The James Ewing Family of Wheeling
Another James Ewing, certainly though perhaps distantly related to the James of Pocahontas County, founded what is known as the Wheeling, West Virginia, family. We have the origin of this family in an account dictated in 1896 by J. D. Ewing of Wheeling for his cousin, John H. Ewing, the latter a brother of Miss Annie Ewing of St. Louis. That account says: "My grandfather, James Ewing (the son of Henry Ewing) was born and brought up about a mile from Straban, Ireland, where his father before him had lived. Grandfather arrived in this country and landed on the eastern shore of Maryland on the day on which Washington was elected President of the United States. He remained there for some time with his uncle, named Wilson, whose daughter, Elizabeth, he married and some time afterward came west to Wheeling. Subsequently his brothers John and William came to America, and after stopping for a time in Maryland, came on to join James at Wheeling. John remained at Wheeling all his life;" and, the narrative proceeds, James bought the Fairhill farm, fourteen miles east of Wheeling, and there died. After the sons came to Ohio County (as it was in the early day), Virginia, Henry, their father, and his wife who was Elizabeth Glenn, joined them for the remainder of their lives. No mention is made of the sisters of this James; but Miss Annie Ewing says that James "had three sisters, (and there may have been others) who married and lived on farms in the same neighborhood as the brothers." Two, she recalled: Catherine, who married a Killer, whose granddaughters are Agnes and Minnie Acker of Wheeling, and Mrs. Homer C. Wells of Wellsville, Ohio; and Sarah, the other one recalled, who married a Baird, and whose granddaughter is Hollie Baird of Elm Grove.
In this account J. D. Ewing also says:
Grandfather James served in the war of 1812-14 at Norfolk, Virginia; his rank was that of second lieutenant of infantry.
I have seen the commission issued to James Ewing of the Lee County, Virginia, branch, as has been noted, who was distantly related to this James of Wheeling, as I maintain; and I have seen the old papers which show his service as lieutenant under that commission at Norfolk during that war. These two Jameses lived hundreds of miles from each other, the Lee County James being a descendant of what I indicate as one of the Cecil County, Maryland, families. That the two served with similar ranks at the same point is a coincidence rather unusual and yet by no means improbable, and attention is directed to it that their respective descendants may avoid the impression that either family has exclusive right to the honor.
Of this account from which I have quoted, James W. Ewing, a widely known attorney at law, Wheeling, says that this J. D. (James Dallas below) Ewing, then deceased, was his father, and that he has no doubt that it "is authoritative as to the origin of the branch of the family" to which he belongs. He mentions having the military regulations which belonged to his great-grandfather during his service in the war of 1812-’14. For further detailed information of the sons of this John and William he refers to Gibson L. Crummer’s History of Wheeling City and Ohio County (1902) and History of Panhandle of West Virginia, p. 268. The former work states that Henry and Elizabeth Glenn were "both natives of Ireland," and that this James was born in 1771, and reached America between 1795 and 1797, and that he first settled on the eastern shore of Maryland, moving from there to Ohio County, Virginia, and that Fairhill, which he subsequently acquired, is in what is now Marshall County, West Virginia. According to this history, the children of this James and his wife Elizabeth were Henry, James, William, John, Marie, Jane and Elizabeth. William was born on the home farm in 1810, inherited it, and there died in 1861. He married Martha Martin, and they left ten children; James Dallas Ewing, born Dec. 19, 1832, died Aug. 30, 1898; Wm. Wilson Ewing, who succeeded to the ownership of Fairhill; John Alex. Ewing, long a prominent attorney of Moundsville, West Virginia; Geo. Martin Ewing; Isaac Newton Ewing; Samuel H. Ewing; Susan Ann Ewing; Robert A. Ewing; Elizabeth W. Ewing; and Mary Ewing. Elizabeth married Daniel Hartley; and Mary married Alfred McCuskey.
John, the brother of this older James, sons of Henry, married Elizabeth Tonner, June 10, 1801, both being natives of County Tyrone, Ireland. He died in Wheeling Mar. 24, 1836. They had eight children, William, Henry, James Madison, John, Nancy, Catherine, Elizabeth and Sarah, as shown by the Bible record in the possession of Miss Annie Ewing, of St. Louis, to whom I am indebted for its information. (Letter of Sept. 12, 1914).
This John resided for some time among the other Ewings in Cecil County, Maryland. While there he belonged to the Rock Creek Church, Presbyterian, withdrawing Oct. 10, 1805. Unfortunately, the old records of that church were burned. I have a photostat copy of the certificate of withdrawal kindly furnished by Miss Annie Ewing. She also has his naturalization papers and a commission to him by the governor of Virginia, creating him a lieutenant in the war of 1812-14.
It is interesting to note that this old church was founded in 1720. It was first called New Erection, then Elk River, Great Elk, and Elk. The name Rock first appears on the records of 1787. The first building was at Lewisville, Pennsylvania, and the original stone building was erected in 1761 on the present site, East Nottingham, Maryland (Oct. 13, 1920), Cecil County News.) At the recent two hundredth anniversary, Wesley Ewing, "a Methodist brother of the Blake sections," was one of the interesting soloists.
This James Madison Ewing lived in Wheeling and died there Oct. 20, 1889. He married Mary Lukens, a Quakeress, of Philadelphia, May 24, 1842. Their children were John Henry, Lukens, Annie (my informant), William L., and Edwin C. The latter remained in Wheeling, and the others except Lukens, who died in childhood, located in St. Louis, Missouri.
The exact relation of this Henry Ewing family to the James Ewing who was the father of (Indian) John and (Swago) William, is not known. There is some tradition of descent from a common Scotch clan; and I have no doubt, due to many years study of the subject, that that tradition is correct, and that both families are related to the Cecil County family and to their collateral relatives. The Indian John branch was so strongly certain of the relation to the Maryland branch that it has been believed by some of them, we saw, that the James of that family was a brother of the Cecil County immigrants. While that tradition gets the kinship too close, it is very satisfactory cumulative evidence that it was real blood relationship. The fact that John of the Wheeling branch stopped at the old Ewing neighborhood and there established his church relations and his American citizenship all goes to show the clan spirit so long a great factor in binding together descendants of the far distant Scotch ancestry. In fact, the clan spirit, while much weakened, is not yet altogether lacking as shown by the numerous Ewing reunions held here and there by the different branches of the family. (See Sketches of the Families of Thomas Ewing, by Rev. Joseph Lyons Ewing, for a mention of reunions in that branch.)
The coat of arms claimed by this family, a copy of which James W. Ewing, attorney, of Wheeling, sent me, helps to establish descent from the old family, a descendant of which bore the Ewing of Craigtown arms. The embellishments found on this production of this emblazonment are modern, but figures within the shield are evidences of the ancient origin.
It is interesting that, as in the other places from which our ancestors came, there are yet Ewings in Straban, Ireland. It was Samuel Ewing (they even stick to the same given names over there) of Straban, we remember, who wrote Jas. L. Ewin of Washington, D. C., of the tree planting by David Ewing in 1603.
The origin of the newer motto on this West Virginia copy of the family emblazonment, "Hang Your Banner on the Outer Wall", I so far have been unable to learn. I am of the opinion, however, that it has an important bearing upon the early history of this particular branch and that through some source its meaning will yet be given to the general public.
Page last updated 13 October 2008.