Clan Ewing of Scotland
Early History and Contributions to America
Sketches of Some Family Pioneers and their Times
By Elbert William R. Ewing, A. M., LL. B., LL. D.
Author of “Legal and Historical Status of the Dred Scott Decision”;
“Northern Rebellion and Southern Secession”; “Law and
History of the Hayes-Tilden Contest”; “The Pioneer
Gateway of the Cumberlands”; Contributor to
“The Gray Book”; &c.
With Genealogies and Illustrations of
COBDEN PUBLISHING CO
HIGGINSON BOOK COMPANY
After this book was in type Mrs. Lucile Turner, widow of the late distinguished Judge Jesse Turner, Van Buren, Arkansas, sent me a copy of arms and data showing very conclusively her descent from the old Balloch, Scotland, family which, as I have shown, is a branch of the oldest Loch Lomond Ewings of Lowland origin. Mrs. Turner was born in Knoxville, Illinois, in 1877, the daughter of Emma Ruth Ewing (1851) and her husband, J. F. Price. Emma Ruth was the daughter of George Marshall Ewing, born in Uniontown, Pa., in 1818. He married Elizabeth Maria Taylor, of Illinois; and was the son of David Ewing (1770), probably born in Ireland. David’s Bible states that he “left Ireland and went to America November 1, 1792.” Reaching America he visited relatives in Maryland, then settled in Uniontown and married Ruth Brown of Virginia-Maryland in 1797. Her father owned and leased the land on which Brownsville is built. Ruth’s sister, Elizabeth, married a Cox and their [….] daughter married Gen. Thos. Ewing, one of the descendants of the Hon. Thos. Ewing. He and Mrs. Turner’s branch recognized relationship. Elizabeth, another of David Ewing’s children, married Wm. Whitton. Many of this David Ewing’s descendants live in California and elsewhere.
This David Ewing was a younger son of Alex. Ewing, the youngest of the Balloch Ewings, and was born about 1722. He married, first, Janet, a daughter of John Ewing of Noblistown, Scotland; and, second, Rachel Marshall and had David and three other boys. This Alex. was a younger son of Alexander of Balloch, born about 1692, the younger son of Alex. of Balloch, born about 1660.
The copies of arms extant in this American branch of the family show the figures of the old Ewing arms of 1565, except that the [chevron] is not embattled; and for difference, denoting the descent from younger children, the three birds (martlets) are shown and an indented border. The shield is set upon another shield used in mantelling in order the better to show the indented border of the first.
David Ewing’s family data show that this is the family mentioned by Burke in his Landed Gentry. As we have seen, Burke says that “in the middle of the sixteenth century the Ewings acquired the lands of Balloch, County Dumbarton;” and they apparently lived there before they went to Bernice and Glenlean in Corval, Argyll; because Burke says the “family removed to their holdings in Dumbartonshire” after the ravage of their lands in Argyll by Atholl and Gordon. That is, earlier than 1550 the Ewings had settled in Dumbarton and the family had acquired lands there and near Loch Lomond; and to these lands they retired out of Argyll into which they had evidently gone from Dumbartonshire, a Lowland section.
THE PUBLISHER’S CONFESSION
The original plan was to place all citations to authorities in footnotes. It was found that the printing would cost less without footnotes. So it was decided to eliminate that part of the manuscript. This appeared necessary because it was foreseen that the necessarily limited field for the sale of the book would justify only the most rigid economy in bringing out the work. Through some mistake, however, a large part of the copious references to authorities was not erased before the manuscript went to the printer; and so the compositor naturally ran into the text the matter originally meant for the footnotes.
The printing is done on a linotype machine, which sets an entire line on one piece of metal; and so to make any change, even put in or delete a comma, an entire line must be reset; and a word added or taken out means the resetting of the paragraph. Much of the manuscript was in type before the above-mentioned mistake was discovered, and so neither the author nor the publisher felt that the expense which the change would entail could in reason be met. The author feels that the page is marred; and the publisher company regrets to send out that kind of composition. But many compromises had to be made or the book left in manuscript; and so it was felt that the family would rather have it as it is than not to have it at all.
A reading of the proof suggested many minor changes; and the author desires us to say that much of the punctuation is not approved by him; but for the reason just given the desired changes and corrections could not be fully made
The author also desires us to say for him that, as can be seen, the names of the Stephen S. Ewing children, in his own immediate family, are not printed in proper age rotation. The manuscript was copied from his chart; and “how on earth” the curious changes were made, it cannot be guessed; and that, again, was not seen until in type. The numbering system there used resulted from following the chart.
In this connection, also, the author desires that we say that many of his great-grandfather’s descendants were men and women of deserved prominence, judges, layers, and men of great affairs. But the commercial limitations of the work made it necessary to omit much; and he hopes that his own close kindred will most readily forgive him. He also desires that any of either branch will write to him and give further information, and if necessary he will issue a bulletin enlarging any genealogy or making corrections.
The old Latin quotations should not be measured by modern rules. Every effort was made correctly to quote the impossible Gaelic and other languages; but as the proofreader could not find some of the quotations for verification, there may be some minor errors in spelling; but the historical value of all is certain.
