First of all, I'm absolutely convinced that our surname was NOT COYAN when our "patriot" Edward Coyan, at the age of 18 (perhaps accompanied by his parents?) came to this great land of "opportunity" in the 1770-1775 timeframe. In fact, I have substantial evidence to indicate that the surname was actually COWAN, which was a fairly common surname in Northern Ireland in the 1700's.
To date, research that has been done by various family members over the last 40 or so years reveals that there are likely to be 500 or fewer people born in the last 200 years in the United States with the surname COYAN. I HAVE YET TO FIND ANYONE WITH THE "COYAN" SURNAME WHO IS NOT A PART OF THIS TREE as of June, 2003! It would appear that we all come from a common ancestor - Edward Coyan - who decided to change the surname spelling in 1807 while in Washington county, Pennsylvania.
At present (6/6/2003) there are 400 individual "Coyan" names in the family database, with some obvious updating needed for living family members. I estimate that may add 30-50 names, mostly for folks in California and Ohio (and that's where I'm asking for YOUR help if you see that your "tree" is not complete), which would bring the total to about 450.
It is my belief, based on yet to be refuted evidence I have gathered, that every person born in the United States in the last 175 or so years (discounting a few aberrations) with the surname COYAN is closely related - so if you are a "Coyan" reading this and don't quite know how you "fit in" please email me. Your input may well solve a puzzle for both of us! So why is this surname so RARE?
Back to the spelling of the Coyan surname. The exact spelling first appeared in the Washington county, Pennsylvania tax list for Edward Coyan in 1807. I also found a record in the Washington, PA. public library in 1998 that showed Edward "COYAN" on a list of individuals who had mail at the Washington post office in 1809 that had not been picked up (what was THAT about).
The interesting thing is that the SENDER of this letter acknowledged the spelling of Edward's surname two years after it first appeared on the tax list. We will never know who sent that letter, but I often wonder if it wasn't his likely oldest daughter Jane (1780-1822), who had already married Michael McKinnon (also of Washington county) and with the spelling on this letter acknowledged - what I strongly believe to be - her father's wishes to "Americanize" the family name, for reasons that were very common in that era.
One thing is for sure - Edward and Sarah's children certainly DID retain and pass on their father's "Americanized" surname nearly 200 years ago and it survives and thrives today!