The Rowan Tree Roan-Rowan Family Stories Page 1
According to the hand written journals (written during the 1930's) of James Franklin Roan his g.g.grandfather, one Hugh Roan came from Ireland as a rich man, but in ways unknown squandered his money and died a very poor man in Georgia. Some say that the family left lands in Georgia for Alabama to keep the Roan sons out of the upcoming Civil War. They may have just been looking for fresh new farm lands.
We do know that about 1851 James(1) and his son Winston left Carroll County, Georgia and moved to Dekalb (now part of Etowah) County, Alabama while his son Green Lewis(1) moved to Benton (now Calhoun) County, Alabama. Green Lewis had 3 sons; James Alexander settled in Dekalb County, Albert in Marshall County, while William George and the 6 sons of Winston settled mostly in the Etowah County, as did Deida Roan, daughter of James(1), who married Mack Harper while in Georgia. The Harpers came to Alabama with the Roans.
My grandfather Chester Newton Rowan told me the following story in about 1966.
"Our ancestors came from Ireland. The father of our ancestor had been killed. One day while our ancestor was riding his horse along the road, he met up with another man. As they rode together and talked for a while our ancestor realized this man was responsible for his fathers death. In a moment of anger he reached down and unfastened the metal stirrup from his saddle. Using it as a weapon he struck the other man in the head killing him. After this act he became a wanted man and had to flee his home. He traveled to America. As a wanted man he went by the name Roan Horse which was shortened to Roan."
I was not told our ancestors first name and my grandfather did not know what the original family name was having changed it while on the run. He did tell me the Roans were known as "scrappers" and there were quite a few who had done well bare knuckle boxing in exhibitions. He said "that around the turn of the century (1900) most of the family changed the last name from ROAN to ROWAN. Although a few did not. As a result of the name change a large inheritance to the family was forfeited. It was supposedly a tract of land (a city block) in what is now downtown Atlanta, Georgia."
The family name was spelled ROAN until about 1900 when James Franklin changed his name to ROWAN. By 1920 most of his 5 brothers families had gone along with the change, but not all. My grandfather had said "James changed the name because people pronounced ROAN as ROWAN anyway." Rumors abound of family disagreements being the cause or the result of the name change. Other spellings found in official records before 1900 are ROANE, RONE, ROON and ROWIN.
From accounts it would seem our branch of ROANs are what's called SCOTS-IRISH or ULSTER-SCOTS. We seem to have come from Ireland but as Protestants it's not likely we were original IRISH. SCOTS-IRISH refer to the descendants of the Presbyterian Scots who had been placed in the northern counties of Ireland by British rulers in the early part of the 17th Century. Many came to America from 1718 until the Revolution. They mostly settled first in PA, then moved south and then westward to the frontier. We think Hugh Roan came in from South Carolina to Georgia.
The Rowan family information on these pages is a compilation obtained from many sources. The primary research was done by my aunt Brenda Rowan Graves & cousin Tabitha Graves. From this base line I added my own research and input from others which was compiled and formatted by myself, Stan Rowan. Other notable sources include Jan Rowan, Crystal Lynnette Murray-Mayo, Jessica Rowan Graham and Glenda Houston.