Ewing Family Association

Clan Ewing of Scotland
Elbert William R. Ewing, A.M., LL.B., LL.D.

Chapter XIII

Our First American Ewings*

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Than those of whom I am particularly writing there are many other Ewings in America. Both before and since our ancestors came to this country other worthy bearers of our name established families of whom I would be glad to write but for the lack of data and space. There is at hand, however, some information of others which I am glad to give, though it must be done briefly.

The earliest persons bearing any form of our name to come in touch with America, so far as the records disclose, were from England. As the clan, in my view of the facts, parted in the Lowlands of Scotland at an early day, and as there were those bearing our name in a form not unusual for the times in Northern England at the taking of the Domesday Book, 1085, it is my opinion that the early Ewings from England who had some part in the earliest Virginia history were remote but lineal scions of the clan unit before it was broken by Teutonic invasion.

We know that shortly after the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, the crown granted to a company lands and the authority for local government. That organization was much on the order of a modern stock company, and the enterprise was backed by private capital. Ralph Ewens, Esquire, was one of those to whom King James granted the second Virginia charter, May 23, 1609, the famous Captain John Smith being also a member of that company. William Euans became a member of the company in 1617, and a William Ewens was master of a ship for many years employed by the company between England and Virginia. On several occasions the company commissioned him to ship cargoes to Virginia and transport back the products of the colony. In 1621 two contracts were made with him. In the one case he was to fit out the “ship George 150 tuns staunch and strong with furniture and with marines and seamen, to take on passengers and goods and to bring back tobacco from the plantation with forfeit of 1,000 li. in case of failure.” In the other case it was the ship Charles, “80 tun and to take the same with fraight and passengers to Virginia.” He was to receive for carrying 80 persons in the George “vjli a man and 3 li. a tunne for goods.” In one case later he left off freight to accommodate “Sr. Francis Wyatt and some other gentlemen the better in the State Shipp,” and “susteyned” a loss “onely” on that account. April 30, 1623, this party had occasion to make an affidavit that he had gone to Virginia “4 sewrall times” and had lived nearly a “wholl year ther or ther aboutes.”

These specimens of spelling are representative of English as then written; and they better enable us to understand why the scribes of those days so often spelled our family name phonetically, or as it sounded to them, Ewen, Ewin, Ewins, Ewens, Euing, etc.

In 1676 John Ewin brought shipping from the homeland to William Drummond, the governor of Virginia.

The Earl of Sterling’s Register of Royal Letters Relating to Scotland and Nova Scotia from 1615 to 1635 has a letter to the commissioners of the Plantation of New Scotland, as Nova Scotia was then called, under a grant to Sir. Wm. Alexander 1621, which says: “Our Soveraigne Lord understanding the long practeis and experience of his Maties lovit James Ewing in matters of Herauldrie” with Earl Morton’s consent appoints Ewing “duering all the dayes of his lyftyme, herauld at arms in the said kingdome,” and thereafter to be known and called Rothsay Herald. His salary was “fourties-tua pundis usuall” money.

September 9, 1643, William Ewins was granted lands in James City County, Virginia, as shown in William and Mary Quarterly, volume 9, 144. In 1648 Edward Ewin was granted land in Virginia.

Whether the earliest of our name in America left descendants no effort has been made to learn. We are mostly concerned about the founders of the Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee early families known certainly to be descended from the old Loch Lomond-Glasgow clan, a sketch of which has been given. At intervals within the first one hundred years after the first firm footing of the Europeans in America many descendants of that old clan founded families located in Canada, and thence southwestward, along the crest of the wave of expansion, here and there in every State from Maine to Georgia. Most of our first American fathers reached America after 1700 and located, as we shall see the census and other evidence show, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia; and from those pioneer homes our kindred have spread broadly, wielding a wholesome influence, into Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Alabama, Texas, California, and, perhaps, into every State west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Beginning perhaps as early as 1700 the founders of the families here under consideration began to reach America. So far as found, there is no contemporary general record of the Ewing brothers and near relatives who founded these families. However, though we are deprived of the pleasure of such a record of all these, yet there are in perhaps every branch extant today records and traditions by which we establish with reasonable certainty (and often beyond possibility of doubt) descent from the respective first American ancestors. The traditions are sustained or corroborated by family Bible records, tombstone inscriptions, recorded deeds, wills and the records of the settlement of estates, old depositions filed in law suits, military, church, pension and other records. These are often supplemented by historical mention in connection with affairs of local or national scope.

This evidence upon which we rely to establish our descent and kinship through our early American ancestors back to the early days of the Scotch clan, is the kind of evidence which courts admit for the purpose of establishing family relationship and proving pedigree. Meeting the requirements of the law in such cases, of course it is all the more reliable for historical purposes. It “is brought from remote times, when no question was depending or even thought of, and when no purpose would apparently be answered by falsifying.” (See, among many court decisions announcing this rule of evidence, Hartman’s Estate, 157 Calif., 206, 107 Pac. 105; Eisenland vs. Clum. 126 N. Y. 552; Berkeley Peerage Case, 4 Campbell (Eng.), 401.)

What has been said by deceased members of the family is admissible upon the presumption that as such members they knew from general repute in the family the facts of which they speak. (Harland v. Eastman, 107 Ill. 535, 538.)

