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Tracking John Ewing

from April 10, 1754 until April 25, 1832

George W. Ewing (+1 269.965.8160, GeoEwing at aol dot com)

My Ewing family research began about 1988 but did not start in earnest until 1995 when my wife Marilyn and I were searching family history at the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne and delving into anything with the name of Ewing. Snooping through the index cards with the Ewing name I pulled one with the title, Clan Ewing in America showing Rev. Ellsworth Samuel Ewing’s name, address and phone number in Madison, Indiana. Following our return to Battle Creek, I phoned the Ewing home and sadly was informed by a very pleasant Mrs. Ewing that Ellsworth had recently passed away. After expressing my condolences, Mrs. Ewing and I had a long conversation during which she questioned me about my family line. Then she asked me: Who was your immigrant ancestor? Pleading ignorance, I told her I did not know and that I had very little information on my line beyond my grandfather. She quickly recognized my lack of knowledge in Ewing genealogy and offered to send me the complete series of charts Rev. Ewing had developed over several years. These may not be 100% accurate but did provide a great deal of information helping me with my Ewing family puzzle. Mrs. Ewing suggested I contact James McMichael. Jim was then Treasurer, Editor, Membership Chair, Genealogist and member of the Board of Directors of Clan Ewing in America, and she referred to Jim as 'Mr. Clan Ewing.' Needless to say, a phone call to Texas was in order, followed by an incredible amount of correspondence between Jim and me by what we now call SnailMail. This was prior to my owning a computer and using the Internet. Jim was, and still is, a great inspiration in helping me and many others find and confirm our family details.

After finding our way around all the census films in the library, Marilyn and I were fortunate to take our journey on the road. Our first stop was my own hometown — Muncie, Indiana. Then on to Rush County, Indiana, where we found information on my great-grandfather, William T. Ewing, who was born March 8, 1842, and died just short of his 37th birthday on February 26, 1879. We then visited the Rush County Clerk and Recorders Office. We were looking for his obituary but found, instead, the obituary of his father, James M. Ewing, who was born April 12, 1799, in Pendleton County, Kentucky, and died June 16, 1881, at the age of 82. This eventually led us to Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky, and the rest of the story.

Getting this far, we were determined to find more about John Ewing’s past. I contacted Jim McMichael ; he suggested we check the 1880 Census that would show the birthplace of his parents. John did not die until 1881 so he appeared on this census and his record showed his father’s birthplace as Virginia and his mother’s as Pennsylvania. Digging into the files of the Pendleton County Courthouse and a local library, we found others doing research before us, including the late C. Harold Ewing, a prominent Falmouth attorney and the father of our own Dr. Roger Ewing. Harold had spent years writing and contacting postmasters in any town with the name of Ewing. I have a copy of one such letter, written January 10, 1941, to the postmaster of Ewing, Kentucky. C. Harold Ewing managed to gather some very important information, such as John's service aboard the galley ship Safeguard during the Revolutionary War. Harold later passed his most valuable findings on to his son Roger. Even with all this diligent work, he apparently was unable to uncover John ’s Virginia family background.

A different lawyer, family researcher and writer — Ewing O. Cossaboom of Cincinnati — wrote the following in 1975:

The Barton Papers show that the first John Ewing was married twice. The first time was on March 10, 1794 in Bourbon County, Kentucky and he had 10 children, many of whom moved to Missouri. Two sons stayed in Morgan, Taylor and Milton. His second wife was Mary, widow of Lanty McCann. The first and original John Ewing died Apr. 19, 1832 at Morgan. Mr. Coosaboom concluded, “The Barton Papers also indicate service in the American Revolution, however, to the present generation, there is nothing of his life prior to coming to Kentucky which seems to be known. Perhaps some writer will learn more in the distant future." [Apparently, Cossaboom was unaware that John's first marriage in 1778 was to Esther and that Esther left John in 1792.]

A fellow Clan Ewing member, active in Pendleton County research, unfortunately had climbed the wrong branch of our family tree and connected us to the New Jersey Ewing line. Sadly, other researchers have documented this information, which went back to Findley of New Jersey; these errors have since been corrected.

We did locate a letter on file in the Pendleton County Courthouse dated January 8, 1830, from the War Department Pension Office rejecting a claim for pension for John Ewing, stating “the Row Galley in which he served, belonged to the State of Virginia and was not on the continental establishment. As the law does not provide such cases, his claim has been rejected." (A copy was sent to Hon. R. M Johnson, House of Representatives.)

Still digging, we hit pay dirt: the application for this pension. In this declaration, it states:

·   “John Ewing, aged 75 years, a soldier of the Revolutionary War, filed the following declaration, dated 21 December 1829."

·   That John Ewing enlisted for one year in June 1776, in Stauntown, Virginia, in the marine service of Captain George Elliot, commander of a fleet of Rowgallies, in the defense of the coast and capes of Virginia. Further, that he served on the Rowgally named The Safeguard against the enemy but principally against Dunmore’s tenders, Dunmore being engaged at the time in committing depredations upon the coast.

