John Jackson & Sarah Anna (Overly) Coyan

"My great, great-grandparents"

View the real photo of Jackson Coyan, from which the portrait above was taken

Pictures of Jackson and Sarah (Overly) Coyan - these were taken ca. 1870-80!

Pictures of Sarah Coyan and her daughters

Family tree info for descendant's of Jackson & Sarah Coyan

John Jackson Coyan, a veteran of the Civil War, was born January 22, 1840, in Allegheny county, PA., the oldest child of William James Coyan and Elizabeth (Jackson) Coyan. He most likely was named for his mother's maiden name. While still an infant, his parents and grandparents, Hugh & Elizabeth Coyan, left Pennsylvania and settled in rural Scioto Twp. of Jackson county, Ohio. Nothing is known of Jackson's childhood so we are all left to our imaginations as far as what his young life might have been like on the Coyan family farm near present day Jisco Lake. In the 1860 census, Jackson was listed as a "farmhand" at age 20 and still living with his parents.

On October 4, 1861, life would change for Jackson, as he married Sarah Ann Overly, the daughter of Michael & Leah Overly, and also residents of Scioto township near present day Hammertown Lake. Sarah was born March 2, 1844 and thus was age 17 when she and Jackson married. Their young married lives were quickly interrupted, however, when on October 6, 1862, Jackson was drafted into the Union army in the escalating War between the States. With wife Sarah now several months pregnant with their first child, Jackson was mustered out as a private to serve in the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry for a term of 9 months. By March, 1863, he was in the general hospital at Gallatin, Tennessee, suffering from dysentery, typhoid fever, and bronchitis. Click here to view his actual hospital record, just a small part of his Civil War miltary file obtained by Joy Coyan from the National Archives.

After spending 2-3 months in the hospital, Jackson Coyan was mustered out of his regiment after fulfilling his 9 long months of service, at Elk River, Tennessee, on July 19, 1863. According to a signed affadavit by his father-in-law, Michael Overly, Jackson had to be "helped in and out of the house" when he returned to his home in Ohio. Awaiting him, however, was his wife Sarah and a young daughter, Rose Anna, who had been born February 27, 1863. Even in his frail condition, I can only imagine the joy that may have overcome my great, great-grandfather when he saw and held his 4 month-old child for the first time.

Just 3 months before Jackson returned home from the war, his parents sold most of the land that they owned in Scioto township and moved west to Wapello county, Iowa where William Coyan's first cousin, John Coyan Jr., was residing. Accompanying William were his mother Elizabeth, his wife Elizabeth and all of their other children (Hugh John, William James, Mary Ann, George, and Robert). It is unknown if William's father, Hugh, was still living in March, 1863 and also went to Iowa OR if he had passed away sometime between the 1860 census and early 1863. NO DEATH RECORD OR BURIAL SITE HAS BEEN FOUND FOR HUGH COYAN TO DATE.

Now that Jackson was home, the family began to grow and in the ensuing years ten children would be born to Jackson and Sarah Coyan. They were:

My many hours of research at the local courthouse for land transactions on our Coyan ancestors, between 1844 and the early 1900's, shows that there were a couple of parcels of land that Jackson's father, William, did not sell when he moved west in 1863. Those parcels of land are located at the intersection of Jackson county road #20 and State route 776. It is likely to be here that Jackson, Sarah, and family resided until 1868, when William Coyan sold those lands. From then until 1886, they most likely lived on a farm located near present-day Hammertown Lake that was owned by Sarah's parents, Michael and Leah Overly.

In 1885, William Coyan sold land in Bourbon county, Kansas (where he moved to in 1879), and divided the monies between all of his children. It is likely that that money enabled Jackson to finally have the resources to purchase a home for himself and his family (records that Joy Coyan shared with me hint strongly that Jackson was never more than a "farm hand" because of his deteriorating health over the years).

In April, 1886, Jackson Coyan purchased one-half acre of land for the sum of $300 in the city of Jackson. That land is located on Athens Street, directly across from the old DT&I railroad car shops and directly behind the present-day OSCO Industries, just to the east of the railroad tracks. If there were any questions previously as to why several of Jackson and Sarah's sons became "railroaders", that question has now been answered!