Much of the tradition in any branch of our family regarding collateral relatives is often hazy and in part inaccurate. This is not, under the circumstances of the earlier days, strange. I have found nothing to suggest that the immigrant brothers and cousins lost interest in or sight of each other. The clan spirit, in its best sense, has always been characteristic of our family. But we shall find that as the several members of the family reached out for the rich, inviting lands of the constantly expanding American frontier, the groups, even in the same State, soon became separated by many hundreds of miles. Communication during the early days was difficult, uncertain, and unavoidable spasmodic. During the first years after reaching America, letters between the communities where our ancestors established themselves, had to be sent, generally, by chance travel. Regular mail routes were largely unknown. An instance showing this as late as 1822 is furnished by Gano’s letter to his uncle, given infra. By the time the first American-born generation was in its prime the stern prelude to the Revolution rumbled and shortly the storm broke in fury over the land. Nowhere was the danger more acute than on the Indian-haunted frontiers where our respective families then generally were established. As the thunder of the Revolution subsided, the din and rush of expanding America absorbed attention. Generally in the skirmish line of expansion, each family group acquired immense lands and built prosperous homes; and our fathers became the leaders in all the activities of life. Some were made the judges of the courts, others became the preachers, yet others the legislators, and yet others captains of great industry and extensive husbandry; and an unusual per cent of their names is found upon all the early military rosters. So it was that, during the first wonderful and thrilling one hundred years following the Revolution, the relations between the several family groups largely were lost.

Important light has been furnished by those who have devoted research particularly to some of the groups I have mentioned. What we know as the Nottingham District, or earlier Cecil County, Maryland, family, received much study by Col. William A. Ewing, at one time of Chicago, who died at the National Military Home, Dayton, Ohio, December 13, 1916. He was born in Cincinnati in 1838. He “accumulated a great wealth of material. He published a very elaborate chart in blue-print, containing three great family branches of Ewings.” He was the son of an Alex. Ewing, born February 10, 1803, in Michigan; and this Alexander as William A. Ewing gives his descent, was a descendant of the immigrant Nathaniel of Cecil County, Maryland. Colonel Ewing says that Nathaniel and his half-brothers John, Henry, Samuel, Joshua and Alexander came to Cecil County from Coleraine, Londonderry County, Ireland. That they were from Coleraine is questioned by some of our Ewings; but if not from Coleraine they were from its approximate community. They were sons of William Ewing, it is generally conceded, “who was a son of William Ewing, of Glasgow, Scotland.” (See the W. A. Ewing chart; Jas. L. Ewin’s Ewing data, &c.) However, a few think that there is some little reason for guessing that the Ulster link was a Patrick–or not William; but since in the light of evidence before us we are not sure, we accept the name as William until future generations find it aright.

After years of research, after sifting traditions and having measured them by other evidence, Col. Ewing completed his chart about 1900. It gives little or no light in regard to the descendants of the Virginia branches of the family; but it is very valuable as to the other branches of our family. Col. Ewing appears never to have attempted any extensive record of the respective families of Chas. and Robert Ewing, of the several James Ewing families, of John Ewing of Montgomery County, Virginia, and of the Wythe County, Virginia, Ewings and of the numerous offsprings of each which later located in Kentucky, Tennessee and elsewhere. But, as we shall see more fully, all were descendants of the same Scotch clan as are the older Cecil County and the Thos. Ewing (of Ohio) branch; and therefore Col. Ewing’s general conclusions are important.

In 1919 his widow, Mrs. Gertrude B. Ewing, then in Greenwich, Connecticut, kindly loaned me Col. Ewing’s memorandum book and such of his genealogical correspondence as she could find. From the material it appears that Col. Ewing was just beginning to get in touch with Capt. Patrick Ewing’s branch which settled in Lee County, Virginia, and from there spread into Tennessee, Missouri and elsewhere. He evidently made a small chart of that branch of the family, a copy of which was kindly loaned me by Dr. A. E. Ewing of St. Louis; but the greater number of the early Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky Ewings (and of course their descendants) apparently were never known to Col. Ewing. Just before he published his larger chart, a Cecil County, Maryland, paper said:

Col. Wm. A. Ewing of Chicago spent several days in the county last week hunting up material for the history of the Ewing family. He has gathered a large amount, has about completed his labors in that line and will have the manuscript ready to put into the hands of the publishers in November. The search and compilation of data has reached over eleven years. The family immigration took place in 1725, or the branch which settled in Cecil County came over then. Others came earlier.

They came from near Glasgow, Scotland, went from there to the north of Ireland, where they tarried but a short time, and came on to America, landing on the New Jersey coast. They crossed the State and came into Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania where they settled. There were six or seven members of the family who came to this county and vicinity.

Col. Ewing finds the family widely distributed, all over the United States, in fact, but has been able to trace them to the original stock of Scotch from about Stirling Castle, a hardy race of Covenanters who said what they mean and meant what they said.

I much regret that Col. Ewing left, so far as I can find, only a chart and detached manuscript memorandums. He published no book of the family, and his wife and daughter (his only child) know nothing of such a manuscript as this paper describes. However, that chart, taken with this account of his work gives his conclusions regarding the origin of the clan and what he had learned of the early American ancestors.

The earliest printed statement concerning this Cecil County, Maryland, family and its member in Virginia, so far as I know, is that by Rev. James P. Wilson, in his Sermons of Dr. Jno. Ewing, published in 1812.

Of that Rev. Jno. Ewing, D. D., who was a descendant of Nathaniel, William Ewing’s only child by the first wife, Wilson says:

Of his ancestors little is known. They emigrated from Ireland at an early period of the settlement of our country, and fixed themselves on the banks of the Susquehanna, near to the spot where he was born. They were farmers, who, if they did not extend their name beyond their immediate neighborhood, yet maintained within it that degree of reputation which their descendants can speak of without a blush.

So far as I found, the oldest written statement of the earliest traditions in regard to the immigrants who founded some of Ewing families of Cecil County, Maryland, and those Virginia families about which I particularly write, was left by Nathanial [sic] Ewing of Mount Clair (near Vincennes), Indiana. Col. Wm. A. Ewing published in The Courier-Journal (February 28, 1897) this statement. Just when it was written we are not told; but Colonel Ewing says this Nathaniel was born April 10, 1772, and died August 4, 1846, and that he moved from Maryland to Vincennes in 1801. The statement reads:

At the request of my children I give the following history of my family as far back as I have any knowledge, either traditional or personal. My forefathers were originally from Scotland, their seat in that country being on the Forth, not far from Stirling Castle, whence they removed to the north of Ireland about the year -----, and settled near Londonderry. My great-grandfather, whose name, I believe, was William, was twice married. By his first wife he had but one son, Nathaniel, who was my grandfather; by his second marriage he had several children, viz.: William, Joshua, James and some others whom I do not now recollect.

