esther (Graves) Cowls. Mr. Cowls’s grandfather, David Cowls, was born August 11, 1741, and was one of six brothers, who settled in that part of the State. He was an early settler in North Amherst, and cleared a good farm from the wilderness. He followed agriculture successfully, and died November 18, 1817. He was a prominent citizen of the town, honorable and upright in all his dealings, and was a leader of the church choir for many years. His wife, Sarah Eastman before marriage, was born in Hampshire County, January 28, 1744, daughter of J. Eastman. She became the mother of five children: David, Sally, Joseph, Silas, and Jonathan. She died August 14, 1815.

Jonathan Cowls, father of Mr. Cowls, was born in North Amherst, December 2, 1781. He succeeded to the possession of the homestead. He educated himself, studying nights by the light of a pine knot, and in his young manhood taught school. He became an extensive farmer, owning over three hundred acres of land, and was prominent in public affairs, being chairman of the Board of Selectmen for some years. He possessed sound judgment, and his advice was often in demand. He was a Congregationalist in religious belief and a liberal supporter of that church in North Amherst. Jonathan Cowls died at the old homestead in North Amherst, January 18, 1866. His wife, whose maiden name was Esther Graves, was a native of Sunderland, Mass., and became the mother of eight children, as follows: Justin, Erastus, Lois, Ira, and Esther, all of whom died young; Sarah, who married George Bridgman, and resides in Michigan; Ransom, a prosperous farmer of Amherst; and Jonathan, the subject of this sketch. The mother died June 20, 1868.

Jonathan Cowls grew to manhood at the Cowls homestead in North Amherst. He commenced his education in the schools of his native town, and completed his studies at Belchertown and Lee. He adopted agriculture as an occupation, residing with his parents until their death, after which he took charge of the home farm, and conducted it successfully for many years. He was an extensive dealer in stock, and also devoted considerable attention to dairying. He carried on lumbering operations for several winters, and in all of his undertakings has displayed a commendable spirit of energy and perseverance. He retired from active labor in 1893, at which time he removed to his present residence. Mr. Cowls is independent in politics, and is a supporter of President Cleveland. He has been a member of the Board of Selectmen, and has held other town offices.

On July 1, 1851, Mr. Cowls was united in marriage to Sarah M. Dickinson. She was born in Amherst, March 3, 1828, daughter of Walter and Lydia (Dickinson) Dickinson, both of whom were old residents of Amherst. Mr. and Mrs. Cowls have five children, namely: Walter D., born June 30, 1852, residing at the homestead; Newton E., born April 11, 1854, a farmer in California; Abbie Grace, born August 21, 1856, who died October 24, 1865; Sarah Janette, born December 17, 1858, married to Francis Frary, and residing in Minneapolis; and Nellie G., born December 31, 1866, married to Edwin Dickinson, and residing in North Amherst.

Mr. and Mrs. Cowls are members of the Congregational church, in which Mr. Cowls is an active worker and now Trustee.

* * * *

This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.