William T. Cowan, 77, prominent Box Elder merchant and rancher and on of
the best-known figures in the development of northern Montana, passed
away on Thursday, January 16, in hospital here. Mr. Cowan, who had been
in failing health for several months, was a native of Lynedoch, Ontario,
The death of Mr. Cowan stilled
one of the most active voices in state circles. He had served as state
senator from Hill County from 1921 to 1933 and during the years he
served in the state legislature, he was recognized as a fighter for
progressive legislation. It was principally through his efforts that
Northern Montana College was founded on 24 Sep 1929.
Known as "The Father of the
Marias Project," Mr. Cowan, since the turn of the century, had been
connected with the movement of the project which is coming in
reclamation and served in many kinds of committees dealing with
irrigation. Until he was recently hospitalized, he had devoted long
hours to work on the Marias, endeavoring to get construction under way
as soon as possible.
Mr. Cowan died on his 52nd
wedding anniversary and his father died 26 years ago the same day.
Cowan's death shocked hundreds of people in Hill County as the sad word
rapidly spread. He was described as a square shooter and a man of
patience and rich humor. No banquet or other gathering was a huge
success unless "Bill" was on hand to present words of wisdom
make sparkling with his keen wit. His anecdotes about the early history
of northern Montana were famous. As a store operator, many persons had
come in contact with his courtesy and fairness, and as a rancher he
could talk with authority about the problems of the livestock business
and their solutions.
native of Lynedoch, William Thomas Cowan was born the son of David and
Jane McKim Cowan, 30 Sep 1873. With his family he came to Montana in
1887, the elder Cowan establishing a mercantile business at Cypress, a
few miles west of Havre. From there the family moved to Box Elder,
founding the Cowan and Son store and engaging in ranching.
Cowan was identified with the growth of Masonry in his section of the
state. He was chairman of the Masonic Welfare Association of North
Central Montana, a Past Master of Treasure Lodge No. 95 of Big Sandy,
the Knight's Templar and other Masonic bodies. He was also an honorary
member of the Havre Rotary Club.
Cowan was married 18 Jan 1899 at Great Falls to Miss Margery Jacoby. To
this union were born four children who survive him. They are: William E.
Cowan of Box Elder, Mrs. John Crockett of Chinook,
Mrs. John Carlson of Helena, and Mrs. Frank Coleman of San Diego,
sisters are Mrs. W. W. Jones of Havre, and Mrs. Minnie A. Thompson of
was a nephew of the late Mrs. James C. Blayney of Renton, the late
Robert [....] Thomas McKim of Lynedoch [....] Simcoe and the late Alex.
Cow[..] of Langton.