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Mr. Gibson and familie are all well and desires to be remembered to you as also John Muir.  Robt. Taket also. Robt Stobo Senior and spouse and a Mrs. Muir from Strathaven  [Mary Burns, Mrs. Archibald Muir] are all dead, two of them in one day and one in another of Cholera and there are other two in the same house badly viz George Burns and one of Robt Hamilton's daughters and Mrs. Hamilton but are likely to get better. Jean Stobo has also taken Cholera but is got rather better...

We have in the course of God's Providence lost one of our famlie, our Dear daughter Mary Ann Hunter McC. is no more. She departed this life on Saturday morning the 26th of July of Typhus fiver and Elizabeth and Jean have both had it but thank God they are both better but Willm is just now very ill of collera and wither he will get better or not is known to God only ... this letter I have penned sittin at my son Willm's bedhead just waiting on him ... the cholera is again very sore. God grant that we may all escape it ... Mrs. McCowan is not well and has lain the most part of this day, what the consequences will be God only knows, may it be favourable for us all is my humble wish and prayer. I hope you will excuse bad write and also bad dite for I am so confused and wuried that I hardly know what I do, not having got much rest for three days and two nights. I am, Dear Sir, your Sincair old friend with I hope a new face, James McCowan.

Obviously referring to his new life in Ontario, Canada which had begun only a year earlier, he closed this letter on August 20, 1834. But the letter was never posted. Eight days later he and his third son, David, were called away to "the right hand." They did not escape "the cholera".

At St. Andrew's Church one hundred and fifty four years later, on August 20, 1988, James McCowan's great-great-great grandson will begin a new life with his beautiful bride from Argentina, Beatriz Azucena Ceballos.


From St. Andrew's 150 Years Ago and The McCowans of Cumnock, Lesmahagow and Scarborough (first para)

Note: James McCowan's letter, an Upper Canada medical history treasure, has been on exhibition at the Toronto Public Library. and, beginning in Oct. 2003, will be on exhibition at Cedarbrae Library.  


A Cholera Outbreak Hero

James McCowan's nephew, Robert Thomas McCowan, eldest son of David McCowan and Sarah Packwood, was born in Trinidad. A military surgeon,  medical doctor and onculist, he returned to the McCowan ancestral Parish of Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, and was evidently one of the heroes in stemming the local cholera outbreak of the late 1840s. A family story is that this dark complexioned "ship's doctor" once visited his McCowan cousins in Scarborough, Canada. His wife, Jessie Thomas Miller,  was born in Montreal.

Dr. McCowan's son, Robert Thomas Packwood McCowan, also had a career in medicines...

Well-Known Chemist
Death of Mr. R.T. McCowan

Many in town will learn with deep regret of the death of Mr. R.T. McCowan, which took place at his residence, Millerville, Glasgow Road, on Monday. Mr. McCowan was well-known to a large number of people, and his chemist shop at the Cross was ever a busy one due to his pleasing personality and his goodness of heart.

He was in business almost half a century at the Cross -- retiring but two years ago when he was in his eightieth year. Many of those not too well endowed with the wherewithal to purchase necessary medicines found in Mr. McCowan a practical friend, and he had a winning way with children, and a pleasant greeting for everyone.

Mr. McCowan was a native of the town, and was a son of the late Dr. Robert Thomas McCowan, who had a practice for a long period in the west end of Paisley. He is survived by his widow. During his long time in business, Mr. McCowan trained many young men for the profession, and most of these are now in good positions. He was a member of the Middle Church, in which he was senior elder, and performed much useful work in connection with the church activities.

Paisley Gazette, June 13, 1931

The McCowans' Who's Who  Vol. 14

The Bottle Below was Kindly Sent by
Nancy and Bruce Seaton of Paisley, Scotland

McCowanBottle.JPG (43102 bytes)