The Family History Page

This research is a work in progress. Much information is incomplete.
If you would like to add or change information, please write to me at cowley(at)addr(dot)com.

Dr. William Cowley

William Cowley was born on September 8, 1864 to parents Dr. David and Margret Mowry Cowley. William was baptized on September 13, 1864 by Benade. On December 31, 1847 Will was married to Josephine Hutmacher by E.C. Bostock. (Will was named after his uncle, William, who died in the Civil War in Fredericksburg, Virginia.) In 1898 William's son Malcolm was born (while William was away caring for his younger brother, David, who had volunteered in Cuba and was thought to be dying of camp fever).

In 1907, William's medical practice was hurt by the Panic of 1907 when patients were unable to pay for care. Steel mills in the area were closing down, affecting the entire area. The bank refused to loan money to William.

An unpaid servant, Ora Newton, lived with the Cowleys while in Pittsburgh.

The family took frequent trips to their vacation home in Belsano, PA. They often invited various friends and family member to go along with them on their outings to Belsano. Bridget, an older servant, also accompanied everyone to the home there.

According to a letter written by Kenneth Burke to Malcolm Cowley on December 24, 1939: "Only yesterday the dreary news reached me about your father. And I would state my condolences, bunglingly but earnestly... To me your father means the aparment in East Liberty, Chopin waltzes and Beethoven Sonatas, and the annex: the room across the hall, where we talked in expectation of literature as enchantment." This appears to infer he died in 1939, though some records indicate 1940.
   --The Selected Correspondence of Kenneth Burke and Malcolm Cowley, ed. by Paul Jay; Viking Press, 1988

Biographical Review

"William Cowley, M.D., who has succeeded to the practice established by his father, the late Dr. David Cowley, in Pittsburg, is a man of talent and culture, well fitted by birth and education for the medical profession. Born in this city, September 8, 1864, he comes of good old Irish stock. His grandparents, Samuel and Jane Cowley, emigrated from County Down, Ireland, to America in 1831, locating first in Pittsburg. Afterward they were engaged in general farming at Troy Hill, where his grandfather died in 1870. The grandmother survived him, dying in 1895, at the venerable age of ninety years. They reared sever children, namely: David, the father of Dr. Cowley; William, who was associated with Andrew Carnegie and others in railroad work, and subsequently served and died in the Civil War; Alexander, of Florida, who was for many years professor of penmanship in Iron City College; Samuel, who was connected with the firm of Beymer, Bauman & Co., and was drowned in 1895; John, a plumber, who resides at East End, Pittsburg; Mrs. Margaret Hamilton, who was the wife of an artist in Philadelphia, and died in 1884; and Mrs. Elize Tetedoux, whose husband is a teacher of voice culture, and was for some years the leader of the Gounod Musical Club.

Dr. David Cowley graduated from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, now Hahnemann College, and began the practice of medicine in Philadelphia in 1852. In 1863 he removed to Pittsburg, finally locating in 1868 at East End. He was numbered among the leading homoeopathic physicians of the city until his death, which occured October 30, 1886. To him and his wife, whose maiden name was Margaret Mowry, eight children were born. Of these three lived but a brief time. The others are: Margaret, Henry, Eliza, David, and William. Henry is a Swedenborgian minister, and David is a student.

After obtaining his elementary education in the graded schools of his native city, William Cowley attended the high school for three years. During the season of 1883 and 1884 he was a student at the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago, Ill.; and two years later he graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia. He then began the practice of his profession with his father. Since the death of the latter he has followed his profession independently. Dr. Cowley has met with good success in his chosen work, and has become popular, both as a physician and as a citizen. In politics the Doctor votes for the best men and measures, regardless of party. He is a member of the International Hahnemann Association, of the Homoeopathic Medical Society of Pennyslvania, and of the Iron City Microscopical Society. In religion he is a New Churchman, or Swedenborgian. He is highly esteemed by the medical fraternity."

Josephine Hutmacher

Josephine Hutmacher was born December 17, 1864 in Quincy, Illinois to parents Rudolph and Rosa Josephina Stuckenberg Hutmacher. (Her father fled from Westphalia in 1850 to avoid mandatory service in the Prussian army. Her mother belonged to a family of German Catholic settlers to Louisville.) Josephine left her families home to move herself to Pittsburgh, where she began work as a seamstress for a dressmaker. She married Dr. William Cowley on December 31, 1897. Because of her height, at four inches taller than William, she never let herself be photographed standing beside her husband. Josephine agreed to be baptized into the Swedenborg Church of the New Jerusalem, though she never really tried to understand the religion. She never really was accepted by the other Cowleys.

Some of her traits included: keeping one's word, paying one's debts, not being wasteful, and doing honest work even if it went unpaid. She had an instictive kindness to strangers, and was a bargain-shopper. She knew how to scrimp and save, and during the time of the Depression this proved useful. Josephine enjoyed several hobbies during her adult life. One year she raised canaries; another special breeds of chickens; later she made quilts, or collected music boxes and student lamps. She often neglected Malcolm, and was overly concerned with impressing society ladies from East Liberty (polishing the family silver for hours, etc). But there was nonetheless, from time to time, a special bond between mother and son. But because of her loneliness, Josephine adopted Ruth from a young pregnant woman she met. Malcolm was 12 at the time. Ruth died of diptheria at age nine. In 1935, Josephine suffered a heart attack. She stayed at the farmhouse in Belsano with William's sister Margaret "Tannie" during her recovery. She died later in Pittsburgh on the evening of Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1937. They had the following children:

  • Malcolm Cowley
    He graduated at the head of his class at Harvard. He became a well-known editor and anthologist. He was a friend of William Faulkner and not only brought out the first of his collected works but helped make Faulkner known, and saw that the grand scheme of Faulkner's imaginary county was tied together and appreciated. He also knew and wrote of Ernest Hemingway.

  • Ruth (adopted)
    Died at the age of 9 due to diphtheria.

    * Note: some content provided by Malcolm Cowley in an article entitled "Mother and Son"

[ back to Family History home ]