From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society

As mentioned before, many roads and intersections in town hold the names of Rochester families. In the current museum exhibit, we have a map of Israel Cowen’s land. He was the first Cowen to build a house at the intersection of Neck and Burgess Roads.

            Israel built his house sometime around 1810 at what is now 214 Neck Rd. The map we have shows the boundaries of his farm. It has a good-sized burn hole in it so maybe he was a cigar smoker. Israel had two sons, Jonathan and Seth who both built nearby. Jonathan built a home at 7 Burgess Road and Seth at 221 Neck Rd. All three houses are still standing today.

            The Cowens were well known for their carpentry skills, building sea chests, chairs and other furniture. Seth’s two sons also lived here and along with their offspring are listed as a farmer, a teamster, carpenters and a cranberry grower.

            Over the ensuing years, the houses had many owners. According to the 1854 map, Israel was still owner of his home. In 1879, J.D. Webster is listed as owner and by early 1900’s, the owner is Charles S. Ashley, mayor of New Bedford.

            By 1929, John Gayorski and his wife, Mary, had bought the property at what was now known as “Cowen’s Corner.” Gayorski was a poulterer (he raised chickens.) As time passed, other Gayorskis lived in nearby houses. Further down from Cowen’s Corner at the intersection of Burgess Ave. and Alley Rd. is a triangular piece of land with a sign proclaiming it Thomas Gayorski Corner.

            At one time, Jonathan Cowen’s property was the home of the Cape Cod Cranberry Company. Seth’s property remained in the Cowen family for the longest number of years. Cowens were listed living there up to 1933. In the 1997 resident list, it shows Carolyn Cowen Lawrence in residence at 221 Neck Rd. She is a direct descendant of Israel Cowen.

            In 1949, the townspeople voted to declare the corner of Neck Rd. and Burgess Ave. as Cowen’s Corner in honor of Chester Cowen for his contributions to the town.

By Connie Eshbach

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