So what PROOF is there that our immigrant Edward Coyan came from Northern Ireland??

"The Scotch-Irish immigrant to America was a Presbyterian. He may not have always been pious and zealous; but the Presbyterian Church had long been his peculiar institution, his mark of distinction from other people in Ulster, his proud heritage from the days when his ancestors had stood up to kings and oppressors." From the acclaimed book "The Scotch-Irish: A Social History" by James G. Leyburn, page 273.

My Ohio "branch" has to this day maintained belief in our Irish heritage - not only my Jackson county relatives, but also the Montgomery county Coyan's, (whom very few of us "Jacksonians" even know about!). My cousin Michael Coyan, of Lebanon, Montgomery county, Ohio, confirmed their "Irish roots" belief during a phone conversation I had with him in 1998.

In July, 1999, I found startling confirmation of that same belief in our Scotch-Irish heritage among ALL THREE different branches of Bourbon county, Kansas, Coyan families. This is made more significant due to the fact that these three branches - as I discovered when I visited them in 1999 - drifted apart through the generations to the point that today, many of them have NO KNOWLEDGE of their close cousins who now reside within a few miles of one another in Bourbon county, Kansas, where all 3 brothers had settled in the late 1870's/early 1880's!!

These three "branches" (Jackson Coyan's younger brothers Hugh John, William James, and George Washington - who left Ohio in 1863 in their late teens/early 20's)  had also had very little contact with their cousins back in Ohio for over 100 years.  In fact, the present generation of my Ohio "clan" had NO IDEA what happened to my 3rd great-grandparents William & Elizabeth Coyan when they left southern Ohio in 1863, until about 30 years ago. Is it coincidence that all of these branches - today so socially and geographically separated from one another - confirm our Scotch-Irish roots?

Aside from our ancestry as it has been  orally "passed down", there are many valid historical facts that support the assumption that our Coyan ancestors came from Northern Ireland: 

  1. The Great Migration of Presbyterian "Scotch" Irish into America occurred between 1717-1775. During that time, very few Irish from the southern part of the country emigrated to America. Those Irish came later (1845-47) during the Potato Famine and consisted mostly of Catholic Irish.
  2. The vast majority of these "Scotch" Irish  from the seven counties of Northern Ireland came in a final pre-Revolutionary War "Great Wave" between 1771-1775 and entered America via the Delaware river separating Delaware and New Jersey. The 3 main ports to disembark as they arrived were New Castle, Delaware; Chester, PA. (further up the river); and lastly - Philadelphia, PA. I find it interesting that Harford county, Maryland (where our Coyan ancestors resided before they headed west for Washington county, PA. in the late 1790's) is only 50 miles due west of New Castle, DE. - the first "stopping point" for Ulster Irish coming to America....
  3. The early settlers of Washington county, PA., where my 5th great-grandfather Edward Coyan settled as early as 1798, were predominately of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian descent.

Credit for the obituary below, providing initial "proof" of our "Irish" Coyan heritage, goes to Gladys Lange Coyan, now deceased, who received it from the McKeesport (PA.) Heritage Center some years ago. She passed it on to  Joy Masters Coyan, who shared it with me. William Coyan (1805-1891), the youngest brother of my gggg-grandfather Hugh Coyan, was a prominent citizen of McKeeport, PA., and was involved in the construction of the first steamship built West of the Allegheny mountains in the early 1800's! He was later a steamship captain and it is my belief that it was he who brought his brother and family (my gggg-grandparents Hugh & Elizabeth ) "down the Ohio River from Pennsylvania to Ohio" in the early 1840's. Here is the obituary - note the mention of William Coyan's "parentage". Note also the reference to "the entire family being Presbyterian" excepting him.

June 8, 2000: This day at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, OH. I  finally found the document that Coyan family researchers have been seeking for many, many years. As the write-up above (that I posted about a month ago) stated, Joy Coyan, myself, and others were convinced that the Coyan's were of not just IRISH, but specifically SCOTCH-IRISH descent (if you know your history, you know there is a HUGE distinction between the two!). The 2 people I first thought of when I found this genealogically-important document were Joy's husband "Boone" Coyan - who I  know would be so happy to finally put this "heritage" issue to rest if he were still with us - and Robert "Tot" Coyan of Fort Scott, Kansas.

When I met "Tot" in May 1999 in Ft. Scott, he told me about his years growing up on a part of the family farm near Mapleton, Kansas, which my 3rd great-grandparents William and Elizabeth Coyan bought when they settled there in 1879. When I asked him what he had been told about where his Coyan ancestors came from, without hesitation he said "The Coyan's are Scotch-Irish". Well Tot, you and so many others are right! There is so much to be said for a family history as it is passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation - especially about it's accuracy! Unfortunately, "word of mouth" doesn't carry much weight in genealogy, but documents like THIS ONE do. "Tot" Coyan passed away on September 13, 2002 in Fort Scott, Kansas at the age of 87. I consider myself fortunate to have met him. In World War II, he served 42 months of military service at Pearl Harbor.

6/15/2003: So you still aren't convinced that our Revolutionary War Patriot ancestor, Edward (Cowan) Coyan was a Presbyterian from Northern Ireland? This past weekend, I uncovered the most definitive proof to date that only corroborates what previous evidence hinted. But THIS historical document plainly states it! Rosanna Coyan McCague, born in Harford county, Maryland in 1787, and a daughter of Edward, is mentioned in the Biographical History of Huron County, Ohio. In ADDITION to this mention of Edward Coyan, we have our first hint of what he did for a living! Read about it on Rosanna's homepage!