Thomas Merriwether Cowles (1794 – 1857)

“COWLES, THOMAS MERRIWETHER, planter, was born in 1794, in Richmond County, Ga., and died March 20, 1857; son of William Marston and Anna (Merriwether) Cowles, the latter the sister of Nicholas Merriwether.  His ancestors were located in Virginia in the Colonial period, an old record showing that land lying on the James River near Charles City, West over County, Va…

When Pres. Millard Fillmore visited Montgomery in 1854, he spent the day upon the Cowles plantation, four miles from the city of Montgomery on the Mount Meigs Road, and was given the opportunity of seeing hundreds of slaves in the cotton fields, plowing and hoeing, and also was guest of honor at a barbecue at which neighboring planters and friends, from the city were present.

He built in Montgomery, upon the banks of the Alabama river, a palatial mansion of brick and stone that was for years among the most beautiful private residences in the South.  Here he died, and in the course of time the property fell into the hands of strangers and within recent months, after several visitations of fire, was demolished.

A period of railroad building was inaugurated during his last years and, sound business man that he was, he realized that the future prosperity of the section depended in a large measure upon the encouragement of this industry.  But for his support and persistent confidence, the Montgomery and West Point railroad would have been abandoned, owing particularly to the financial panic that grew out of the State bank failure.  He had migrated from Georgia to the Canebrake region of what was then the Mississippi territory and later, Alabama, being the first of the Georgia planters to pass beyond the Creek nation to the rich lands of a virgin region, carrying their families and their slaves.  The same independence and daring characterized his subsequent career.  His death, in the prime of manhood, took from the state one of its foremost citizens.

Married: Elizabeth Ware, sister of Dr. Robert J. Ware and of Colonel James H. Ware of Montgomery County.  She survived him, an some years after his death married Col. Edmund Harrison.  Major Cowles left no children, and his estate was divided between his widow and the children of his younger and only brother, Dr. John A. Cowles, and his only sister, Mrs. Martha Cowles Sheaur, wife of Gen. Gilbert Sheaur.

Last residence: Montgomery.”

Source:  History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Vol. 3, by Thomas McAdory Owen and Marie Bankhead Owen, The S.J. Clark Publishing Co., Chicago, 1921, page 407


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