By 1895, Jackson's health must have been rapidly deteriorating because in March of that year, he conveyed the property to his wife. On September 16, 1896, Jackson and Sarah's son, William Coyan (my great-grandfather) was married to Hester Wilson. I want note here that recently I spoke with Louise Coyan Farmer - my great aunt - who is the only surviving child of William and Hester. She told me that her mother often spoke of her father-in-law, Jackson, walking to their house and standing on the back porch so that he could smoke his cigar. Jackson told his daughter-in-law, Hester, that Sarah would not allow him to smoke at their house! This is the only verbal account that I am aware of that gives us a "glimpse" into the person who is my great, great-grandfather.

On August 1, 1898, George Coyan, a son of Jackson and Sarah, passed away due to tuberculosis at the age of 32. I can't help but think that the tragic loss of his son at such a young age may have weighed more than heavily on Jackson's mind. Later that year, on December 21st, 1898, Jackson Coyan passed away at the age of 58. A few days later there was a mention on the front page of the Jackson, Ohio newspaper announcing the passing of "John Coyne, an old veteran". This brief mention of him leads me to believe that his full name was likely to have been John Jackson Coyan. His death record and wife Sarah's death certificate - which I recently located - confirm that to be the case. It is therefore quite possible that his mother, Elizabeth Jackson Coyan's father's name may well have been John Jackson, an assumption not proven to date.

Sarah Ann Coyan continued to live at the home on Athens Street for several more years. Unfortunately, family tragedy was only beginning to befall my great, great-grandmother after the death of her husband Jackson and son George.

On March 12, 1899, Sarah's grandson, Fred Coyan (son of John), died of spinal meningitis. On September 13, 1899, her son, John Coyan, also died of tuberculosis at the age of 35, leaving behind wife Effie and four other young children. The following spring, on May 13, 1900, Sarah's daughter-in-law, Connie "Cinna" Allen Coyan - wife of George - passed away also of tuberculosis, leaving three orphan children. Then, on August 19, 1903, Sarah's daughter-in-law, Effie Downs Coyan - wife of John - also died of tuberculosis, again leaving four more orphan children.

In five short years, from 1898 until 1903, more family tragedy came to Sarah Coyan's door than most people experience in a lifetime. She had lost her husband, two sons, two daughter's-in-law, and at least one grandchild!

According to an extensive court record that I located, after the death of Effie Coyan in 1903, Sarah briefly assumed guardianship of four of her seven orphan grandchildren - Harry, Jessie, Katy, and John, while a John Robbins petitioned the Jackson county probate court for guardianship of them. In June, 1903, Sarah sold her home and, most likely, moved in with one of her children in Jackson, Ohio. Her obituary hints that in about 1907, she moved from Jackson to Dayton, Ohio, to live with three of her other children (Emma, Mollie, and Edward).

It was here that Sarah resided for the remainder of her life until June 6, 1925, when she passed away at the home of her daughter, Mollie Hosket, due to complications from a broken leg that she suffered 4 months earlier.  Here is my great, great-grandmother Sarah Coyan's obituary.

In 1998, I paid a visit to Nell Coyan Conklin in Centerville, Ohio. Besides my great aunt Louise Coyan Farmer, Nell is the only surviving grandchild of Jackson and Sarah Coyan. Nell, who was born in 1913, told me that she vividly remembers that as a child she used to brush out the waist-length hair of her grandmother Sarah each evening as she sat in her rocking chair. When I asked Nell what she recalled of Sarah's personality, she told me that her grandmother was a wonderful person who especially loved children.

Nell recalled "beggar's night" one year at Halloween in Dayton, Ohio (probably in the 1920 timeframe). She told me that Sarah insisted on having her rocking chair placed near the front door of Nell's parent's (Edward and Kate) home so that she could watch all of the kids. Nell recalled to me how her grandmother smiled and laughed when the children came to the door that evening. I would love to hear from other descendant's of Jackson and Sarah Coyan who may have "stories" that were told to them of our ancestors!

More later on Jackson & Sarah...