James I have seen, and had from him a portion of my information. He was at that time upwards of eighty years of age and lived in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Nathaniel Ewing my grandfather, was born about the year 1703. (This is error, as Colonel Ewing pointed out. That Nathaniel was born approximately near Coleraine and Londonderry, Ireland, in 1693. The mistake may have been made by the printer.) He married a cousin of his own, Rachel Porter, in the year 1723, and four years afterwards he emigrated to America, bringing with him his half-brothers and sisters, and a large connection of the Porter family, and also the Gillespies. The colony settled in Maryland, between the Octorora Creek and the Susquehanna River, near the Pennsylvania line, about sixty miles from Philadelphia, this country at the time being the frontier settlement. My grandfather purchased a tract of land and commenced farming. His brother, Joshua, also purchased a tract adjoining him. Whether any others of the brothers purchased land there I do not know, but they did not remain long in Maryland, having removed to Virginia and settled on the waters of the Appomattox, Prince Edward County, where their posterity became numerous. Many of them afterward removed to Cripple Creek (subsequently in Montgomery and Wythe Counties, Virginia), or New Beaver (New River) and some to Potsdam, near Knoxville, (Tennessee). They are now scattered over the States of Tennessee and Kentucky.

The next information upon the early family was left by Col. Geo. W. Ewing. It is a sketch in History of Fort Wayne, Indiana, by Wallace A. Bryce, entitled The Ewings–W. G. and G. W. Ewing.

I have in the manuscript note book left by William A. Ewing this:

I have copied the following sketch of the Ewing family (much of it written by Col. George W. Ewing) from ‘History of Fort Wayne,’ by Wallace A. Bryce, published at Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1868.

This copy was made because the book was out of print and the only copy of which William A. Ewing then knew was seen by him in the Chicago Public Library. In his notes he says that Col. George W. Ewing, who wrote this “account of the family,” was his uncle, and that he had often heard his uncle speak of this contribution to the Fort Wayne history. He says this uncle was “widely known for his fine business and general intellectual qualities.”

This Col. George W. Ewing operated contemporaneously large business houses in Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Chicago, St. Louis and elsewhere; and I have heard it said that he was the earliest in this country, at least, to operate the now famous “chain stores.” It is certain that he was a pioneer in that field–very successful, too, for he left an immense estate; and his brother, William G. Ewing, left more than a million dollars. Among other things, this Col. George W. Ewing founded Logansport, Indiana.

In his history Bryce says:

Most prominent among the early settlers of Fort Wayne was the Ewing family, and having been favored with a manuscript account of the family, written, as early as 1855, by Col. G. W. Ewing, deceased, while on a visit to Washington City, D. C., I here introduce a portion.

Col. George W. Ewing says:

Being the last and only remaining one of the four brothers … I have thought it right to make a statement of reminiscences and of facts within my knowledge relative to the genealogy, rise and progress of the family to which I belong.

The absence of any record respecting my own parents and of their forefathers has always been a source of regret to me, as well as to my lamented brother (W. G. Ewing). We could glean a meager knowledge of them only as it was gotten incidentally in conversation, from time to time, with our beloved parents. Even this we failed and neglected to perpetuate. …

My father, Alexander Ewing, was born in the State of Pennsylvania (the county not recollected) about the year 1763 of Irish parentage [Scotch-Irish], the third son (his father’s name was also Alexander), who had two older brothers named William and Samuel.

About the year 1779 my father, then about sixteen, repaired to Philadelphia and there enlisted in the Continental army, and remained in the service during the last three years of the glorious Revolutionary war.

Col. G. W. Ewing then says that, the war over, his father engaged in a trading expedition “to the far West,” among the Six Nations of Indians. There his father, Alexander, “erected a trading post on Buffalo Creek, then an entire wilderness, and subsequently extended his trading into the Allegheny Mountains. Where once stood his humble trading cabin now stands the great and growing commercial city of Buffalo,” New York.

Subsequently this Alexander Ewing settled on the Genesee River, sixty miles above where is now Rochester. There he married Charlotte Griffith, of Welsh descent, “about 1795.” There the oldest child, Sophia C., was born, as was a son, Charles W. The youngest sister of this Alexander, so this account tells us, (Katy) Catharine Ewing, married the Hon. John Jones, and lived near her brother, and she and her husband died on the Genesee, leaving children.

In 1802, we are further told, this Alexander Ewing, the ex-soldier, “having lost his farm by security debts,” a misfortune we meet all too often in the records of our family—a generous and obliging heart is one of the family characteristics—moved to what was at the time the Territory of Michigan, and settled at what became Monroe. There his sons, William G., Alexander H., and George W. Ewing, the writer of this account, were born. In 1807 the parents moved to Ohio and settled at what became Piqua. There a daughter, Lavinia, was born. Subsequently they moved to Troy, and there Louisa was born.

This Alexander, the ex-soldier of the Revolution, volunteered and served in the War of 1812, being in the immediate command of General William Henry Harrison. He participated, as did some of the Ewings of Virginia, we shall see, in the battle of the Thames, when the great Indian chief, Tecumseh, led, until shot dead from his horse, the British. This Alexander was twice wounded. Col. W. G. Ewing characterizes Tecumseh as “a brave, gallant and noble Indian,” and says that Alexander Ewing, “my father, found and recognized the body of Tecumseh very shortly after the battle was over.” “In a short time afterwards,” he adds, “the Kentuckians cut all the skin off” Tecumseh’s body “to carry home as trophies, to be used, as they said, ‘for razor strops.’”

