From the book:History of Otter Tail County, Minnesota : its people, industries, and institutions : with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families
pages 60 and 61
by Mason, John W. (John Wintermute), 1846
Publisher Indianapolis, Ind. : B.F. Bowen
GEORGE F COWING
George F. Cowing, one of the sturdy pioneers of Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County, a man of absolute integrity and unflinching courage, who died on September 16, 1908, was a member of the bar for twenty-two years and prior to his taking to the practice of law, was engaged in the mercantile business. In fact, he was one of the pioneer merchants of Fergus Falls, as well as one of its pioneer lawyers.
The late George F. Cowing was born on February 26, 1840 at Hexam, England, and was the son of Thomas and Jane (Head) Cowing, the former of whom was a railway superintendent in the old country. In 1850 the Cowing family emigrated to America and, after arriving on the Atlantic seaboard, came West, locating at Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where the father took up land and carried on farming until about 1860, when they moved to Holmes City, near Alexandria, in Douglas County, Minnesota. There they were living at the time of the Indian insurrection, when all of the buildings were destroyed by the Indians and the families were compelled to take refuge in St. Cloud. (The previous sentence is not true)
Afterwards they came to Alexandria, where the father operated a hotel and a market garden and where he spent the rest of his life.
George F. Cowing received his very early education in England. In America he attended the Bigford Academy in Walworth County and Albion College in Dane County, Wisconsin, where he studied law. HIs studies were interrupted, however, by the breaking out of the Civil War. In 1862 Mr. Cowing enlisted in Company K, 28th Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered into the service as an orderly sergeant, and was in many battles. He was discharged at Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1865, after the close of the war.
After the war, George F. Cowing returned to Alexandria, which was at that time a frontier town. Soon afterwards he engaged in the saw-mill business with a Mr. HIcks. He followed this business for a time and then sold out and engaged in the mercantile business in Old Chippewa, near the present site of Brandon, Douglas County, Minnesota. Prior to selling out, however, he went to Fergus Falls, in 1870, and established a general store. The next year, accompanied by his wife, he moved to Fergus Falls and continued in the mercantile business until 1873, when he was elected superintendent of schools. He held that position for 13 years, during which time he was also fitting himself for the practice of law. He was soon afterwards admitted to the bar, and in this profession he was engaged during the balance of his life. He built up a large and lucrative practice in Otter Tail county and was a man not only well learned in the law, but also an able counselor and a successful pleader in court.
On December 28, 1868, George F. Cowing was married in Hudson township, Douglas County, Minnesota to Penelope M. Strang, who was born in St. Charles, Illinois, the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Murray) Strang, who moved from Illinois to Minnesota, where her father farmed for many years. Finally he removed to Alexandria, where he lived with his son, George J. Strang, until his death. Mr. and Mrs. Cowing were the parents of four children, Irene J., who married Homer D. Russell of Chicago, Illinois and has one child, Wallace C. (Russell), now twenty three years old; Mrs. Irene J. Russell, who died in 1906; Dr. Philip G., (Cowing) who lives in Montana, and who married Helena Everson, and Robert M. (Cowing), a resident of Chicago, who married Leona Lochner. (Should just be 3 adult children)
Mr. Cowing was a member of Corner Stone Lodge no. 99, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and rose to the rank of Knight Templar. He was a ready and fluent speaker and a man who was popular, especially at fraternal and public gatherings of all kinds. HIs untimely death was a distinct shock and was keenly felt by the people of Otter Tail County.