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William Ewing, Soldier/Preacher, and his Certain, Almost Certain, Probable and Possible Children

Louis Lehmann (+1 253.472.2556, LouLehmann at comcast dot net)

The genealogy of William Ewing, Soldier/Preacher, is described in Chapter IX of Margaret Ewing Fife’s Ewing in Early America.[1] In recently expanding my research regarding this William Ewing, I decided to try to identify his children and pondered how to best reflect my certainty about his possible progeny. The evidence linking most of them to William is circumstantial and such evidence can vary greatly in persuasiveness.

I decided that I needed to not only nail down my conclusions but also qualify them with respect to my certainty about the parent-child relationship. This is not all that new an idea. Many family historians, present and past, do so despite the fact that they may subsequently jump to questionable conclusions.

Impressed by my Legacy software’s source labels – Convincing Evidence, Almost Certain Conclusion, Probable Conclusion, Marginal Evidence, and Have Not Yet Decided – I decided to use analogous labels – certain, almost certain, probable and possible – to indicate degrees of certainty when identifying William Ewing's offspring. These are my personal assessments; I acknowledge that others may reach different conclusions from the same information.

In this article, I present my conclusions regarding the children of Soldier/Preacher William Ewing qualified with respect to the certainty that primary and secondary sources identify and support my conclusions.

My conclusions have been affected by my interactions with many other genealogy researchers. I am especially indebted to Elizabeth Ewing Fox who provided me with a great deal of very valuable information and did several reviews of this article as it has evolved. I am also grateful to Constance Lancaster who shared valuable information as did Margaret Ewing Fife during her lifetime. Hal Ewing, Chuck Ewing, Tom Dilts and Karen Avery have also shared helpful information as I prepared this article.

My sources and research notes are included in the Endnotes subsection at the end of the article.

John Ewing – A Certain Son of William Ewing

This is the only child for whom I find a clear and complete birth record. His birth on April 5, 1769, is recorded in the Vital Records of Sturbridge, Massachusetts[2] and names William and Eleanor Ewing as his parents. Unfortunately, I have not found any additional information which can be clearly associated with this John Ewing.

Joshua Ewing – A Probable Son of William Ewing

An old query in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGR)[3] asserts that Joshua Ewing is a son of William and Eleanor (Sullivan) Ewing:

Ewing ‑Sullivan – Rev Wm. Ewing, born about 1735; married Eleanor Sullivan; were in Philadelphia after removing to Somers, Ct. He was a graduate of Edinburgh. His wife born in Dublin. Son Joshua married Lavinia (daughter of Robert) Durkee of Canterbury. Who were their parents? F. L. Hamilton of Meriden, Ct.

Although no evidence has emerged to support the claims about Philadelphia, Edinburgh, and Dublin; other sources support the family connections and an association with Somers.

In Family History of Wales (Massachusetts) within the Corbin Manuscript collection,[4] Absalom Gardner says that in 1779 Joshua Ewing lived in Wales (South Brimfield) when he married Lovinia Durkee. Gardner also notes that William Ewing (referred to as 'Elder' but also as 'Rev,') officiated at the Wales church from 1770‑72. Although no birth record has been found, Joshua's birth year can be estimated to be about 1760 as his Revolutionary War records show that he was a drummer (probably young) after enlisting in 1777. Those records also show that he served in North River, New York,[5] in 1778, the same year that William Ewing identified himself as a resident of Halifax when he petitioned Vermont authorities for help in a land dispute.

In 1785, Joshua Ewing was a merchant in Somers, Connecticut, matching information in the NEHGR query. On August 20th of that year, he was trying to sell a farm in South Brimfield, Massachusetts, and a parcel of land in Vermont.