If Colonel Ewing were correct as to this barbarous action, it need cause no surprise. Tecumseh represented Indian atrocity, outrage and the devastation of Kentucky homes. The Indians first scalped the whites; the entire period of the early expansion, followed, in fact, to the Custer disaster on the Little Big Horn, was war to the death between Indian and white. War debases; danger sears and hardens. The whites came in time to scalp the Indians, not infrequently; and more than once Indian scalps ornamented a pole at the gate of a frontier “stockade.” Ah, well, not so far back in the history of our ancestors, Protestant heads actually sickeningly shriveled on the end of a pole at the very gates of Glasgow, Scotland. We too often forget what our ancestors paid for the slow, halting strides of civilization, and yet the top has not been reached nor all of the price paid.

From Troy this Alexander Ewing moved January, 1827, to what became Fort Wayne, Indiana. There, at about sixty-three “he died of disease induced by pioneer hardships and adventures.” Col. G. W. Ewing says this Alexander Ewing, his father, was strong of will, enjoyed “indomitable energy, was a true friend and a better enemy; fond of his family, and bore the title of colonel. He was a Free Mason. His personal appearance was commanding, being six feet in height, straight and athletic.” His “complexion was rather light, his hair auburn, his eyes blue.”

Col. G. W. Ewing adds that “we are descended from parents who were obliged to leave their native country (Ireland) because of their republican sentiments. Some of them settled in Pennsylvania, some in Kentucky, and some in Tennessee. The Hon. Thomas Ewing of Ohio is distantly related to us. So are most of the Ewings of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, and it is a remarkable circumstance and fact, which I may here insert without being guilty of egotism, that I never yet saw or knew a man of this family of Ewings (and I have seen and known very many of them) who was not a man of more than ordinary talents and ability and many of them were prominent and distinguished men.” Col. Ewing, in these words, does not mention the Maryland and Virginia Ewings; but he was speaking of later descendants of those related to his father, and clearly impliedly recognized the Virginia and Maryland relations, because, among those of his day mentioned by him as distinguished relations, he refers to “Hon. Andrew Ewing, who was a representative in Congress from Tennessee; and Hon. Presley Ewing was also a representative in Congress from Kentucky; and thus I might go on speaking of others of the name and kindred, who have filled with signal ability, many places of honor and responsibility.” Andrew Ewing of Tennessee and Presley Ewing of Kentucky were, we know, descendants of two of the Virginia families; and Col. G. W. Ewing’s own father, Alexander, was a son of Alexander Ewing of Bald Friar’s Ferry (often known as Little Britain, Pennsylvania), Cecil County, Maryland, who was a son of Nathaniel, the half-brother of Joshua Ewing, and the others, whom we indicate as the first Cecil County immigration of Ewings. Joshua’s brother James, we shall see, half-uncle of the oldest Alexander, mentioned by Col. G. W. Ewing, settled very early in what is now Prince Edward County, Virginia, and his descendants and those of the other Virginia families of which I write, known as those of Bedford (from which family Presley of Kentucky descended), Montgomery, Wythe, Lee and other counties, Virginia, from the earliest day recognized a common Scotch ancestry and blood kinship.

No few of our family genealogists have essayed to discover the relation between part or all, as may be, of the immigrant founders of our American Ewing family groups. No one so far has been able to fix the exact genealogical place of all these branches; but much has been accomplished as to several of them. Much, too, has been done to preserve a record of descendants of some of these family units–a work I am here trying to do for others of them. For instance, Rev. Joseph Lyons Ewing says that there “is the strongest traditional evidence” that Findley Ewing, son of James Ewing, born at Glasgow in 1650, who married, 1694, Jane Porter in Londonderry, to which he had removed, and their son, Thos. Ewing., who emigrated from Londonderry “to New Jersey in 1718,” and the ancestors of the Cecil County, Maryland, Ewings, of whom I shall treat more fully, were one and the same family before separating in Ireland. (Ewing Families (1910), 8, 12.) Regardless of some mistakes as to family links, Rev. Mr. Ewing is correct in this conclusion, I am sure. As another evidence of that relation, sustaining the “strongest traditional evidence,” as Dr. Ewing correctly suggests, we have the family arms which are the same in both branches. This Thos. Ewing was the ancestor of the Hon. Thos. Ewing family of Ohio. However, as I think it will later herein be seen, it seems more probable that the father of Findlay was a brother of the Ewing who evidently was born in Glasgow about 1760, (sic) who became the ancestor of the Cecil County Ewings whom Joseph Lyons Ewing had in mind. Anyway, the relationship between the branches here considered is certain, and is widely recognized. For instance, Rev. Quincy Ewing, an Episcopal minister of Alabama, brother of Judge Ewing of Texas, who recently published The Ewing Genealogy, wrote to Joseph Lyons Ewing in 1906:

My grandfather, Ephriam Ewing, was a nephew of Finis Ewing, one of the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. I saw a letter years ago from General Thos. Ewing, of Ohio, in which he stated that he and my grandfather were distantly connected.”

This Ephraim (sic) Ewing’s father was a descendant of one of the Bedford County, Virginia, immigrant brothers.

Col. Geo. Ewing’s brother, Hon. Chas. Wayne Ewing, was long president-judge of the eighth circuit of Indiana; and another brother, Hon. William G. Ewing, became judge of the Allen County probate court. He died in 1854. He is described “as intellectual and generous.” Another brother, Alexander H. Ewing, was long one of the most successful merchants of Cincinnati, Ohio.

On the margin of his memorandum book Col. William A. Ewing in a note dated “Chicago, February 23, 1894,” opposite where, as copied from the Fort Wayne history, his uncle indicated his relation to Hon. Thomas Ewing of Ohio, wrote, “There is no connection between our families this side of Ireland in 1695; and I have not yet found any connection (with the) Kentucky and Tennessee Ewings.” But subsequent investigations appear to have convinced him that his uncle’s statements were correct.

In another place in Col. Ewing’s manuscript book I find this:

In October, 1892, I found in Polk’s Grave Yard, four miles west of Rising Sun, and about the same distance east of Bald Friar’s Ferry, all in Cecil County, Maryland, a monument with this inscription:

A. E.
In Memory of Alexander Ewing
who departed this life
June 3, 1799,
aged 68 years.

“He lived and kept the hotel,” adds William A. Ewing, at Bald Friar’s Ferry. … I feel confident he was the father of Alexander Ewing, the father of Col. George W. Ewing.”

