Ewing Family Association

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

Chapter XVI

Samuel Ewing of Lee County, Virginia

back to Reading Room
to Home Page

Samuel Ewing, one of the sons of Capt. Patrick Ewing, son of Joshua, of the old Cecil County family, moved to and died in Lee County, Virginia. For his and his brother’s Joshua’s family the village of Ewing, near which their rich valley farms lay, was named. In an old local paper I find this account of this Samuel Ewing:

Samuel Ewing was born in Maryland, July 17, 1772, and died at his residence in Lee County, Virginia, October 27, 1851. … Mr. Ewing emigrated to Abingdon, Virginia, when nineteen years of age, wrote in the clerk’s office there a short time, and then removed to Lee County, Virginia, where he resided until his death, being a period of about sixty years. … Esquire Ewing was of Revolutionary Whig extraction, was the first high sheriff of Lee County, was high sheriff when he died. … He was twice a representative of the county in the legislature of the State.

When the Presbyterian church was first established in Lee County [in 1822] he was one of the first members and most efficient supporters. But for his aid, it is probable, no church could have been established or maintained. … At his death Mr. Ewing left his usual subscription for the support of the Gospel in his church for five years.

The stop in Abingdon, now in Washington County, more than one hundred miles from what is now Ewing, Lee County, Virginia, where Samuel established his permanent home, was the more natural because Urban Ewing, a son of Robert, of what is now Bedford County, was then high sheriff of the court which sat in Abingdon (Wash. Co. Executive Doc., B. p. 80), and, no doubt, assisted his kinsmen from Cecil County, Maryland, to obtain work in the office of the clerk of that court.

The will of this Samuel is of record in Lee County (Will Book 2. p. 36), Jonesville, Virginia. From it and other records, we find that, that time considered, he left a large landed estate and much valuable personal property. He resided on the south side of the main road, the old “Wilderness Road,” leading from Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia, to and through Cumberland Gap, in the midst of fertile Powell Valley. His home, built of a pattern followed for some time after the permanent settlement of that part of the Valley, was of the hewn-log type, “chinqued and daubed,” the intervals covered with white plaster. This type made a neat and imposing structure. It was used for better protection against Indian dangers of the earlier days, and subsequently for some years because of the scarcity of sawmills. The house was near Mt. Olivet Presbyterian church, which is the successor of the first church built by the earliest Presbyterian organization this Samuel Ewing helped to found. His children were: (1) Nathaniel; (2) William Houston; (3) Margaret; (4) Katherine; (5) Hannah C.; (6) Sarah J.; (7) Mary; (8) Rachel; (9) Patrick; (10) Joshua, and (11) John T.

(1) Nathaniel married Rachel Fulkerson, a daughter of John Fulkerson, and sister of the Confederate General P. G. Fulkerson, so long one of the historic and honored figures of Tazewell, Tennessee. Their children were Mattie, who married H. C. T. Richmond, his first wife, of Ewing, Virginia, and Samuel Houston, for many years also sheriff of Lee County. In his official capacity Samuel Houston carried out the second instance of capital punishment inflicted in the county—his grandfather executing the first criminal found guilty of capital crime. Samuel Houston Ewing lived a few miles south of Jonesville and on Wallen Creek, Lee County, and was a strong character, of wholesome influence, and during the war for the Confederacy distinguished himself as an officer of a Confederate company. He married Mary Elizabeth Shelburn, member of one of the Valley’s best families, and they had: H. C. T. Ewing, long clerk of the Circuit Court of Lee County, now a prominent business man of Loudoun County, Virginia, who married Lucy Gibson, of Lee County; James O., one of the leading physicians of Lee County, who married Pearle Albert; Alice, who married Parkey, and Maggie K., who married ----- Steel. All these marriages were contracted with members of well-known families of the highest standing.

Regarding the other children of this older Samuel it appears that:

(2) William Houston never married.

(3) Margaret married Robert M. Bales, and had White, Caleb, Mary, Harriet; and according to James V. Ewing, of Tennessee, who gave the information to Miss Olivia Davis in 1888, also George and Margaret.

(4) Katherine died unmarried.

(5) Harriet C. died unmarried.

(6) Sarah J. married John Beatty, of Lee County, Virginia.