Naming patterns suggest connections of Joshua and Lovinia’s descendants back to Eleanor (Sullivan) Ewing. Un-sourced information in a family tree on claims that: Joshua was born about 1760 at Brimfield, Massachusetts (parents not named); he married Lovinia Durkee January 20, 1780; he died in Brimfield October 25, 1780; and he named one son John Sullivan Ewing. There is a record of John Sullivan Ewing’s marriage to Clarissa Patrick on January 24, 1810, in Windsor, Vermont. There is also a record of William Ewing selling land to John S. Ewing at Windsor on March 17, 1807. Among William Ewing’s other probable descendants, the middle name 'Sullivan' frequently occurs. Joshua and Lovinia (Durkee) Ewing's oldest daughter was Lovinia Ewing who married Jacob Nichols and named her oldest son William Sullivan Nichols. Lovinia (Durkee) Ewing married (second) Benjamin Merrick at Brimfield. One of her grandsons was named John Sullivan Merrick.

From all this circumstantial evidence, I conclude that Joshua is a probable child of William and Eleanor (Sullivan) Ewing’s life history must have embarrassed and shamed his parents. A look-up by 'debrainman' (connectionservice at cbsvc dot myfamily dot com) brought me the following details from the Tolland County Divorce Index for Joshua Ewing and Lovinia, p 184:

Livina Somers m. Joshua Ewing ‑ 20 Feb. 1780 at South Brimfield, Mass. Bay ‑ violent cruelty when pregnant with sixth child ‑ fornication ‑ adultery ‑ 28 Feb. 1792.

Elinor Ewing – An Almost Certain Daughter of William Ewing

The following entry in the General Index to Vital Records of Vermont[6] is peculiar:

Birth ‑ female; name: Elinor Ewing; d o b: Nov. 2, 1759; Mother's Residence: Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Source: Town of Halifax, Vol. 2 Records, A. C. Jones, Town Clerk

Neither parent is named, and I found no record of a Wilmington in Pennsylvania in 1759. But I suspect that the record referred to what we now know to be Wilmington, Delaware, which is in New Castle County, not far from York County, Pennsylvania, where William was stationed in 1758-59. This Wilmington was a supply base for Pennsylvania troops at that time. It may have been recorded as Wilmington, Pennsylvania, because the many boundary disputes among Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware were not resolved until the first Mason-Dixon survey of 1760. In fact Delaware was considered a part of Pennsylvania until the Revolutionary War.

Thanks to Constance Lancaster, genealogy curator of the Halifax Historical Society,[7] more information is now available about Elinor Ewing and her family in Halifax. Ms. Lancaster reports that she has a copy of the town's vital records which are more helpful than the index entry because it reportedly clarifies that:

Miss Elinor Ewing was born in Wilmington in the State of Pennsylvania November 2nd 1759

Ms. Lancaster has diligently researched the Wilcox family and finds that Elinor Ewing, whom she identifies as the daughter of William Ewing, married Stephen Wilcox and that they appear with their ten children on the 1800 census for Halifax. She has written up this information as well as some excellent material about the life of William Ewing in Halifax, all of which is included in Born in Controversy: History of Halifax, Vermont.[8] Among her findings is a rare broadside (circular) titled Petition of the People of Halifax from a town meeting held on November 11, 1773. It urged "Christians of every Denomination" to assist in building a "Meeting House" and settling a minister in what is described as "an uncultivated, spiritual wasteland." William Ewing's name is among those appearing on the petition, placing him in the Halifax area prior to November 11, 1773. He may or may not have gone to Halifax sometime between April 7, 1772 – when he was moderator at a meeting of the church in Brimfield, Massachusetts – and September 2, 1772 – when the Brimfield church was trying to find a minister. In any case, Elinor would have been fourteen in 1773 and perhaps eighteen when she married Stephen Wilcox, about 1778 and therefore about the time when William Ewing was nearing the end of his first residence in Vermont.

Stephen and Elinor (Ewing) Wilcox named three of their ten children William, Joshua, and Lovinia. William could have been named for either or both of his grandfathers. Elizabeth Ewing Fox has pointed out that Joshua could have been named for Elinor's brother, Joshua Ewing, and Lovinia could have been named for Elinor's sister-in-law, Lovinia (Durkee) Ewing (Joshua Ewing's wife).              

