Robert S. Coyan and Sarah (Hurn) Coyan

"My great, great-grandfather Jackson Coyan's MISSING brother"

There have been so many facts come to light these last 2-3 months regarding Robert Coyan, that I will soon be redoing this entire page. For now, please refer to the updates below.

Robert Coyan (1854-unknown) was the youngest of 8 children of William James Coyan & Elizabeth Jackson Coyan. He was born August 3, 1854 in Jackson County, Ohio. In 1863, he accompanied his parents to Wapello County, Iowa, where he grew to manhood living on the family farm in Competine Township. Little is known of Robert except that on December 2, 1905, a civil court action was brought against him in Bourbon County, Kansas by several family members seeking to bar him from receiving an inheritance due to an event that had occurred in 1875 in Iowa (the info on the lawsuit stating that  Robert left the family while they were in Kansas is incorrect, as it is well documented that the family did not arrive there until 1879).

On August 9, 1875, according to the lawsuit, Robert Coyan received the sum of $365 ($1 a day for a year?) from his father, William Coyan, as his share of the family estate, with the understanding that by receiving the money he would initiate and sign a quit-claim deed thereby absolving himself of any further inheritance.

Robert, who turned age 21 just 6 days prior, took the money and struck out on his own, failing to initiate the court settlement that he had agreed to with his father. The 1905 civil court case was brought, most likely, because his older brother William James II had recently passed away and the family farm was to be further divided amongst the children, so it is logical that they wished to protect their interests from Robert, who had not been in contact with the family in 26 years! It appears, however, that Robert had already passed away, based on the contents of the interesting obituary of his only child John C. Coyan, who died of an accidental(?) self-inflicted gunshot wound in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1904.

The obit says that his parents (Robert & Sarah Hurn Coyan) had already passed away. I recently found out from a gentleman in Nebraska that Sarah died on June 16, 1901 in Gosper county, Nebraska and is buried next to her 2nd husband, Charles Finton, in Highland cemetary, Gosper county, which confirms suspicion that perhaps both parents were deceased.

According to family accounts as it has passed down thru the years, Robert went further "West" but to my knowledge, no one to date knows for certain what became of Robert Coyan. I have searched the 1880 census for Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and several other surrounding states and Robert is nowhere to be found. It was likely in Gosper county that she remarried in 1886 to Charles K. Finton, also a resident of Gosper county according to the obituary for him that Joy Coyan recently obtained from Kelly Wolterman, who is descended from Sarah Hurn and Charles Finton.

5/11/2000:  I received in the mail the marriage certificate for  Robert and Sarah's only child (so far as we know). On that certificate, John C. Coyan stated that he was age 21 at the time of his marriage in 1897 - which puts his birth date in ca. 1876. Note that he listed his place of birth as MISSOURI. This would have been only a few months after Robert "disappeared" from the family in 1875, so it appears likely that when he left Iowa, he went there!

7/14/2000:  Another key piece in solving the puzzle of where Robert may have gone when he left the family in August, 1875 has surfaced. Kelly Wolterman, a descendant of Robert Coyan's wife Sarah Hurn (by Sarah's marriage to Charles Finton), has told me that she believes that Sarah and some of her family may have been living near Tarkio, Missouri in the 1870-1880 timeframe. When I looked at the map showing Tarkio's location in Missouri, I was stunned to find that it is only 30-35 miles from Gravity, (Taylor county), Iowa. It just so happens that this is where Robert's only sister, Mary Ann Coyan Garrett and family moved to when they left Wapello county, Iowa. So when did Mary Ann leave Wapello county? Ahh, this is where the plot thickens!

When I scrutinized the deed records for Mary Ann and husband Jacob Garrett that I had uncovered when I visited the Taylor county courthouse in 1999, I found that the first deed recorded for them in Taylor county, Iowa was for land that they purchased in - SEPTEMBER, 1875, within a MONTH of when it is documented that Robert had also left his parents land in Wapello county, Iowa. At last, I think we finally have at least part of the answer to a 125 year-old family mystery!

I am convinced that Robert went "West" with his older sister Mary Ann and family, settling first in Taylor county, Iowa - probably even staying with his sister for a time until he decided what to do next. I'm guessing that shortly after this time, he somehow "met" Sarah Jane Hurn, perhaps around Tarkio, Missouri, and they were wed almost immediately since their only son John hints in his marriage license that he was born ca. 1876. I'm now focusing my research in that direction...we'll see what turns up....

8/21/2000:  Thanks to Pauline Constant, who saw my above mention of Tarkio, Missouri as a possible location for Robert and Sarah Coyan in ca. 1875, we now have some documented answers. THANK YOU PAULINE! She was kind enough to make the trip to Atchison county, where she found  the following divorce case involving Sarah Hurn Coyan vs. Robert Coyan. The divorce was filed in September, 1878, three years after Sarah was wed to Robert on July 5th, 1875. According to this case, Robert had "deserted" her on October 19, 1875. I will only mention that in this 1878 court case, Sarah added that she wanted custody of her child (obviously John C. Coyan), who was age "1 year and 4 months". My only comment is that the timeframe"math" simply does not add up, which presents even MORE questions in this ongoing mystery. So where did Robert go, and was he married to Sarah in 1875, as she stated, or perhaps 1876??

Robert and Sarah Hurn Coyan's only son, John C. Coyan (ca. 1876-1904) and wife Clara Hanshaw were the parents of two children, George Dewey Coyan (1898-1951) and Hazel "Betty" Coyan Timberman (ca. 1900-1935). Thanks to info recently I recently received fron Kelly Wolterman - thank you Kelly! - it turns out that "Betty" was an actress in Hollywood silent film movies in the 1920's!! Stay tuned, as I am continuing research on this!

Here is a picture of George Dewey Coyan (the only grandson of Robert S. Coyan) and George's first child, John C. "Pat" Coyan, who died in February, 2000.

More soon!