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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.

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RANSOM COWLS, one of North Amherst’s prosperous farmers, was born in Amherst, August 18, 1818, son of Jonathan and Esther (Graves) Cowls. Mr. Cowls’s ancestors came originally from Connecticut to Hatfield, Mass.; and his grandparents, David and Sarah (Eastman) Cowls, were natives of that town. David Cowls was born August 11, 1741. He moved from Hatfield to Amherst, where he was an early settler, and cleared the farm which is now owned by Walter Cowls. He was an industrious and an upright man. David Cowls died in Amherst, November 18, 1817. His wife, Sarah Eastman before marriage, who was born January 28, 1744, daughter of John Eastman, of Hatfield, 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 ownership of the home farm, and bought other real estate. He became a very prosperous farmer, and owned some three hundred acres of land. He was a man of sound judgment in all business matters, and was active in public affairs, having been chairman of the Board of Selectmen for some time. Jonathan Cowls died January 18, 1866. He was a zealous member of the Congregational church. His wife, whose maiden name was Esther Graves, was born in Sunderland, November 23, 1783, and became the mother of eight children, as follows: Justin, Erastus, Louis, Ira, and Esther, all deceased; Sarah, wife of George Bridgman, a resident of Michigan; Jonathan, Jr., a prosperous farmer of North Amherst; and Ransom, the subject of this sketch. She died June 20, 1868.

Ransom Cowls was reared to agricultural life, and has always followed farming as an occupation. He resides upon a part of the original farm of David Cowls, his property consisting of one hundred and twenty-five acres. In his time he worked laboriously; but he has now retired from active occupation, leaving his sons to manage the farm. He is a Republican in politics.

On August 24, 1843, Mr. Cowls was united in marriage to Sarah B. Gunn. She was born in Sunderland, August 3, 1821, daughter of Stephen and Sarah (Baker) Gunn, both now deceased, who were old residents of North Sunderland, where Stephen Gunn was a farmer. Mrs. Cowls was the mother of the following children: Stephen G., who died

March 4, 1894; Francis J., who married Sarah Wormwood, and died August 1, 1881, leaving two children, Esther and Sarah; Esther T., who married Frank M. Cushman, of Northampton, and has two children, Esther C. and Clara M.; Albert R., who resides at home; and Mellie A., an organ manufacturer of Detroit, Mich., who married Clara Nichols, and has a son, Emerson R. Mrs. Cowls died May 14, 1894. She was a member of the Congregational church. Mr. Cowls has been a member of the same society for fifty years, has been its treasurer, and is the superintendent of the Sabbath-school.

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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

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