In correspondence with Ms. Lancaster about the likelihood that Elinor is William's daughter, she noted that the Wilcox's were ardent Baptists, that William Ewing was the first Baptist clergyman in Halifax, that the Wilcox family lived not far from where William lived in Halifax, and that there are no other Ewings in Halifax records.

On the 1880 census, Jarvis Nye, a grandson of Stephen and Elinor (Ewing) Wilcox, was in Ellington, New York, in Dwelling #262. Just a couple of doors down from him, in Dwelling #259, was Henry Ewing, a grandson of Rev. James Ewing of Hopewell, New Jersey (William Ewing’s nephew who wrote the letter to relatives in Scotland). Unless it is coincidence, it appears that the two families had some sort of connection at that time and probably earlier.

From all of this very strong circumstantial evidence, I consider Elinor to be an almost certain daughter of William Ewing

James Ewing – A Probable Son of William Ewing

Fife concluded that James Ewing was a son of William. Starting with a letter by William Ewing’s nephew, she discusses how William was a soldier in the British army, served in the wars in Germany, was stationed in Ireland, went to America in 1755, was with Braddock at Fort Duquesne, was in a Pennsylvania provincial regiment in 1758-9, and then became a wandering Baptist minister in Massachusetts and Vermont. Fife then names James Ewing – who died September 4, 1828, in Haldimand, Canada – as a son of William and Eleanor. She correctly identifies John Ewing as a son but erroneously names Benjamin Ewing as a son.

Elizabeth Ewing Fox has provided me with the most important pieces of information about James Ewing who married Naomi Cooley at Greenwich, Massachusetts, on October 3, 1775. She finds that Fife erred in saying that the Revolutionary War record of James is summarized in the widow's pension application as it does not mention his participation at Fort Vengeance and does not say that he died at age seventy-eight making his birth year 1750. She has also appropriately points out the following problems in Fife's discussion of the children of William Ewing on page 51 of Fife's Ewing in Early America:

1) Benjamin is erroneously listed as a son of William and Eleanor Ewing when in fact he is the first-born child of James and Naomi (Cooley) Ewing; 2) Benjamin's birth year is wrongly listed as about 1760. He was born 12 March 1776 to James and Naomi; 3) Alexander Ewing is listed as a son of James and Naomi but is actually the younger brother of James; 4) This Alexander is said by Fife to be born about 1776 and married about 1790, when he would have been fourteen years old, to a twenty-year old woman – a highly improbable situation

A recent article by Hal and Bill Ewing in the Ewing Family Journal[9] discusses ancestors and descendants of James Ewing and names James, John, and Dr. Alexander Ewing as children of William Ewing. In further correspondence with Hal, he referred to records at the Fairview Cemetery, Grafton, Ontario, Canada. He concluded that James: was born 1754, Cork, Ireland; was the son of a Scottish Baptist minister; and migrated to Vermont then to Haldimand Township in Canada about 1798. An obituary of James Ewing’s grandson, James Sullivan Ewing, also says that James Ewing was born in Cork, Ireland, and came to America when he was about four years old. Much of this information confirms what has been previously researched and shared by Elizabeth Ewing Fox.

Correspondence with Karen Avery led me to an abstract of the Revolutionary War pension record and additional circumstantial evidence linking this James Ewing to William:

Jul 22, 1837, James, Naomi, W15832, VT line, sold 4 Sept 1828, wid applied 7‑22‑1837 Rutland Cty., VT, aged 82 a res of Clarendon, VT wid referred to sol as late of Pittsford, VT but last of Haldimand in Prov of Upper Canada, sol. m. Naomi Cooley of Greenwich, MA & sol was of Halifax, MA when they were married 3 Oct 1775.

This reference to James Ewing "of Halifax, MA" may be an error and Elizabeth Ewing Fox observes that the full record does not include the age of James. I suspect that James was of Halifax, Vermont, when he married Naomi Cooley at Greenwich. William Ewing was in Halifax, Vermont, on June 9, 1778, when he petitioned Vermont authorities about a land dispute, citing his November 1774 purchase of land in Vermont. The research noted in the above discussion of Elinor Ewing clearly connects William Ewing with Halifax as early as 1773.

