W. McCowan was born in New Jersey in November of 1845, according to the
1900 Census, although other sources indicate that he was born in 1844.
He was living in Camden when the 1860 Census was taken with a shoemaker,
also named Thomas McCowan; this appears to be his uncle, as he was not
living with this family in the 1850 Census.
his early 20s Thomas W. McCowan became a volunteer fireman with the
Independence Steam Engine Company.
Reeser Prowell wrote about the two companies in his History of
Camden County, New Jersey which was published in 1886.