CAPTAIN EDWARD J. COWLING. Familiar from his youth up with every phase of the domestic commerce of Southern Illinois, Captain Edward J. Cowling, of Metropolis, is a dominant factor in promoting the Ohio river trade between that city and Paducah, having succeeded to the ownership of the Cowling Packet Line, which was established by his father, the late Captain George H. Cowling, in ante-bellum days. A native of Metropolis, he was born December 23, 1871, of Pennsylvania stock.
Captain George H. Cowling, born July 21, 1841, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received but meagre educational advantages, much of his very early life having been spent on the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers. Leaving home in the days of his youth, he found employment with the Paducah and Cairo Packet Company, and after working several years as a wage-earner he had saved enough money to warrent him in engaging in business on his own account. Establishing the packet line now owned by his son Edward, he named his first river boat "Metropolis," and gave to his second boat the name of the "City of Metropolis." Devoting his attention entirely to his personal interests, he gave his time to the building up of the large commercial business which now stands as a monument to his energy, enterprise and good judgment.
Captain George H. Cowling married, in Paducah, Kentucky, Mrs. Rebecca White. The children born of their union are: Sophia, who married Walter S. Conner and died in 1893, leaving no children; and Edward J., the special subject of this brief sketch. Captain G. H. Cowling, who settled in Metropolis in 1859, died in this city in 1894, while his wife survived him four years, passing away in 1898.
Completing the course of study in the Metropolis high school in 1887, Edward J. Cowling continued his studies at the Hayward Commercial College, obtaining a practical knowledge of business management. Going then to St. Louis, he was for fourteen months with the firm of Rice, Stix & Company, being employed in the office of the buyer for the gentlemen's furnishing department of that store. In September, 1891, when twenty years of age, he became a clerk on the "City of Metropolis," his father's boat, continuing in that position until 1898, when he was made pilot. In 1904 he received his master's license. Captain Cowling inherited the substantial craft "City of Metropolis 1 ' from his father; in 1896 built the "George H. Cowling"; and in 1904 he built the "George Cowling," his present river boat, with which he is devoting himself to the river trade. The Captain is vice president of the First National Bank of Metropolis, one of the strong financial institutions of Massac county.
He is a stanch advocate of the principles of the Democrat party, but has no political aspirations. Fraternally Captain Cowling is an active member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons, belonging to Metropolis lodge, F. & A. M.; to Metropolis chapter, Royal Arch Masons; to Gethsemane Commandery, Knights Templars, of Metropolis, of which he is past eminent commander; and in addition to the above he is district deputy grand master for the Fiftieth Illinois Masonic district, composed of Hardin, Pope, Massac and Pulaski counties. He also belongs to the Order of the Eastern Star; and is a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, belonging to the Subordinate Lodge and to the Encampment. Religiously he is a member of the Congregational church.
Captain Cowling married, in Pinckneyville, Illinois, in June, 1895, May Slimpert, and they have one child, Edina Cowling.
Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 2, page 969-970