The listing of marriage intentions in Greenwich town records identifies James as a Halifax man but does not say Massachusetts or Vermont: "Aug 27, 1775 Intention of Marriage between James Ewing of Halifax and Naomi Cooley of Greenwich." William Ewing had ties to Greenwich. He was moderator and clerk of Greenwich in May 1781 when he was among those petitioning the Governor and the House of Representatives of Vermont for a charter to establish a township in Vermont.[10] William was also in Greenwich in 1782 as an agent of those petitioners.

Fife, on page 50 of her book Ewing in Early America, stretches a distant-proximity connection by noting that this James Ewing's grandson, Dr. James S. Ewing, was in partnership with the son of a man who lived in Greenwich, Massachusetts where William Ewing lived about 1781:

Soon after he came to Pittsford and formed a co-partnership with his brother-in law, Doctor Peleg C. Barlow (son of William Barlow of Pittsford who formerly resided in Greenwich, Mass where William Ewing lived about 1781). From: Vermont Historical Gazetteer, Volume III Orleans and Rutland Counties, 1877, page 950.[11]

In his History of the Town of Pittsford,[12] pp. 60-61, A. M. Caverly claims that this James Ewing was a son of a "Rev. Alexander Ewings." However, I have found no primary records to support this assertion. Caverly does cite land transactions by an Alexander Ewings in Pittsford, but he identifies him as a brother of James. Caverly mentions a "Miss Sullivan" as "Rev Alexander Ewing's" wife.

Caverly says:

James Ewings was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1749. Alexander Ewings, his father, was a Scotchman by birth, and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He entered the British Army soon after graduation and received an adjutant's commission in one of the regiments which was stationed at Cork, Ireland. There, he married a Miss Sullivan and remained at that post with his regiment some years, and there a number of his children were born, including James and Alexander. Early in 1755, his regiment was ordered to America under the command of the noted General Braddock. Adjutant Ewings accompanied his regiment, taking his family with him, and on arriving in America he left them upon the coast and proceeded with his regiment to Fort Cumberland. He shared the hardships of the unfortunate expedition against Fort du Quesne. On the retreat after the disaster of the 9th of July, a trivial circumstance occurred which changed the whole course of his life. At a safe point where the army had halted to gather up its scattered fragments, and care for the wounded that had been brought along, the Adjutant was approached by certain ones in authority and asked to act as chaplain - performing the burial service over the dead bodies of some officers. He took off his sword and performed the service, but he declared that "he could never put it on again." Soon afterwards he and his brother, a captain in the same regiment, procured their discharge from the army. The Captain settled in Philadelphia as a lawyer; the Adjutant in Massachusetts, where he became a Baptist clergyman. ... James was six years of age at the time he was embarked with his father's family on board a vessel bound for America. They landed in Boston, and after the father obtained his discharge from the army, they resided some years in Greenwich, Mass. James married Naomi Cooley, daughter of Benjamin Cooley of that town.

Part of the above description resembles the following segment of a letter by William Ewing’s nephew speaking of the life of William Ewing, after his service in the wars in Germany:

Upon the conclusion of that war when the army retired home Uncle William's lot was to be stationed in Ireland. ... The French and Indian [War] was coming on in America his regiment was sent hither. Here he was prefered receiving a Lieutenants and adjutants commission in an American provincial regiment. Since that time and after the notable defeat of General Braddock, he was in Philadelphia upon some business when the people upon the frontiers sent there 2 or 3 two or three mangled bodies of men and women whom the Indians had scalped, tomahawked and killed in order to move the Philadelphians to assist them, next morning the high sheriff of the county sent a message to our Uncle expressing a desire to see him. He attended and the Sheriff begged of him to go to the statehouse where the dead bodies were and deliver to the multitudes who were there viewing them a discourse suited to the occasion. Our Uncle used all his endeavors to plead his excuse but he would take none. He went to the place and after a psalm and a prayer, he spoke from Amos 3.6 to such acceptance that committees from various churches and congregations waited upon him to request him to preach for them which he did ... [As] he preached in his regiment he got the name of the soldier minister. After some time he parted with his commission, left the army, and joined a regular Baptist church where he was licensed and afterward ordained and if alive, (for I have not heard of him in 2 years) is employed as such. He was married in Ireland and has a number of children and grandchildren and lives 300 miles from me towards Boston.