In this he was undoubtedly correct, and subsequently he so indicated on his now widely distributed chart.

A few years ago Miss Catharine P. Evans of New Jersey, a descendant of Capt. Patrick Ewing, visited this old burying ground and identified the graves of Alexander and many others of the older Cecil County Ewings.

That Col. Geo. W. Ewing indicates his family as of Irish descent means no more than that he had an ancestor who once lived in Ireland. That that ancestor and his brothers were of pure Scotch descent is one of the unquestionable facts of Ewing genealogy.

In 1847 an edition of 150 copies of a little book was published, entitled, A Record of the Families of Robert Patterson, the older, emigrated from Ireland to America in 1774; Thomas Ewing, from Ireland, 1718, and Louis Du Bois from France, 1660. This work, “for the use of the family connection only,” was by William Ewing Du Bois of Philadelphia. This author says: “Through the heirs of Patterson and Ewing we partake largely of the Scotch-Irish blood;” and then he correctly explains that Scotch-Irish was “not by the mixture of two opposite races.” That is, our Ewings from Ireland are Scotch, and known as Scotch-Irish because of a sojourn in Ireland. This Du Bois says that the Rev. John Ewing, of Philadelphia, “was of remote relations to our family.” He meant the distinguished Dr. John Ewing, twin brother of James of Prince Edward County, Virginia, descendant of Nathaniel, one of the older Cecil County family. This author did not give the Ewing genealogy he had purposed to present; and in 1858 this part of his work was completed by his brother, Robert Patterson Du Bois, in a little volume entitled, Record of the Family of Thomas Ewing, who emigrated from Ireland to America in 1718. This writer lived at New London, Pennsylvania. He says:

Findley Ewing, the first of the Ewings of whom we have any account, was of Scotch descent, a Presbyterian, and with his wife, Jane, lived in Londonderry in Ireland. For his distinguished bravery at the battle of the Boyne water he was awarded a sword by King William. This was worn during (our) Revolution by his great-grandson.

Thomas Ewing, son of this Findlay, was born in Londonderry in 1694, and came to America in 1718, according to Du Bois. Then Du Bois says: “The Hon. Thomas Ewing of Ohio says two brothers came with” this immigrant Thomas Ewing; and that they all at first settled on Long Island; that two of these afterward went to the South; and that from them sprang the southwestern Ewings. Of these I have no further information and of course pass them by.”

Following immediately after what has just been quoted, Du Bois gives the information regarding the older Cecil County family which he had from Amos Ewing of that County and which is given presently. Just now we are interested in noticing that in a letter written by this Hon. Thomas Ewing, seen by Dr. Quincy Ewing of Alabama, as shown above, that Thomas Ewing recognized blood kinship to the Bedford County, Virginia family; and William Ewing Du Bois recognized the kinship between his family and the Hon. Thomas Ewing ancestor and the Cecil County family of Dr. John Ewing who lived in Philadelphia and whose twin brother settled in Virginia. Descendants of this Dr. John Ewing’s uncle, Joshua Ewing, to my certain knowledge, recognized blood kinship with my great-grandfather of Montgomery County, and with, of course, grandfather, of Lee County, Virginia. James Ewing, one of Dr. John’s uncles, as we have seen, founded one of the Prince Edward County, Virginia, families.

I have seen but one copy of the Du Bois works, and that was in the New York Historical Association Library.

In a foot note Du Boise (sic) adds:

Since writing the above I have received a note from Amos Ewing, Esq., of Cecil County, Maryland, in regard to four brothers of that name, who settled in that county.

Then he gives this statement by Amos:

About 1700 four brothers, John, Alexander, Henry, and Samuel Ewing emigrated from Londonderry, leaving several younger brothers at home, and settled in Cecil County, Maryland. John lived near to what is now called Principio Furnace, but, afterward removed to the West with his family, a large one. Alexander settled in East Nottingham, near a place now called Ewingsville. He had a large number of children, of whom five were sons, viz.: William, George, Alexander, James and his twin brother John. John was born June 21, 1732, graduated at Princeton College in 1752, became an eminent divine, …

He says this John had a large family. “His grandson,” adds Amos, “the Rev. Charles H. Ewing, now preaches in West Philadelphia. Henry (one of the immigrants) also lived in East Nottingham, and had three sons, John, Moses and James. John died about four years since, in the 94th year of his age. Moses, the only one that married, left one daughter, who now lives in the old family residence.”

Then Du Boise says that Samuel settled in West Nottingham, Cecil County, and married Rebecca George, “who came from North Wales with a company of Quaker preachers.” “He had three sons, Amos, William and Samuel, the last two having many children, who removed to the ‘Redstone’ country, below Pittsburgh. Amos inherited the family farm, where he died in his seventieth year, December 6, 1814, and where his son, Amos, my informant, now resides.”

We must grant that Amos, writing in 1858, was correct as to recent families and regarding the names of those of his generation whom he personally knew. But the Rev. John and his twin brother James and the other names mentioned by Amos as the children of Alexander, whom he mistook to be the immigrant, were the children of Nathaniel, the immigrant, as is established by Bible records. Amos, giving the traditions after about one hundred and fifty years, lost one generation, as all the records show.

As we shall see more fully, Amos also mistook a John of a later generation for the immigrant John.

Of the record evidence, it is said that the Bible of this Rev. John Ewing, to whom and to whose brothers Amos refers, shows that their father was the immigrant Nathaniel. Amos, however, correctly gives the brothers of this celebrated Rev. John, as shown in the Memorial written by Rev. James P. Wilson, and published in a volume of Ewing’s sermons in 1812, and as also shown by other records.

