Our immigrant ancestor, Edward Coyan & family in Washington County, Pennsylvania

Important Tax lists for Edward & son Hugh Coyan in Hanover Twp. from 1800-1814

Plat map of the land that Edward Coyan & family rented from Thomas Cooper while in Hanover township of Washington county, PA.

History of Hanover township in Washington county, PA.

Sometime in the mid-late 1790's, my ggggg-grandparents Edward (bef. 1755-aft 1816) and Sarah? Coyan had left Maryland and settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The 1800 and 1810 U.S. census for Edward and Sarah(?) Coyan seems to indicate that they were the parents of at least SIX, but perhaps as many as EIGHT children, 3-4 boys and 3 or more girls. Research that several individuals have done indicates that 7 of those children most likely were:

With the exception of a handful of various "Coyan's" appearing in census records, etc. in the 1800's, who most likely are of NO relation - every person in the United States of Coyan heritage should be able to trace their roots to one of these 7 children.

Edward and Sarah Coyan are confirmed to be in Washington County, PA. in the northern-most township of Hanover by 1798 (Hanover township adjoined Beaver county to the north and the present-day West Viginia to the west. If you want a better perspective, see the map below).

If Edward II (ca.1795-Aft. 1860) is proven to be a son, then it is possible that Edward Sr., wife Sarah and children had left Maryland and were in PA. by about 1795, since Edward II listed his place of birth in both the 1850 (Carroll county, OH) and 1860 (Hancock county, OH) U.S. census as Pennsylvania. NOTE: I did look through all available tax lists for all townships in Washington County for the years prior to 1798 and I did not find Edward before then - keep in mind that all township records are not existent for the county in that timeframe.

Also, it is possible that they could have spent a year or 2 in another county before reaching their final stopping point of Washington, PA. If you have viewed the tax lists linked to at the top of the page for Edward in the first decade of the 1800's, you'll see how the surname spelling changed from year to year.

Aside from the fact that these records strongly hint that it was my 5th great-grandfather Edward Sr. who "Americanized" our surname to it's present spelling, they are also strongly indicative of my belief that the correct pronunciation of the Coyan surname was the single-syllable "COIN". I plan to devote another page to this topic where I will present the "evidence" I have that presents my argument, since there are a few people in the family who believe it to be pronounced COYUN. 

The only record I have located for Edward Coyan after the 1800-14 tax lists just mentioned was a Prothonotary (Pennsylvania's fancy way of saying "civil") court record in Allegheny county, PA in 1816 (you won't believe what I had to go through to get a copy of that record once I found it in the index book but I'll save that "story" for my travel journal pages). This record involved a land dispute between Edward and another man - not at all uncommon 200 years ago. Edward was being asked to vacate that land. I will scan and post that soon. 

So what became of Edward Coyan and his wife Sarah - if she was still living - after 1816? I have spent several days scouring all of the published cemetary records in Washington, Beaver, and Allegeny counties in Pennsylvania. I also have personally visited the still-existent Presbyterian churches in the areas where Edward and Sarah might be buried and I have come up empty. Have I possibly "overlooked" them  - absolutely.  It is also quite possible that they are both buried someplace in western Pennsylvania in unmarked graves, in which case their final resting place may never be found. Time will tell, I suppose....

At this point (June, 2000), I am pursuing leads that I feel could provide some clues about Edward and Sarah Coyan after 1816 - at that time they each, if still alive would have been at least 60 years old and likely older, according to the 1800 and 1810 Washington county census records.

In May 1999, while at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, I located a marriage record for a "John CAIN" and a "Margaret McKinnon" who were wed on December 22, 1819 in Columbiana county, Ohio. It is well documented that John Coyan, oldest son of Edward and Sarah, was married to a "Margaret", one example being the 1850 Carroll county, OH. census record.

I also have a copy of the 1820 U.S. census record for John COYAN (spelling is as it appears in the census record) in Columbiana county. I find it potentially significant that the OHS record is a transcribed, type-written record and not the original hand-written one that I hope is still in the Columbiana county courthouse - trust me, I'm pursuing the "original" copy.

I suspect that a very common error came into play here during transcription - that being the mistaken assumption that the "O" in COIN was an "A", thus the transcribed CAIN. It is also interesting that a probable older sister of John - Jane Coyan - is mentioned in the "History of Columbiana County" as being married to a Michael McKinnon!

With it documented that Edward Coyan's (most likely) 2 oldest children, Jane and John, are present in 1820 in Columbiana county, OH, I find two things very interesting: (1) Take a look at the map above. Edward Coyan lived in the area immediately south of Beaver county, PA. in the years 1798-1816; those two counties being Washington and Allegheny, PA. Columbiana county, Ohio is only 30-40 away and almost in line with a natural westward migration.

One of the main reasons that the early settlers migrated westward was to take advantage of cheaper, or even FREE (homestead) land that they could acquire, as lands to the east where they previously resided became too expensive to buy or rent - especially around Pittsburgh, PA.

I've already mentioned the fact that there are NO deed records in Beaver, Washington, or Allegheny counties of Pennsylvania for Edward Coyan or his 2 oldest sons, John and Hugh. I find it quite possible that after the 1816 land dispute in Allegheny county, where he was asked to vacate the land in question, Edward quite possibly became frustrated and "packed his bags" and headed West to Columbiana county, Ohio, along with oldest son John.

Since Jane Coyan McKinnon was married in 1804, I am curious to find out if she had already preceded the family to Columbiana county - thus a reason for the rest of them to head that way also after 1816. Also, note the fact that Hugh Coyan (ca.1789 - aft.1860), a likely brother to Jane Coyan McKinnon and John Coyan was just a few miles away in Beaver county, PA. in 1820.

The second item that intrigues me is the 1820 census for John Coyan in Columbiana county. There is one male child in the home between age 10 and 15. Who could that be? It is possible that it could be John's son, but that would be in conflict with the marriage record for him to Margaret the previous year.

It is also in conflict with the Hawk family bible that gives the birth dates of John and Margaret's children - that bible says that their oldest child was born in late 1818. So whom else could this male child be?

In 1820, William Theaker Coyan, youngest child of Edward and Sarah Coyan, was now 15 years old, and too young to be "on his own". It is therefore logical that he may have accompanied one or both parents along with at least one older sibling west from Pennsylvania . If the parents had already passed away, it is also logical that his oldest brother John would have continued to raise him after Edward and Sarah had died.

Adding credence to the fact that William spent at least SOME part of his childhood in Ohio is the 1860 Pennsylvania census record for him, where he states his birthplace as being Ohio. More later.....