The similarities suggest that stories about one man may have become mixed up with stories about the other. But such a mix-up also suggests that there may indeed be some kind of a connection between the two families. Could Rev. William Ewing and Rev. Alexander Ewing be brothers? Baptismal records of Kilmarnock, Scotland, show that William Ewing (baptized 1727) had a brother, Alexander Ewing (baptized 1729). It is interesting to note that William Ewing had another brother, James Ewing, who was baptized at Kilmarnock in 1721, leading Fife to suggest (page 331) that he might be the James Ewing of Lebanon Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, whose descendants in the Ewing Surname Y-DNA Project are closely connected in Group I along with a descendant of James Ewing and Helen Gebbie (parents of William, Alexander, James and six other children).

Elizabeth Ewing Fox called to my attention the fact that the middle names of James Ewing’s son, Daniel Sullivan Ewing, and his grandson, James Sullivan Ewing, suggest a connection back to either the "Miss Sullivan" mentioned by Caverly or the "Eleanor Sullivan" mentioned in the NEHGR query.

Considering all of this persuasive information, I now conclude that this James Ewing is a (highly) probable son of William and Eleanor (Sullivan) Ewing. However, if further evidence emerges to support Caverly's claim that a Rev. Alexander Ewing is the father of James and his brother, Alexander, then these relationships should be re-evaluated.

Alexander Ewing – A Possible Son of William Ewing

In his History of the Town of Pittsford, Caverly names (on pages 272-3) as a brother of James a Dr. Alexander Ewing who married and located in 1792 in Pittsford where he participated in a number of land transactions up to May 9, 1805, after which he is said to have removed to Canada. Caverly cites sources for these land transactions (pages 272-3 and 593), thus providing primary evidence of an Alexander Ewing in Pittsford during that time period. He notes that James Sullivan Ewing, grandson of James and Naomi Ewing "purchased what had been the residence of Dr. Alexander Ewings" (page 600). Caverly also cites James Ewings and Alexander Ewings together on two 1796 Pittsford lists. One is a list of subscribers to the Library Society of Pittsford (page 530). The other is a list of school rate assessments (page 690). I have not yet found information placing Alexander near James in Canada. Nor have I yet been able to place Alexander anywhere prior to Pittsford although Caverly says Dr. Alexander Ewings received his medical education in Massachusetts. I have not yet found any information about this.

The History of Rutland County, Vermont[13] by Henry Perry Smith repeats the information that Dr. Alexander Ewings was located in 1792 in Pittsford, and that he sold out in 1805 and removed to Canada.

James Ewings and Alexander Ewings are listed, side-by-side, in the 1800 census for Pittsford, Vermont. Alexander's household includes one male under ten, one male ten-to-sixteen, one male twenty-six to forty-five (who must be Alexander), two females under ten and two females twenty-six to forty-five.

Caverly's identification of Dr. Alexander Ewing as a brother of James, along with the cited Pittsford records, seems sufficient to list him as a possible son of William and Eleanor Ewing, pending further information which might otherwise point to Caverly's "Rev Alexander Ewing" as his father.