Hon. Wm. Henry Ewing, who descended from the immigrant Nathaniel, and who represented in the Virginia legislature Prince Edward County during 1908 to 1912, for many years kept a critical eye for Ewing genealogy. In a letter dated October 18, 1911, to me he says:

I suppose from your letter that you already have the history of the Ewing family, beginning with Wm. Ewing of Scotland about 1660, who emigrated to Coleraine, Ireland. His children emigrated to America about 1725, and some of them settled in Cecil County, Maryland, some in Pennsylvania, and several in Virginia. It seems that the whole family of Ewings who came to America were brothers and half-brothers, and they first settled in the same neighborhood in Cecil County, Maryland. A family of Porters—kinsfolk of the Ewings—emigrated with them from Ireland and settled in the same neighborhood. Porter’s Bridge, in Cecil County, took its name from them.

About 1725 several of the Ewings came from Maryland and settled in (what became) Prince Edward County, Virginia, and also in other counties in the State, but I cannot give you any information with regard to any except those who settled in (what became) Prince Edward and Bedford Counties.

This statement is the more valuable because in the main it corroborated the version of the early settlement which I gathered from sources mainly independent of those from which this correspondent got his. It furnishes also a representative instance of the fact that each family kept in its direct line little information regarding collaterals—even closely related collaterals living in the same State. This fact has led so many to declare that all of the Ewings have descended from one or two immigrants, though Mr. Ewing, of Prince Edward County, about 72 years old when he wrote the above-mentioned letter to me, speaks of “several brothers.” He did not mean to leave the impression that all of the Ewing immigrants to America “were brothers and half-brothers.” He made that statement with reference to the descendants of Wm. Ewing, of Scotland, who was born about 1660, and whose children were born in Ireland. He tells me later that the immigrants Chas. And Robert Ewing, of the Peaks of Otter, Bedford County, Virginia, were “cousins of the brothers and half-brothers” of that William of Scotland, and that these cousins came to Virginia, also from Ireland, by way of Cecil County, Maryland.

Among many of our name in America the clan spirit is yet forceful. Reunions often bring hundreds together; and such meetings are yet held in Pennsylvania, Ohio and now and then elsewhere. In 1901 such a gathering in Ohio brought together, we are told, 300 of the descendants of the pioneer Capt. James Ewing, who lived several years in what is now Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The chronicler of that clan conclave gave the traditions of his kinsmen thus:

According to the tradition of the Ewing clan the Ewings of America trace their origin to six stalwart brothers of a Highland clan, who, with their chieftain, engaged in insurrection in 1685, in which they were defeated, their chieftain captured and executed and themselves outlawed. As the only source of safety they fled to Ireland, where, in 1688, they participated in the rebellion of William, Prince of Orange, in which three of them lost their lives. In 1718 a number of the sons of these other brothers emigrated to America and settled in Pennsylvania. Thomas, the eldest, was the progenitor of the celebrated (Ohio) Thomas Ewing family of America.

In 1725 another branch of said ancestors, in the person of Nathaniel, William and Joshua Ewing, and their sister, Ann, emigrated to America. They first settled in Cecil County, Maryland, and the other brothers in Virginia. (Hence, some not named in this tradition who settled in Virginia.) Some fifteen years later their younger brother, James Ewing, came and spent the most of his life in Virginia, where he died in 1800.

Now, this tradition, like the others, has some truth in it. The rebellion part, said to have occurred about 1685, is, as of that date, without foundation. That I might be the more sure upon this point, I had Sir Alfred Ewing, principal of the University of Edinburgh, get the opinion of Professor Hume Brown, a recognized Scotch authority. In a memorandum prepared for me in December, 1917, Professor Brown says: “All the rebellions in the Highlands are referred to in the Privy Council Register, but it contains no reference to one” in or about 1684 or 1685.

As shown by the Register, no Ewing engaged in any “rebellion” or political disturbance or “uprising” at that or an approximate date, and did not do so at any time except as I have elsewhere related.

That ancestors of some Ewings who came to America participated in the war which gave William and Mary the English throne is certain. Too, it is certain the James among whose descendants we meet this tradition, was a cousin—not a brother—of the Cecil County, Maryland, and of the other Virginia immigrant ancestors of the families of which I write. We know this for several reasons, among which are, first, Wilson, as seen, in his Sermons of Rev. John, a son of Nathaniel, the immigrant, tells us that James, the half-brother of Rev. John and the others, was living in 1812; and we know he lived in Bedford or Prince Edward County, and never in that part of Virginia now Pocahontas County. The immigrant James, the brother of Joshua and the others, half brothers of Nathaniel, settled and remained in Prince Edward County, and never within hundreds of miles of the Pocahontas section, the evidence shows. The James of the six stalwart brothers tradition died in 1800; James of this tradition married Margaret Sargeant, a native of Ireland, to whom were born sons, John and William, “Indiana John” and “Swago Bill,” unquestionably during years residents of what is now West Virginia.

The most reliable part of this tradition is the assertion of kinship between the families descended from William Ewing, born in Scotland and who emigrated to Ireland, and the Findley (or Hon. Thos.) Ewing branch, and the founders of at least some of the Virginia families we are studying.

M. A. Ewing of Neoga, Illinois, writing December 3, 1891, said that his recollection was that his “father said that four brothers came from Scotland before the Revolution and settled in Wythe County, Virginia, near Abingdon.” James Ewing, M. A. Ewing further says, his grandfather, moved from Wythe to Blount County, East Tennessee, while it was yet a Territory. He says his grandfather had five brothers, George, William, Alexander, Nathaniel, and John, and that all went to East Tennessee about the same time, and then adds:

Sometimes afterwards their father, Alexander, moved there also and died there about 1829 or ’30. My father and three of his brothers, Alexander, George and Samuel, together with two of their uncles, William and Nathaniel, moved to Edgar County, Illinois, where all but uncle George and father spent their days. Uncle George and father died in Cumberland County. I have traveled in fully three-fourths of our States and Territories and in every one of them have found some one of our name, but the most of them are in the West and South. My father’s uncle, John, moved from East Tennessee to Kentucky, near Lexington where he raised a large family, several of whom I met in Kentucky and Middle Tennessee during the war (of 1861-’65). My father always claimed that he and the Hon. Thomas Ewing of Ohio were cousins—I think second cousins. … There was a William Ewing who came from Pennsylvania to Virginia, and he and father traced their relationship as second cousins. (Mrs. Maria Ewing Martin’s Ms.)

