EDWIN STEPHEN COWLES
On the ancestral record of Edwin Stephen Cowles, who is prominent in insurance circles of Hartford, appear the names of some who served in the Revolutionary war, but long antedating the struggle for independence the family was founded in the new world. John Cowles, the American progenitor of the family, who was a native of England and one of the early settlers of Hartford, Connecticut, located in Farmington not long after 1640 and was one of the organizers of the church there in 1652. He was a farmer and he represented Farmington in the General Assembly in six sessions. In 1659 he signed the articles leading up to the establishment of the settlement of Hadley, Massachusetts, and was one of the six family heads to settle that portion of the town now Hatfield in 1660. He was probably born about 1598 and died in Hadley in September, 1675. To him and his wife, Hannah, was born a son, Samuel Cowles, their eldest child, in 1639. Timothy Cowles, second son of Samuel Cowles, was born November 4, 1666, in Farmington. After his marriage he settled in East Hartford, Connecticut, where he owned a lot extending three miles in length east of the Connecticut river. His home was on the east side of Main street south of Gilman's brook, where he was located as early as 1700, and died August 30, 1736. In 1701 he was collector of the Third Eccesiastical Society of Hartford, and in 1718 was a deacon of that church. He married, in 1689, Hannah Pitkin, born 1666-67, who died before March 31, 1728, and who was a daughter of Hon. William and Hannah (Goodwin) Pitkin, of East Hartford. The latter was a daughter of Ozias Goodwin.
Joseph Cowles, second son of Timothy and Hannah (Pitkin) Cowles, was born in East Hartford, January 13, 1695, and there died February 20, 1775. He was collector of the Ecclesiastical Society in 1728. His wife, Mary Goodwin, who was baptized January 18, 1702, died August 14, 1770. Abijah Cowles, fourth son of Joseph Cowles, was born in East Hartford, August 10, 1734, and resided on the old family homestead, which he inherited, his death there occurring December 10, 1782. On the 16th of March, 1763, he had married Martha Smith, who was born October 10, 1739, and died April 4, 1814. Her eldest son, Stephen Cowles, born in East Hartford in 1765, was a resident of Marshfield, Vermont, as early as 1800, in which year he took the freeman's oath there. In the following year he purchased land but was driven out by the Indians during the War of 1812. He lived for a time at Manchester, Connecticut, and about 1834 removed to Hilliardville, Hartford county, where he was employed in the woolen mills. He married Patty Reed and died May 30, 1847. Their eldest son, Stephen Cowles, born November 27, 1796, in East Hartford, lived in Suffield, Connecticut, where he was justice of the peace and died August 26, 1878. He married October 1, 1820, to Thankful Hathaway, who was born December 16, 1799, and died May 1, 1874.
Major Frank Cowles, the third son of Stephen and Thankful Cowles, was born in Suffield, Connecticut, April27, 1835, and after attending the public schools studied in the Connecticut Literary Institute. On his eighteenth birthday he became a clerk in a country store at Windsor, his salary to be thirty-five dollars for the first year, forty dollars for the second, forty-five dollars for the third and fifty dollars for the fourth year; but so valuable was his service that the second year he was paid seventy-five dollars and in the third year was admitted to a partnership in the firm of Loomis & Spencer to receive one-fifth of the profits. Later he was head clerk for L. A. Brown and afterward engaged in business on his own account in partnership with John S. Pomeroy, under the firm style of Cowles & Pomeroy. A year later he purchased his partner's interest and was joined by his cousin under the firm style of F. & A. F. Cowles. In 1863 Major Cowles removed to Hartford and was bookkeeper for J. W. Danforth & Company, being admitted to partnership in 1868, his association with that business covering fifty years. In 1908 the business was incorporated under the name of the J. G. Lane Company and Mr. Cowles continued as president from that date until his retirement in 1913. In 1878 he promoted and organized the Connecticut Travelers' Association, of which he was president for five years. He and his wife attended the Congregational church of Hartford and he belonged to St. John's, No. 4, F & A. M., while politically he was a democrat. In 1868 he became a member of the Governor's Foot Guard, so continuing for eight years, and in 1876 became a member of the Governor's Horse Guards. He was captain thereof from 1881 until 1886 and for five years thereafter was major of that organization. He belonged to the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. On the 29th of October, 1857, he wedded Emeline Narcissa Stebbins, who was born September 23, 1836, and died in 1906. She was a daughter of Edwin Cooley and Angeline Hannah (Holcombe) Stebbins, of Windsor, Connecticut.
Thus the line of descent is traced down to Edwin Stephen Cowles, son of Major Frank and Emeline Cowles. He was born in Poquonock, November 5, 1865, attended the grade and high schools and when his textbooks were put aside secured a position with the Connecticut Trust & Safe Deposit Company, with which he continued from 1881 to 1892. His identification with insurance interests dates from the latter year, when he entered into partnership with Charles E. Bayliss under the firm style of Bayliss & Cowles. Later he was a partner of Fred D. Rathbun and since 1894 has conducted business independently. In December, 1892, he was made manager of the Hartford branch of the Great-American Insurance Company of New York and was appointed general agent for Connecticut by the board of the Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland in May, 1893. On December 30, 1892, he was elected to the Board of Fire Underwriters, became vice president January 14, 1908, and president January 14, 1913, continuing in that office until January 12, 1915. On the 17th of November, 1910, he was elected president of the Connecticut Association of Local Fire Agents. He organized and was chairman of the New England Conference and he is very widely known in insurance circles not only in Connecticut and New England but also in other sections of the country. He has made it his purpose to thoroughly master every task that has come to him and to thoroughly acquaint himself with every phase of the business to which he has given his attention. His achievements represent the fit utilization of his innate powers and talents and the wise use of the opportunities that have come to him.
On the 18th of January, 1893, Mr. Cowles was united in marriage to Miss Ella Crowell Harrington and they have become parents of a daughter and a son. Dorothy Harrington is the wife of Raymond B. Searle and has one daughter, Luella Dorothy; Edwin Stephen, Jr., born September 4, 1897, married Florence L. Ledger and they have one son, Edwin S., 3rd. Both the son and the son-in-law were connected with the United States Naval Reserve Force during the World War period.
In his political views Mr. Cowles has always been a republican and he is interested in patriotic societies, having membership in the Jeremiah Wadsworth Branch of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. His name is also on the membership rolls of the Hartford Club. He is a splendid type of the American business man, alert, energetic, ready for any emergency, and at all times his course has been marked by the most unfaltering devotion to the highest standards of business honor and integrity.