Hannah Ewing – A Probable daughter of William Ewing

Cutter[14] says Hannah Ewing married Enoch Train in 1791 at Weston, Massachusetts, and identifies her as the daughter of a "Scotchman and chaplain in the British Army." William Ewing was connected with the First Baptist Church in Weston from its formation – on July 14, 1789, when he was the church Clerk – until at least February 1793 when the church disregarded his accusation that Oliver Hastings was a liar. Hannah Ewing was also connected with this church because on August 29, 1803, the church "Voted that the wife of Enoch Train shall be cut off from all the privileges of the church on account of misconduct." The record does not specify the misconduct, but it is interesting to note that Hannah was widowed by the death of Enoch Train in 1805 and married (second) "Capt Levi Bishop of Windsor, Vermont" on June 7, 1807, five months before the birth of their first child, Charles Bishop, in West Windsor, Vermont, on November 1, 1807. So Levi and Hannah moved to Windsor very soon after their marriage. William Ewing was already in Windsor at that time as he sold land there on March 17, 1807, to John S. Sullivan, probably his grandson.

Hannah, therefore, appears to be a probable daughter.

William Ewing, Revolutionary War Soldier – A Possible Son

The following extract from Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution[15] describes a William Ewing who might be a son of the Soldier/Preacher:

Ewing, William, Shutesbury. Descriptive list of 9 months men raised in Hampshire Co., agreeable to resolve of June 9, 1779, as returned by Noah Goodman, Superintendent for said county; Capt. Dickenson's co., Col. Porter's regt.; age, 16 yrs.; stature, 5 ft.; hair, black; engaged for town of Amherst; also, Private, Capt. Seth Pierce's co., Col. Seth Murray's regt.; descriptive list dated Warwick, Aug. 4, 1780, of men detached from 6th Hampshire Co. regt. to serve for the term of 3 months from the time of their arrival at Claverack, agreeable to order of Court of June 22, 1780, and mustered by Lieut. Col. Samuel Williams and Maj. Whitmore; age, 16 yrs.; stature, 5 ft. 2 in.; complexion, dark; residence, Shutesbury; mustered July 18 [1780]; also, Private, Capt. Seth Pierce's co., Col. Seth Murray's (Hampshire Co.) regt.; enlisted July 15, 1780; discharged Oct. 10, 1780; service, 3 mos. 6 days, travel included; company raised to reinforce Continental Army for 3 months; roll dated Leverett; also, descriptive list of men raised in Hampshire Co. to serve in the Continental Army, as returned by Noah Goodman, Superintendent for said county; age, 17 yrs.; stature, 5 ft. 7 in.; complexion, light; hair, light; occupation, farmer; engaged June 29, 1781; engaged for town of Hadley; term, 6 months; also, Private, Col. Benjamin Tupper's (10th) regt.; service from June 29, 1781, 6 mos. 2 days.

Note that this sixteen-year old William Ewing is "of Shutesbury" in 1779, one of the years in which Rev. William Ewing (the Soldier/Preacher) is recorded as having preached at Shutesbury (according to Backus' History of New England with particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists[16]). His residence is again listed as Shutesbury in 1780. If this sixteen-year old is the Soldier/Preacher's son, he would have been born about 1763/64 at some as yet unknown location.

In 1787, a William Ewing bought out the Somers, Connecticut, business of Joshua Ewing, a probable son of the Soldier/Preacher. This William may or may not be the Revolutionary War soldier.

A William Ewings married Rhoda Peirce in June 1804 in Shutesbury. Shutesbury records also show births of their children in Shutesbury: Unice Ewings on November 18, 1808, and Ester Ewings on September 3, 1804.

Elizabeth Ewing Fox sent me the following land-record information which might refer to this Shutesbury soldier as New Salem is less than seven miles from Shutesbury:

1796 EWING William, grantee, 1796. F. D. New Salem (F. D. - Franklin County deeds) 1798 EWING William, occupant, 1798. D. T. New Salem (D.T.‑ direct tax of 1798) 1803 EWING William, grantor, 1803. F. D. New Salem.

William, the Revolutionary War soldier, is viewed as a possible son of William and Eleanor (Sullivan) Ewing’s children except for the Sturbridge birth record of John Ewing who is a certain child. Very strong circumstantial evidence points to Elinor as an almost certain child and James is a (highly) probable son. Joshua and Hannah are probable children. Dr. Alexander Ewings and William Ewing, the Revolutionary War soldier, are considered as possible children.

