OLIVER COWAN & CO., dealers in hardware and farming implements is composed of Oliver and Robert COWAN, brothers. Oliver COWAN was born February 13, 1831 in Londonderry, Ireland. The father, Alexander COWAN, died in Ireland, having been a farmer. The mother and six children came to Shelbyville in 1851, and the mother died in 1868. There are five of the family now living, Oliver being the youngest. He was reared on a farm, and received his education in an agricultural college in Ireland.
Upon coming to Shelbyville he engaged as clerk in the dry goods trade for three years. He then entered a dry goods business with a brother, and continued successfully till 1874, when he sold out that business and entered the hardware business with his brother, Robert. The firm carried about a $10,000 stock, and transacts about a $20,000 business annually.
Mr. COWAN was married, in 1869, to Miss Sarah BRYSON, of Lincoln County, daughter of the Rev. Henry BRYSON. He has a family of two sons and two daughters, viz. Henry B., William G., Jennie and Olive. Himself, his wife and two sons are members of the Presbyterian Church. He is a Knight Templar Mason. Politically he adheres to no party rigidly, but supports the man who he thinks is best qualified to fill public office.
Robert COWAN was born September 24, 1813, in Londonderry, Ireland. He came from the native land to this county in 1851. He clerked in a store till 1874, at which time he entered the firm of Oliver Cowan & Co. In Ireland he followed farming. He was married, in 1836, to Miss Esther BUCHANANA, who bore him two sons, viz.: Alexander, who was killed in the Confederate Army in 1863, and William B., who is now a farmer of this county. Mr. COWAN has for many years lived a widower, his wife having died in Ireland in 1841. He is a devout member of the Presbyterian Church, and is one of Shelbyville’s oldest and most highly respected citizens.
Transcribed by Kathryn Hopkins
Goodspeed Publishing Co. History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present: Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Bedford & Marshall Counties, Besides a Valuable Fund of Notes, Reminescences [Sic], Observations, Etc., Etc. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1988.