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John F. Cowan

District Court Judge

Elected in 1901

Judge Cowan was born in Moffat, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, December 29, 1858. In 1862 the family emigrated to Ontario, Canada, where he attended the common schools of Canada, graduating from the Ottawa Normal School in 1877. After that he studied medicine in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for two years. He came to the United States in 1880, locating in Port Huron, Michigan, where he was a clerk for the Chicago & Grand Trunk Railroad Company. In 1881 he came to North Dakota and settled near Stump Lake, in Nelson County, later he moved to Devils Lake, where he began reading law and later entered the law office of John McGee, of Devils Lake, he then became a member of the firm of McGee & Morgan. In 1885 he was admitted to practice before the Territorial District Court, he opened his own law office that same year, later he became associated with P. J. McClory, under the firm name of Cowan & McClory. In 1890 he was elected State's Attorney of Ramsey County serving until 1894, when he was elected Attorney General of North Dakota, he was re-elected to this position three times. He served as Judge of the Second Judicial District from 1901 until 1912, surviving an unsuccessful impeachment attempt in 1911 Judge Cowan died on November 25, 1917.