Ewing Family Association

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

Chapter XXXIII

Audaciter! - Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum

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Such is an outline—and but the merest outline—of Clan Ewing's contribution to America.  In no case did any descendant reach the apex of greatness or leave fame supremely effulgent.  And yet the contribution of the vast majority has been so creditable and so substantial and that of the many so much beyond the usual, that in the aggregate our contribution to the best in all spheres of American life has been phenomenal.

Than those specifically here mentioned, there are many more I could not mention and of course many of whom I do not know.  Could their names, including those of the blood by the maternal side, be gathered upon one great scroll, the result would be to us both pleasant and astonishing.

To those who do not have ready access to the larger libraries, it will be worthwhile to call attention to the fact that my estimate of the value of the family's contribution to progress and learning is corroborated by the representation accorded descendants of our clan found in standard biographical American literature.  Who is Who in America, though I do not agree with it as to much it excludes, may be taken as reasonably representative of that biographical estimate of our clan's living descendants.  In the current edition we find that:

Arthur E. Ewing, physician, born in Georgia of the Maryland-Virginia line, as we have seen, son of Whitley Thomas and Hannah Jane Pettinggill Ewing, was admitted to the Alabama bar in 1879; and subsequently became a distinguished physician of St. Louis.

David L. Ewing, born in Iowa, is credited as a railway traffic official of unusual ability; son of William Wallace Ewing; now in New York City.

Fayette Clay Ewing, M. D., born in Louisiana in 1862, of Virginia ancestry, is credited as a physician of much distinction and with having written much of value in his line of work.  It is shown that he has many degrees and has held many positions to which his great learning entitles him.

Next we find James Ewing, M. D., pathologist, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, born in 1866.  He, too, it is shown, enjoys many degrees and honors and is an author of note; and professor in Cornell University.

Then comes James Caruthers Rhea Ewing, college president and one of the most noted missionaries to India.  He has many degrees, has written extensively; and King George V bestowed upon him the C. I. E. (Companion of the Indian Empire).  He is a brother of Major R. M.  Ewing and Rev. Jos. L. Ewing, mentioned in this work, of Pennsylvania ancestry. 

Next is a notice of James Stevenson Ewing, of Indiana, of the Maryland-North Carolina branch, a distinguished lawyer, long in the diplomatic service, a cousin of ex-Vice-President A. Ewing Stevenson.

Next is John Ewing, born in Alabama, son of James Lindsey and Margaret Ann Ewing; distinguished in the diplomatic service and prominently connected with newspapers in the South.

Next is John Thomas Ewing, son of Jos. W. Ewing, professor of classics at Sparta, Illinois.

Then we find mention of Nathaniel Ewing, long a jurist of more than local influence in Pennsylvania.

Next is a sketch of Hon. Presley K. Ewing, born in Louisiana in 1860, of the Virginia house.  He is the son of Fayette Clay Ewing, M. D., and the brother of the younger Dr. Fayette Clay Ewing mentioned above.  As we have seen, it is also there shown that he has served as president of the Texas bar association and as chief justice of the supreme court of appeals of that State; that he is a high Mason, as is his brother; and has been Democratic National Committeeman.  Among other things it is shown that he has occupied many positions of honor, has several literary degrees; and, in addition to his genealogy which we have mentioned, is an author of important law treatises.

Another brother of this Judge Ewing family, notice of whom we also find, is Quincy Ewing, of Louisiana, a clergyman of unusual power; and a writer on many religious topics.

Next is a sketch of Col. Robert Ewing, the son of James L. and Martha A. Ewing, who was also born in Alabama in the year 1859.  As therein shown, his has been a career of remarkable climbing.  He began when a boy as a telegraph messenger; in due time he was manager; he then became editor and manager of important newspapers, among them the Shreveport Times, and at present controls the New Orleans States.  In 1888 to 1892 he was superintendent of the fire alarm system and city electrician of New Orleans; since 1912 he served as a member of the National Democratic Committee; was member of the Louisiana constitutional convention in 1898; and has otherwise been honored.  He is a high degree Mason and an Elk.