(7) Mary married David Chadwell Cottrell. This Cottrel (sic) was the son of Moses Cottrel (sic), one of the pioneers of Powell Valley, who was killed in a salt well in Lee County, Virginia. David Chadwell Cottrel (sic) went to Missouri. In later years the name was spelled Cockrell; and his son, F. M. Cockrell, became United States Senator from Missouri. After a distinguished career Senator Cockrell died at an advanced age in Washington, D. C., a few years since. His son, F. M. Cockrell, Jr., is a prominent business man of Louisville.

(8) Rachel married a Hansard. They moved to Missouri, and recently their children, Samuel E., Joshua E. and Henry C. Hansard, were living in Calloway County, that State.

(9) Patrick married Sallie Ewing. This Patrick Ewing represented his County in the Virginia legislature in 1830 and 1831.

(10) Joshua became a noted physician. He married Rachel Fulkerson. His will is dated March 8, 1879, and names these children: Mary H., Cecil L., Arch P., who was a physician of ability; Jane D., who married a Caldwell; Harriet I., who married a Cleage, and who made their home in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her husband was a Confederate soldier, and Mrs. Cleage had many thrilling experiences, and some suffering, at the hands of Union troops after the capture of Knoxville. Their son, Samuel Cleage, long has been clerk of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Dudley, who was a physician, and died in Missouri, leaving Catherine, Elizabeth and Joshua L. Ewing, who received bequests in their grandfather’s will. (See Lee County Will Book No. 3, p. 601.) Dr. Joshua, the elder, died in Lee County and is buried near Mt. Carmel Presbyterian Church.

(11) John J. appears never to have married.

I have an undated petition to the legislature of Virginia, “by sundry citizens of Lee County,” to the number of about one hundred and twenty, that is significant of the advanced thought and liberal views of the signers. Among the number are Joshua Ewing, Samuel Ewing, Nathaniel Ewing and Patrick Ewing. That document declares a belief that all men by nature are entitled to equal rights, and the signers conclude “from long experience that that class of our fellow citizens who are not freeholders possess as much virtue and usefulness and attachment to the country as an equal number of the holders of the soil;” and they declare that “facts demonstrate that none less grudgingly contribute to the exigencies of the State, or in the hour of danger step forward more freely to Sprinkle the Altar of Independence with their blood and hazard their lives in the defence of their country and its injured rights. When these things press upon our minds,” they urge, “permit us to say we feel sincere regret that such men, because they have not been able to attach to their existence fifty acres of the soil, should be thought unworthy to participate with their fellow citizens in the inestimable right of free suffrage, the very base of a representative Republic.” Then the petition concludes with a prayer that the right of suffrage be extended to all free white male citizens of Virginia aged not under twenty-one years.

All of the Ewings who signed this petition were large land-owners; and as far as I can recognize the names, each signer was a large freeholder, some of them owning many thousands of acres of rich valley land. That fact, of course, is evidence of the sincerity and liberality of the petitioners. The petition is marked “Rejected.” It was brought back to Lee County, probably by the delegation sent to present it, and many years since came into my possession. It may have been made in duplicate, but that it was presented to the legislature is certain. It is one of the fundamental documents upon which rests the broader suffrage of today, a privilege founded upon personal intelligence rather than landed estate.

We know, however, if not the exact date, that the petition was earlier than 1830, because it was by the constitutional amendment of that year that the fifty-acre freehold requirement as a basis of suffrage was abolished. (For an account of suffrage in Virginia, see my historical accounts of Lee County, Virginia, in The Pioneer Gateway of the Cumberland.)

Dr. Joshua Ewing and Wm. Smith Ewing, son of the older Joshua, were first cousins. They married sisters. Wm. Smith Ewing moved to Goose Creek, Kentucky, and Dr. Joshua continued to reside in Lee County, Virginia, near the present Ewing. He became a noted and most successful physician. Wm. Smith became very ill and called in Dr. Samuel F. Miller, a bright young physician of that part of Kentucky. Ewing grew worse and desired his cousin, Dr. Joshua, in consultation. Dr. Miller gladly agreed. Upon examination and consultation the doctors disagreed on both diagnosis and treatment! Dr. Ewing insisted so strongly upon the use of his treatment that Dr. Miller said that in view of the relationship between the two Ewings he would release the case in favor of Dr. Ewing. Dr. Miller was so confident that Ewing was in error and that the patient under his treatment would not survive that he vowed that if the patient did not die he would quit the practice of medicine! The patient, under the new treatment, made a speedy recovery. Miller kept his vow! He studied law and moved to Iowa. Lincoln, in the course of events, appointed him one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Miller died on the bench October, 1890. (See 37 U. S. Supreme Court Reports, p. 701.)