When this Ewing, evidently at least past middle life in 1891, since he was a soldier in the war of 1861-’65, speaks of “near Abington (sic)” he must be understood in a relative sense and at the same time in the sense of pioneer times. In the early day a man regarded himself as “near” a place if within 50 or 100 miles or more. M. A. Ewing had this tradition from the pioneers. Abingdon, the county seat of Washington County, was never in Wythe County. His traditions evidently got the pioneer nearness to Abingdon associated with the fact that subsequent to the settlement in Virginia the location of his ancestors fell within what became Wythe County. I know the older traditions of settlement (as well as the history) near Abingdon in the modern use of the word near. I have personally examined the old records in Abingdon; and so far as can be found, no Ewing of our family, born either in Scotland or in Ireland, settled in what is now Washington County. As elsewhere seen, Urban Ewing, of the Bedford family, was once sheriff of that county; and Samuel Ewing and Joshua Ewing of the Cecil County branch, who subsequently moved to Lee County, resided for a time in or near Abingdon. But the M. A. Ewing tradition clearly did not comprehend these or the families to which they immediately belonged. That tradition tells us of “four brothers who came from Scotland and settled in Wythe County,”—clearly as their location came to be some years after settlement. Who the four brothers were, this tradition does not disclose. The present limits of Wythe County do not aid us because, like all of the earlier Virginia counties, Wythe was once much larger, and was not formed until 1789. Hence, those pioneer Ewings could not have settled in Wythe before the Revolution. That some of our ancestors were in the section which became Montgomery and Wythe—and there many years before the Revolution—is established by evidence independently of this tradition; and so it is seen that the tradition associates the fact of early settlement with later county names long subsequent to the settlement. All of which is very correct; because, for instance, to say that a man settled in Augusta County in 1745, could mean a location within either of more than one hundred counties of today. So it was that the Montgomery and Wythe territory was at different times within Augusta, Fincastle and Washington Counties; and when part of Washington, the county seat was Abingdon. My great-grandfather, John Ewing, once owned lands “near” Abingdon; and at the recordation of his will, in 1788, it appears that that land was in Montgomery County. That land was near Abingdon as “near” was often understood in the earlier days, and particularly when it was a county of which Abingdon was the county seat and place of record; and as locations perhaps appear on consulting a map, particularly when one does not intimately know the county, it may appear to be “near” even now, relatively, at least.

There is some tradition that great-grandfather was born in Scotland. He fills the description of one of the four brothers of this tradition. If not one of them, he was certainly a near cousin; or, as a few have suggested, a descendant of one of the Virginia immigrants or of one of the Cecil County immigrants. I do not accept the latter theory, and because, for one thing, all the Johns who were American born of the immigrant families are otherwise identified.

I regard this M. A. Ewing tradition as of most value as cumulative with the other evidence which establishes the close kinship between the earlier Maryland, (old) Virginia, and Thomas Ewing (Ohio) branch; and because it helps to link us back to the Stirling Castle, or Loch Lomond, clan. I am inclined to the opinion that we should interpret it in the light of the Nathaniel Ewing statement, published by William A. Ewing, in The Courier-Journal. The brothers of Joshua, the sons of William of Scotland-Ireland by his second wife, settled in Virginia, says that Nathaniel, who got his information from James, who was one of them, and who lived in Prince Edward County, Virginia. That information was very close to contemporary; the M. A. Ewing tradition was much further removed, and very probably it lost a generation and meant that the four brothers were of Scotch ancestry, rather than directly from Scotland. This view certainly must be kept before us, particularly when we remember that Hon. W. H. Ewing, who had never seen The Courier-Journal article, says his information, which was from another source, was that several of the sons of William of Scotland-Ireland settled in Virginia, and the more certainly when we remember that The Courier-Journal article identifies Ewings of Cripple Creek, in the Wytheville—Montgomery County—section, with sons of that William, which sons did “not remain long in Maryland,” Nathaniel says, before locating in Virginia.

“New Beaver,” found in The Courier-Journal article, probably is a misprint for New River. Cripple Creek is in Wythe County, and empties into New River.

The Georges, Williams, Johns and Alexanders of one generation, of what we may call the Wythe County community, are sometimes confused with those of similar names of another generation, and caution must be exercised, we must also remember in this connection.

Samuel Ewing, the half-brother of Nathaniel, of Cecil County, and a brother of Joshua Ewing, and others, obtained a grant of land in what became Prince Edward County, January 12, 1746, as the date taken from the records by Hon. W. H. Ewing, of Prince Edward. It was this Samuel’s son, George, apparently who married Elinor Caldwell, as we shall see, and who was one of the Ewings who lived on Cripple Creek, in what became Wythe County. Before his death (1788) my great-grandfather (John) had acquired a right to one thousand acres of land in the same community, and within sight of Ewing’s mountain.

Mrs. Martin’s information was that George and wife moved from Prince Edward about 1770 and settled “ten miles north of Abingdon.” I am convinced that that is too close to Abingdon, but the point is not very important. These statements assist us in identifying at least some of the Ewings of the Wytheville section. Mary, a daughter of this George, married Urban Ewing, one-time sheriff of Washington County, the county seat of which was Abingdon, who was a brother of the widely known Rev. Finis Ewing.

Now these traditions, which have some further elucidation in the chapters dealing with these respective septs of the Scotch clan, considered in connection with family resemblances and traits, tombstone, Bible and other records, and also in the light of what is known about our family coat of arms, furnish us a general view of the earliest American ancestors of the families here particularly considered. While we cannot always be sure whether some were cousins or brothers or uncles and nephews, we are sure that American founders of these families were in some communities brothers; and again fathers and son, and again uncles and nephews, and in no case a more distant kinship than that of cousins.