Then there is a sketch of Wm. Ewing, born in Canada, who now lives in New York City.

Next, we find mention of Thomas Ewing, who was born in Kansas in 1862.  He is a lawyer of note and a son of Gen. Thomas Ewing, who was a son of Hon. Thomas Ewing, born in Virginia, and who was the first Secretary of the United States Interior Department.  The younger Thomas has many literary degrees and is an author of recognized merit.

So much for that witness' estimate of living members of our clan.

Now turn to the Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, published in 1904.  There we find mention of the living and the dead regarded as notable Americans among them sketches of these:

Charles Ewing, born 1780 in New Jersey, son of James Ewing, "an active patriot of the Revolution."  This Charles became chief justice of New Jersey and was long widely known.

Next is Charles Ewing, also a son of the Hon. Thomas Ewing, who was born in Virginia.  This Charles served as a high officer with distinction in the Union army; and subsequently became one of the favorably known lawyers of Washington, D. C.

In that work we find Emma Pike Ewing, author of works on domestic economy, the distinguished wife of one of the Cecil County, Maryland, Ewings, but of course she was not of Ewing stock.

Then we have the Rev. Finis Ewing, one of the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, distinguished in many ways, of whom some mention has been made; a descendant of one of the Virginia branches.

Hugh Boyle Ewing is next.  He was also a son of Hon. Thomas Ewing, the Secretary of the Interior, United States Senator, etc.  This son became, among other things, an author of deserved reputation.

Next is James Ewing, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1736.  "His father came to Pennsylvania from north Ireland in 1734," that record tells us—undoubtedly belonging to our family.  The son became brigadier general of Pennsylvania troops and was otherwise distinguished.

Next is James Stevenson Ewing, of Illinois, a cousin of Adlai Ewing Stevenson, once Vice-President of the United States.  This Ewing, as was his cousin, was a lineal descendant of the Maryland-North Carolina-Kentucky branch, as suggested in the Who's Who list.  Not only a lawyer of national renown, he left some addresses that are substantial contributions to literature.

Then there we find the Rev. John Ewing, D. D., "whose ancestors came from the north of Ireland," says that record, the distinguished Cecil County, Maryland, divine mathematician, philosopher, author, and educator.

Next in that work presenting notable Americans we find Presley U. Ewing, born in Kentucky in 1822, son of Ephraim M. and Jane Ewing, this Ephraim being once chief justice of the Kentucky court of appeals.  Presley studied for the ministry, traveled in Europe, returned home and became a lawyer and subsequently an influential member of Congress.  He descended from the Bedford, Virginia, branch.

Next is a sketch of the well-known Hon. Thomas Ewing, then of his son, Thomas.

To these that work adds Hon. William Lee Davidson Ewing, born in 1795, son of Rev. Finis Ewing.  He became United States Senator, was major in the Black Hawk war in 1832, and was otherwise noted.

Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, to some or all of these adds William Bellford Ewing, born in New Jersey in 1774, long a jurist of much learning; Andrew Ewing, born in Tennessee, a dashing Confederate office; and who before his death in Georgia "became an eminent lawyer;" and who was also otherwise pleasingly recognized.

The American Blue Book of Biography, which gives "an accurate biographical record of" "thirty thousand prominent American citizens," "founders, makers and builders of our great Republic," published in 1914, gives thirteen Ewings.  Oh, no!  Not unlucky; there were thirteen original States; and there are thirteen stripes in the American flag!  Those of our name, every one again it may be confidently asserted, descended from our old Scotch clan, sketches of whom are given in that work, are:

Adlai Thomas Ewing, of Chicago, lawyer and business president, born in Illinois; David L. Ewing, railway official, born in Iowa; the Dr. Fayette Clay Ewing, mentioned by the other works; Hampton D. Ewing, born in Washington, D. C., eminent lawyer, of the firm of Ewing and Ewing; James Ewing, lawyer and diplomat, born in Illinois; John Gillespie Ewing, born in Ohio, lawyer; Mrs. Mary E. Ewing, born in Ohio, author and poet; Nathaniel Ewing, jurist and banker, born in Pennsylvania; Presley K. Ewing, the eminent Texas jurist and orator, mentioned by the other works; Taylor Genius Ewing, born in Tennessee, banker and publisher; Thomas Ewing, born in Kansas, lawyer and author, also in the other lists; William Green Ewing, eminent physician and surgeon, an educator, born in Nashville, Tennessee; and myself, born in Virginia, credited as a "lawyer and author."