·   Said Ewing was discharged, after one year, at Yorktown, Virginia.

Up to this time it seemed impossible to find John Ewing ’s year of birth, but this information made it simple arithmetic and placed it in 1754. The DAR had it listed as 'about 1760,' which we corrected this past year.

Now knowing John was from Virginia and born in 1754, we began searching for a John Ewing of Virginia born in 1754 and found only two. One John Ewing was born in December 1754 in Bedford County, Virginia, and died in Logan County, Kentucky. The other, John Ewing of Frederick County and later of Pendleton County, Kentucky, was born April 10, 1754.

Those researching Frederick County played a valuable part in making this connection. This includes the excellent work of Margaret Ewing Fife,[1] Evelyn Ewing and her husband James Earl 'Jim' Ewing Jr.,[2] and also the charts of Ellsworth Ewing. They all indicated John’s birth as April 10, 1754, and said that he had gone to Greenbrier County, which was then a part of Virginia, and had removed to Kentucky and married Esther who eloped from him in 1792. Nothing further, but all of this information was important in connecting John Ewing of Pendleton County to be the same John Ewing of Frederick County, Virginia.

There is a marriage bond on file in the County Clerk’s office in Bourbon County showing John Ewing posting a fifty-pound bond with the clerk for his marriage to Alice Caswell on March 10, 1794. Alice was a native of Pennsylvania.

Known children of John and Alice Ewing are:

·   B. Taylor; married Eleanor Fugate, a daughter of Martin Fugate.

·   Elijah; born May 6, 1797; died September 21, 1869 in Missouri; married Elizabeth Makensan and had eight children:

·   James M. ; born April 12, 1799; died June 16, 1881 in Rush County, Indiana; married Mary McKenny December 24, 1822, and had eight children.

·   John, Jr.; died in 1838 in Missouri.

·   Mariah; married Henry H. Fugate February 1, 1825. (Henry was a son of Martin Fugate.)

·   Milton ; married Nancy Brann on March 10, 1834. She was born January 6, 1816, and died July 10, 1884.

·   Samuel; died in Missouri; married Mary P. Courtney in 1838.

·   William; died in 1834 in Missouri, married Elizabeth _?_.

Their birth order is unknown.

After John Ewing ’s second wife, Alice, died, he married Mary McCann, widow of Lantry McCann on September 3, 1825. They had two children: William and Elizabeth. Mary died October 5, 1838 and is buried near Ewing, Missouri.

John Ewing died April 25, 1832, at age 78. James Ewing was named the administrator of the estate. John’s burial location is not known. One letter indicates that he was buried behind a stone house on the property where he died. This would be near Morgan, Kentucky. Others believe he was buried near Ruddels Mills, Kentucky.

A copy of the inventory of his estate at the time of his death shows John owned seven Negro slaves in addition to his household goods, farm animals, tools and land on Fork Lick Creek, all of which had to be sold to settle his estate. A list of his debts includes a bill for whiskey.

On March 21, 1801, John Ewing executed a deed for 10,111 1/2 acres of land but reserved 1,000 acres in a square. From the large size of this holding of land, it may have been that John Ewing received this as a land grant by virtue of being a Revolutionary War soldier, but this was not the case since only those serving three or more years were granted land.

John was appointed a trustee for the town of Falmouth, Kentucky, at a meeting of the trustees on April 12, 1794. The name of John Ewing appears in the first deed book of the county as one of the Trustees of Falmouth on June 4, 1799 (Deed Book A, page 22). In April 1805, an excerpt from county court records shows that John Ewing, Esq. produced a Commission from the Governor of the Commonwealth appointing him sheriff of the county. In May of 1811, he entered into a bond for $333.1/3 and was granted a license for a tavern and later built and operated a gristmill near Morgan.

It is hard for me to imagine John traveling from Yorktown, Virginia, to Greenbrier County, Virginia, and then on to Pendleton County, Kentucky, in the late 1700s. I believe John made his way to Kentucky in either a flat or keel boat on the Ohio River. Ewing O. Cossaboom wrote, “To the pioneer settlers of Pendleton County, General Clark's successful march against the Shawnees in 1782 was all important because it opened up the Ohio River Route which was used by such pioneers as John Ewing."

Much more could be added to Tracking John Ewing, but I will leave this for another time.


George William Ewing — Past Chair and Chancellor of Clan Ewing in America and sixth great-grandson of John of Carnashannagh — is a native of Muncie, Indiana, and has been a resident of Battle Creek, Michigan, since 1963. Now retired, he and his wife Marilyn spend the winter months in Boca Raton, Florida.


[2] Evelyn and Jim Ewing. The Ewings of Frederick County, Virginia, 1986. Available online at: