Friday, May 27, 2016

Dr. Edward Cowan

Dr. Cowan, front row, second from right, holding a cane
For Memorial Day, we are celebrating the life of Dr. Edward H. Cowan, who was the oldest surviving veteran of the Civil War from Montgomery County, at his death in 1942.  He was born in Frankfort on Dec. 21, 1846 to John and Harriet Janney Cowan.

John Cowan was reported to be the first male child born in the Indianapolis settlement in 1821, and attended Wabash College, graduating in 1842.  Edward also attended Wabash College, and in 1864, was one of a group of young scholars who left the school to join the Union forces. Edward was a member of the 135th Indiana Infantry, Co. H. Incidentally, this was also the unit my great, great grandfather, James W. Thompson of Ladoga, served with, so they must have been friends.  These young men spent time on the "Cracker Line," which opened up the area through Tennessee for the later famous, "March to the Sea," led by Sherman.

A young Dr. Edward Cowan
Edward Cowan mustered out in 1865 and returned to Wabash College, finishing in 1867.  He later studied medicine and became  a physician serving the people of Crawfordsville in 1878.  He was the first city health officer, and served on the city school board.   He married Lucy Ayors in 1877.   Her great-aunt was married to Major Ambrose Whitlock, who ran the land office in Crawfordsville for many years.

Dr. Cowan was well-known for his work with the Grand Army of the Republic, a national reunion group for Civil War soldiers, for over 50 years. In our "images" database, there are several more photos of Dr. Cowan attending different GAR events. He was admired and loved by all who knew him for his wit and humor, his breadth of knowledge, his friendliness to all, and his personal philosophy that kept him so young.  Dr. Cowan lived to be 95 years old.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Byrd - Houlehan Story

Ruby Byrd on her way to Indiana University in 1906
     In honor of the end of another school year, let’s go back in time for a moment and take a glimpse of Ruby Ethyl Byrd, a former Willson School teacher and resident of Crawfordsville, and her husband Arthur Earl Houlehan, also a former local resident as well as a chemist and inventor.  

Their story starts so very sweet, but sadly ends too soon. Ruby and Arthur both graduated together in the class of 1904 from Crawfordsville High School. Miss Byrd went on to Indiana University, and then became a teacher at Willson School in Crawfordsville. She taught there from 1909 until 1912, the year she married Dr. Arthur Houlehan. 
"Willson School class of mine" (Ruby Byrd)
Arthur attended and graduated from Wabash College and went on to Cornell University in New York to get his PhD in Chemistry. After securing his job as a chemist with a corporation called DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, Houlehan came back to Montgomery County to marry Ruby and whisk her away. 

Their intimate family ceremony took place on August 28, 1912 at the bride's parent's house. 
The couple, then, immediately traveled to and took residence in Wilmington, Delaware.  
In 1917 Arthur and Ruby had a baby girl, Louise Elizabeth Houlehan. This particular collection includes many photos, most of them of Miss Louise. We are able to know that she was their pride and joy if only because we can almost watch her grow through the pages of pictures of their beautiful little girl. 

In 1924 Mr. Houlehan came down with pneumonia and, unfortunately, did not survive. Shortly thereafter, Ruby packed up with her daughter and moved back to Montgomery County to be around family. She became very active socially in the community, as well as volunteering for the Red Cross and several benefit drives. Mrs. Houlehan passed away at age 83 in Warren, Indiana, in 1968.