Source: COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD of HARTFORD COUNTY, CONNECTICUT (Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families.); Illustrated.; Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1901.
HON. RANDOLPH W. COWLES (deceased) was a well-known contractor and builder of Southington, of whose skill many notable examples are to be seen in that section of the county. Thoroughly reliable in all things, the quality of his work was a convincing test of his own personal worth, and the same admirable trait was shown in his conscientious discharge of the duties of different positions of trust and responsibility to which he was chosen.
Mr. Collins was born in Southington March 1, 1838, a son of Henry and Lydia (Thorp) Collins. His maternal grandfather was Elisha Thorpe. The father was born in Southington Jan. 1, 1805, and was married Aug. 29, 1827. He made his home in the southwest part of the town, and there his death occurred. His children were: George; William; Laura A.; Lucretia, wife of Louis L.; Avery; Emma A., wife of George F. Lewis; Randolph W.; Victoria C.; Emily L.; Elinora L.; and Charlotte, wife of Squire Robinson.
The paternal grandparents of our subject were George Washington and Amy (Adkins) Cowles. The former, born in Southington in December, 1775, became a resident of the Marion District of that town, where he died May 6, 1828. His father, Josiah Cowles, was born in Farmington Nov. 20, 1716, and was married Nov. 11, 1739, to Jemima Dickinson. Soon afterward he located in what is now Southington. His first wife died Oct. 19, 174?, and Nov. 22, 1748, he wedded to Mary Scott, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Pynchon) Scott, of Southington, and the great-grandmother of our subject. Josiah Cowles was the father of 18 children. He was a leading man in church and society, held several important town offices, and military rank of captain. He died June 6, 1793. His father, Thomas Cowles, was born in Farmington Feb. 4, 1685, and was married Jan. 6, 1714, to Martha, eldest daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Greeman) Judd, of Farmington. He resided in Farmington, on the place given him by his father, later known as the Dr. Carrington place, and there he died March 11, 1756. He was a son of Samuel and Rachel (Porter) Cowles, a grandson of Samuel and Abigail (Stanley) Cowles. The father to of Samuel Cowles, Sr., was John Cole (or Cowles), one of the first settlers of Hartford, who about 1640 removed to Farmington, where he engaged in farming; he served as deputy from Farmington to the General Court in 1653 and 1654. In 1662 he removed to Hadley, Massachusetts, where he died in September, 1675.
Randolph W. Cowles, subject of this review, was reared in Southington, and in early manhood learned the carpenter's trade, but prior to the Civil War worked as a pattern-maker in the old Plant shop in Plantsville. On August 8, 1862, he enlisted, becoming a private in Co. E., 40th Connecticut V. I., participated in all of the engagements of his regiment, was with Sherman on his celebrated march to the sea, and was honorably discharged from the service June 13, 1865. On his return home he embarked in business for himself as a contractor and builder, which vocation he continued to successfully follow until his death, March 28, 1899.
On February 1, 1870, Mr. Collins was united in marriage with Miss Elvira Wheeler, daughter of Obadiah and Lucy and (Guernsey) Wheeler, of Middlebury, Connecticut, and by that union five children were born, all of whom are still living: Edith, wife of Merton Holcomb; Eleanor; Irving W.; Annie E.; and Harriet L.. Mr. Cowles was an active and prominent member of the Second Baptist Church of Plantsville, of which he was a deacon for many years, and fraternally was a member of Friendship Lodge, No. 33, F. & A M., of Southington; and Trumbull Post, No. 16, G. A. R.. His political support was always given to the man and measures of the Republican Party, and he most acceptably served as burgess several terms, as assessor 16 years, and represented Southington in the Legislature two terms.