Many other minor matters of errata, such as Kirkville for Kirksville, etc., will be forgiven, it is hoped, for the reasons assigned.
A letter addressed in care of the publishers will reach the author.
This sketch treats of some of the American Ewing families which are descended from ancient Clan Ewing of Scotland. Bearing a similar name, there were other early clans of that country in no way connected with or related to our clan, such as the McEwens, the Ewens; and probably in later times some of their descendants came to spell the name Ewing, though not related to or descended from the clan from which I trace the families of which I here specially write.
For light upon our clan and its descendants, all sources of information, primary and secondary, accessible in all the larger libraries of the United States, have been consulted. Much of this material consists of original Scotch and Irish records of one kind or another that have been published and are to be had in the larger libraries. This information has been supplemented by examinations of unpublished records in both Scotland and Ireland. The work abroad was done by competent scholars acting under my instructions. Unfortunately, in proportion to the labor and cost, the results particularly abroad were not the most gratifying. But, it is believed, until some one will devote much of a lifetime and a rather large fortune to such an investigation, we must be content with the results as herein given. In fact, as far as can now be seen, no further investigation however exhaustive can add very materially, if at all, to the result.
Outside of the libraries, in this country the primary sources of our information are the hundreds of deeds, wills, and court entries found in the clerks’ offices of the several counties in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and other States where our early American ancestors lived. A very large number of these were examined. This examination was made all the more difficult because the earlier counties were vastly larger than now; and so, though one of our early ancestors died, for instance, in Montgoremy [sic] County, Virginia, it is difficult to guess where the deed to his land was recorded, if the land was acquired at an unknown date within one hundred or more years ago; and difficult because within the course of an ordinary lifetime, though living at the same place, what was at first his county has been divided several times, making a different place the office of recordation with each subdivision. This difficulty is greatly increased from the frequent repetition of the same given names, often in the same family and almost certainly in different though related branches.
Then, unfortunately, due to the ravages of the Union armies during the war between the United States and the Confederate States, many priceless records were carried away or destroyed. This is particularly true of some of the Virginia counties. From time to time since that war, some records have been happily returned by persons “Up North”—often taken as trophies of unauthorized vandalism; but, alas, no few were reduced to ashes by official orders issued without military necessity.
Then, again, when the British burned the capitol in the War of 1812-’14 there were destroyed many of the invaluable records of the first Federal census covering an important part of Virginia, and particularly that part along the newer sections where, mainly, our ancestors long resided. The loss of that source of information was intensified by a destructive fire in the building of Commerce and Labor, in Washington, again apparently destroying other early census records. I was at the time examining the second and third censuses. Just how much and what will be saved can only be known perhaps years hence when the slow wheels of the Federal machinery get around to an effort to restore to the public whatever may have escaped. Such is the situation as this book goes to press.
In addition to these sources are tombstone inscriptions, a few extant Bible records, and some interesting old letters. It is hoped that this work will arouse interest so that other documents of this nature that perhaps repose in old trunks or attics will be published for the benefit of the entire kindred.
Such published works as those of Du Bois and the few other imperfect and scant sketches of our family or course have been used. However, as to our branches such works furnish little light.
To these sources are to added the family traditions.
Let me make it emphatic that no effort is here made to write genealogy as generally understood. My purpose is to write an historical sketch of the earliest times of our clan, to disclose our racial stocks, to follow our ancestors to America, to give all that is known concerning the founders of the American families here under consideration, together with the briefest glances at the pioneer conditions which the earlier American fathers encountered, and to mention such descendants of each branch, living today for the most part, as will, it is hoped, enable all who are interested to locate the branch to which each belongs.
No effort has been made to mention the more prominent to the exclusion of others. Many later descendants who are not named are quite as distinguished as those whose names are given; and I know of no descendant of the families here discussed who is unworthy of a place in a complete genealogical record. In fact, I have no exhaustive roster of our living generation. If those who fail to find their names will think a moment, quite probably they will recall failure to answer my letters of inquiry. Hundreds, written one, two, or fifteen years ago, yet remain unanswered.
No attention has been called to the scientific and literary members of our families except in the fewest cases. A very creditable number are distinguished for literary productions and for scientific attainments. There are a large number of noted educators; and yet others who stand high in other intellectual fields,--a more specific mention of whom is omitted simply because of the limitations of this volume. Sketches of the earlier pioneers are the merest outlines; and the full ecclesiastical and military story of our family would of itself fill a volume.
I deeply regret that I had little information regarding and no spaces to mention our mothers, who, of course, with negligible exceptions, were not Ewings. In an unusual number, the Ewings have married well and happily; and I do not forget that a good stock has thus been kept at a maximum.