There is also a sketch of me in Who's Who in the National Capital, 1921.

As this is a work for the family, perhaps it is not improper to add that among other evidences of merit, one of my books, though not a text-book, has in one way or another been used either in the law or history departments of eight of America's leading universities; and such large law-book firms as Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company, Rochester, New York; West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Bancroft-Whitney Company, San Francisco, California, carry this work in their regular lists of standard law books.  The other works have met receptions quite as pleasing.

The Library of Southern Literature, compiled under the direct supervision of Dr. Edwin A. Alderman, president of the University of Virginia, and Joel Chandler Harris, the distinguished author, editors in chief, assisted by other Southern men and letters, published in 1910, gives sketches of Finis Ewing of Virginia, Dr. John Ewing of Maryland, and mentions me as an author, of Virginia, indicating the two of my books published at that time, appraising them as "two volumes of much interest relating to the causes of the Civil War."

Many others find distinguished mention on other pages of American history and biography, and particularly upon the pages of local history, but these are representative.

Every one of these Ewings, selected by biographers and writers not related to them, as representative of eminent and noted Americans, is a lineal descendant of the old Scotch clan of which I am here writing, it again may be confidently asserted—unless it be the one born in Canada.  No effort has been made to trace his pedigree.  However, we may as well bear in mind, many of our direct clan cousins located in Canada.

For a full appreciation of what the stock has contributed to America and what it has accomplished, to these specifically mentioned there should be added those of Ewing blood derived through the maternal side; for instance, Vice-President Adlai Ewing Stevenson, a descendant of the Maryland pioneers; and also, of course, the many whose parts while less conspicuous have been equally creditable and fully as important to progress.

With these facts in mind, let us take a brief retrospect before we part.

Our earlier American ancestors, near all, were the pioneers in the most advanced line of American expansion.  That was a period of dangers and hardships and few compensations.  Those ancestors broke the paths and subsequently built the roads westward.  They mastered the wilds of the wilderness.  In the rich valleys they built staunch and hospitable homes.  They built towns and founded cities.  Not only law-abiding, in an unusual number they were the officers of the law, the jurors, lawyers, justices, the judges.  Not moral only in an unusual number, they were the leaders of their church and the heralds of Christianity.  They founded great industries and opened trade routes.  They fought in all the wars, as officers in most instances.  In Scotland they sided with the progressive dissenters in church.  At the siege of Londonderry, Ireland, they contributed to Protestant democracy in state.  In the Indian wars in America they contributed their shares to snatch civilization from the tomahawk and firebrand.  Their contribution to the success of the American Revolution was most substantial; and in the wars of 1812 and in that with Mexico in 1845 they fought for the best American ideals.  In the war between the United States and the Confederacy eminent representatives were found in the armies of each side—nearly all of those in the South joining the Confederate forces.  Legislators, writers, orators, soldiers, educators, inventors, statesmen, "good citizens generally,"—they are found from presidential cabinets and the Vice-Presidency down to artisans, merchants and farmers.  In fact, to every worthy and substantial phase of American life for over two hundred years the blood of Clan Ewing of Scotland has contributed happily and successfully.  On land and sea, in war and in peace, the exceptions negligible in a consideration of the whole, our escutcheon has been seen in the front ranks of the best citizenship and the highest morality.

Not boastingly but that this record may prove our inspiration, this sketch is presented.  Audaciter!  May we boldly press onward!  But lest we be inclined to wear only our ancestral laurels, we should adopt this further motto:  Vestigia nulla retrorsum!  Upon each individual rests the responsibility that there be no footprints retreating!

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Page last updated 13 October 2008.
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