All the circumstances considered, including the perplexing and almost maddening repetition of first names, often met from generation to generation, there exists as to an unusually large number of people the certainty of lineal descent from a common Scotch ancestor not so very remote.

Than the families herein specially considered, there are, probably, others of whose records I have not learned, similarly descended. It is hoped that in the future a wholesome interest in family history will bring them, if there are such, into deserved recognition.

From several sources, apparently independent of each other except for a common origin, it has come to me that “the Ewings came to America in the ship Eagle Wing.” Mrs. Jane H. Graham, a descendant of one of the Lee County, Virginia, families, before her death some years ago in St. Joseph, Missouri, gives this tradition thus:

The Ewings chartered a ship and came to this country in a body from North Ireland. They had the coat of arms emblazoned on the ship.

Mrs. Graham had that tradition regarding the ancestors of the older Cecil County, Maryland, and Lee County, Virginia, Ewings. As given by her, this tradition was in some confusion regarding the emblazonment on the ship, representing the family arms, and, of course, we now know that all of the American ancestors did not come to America “in a body.” As given by Mrs. Graham, this tradition is illustrative of the fact that, nearly always, each tradition relates most reliably to the ancestors of the direct line in which found.

Another tradition asserted with equal certainty is that “the Ewings came to America in the ship Rising Sun.”

Both, and other similar traditions, no doubt, are at least in essentials true; and mean that some of our ancestors came in the one historic old ship and others in the other.

Without attempting identification at this time, it will interest us to see where the Ewings, Ewins and Ewens, most of whom descended from our clan, were when recorded by the first census of the United States, taken as of 1790. Almost certainly in each case, it is well to remember, Ewings, Ewins, Ewen, etc., were misspellings for Ewing. In the introduction of that enumeration it is said:

The territory west of Allegheny Mountains, with the exception of a portion of Kentucky, was unsettled and scarcely penetrated (when this census was gathered). Detroit and Vincennes were too small and isolated to merit consideration. Philadelphia was the capital of the United States. Washington was a mere government project, not even named, but known as the Federal City. Indeed, by the spring of 1793, only one wall of the White House had been constructed, and the site for the capital had merely been surveyed.

We have seen that much of the first and second census, 1790 and 1800 for Virginia, was destroyed by fire. So we know that many Ewings at both those enumerations were here and there in the newer sections, the data for which were lost. No doubt this accounts for the absence from those records of information regarding my grandfather. At the times of each enumeration he was living in what is now Lee County, records for which were burned. This is true of Montgomery and of Wythe, though great-grandfather had died before the first census.

Printed with records of the first census, entitled Heads of Families, is considerable information which was gathered from tax and other local data, some of it for some of the Virginia Counties, going back to 1782. This information is not extant for all counties for the same year, and in no case does it enable us to know how long those named as the heads of families had lived where found at the date of the information.

In 1782, as thus disclosed, Samuel Ewing, with a family of four and one Negro servant, lived in Amelia County. In that year Elizabeth Ewing was the head of a family in Frederick County, consisting of seven persons. James was in Prince Edward County, as shown by the information gathered for 1783, having two in family and seventeen Negroes—suggesting much land and extensive farming operations. There were that year in that county three Samuels; one had a family of three, one other had three and the third had eight. William Ewing, with a family of eight, was also in that county in that year, 1783. In 1785 James Ewing, with one in family, lived in Prince Edward County. He had one dwelling and ten other buildings.

From 1783 to 1786 there were on the tax lists of Greenbrier County eleven Ewings, James, Joshua, John, Jr., and John, Sr., William, etc.

In 1785 Elizabeth Ewing lived in Frederick County, have seven in her family.

Andrew Ewin was in Greenbrier, as was Elizabeth Ewin. She had a family of ten.

Henry and William, two in family, were in Rockingham.

In North Carolina George, Hugh and John were in Lincoln County; Nathaniel was in the Salisbury district of Iredell County, and Isaac Ewing was in Burke County.

In South Carolina were James, three Johns, two Roberts and Jno. Ewinge, Jno. Ewings, Thos. and Wm. Ewings.

The first census discloses forty Ewing families in Pennsylvania, three Ewin families; the Rev. John (whose name was spelled Ewin) being one, shown by the census to be the provost of the University; then the inevitable William, Samuel, James, Jasper, Timothy (I don’t know why he was not called William or Alexander, for there were seven Alexanders!), David, Ann, etc.

New Hampshire had Alexander Ewen and John Ewins, and Vermont had James Ewings. Maine had five or six—all heads of families. New York had William and John; Connecticut had Edward Ewen, Jr., and Sr., William Ewing and Thos. Ewings, John Ewing and family were in Rhode Island. In Maryland were two Ewens, one Ewin; and of those spelled Ewing there were Amos, of Cecil County, nine in family; Henry, of Cecil County, eleven in family; James, of Caroline County, nine in family, and eleven slaves; James of Harford County, four in family; Nathaniel, of Cecil County, two in family, and seven slaves; Nathaniel, of Cecil; Patrick, Esquire, of Cecil, eight in family, and three slaves; Robert, of Cecil County, eight in family; Robert of Dorchester, two in family, and thirteen slaves; Thomas, of Cecil County, eight in family, and four slaves; William, of Cecil, six in family; William, of Queen Anns, eight in family, and eight slaves; William, also of Queen Anns, three in family, and one slave, and James (Ewings), of Harford, had six in family.

William and John were in New York, and a Mrs. Ewin in Massachusetts had a family.

The returns for Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey and Tennessee, were burned by the British in the War of 1812.

The different spelling in far the majority of cases, at least, do not mean different family names: they were all Ewings. 

* There are some things mentioned in this chapter that needs some clarification since we know a lot more today than E.W.R. Ewing  did almost a 100 years ago.

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