During the last twenty years or more several of our name have been very busy, from time to time, gathering genealogical information. One of them was the late William A. Ewing, often quoted as “Colonel Ewing,”—correctly so far as I know—at one time in Chicago and long a resident of Ohio, a descendant of what is known as the older Cecil County, Maryland, branch of our family. He built a chart on which many of that family and a few others are shown. Blueprints were made from parts of it and widely distributed. Unavoidably, his charts have some errors. It requires many years to perfect an extensive genealogical chart, particularly when begun late. In general his work is very valuable. He died December 13, 1916, and is buried at the National Military Home, Ohio. In the war of 1861 he served in Company H, First Ohio L. A. His widow, Mrs. Gertrude P. Ewing, and his daughter, Miss Edna C. Ewing, of Greenwich, Connecticut, that I might if possible find something not disclosed by the charts, very generously sent me all the notes and memorandums left by Colonel Ewing, which they could find. However, he put upon the charts about all that appears to be of value concerning the families of which I am particularly writing.
Another most enterprising genealogist was the late James L. Ewin, a patent attorney of Washington, D. C. His immediate family dropped the g of the name some years ago; but he was certain of descent from the same clan to which I trace the other families here under consideration. Industriously during many years he gathered much genealogical material relating particularly to the American Ewings. That material is of great value. Unfortunately and sadly he was cut down before he could complete digesting and arranging what he had obtained. His widow, Mrs. Sarah W. Ewin, out of a gracious heart, not only put this material at my command but frequently searched for items which I knew Mr. Ewin had in his lifetime. I have used little or none of the material he left. Naturally, we each accumulated some information of a duplicate nature, and some of that perhaps I give in my genealogical chapters. But so far as I know my historical sketches have been duplicated by no one; and much of the genealogy is now for the first time going into print. It greatly is hoped, however, that some day there will be such a demand for the James L. Ewin data as will justify editing and publication.
Mrs. Maria Ewing Martin, of Ohio, is another of our most industrious and discriminating genealogists. Very generously she placed at my command all her extensive manuscripts containing what she had gathered. A small part of her work is a duplicate of what I had. Part of her work is found in a recent genealogy published by Judge and Mrs. Presley K. Ewing of Houston, Texas. Had I been writing a genealogy proper, rather than an historical sketch, I would gladly have given much of her valuable collections.
John G. Ewing, an attorney of New York and Washington, often quoted as “Professor Ewing” because of his work in Notre Dame many years ago, a cousin of Mrs. Martin, descendants of the late Hon. Thomas Ewing, United States Senator from Ohio, and subsequently the first Secretary of the Interior, has gathered extensive information relating to the American Ewings and, in particular, in reference to his own branch. It will be a valuable contribution to the family genealogy if Mrs. Martin and Mr. Ewing prosecute their work to publication. Perhaps he will take issue with me upon a few questions about which none of us can be certain in the light of the present evidence. He will have the advantage of seeing what I have to say; while I have seen none of his work. I shall welcome any light which he or another writer can furnish.
F. M. Cockrell, of Louisville, Kentucky, a descendant on the father’s side of a Lee County, Virginia, family, has extensive data. Early in my work years ago he extended me a helping hand but much of his work is published in Judge and Mrs. Ewing’s work.
Of all these courtesies I am sincerely appreciative.
In my investigations, I have frequently met references to “The A. B. Ewing Account.” As we shall see, no such and no similar work exists.
There is the most sincerely appreciation of all whose advance subscriptions made the publication of this book possible. Of the number Miss Sallie O. Ewing or Roanoke, Virginia, of the Bedford county, Virginia, branch; Mrs. Alice Ewing Jones of Los Angeles, California, of an Ohio branch; and Miss Catherine P. Evans of Manasquan, N. J., of the older Cecil County, Maryland, branch, are entitled to especial commendation.
Miss Evans rendered valuable help in verifying or correcting as to her branch of the family the William A. Ewing chart.
Some use has been made, as will be seen, of the recent “The Ewing Genealogy,” by Hon. Presley K. Ewing, ex-judge of the Supreme Court of Texas, and his wife, of Houston. Judge Ewing is a descendant of the Bedford County, Virginia branch, by way of Kentucky. The information which he had from the Dr. Fox chart, relating mainly to the family of William Ewing of Rockingham County, Virginia, I had before his work came out, through the courtesy of Dr. and Mrs. Fox of Washington, D. C., as well as much relating to his earlier Virginia ancestors. However, I have as far as possible avoided duplication, giving in the main such things as afford greater light upon the earlier fathers and correcting a few mistakes.
It cannot be hoped that in what genealogy is given there are no mistakes. Every effort has been made to be accurate, however. Perhaps the first edition of no work on genealogy is free from mistakes. We who write must, in much, be guided by what members of a family give us; or, all too often, by what some collateral relation says. We can only be guided by the best light before us, trusting to the future to discover the errors,--and to correct them.
Nothing, however, is given except that which is known either to be true or of which I have as fully satisfied myself as the nature of the evidence now available makes possible. It is believed that much now presented, but for this record, shortly would have perished forever. In a few instances it has been necessary to depart from traditions found in some of the branches of the family; but in all such cases the weight of the evidence has determined what is here said. This method is recognized by courts and by long established rules which guide genealogists and historians.
ELBERT WILLIAM R. EWING
Washington, D. C.
Page last updated 13 October 2008.