Judge Miller gives this story of his change of profession in an autograph letter some years before his death, to Joshua A. Graham, attorney, a grandson of the patient, William Smith Ewing, who gave the story to me. (Letter April 24, 1912.)

H. C. T. Ewing, now of Leesburg, Virginia, gives me the following inscriptions found on tombstones in the old Ewing graveyard at Ewing, Lee County, Virginia:

Samuel Ewing

Died October 29, 1851. Age 79 Years, 3 Mo., 12 Days.


Mary (Houston) Ewing

Died February 24, 1842. Age 54 years, 10 months.


Dr. Joshua Ewing

Born May 2, 1804. Died August 34, 1884.


Dr. A. P. Ewing

Born February 15, 1843. Died a Christian December 22, 1872.


Margaret W. (Ewing) Bales

Born at Rose Hill, Lee County, Virginia, February 18, 1817.

Died at the place of her birth April 8, 1889.


Nathaniel Ewing

Born June 10, 1807. Died December 8, 1876.


Rachel E. (Fulkerson) Ewing

Wife of Nathaniel Ewing. Born August 14, 1813.

Died October 2, 1870.


Samuel H. Ewing

Born March 29, 1840. Died February 3, 1888.


Mary E. (Shelburne) Ewing

Borne September 27, 1845.

Died October 30, 1907.


Mollie J. Richmond

Born November 13, 1842. Died February 20, 1884.

Samuel H. was the father of H. C. T. Ewing; and Mollie J. Richmond, who was the wife of H. C. T. Richmond, was this Samuel’s sister.

Another Samuel Ewing Branch, Cecil County, Maryland.

(1) Samuel Ewing, married Rebecca George in the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, December 9, 1740. They lived in West Nottingham Township, Cecil County, Maryland, so Du Bois in his work says, and with this the traditions of their descendants agree. There they died, and not until very recently did the homestead pass from the family. One of the family traditions is that they came to Cecil County from Burlington, New Jersey. Both are buried at the Brick Meeting House, one of the old Quaker churches of Maryland. Miss George was a Quakeress, and this marriage disturbed for many years the husband’s strong Presbyterian kindred.

Some of the descendants have it that this Samuel was a son of Nathaniel, son of William of Ireland; but most of the charts and other data seen by me do not ascribe to that Nathaniel a son Samuel. Perhaps the friction by reason of marriage into the Quaker church accounts for this. Anyway, since I am unable to be sure regarding this Samuel’s exact relation to the older Cecil County Ewings, it is but fair that his direct descendants be permitted to place him—and this they do, so far as I can learn, as the son of Nathaniel. The descendants of this Samuel and wife, Rebecca, appear to have been: (1a) Amos, 1744, December 6, 1814; (1b) William, lived near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; (1c) Hannah, married David Patton.

Amos (1a) married Debora Coulson, 1781, who was born 1761, died 1821. This Amos was about seventy at death, and is buried in Cecil County. Their children: (2a) Joseph; (2b) Samuel; (2c) Thomas, 1799-1880; all of these remained unmarried; and also there were (2d) Rachel; (2e) Rebecca; (2f) Mary; (2g) Marian, married Daniel Clendenin; (2h) and (2i) Amos, 1793-1783 [probably 1883].

Amos (2i) married Mary Steele, April 12, 1837. Their children: (3a) Ambrose, 1834-1891, Cecil County; (3b) John S., 1838-1891, Cecil County; (3c) Mary R., 1842; (3d) Esther Elizabeth.

Ambrose (3a) married Junitta Banks in 1868, and had (4a) Elizabeth B., in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1921; (4b) Mary Steele; and (4c) Thaddeus B. Mary Steel (sic) Ewing (4b) married Robert W. Swearingen, October 3, 1912; home, Jacksonville, Florida.

John S. Ewing (3b) married Anna M. Gillespie, 1873; children: (5a) Mary, (5b) Sue Anna; (5c) Amos G., born January 12, 1887, Philadelphia.

Mary R. Ewing (3c) married William Gillespie, December 18, 1873; children: (6a) Amos Ewing Gillespie; (6c) Bradner J.; (6c John F.; (6d) Mary Elizabeth.

May 18, 1914, Esther Elizabeth Ewing (3d) was living in the old Amos Ewing home near Colora, Maryland.

top of page

Page last updated 13 October 2008.
back to the Clan Ewing Home Page