Originally appeared in
The Winchester Star,
16 August 2008
2002-2008 by The Winchester Star
reunion in Valley
Family discovers ties to popular
‘Dallas’ TV show
By Charlotte J. Eller
Special to The Winchester Star
— The descendants of the Ewing clan, who settled in
this Frederick County town more than 250 years ago,
will return to their ancestral roots from far and
near next month to attend the first family reunion
they have held in the northern Shenandoah Valley.
This isn’t the first
Ewing reunion, however. It is the 10th for the
(left) Catherine Lovett and Jeanette Ewing
visit the Ewing Family Cemetery in
preparation for the reunion to be held in
the area for the first time.
(Photos by Scott Mason)
Members of Clan Ewing
in America, founded in 1990 by the Rev. Ellsworth
Samuel Ewing, will come from as far away as
California to attend the event set for Sept. 18-21,
said Mary Ewing Gosline, family reunion chairwoman.
The reunion, which
relives the history of one of Stephens City’s oldest
families, fits nicely with the town’s year-long
celebration of the 250th anniversary of its
founding, said local historian Linden A. “Butch”
Fravel Jr., who serves on the Town Council and is
chairman of its Planning Commission.
“They couldn’t have
picked a better time to come home . . . and find
their roots,” he said.
Some Ewing ancestors,
who emigrated from Ireland in 1729 and settled in
Pennsylvania, eventually moved as far away as the
southwestern United States, while others never left
Stephens City, to which their ancestors moved in the
mid-1730s, historians say.
William Ewing, who
acquired more than 625 acres from Jost Hite and
settled there, headed the Stephens City contingent.
He and his descendants farmed the land for 175
The Ewings of “Dallas”
One ancestor, Jock
Ewing, moved to Texas after becoming tired of
working in Pittsburgh’s iron and steel plants and
West Virginia’s coal fields, according to his
great-niece, Polly Ewing Brown of Harrisonburg.
Jock Ewing had good
fortune when he moved to Texas; he struck oil and
became rich. Years later, his story inspired the
immensely popular television series “Dallas,” which
was telecast from 1978 until 1991, Brown said.
She will discuss the
“Dallas Ewing Oil TV Series” Sept. 20 when relatives
gather at the Hampton Inn on Berryville Avenue in
Winchester to learn more about their heritage.
Her talk will focus
on fact vs. fiction in the TV show. “It really is
based on a true story,” Brown said in a telephone
interview. “But as the series continued, they just
kept adding to the story and making it up. A lot
[that was untrue] was added and added and added.”
Ewing (left) Catherine Lovett, Evelyn Ewing,
Jim Ewing, Mary Gosline, and John Ewing are
gearing up for the family reunion. Members
of Clan Ewing in America, founded in 1990 by
the Rev. Ellsworth Samuel Ewing, will come
from as far away as California to attend the
event set for Sept. 18-21
A Richmond native,
Brown learned years ago of the family’s ties to the
show, which was not yet on the air, from her father
while they were en route to a funeral in Pittsburgh.
“We were just
chit-chatting about things that we remembered about
our relatives when he said, ‘The funniest thing
happened to me this past week.’”
Her father related
how he had received a phone call from a lawyer in
Dallas, asking him to sign an agreement that the
family wouldn’t sue for slander because an
entertainment company planned to produce a story
about his uncle Jock Ewing.
Brown, who had never
heard of her great-uncle Jock Ewing until that time,
questioned her father about him. Then he went on to
tell the story of Jock Ewing’s life.
When they got to the
funeral, Brown and her father found that other
relatives there had received similar phone calls.
“We all looked at each other and said, ‘Who would
care? Who would give a whoop about anybody’s family
story?” she said with a chuckle.
As it turned out,
almost everyone in the United States, as well as
many foreign countries, cared.
The story of Jock and
“Miss Ellie” Ewing’s family on “Dallas” became one
of the most successful TV prime-time serial stories
ever made, according to the MSN Movies Web site.
|This is the
crumbling grave marker of William Ewing, who
acquired more than 625 acres from Jost Hite
and settled in the area now known as
Stephens City. He and his descendants farmed
the land for 175 years.
“My dad got all sorts
of promotional things” from the producers as the
result of the series, including a Ewing Monopoly
game, Brown said.
She promised to
reveal “the rest of the story” of the real Jock
Ewing in her talk, including: “If there was a rich
uncle, why are we still working? What happened to
Besides Brown’s talk,
presentations about other aspects of family and
local history, led by family members and local
historians, also are planned for Sept. 19-20 at the
“Echoes of the
Shenandoah,” the reunion’s theme, “reflects an
emphasis on the Ewing families who migrated to,
settled in, and traveled through the Northern
Shenandoah Valley,” according to a memorandum
outlining plans for the gathering.
Two members of Clan
Ewing hold major posts in area local governments.
Ray Ewing is Stephens City’s mayor. His cousin Bill
Ewing represents the Opequon District, where the
town is located, on the Frederick County Board of
Both are excited
about the event. “I couldn’t be prouder that it’s
happening here and at this particular time,” Ray
“Knowing that one’s
ancestors have lived in a community for more than
250 years really helps you to appreciate your
roots,” he said. “It’s reassuring to look at sights
in the town and know that your great-grandfather
looked at this same sight.”
|This is a
grave marker for Joshua Ewing in the family
cemetery near Stephens City. The family is
related to the man who inspired the TV drama
Bill Ewing agreed: “I
just think it’s great that the family can gather
together here in Stephens City. We’re glad to see
them all coming. Having lived away from the area for
a while, I know how good it is to come home.”
Bill Ewing’s brother
and sister-in-law, James and Evelyn Ewing of
Emporia, encouraged the Clan Ewing to meet in the
Stephens City area when the couple attended the last
for Sept. 19 include a bus tour of Frederick County,
a visit to the Newtown History Center and Stephens
City’s Main Street, a dedication ceremony for the
family cemetery southeast of the town, and lunch at
the Stephens City United Methodist Church.
all of the events, including meals, requires
advance registration and reservations.
Visit www.ClanEwing.org or contact
James and Evelyn Ewing at email@example.com;
or call 434-634-9227 or 434-594-4199.
afternoon presentations on family history, the group
will have dinner at the Wayside Inn, where another
well-known local historian, Michael Foreman, will
On Sept. 20, the
events include a visit to the Glen Burnie Historic
House and Gardens and the Museum of the Shenandoah
Valley in Winchester and more family history