The Halifax town record information provided by Constance Lancaster omits the names of Elinor Ewing's parents but does clearly state that she was born at "Wilmington, Pennsylvania" – which may refer to what we now know as Wilmington, Delaware. The absence of other Ewings in the Halifax area, Elinor’s marriage to Stephen Wilcox from an established Halifax family, the proximity of Stephen Wilcox's property to William Ewing's property, her naming two children Joshua and Lovinia, and the matching of her given name to that of William’s wife are all circumstantial evidence pointing to Elinor as almost certainly a daughter.

Conflicting claims about the parentage of the James Ewing who died in 1828 in Haldimand, Canada, arise from various secondary sources. They suggest a mixing of family stories but also suggest a probable family connection of some kind between William Ewing, the Soldier/Preacher, and a Rev. Alexander Ewing, whom Caverly asserts to be father of the James who died 1828 in Canada. However, no primary records about this Rev. Alexander Ewing have yet emerged. Caverly’s claim that James was born in Ireland and that his mother was a "Miss Sullivan" matches information in the NEHGR query which names William Ewing and Eleanor Sullivan as parents of a Joshua who married Lovinia Durkee. Information from Fairview Cemetery, where James is buried, asserts that James: was born 1754 in Cork, Ireland; was a son of a Scottish Baptist minister; and migrated first to Vermont and then to Haldimand Township about 1798. James Ewing and William Ewing are both connected to Greenwich, Massachusetts, and to Halifax, Vermont. Much of this information confirms what has been previously researched and shared by Elizabeth Ewing Fox who has also identified naming patterns showing that a son and a grandson of James Ewing both had 'Sullivan' as middle names, suggesting a connection back to William’s wife, Eleanor – presumably a 'Sullivan'. James is therefore viewed as a probable son of William and Eleanor Ewing.

Caverly's identification of a Dr. Alexander Ewing as a brother of James Ewing is supported by Pittsford records which prove the existence of an Alexander Ewing there at the same time as James. Those records also suggest associations between Alexander and the family of James. Hopefully, further information may sometime surface about Dr. Alexander Ewing's family, his move to Canada, his medical education in Massachusetts, and his whereabouts before coming to Pittsford. Currently, he appears to be a possible son of William and Eleanor Ewing.

Joshua Ewing is first suggested as a child of Rev. William and Eleanor Ewing by the 1898 NEHGR query which also mentions his marriage to Lovinia Durkee. Joshua's Revolutionary War record shows service near Halifax, Vermont, during the timeframe when William was living there. He owned property in South Brimfield, Massachusetts, and in Vermont, both areas to which William has been connected. His son, John Sullivan Ewing, bought land from William Ewing in Windsor, Vermont, in 1807 and was married to Clarissa Patrick there in 1810, a year before William died there. The middle names of John Sullivan Ewing and his nephews, William Sullivan Nichols and John Sullivan Merrick, all harken back to his grandmother, Eleanor (Sullivan) Ewing. Joshua is regarded as a probable son

Cutter’s description of Hannah as the daughter of a "Scotchman and chaplain in the British Army" is consistent with what is known about William Ewing, the Soldier/Preacher. She was first married at Weston in 1791 when William was connected to the First Baptist Church of Weston. She was connected to that church for some time up to 1803. Shortly after her second marriage in 1807 to Levi Bishop "of Windsor, Vermont," she moved to Windsor during the same year when William was there selling land to Joshua’s son, John Sullivan Ewing. Hannah is considered to be a probable daughter.

William, the Revolutionary War soldier, and William, the Soldier/Preacher, are both connected to Shutesbury where there does not appear to be other Ewings. Pending further information, the Revolutionary War soldier is viewed as a possible son.

This investigation has reminded me that it is tempting – but risky – to conclude family connections based only on circumstantial evidence such as proximities and interactions. If we do so because of no other evidence, it would be wise to qualify our conclusions. Findings from solid, primary sources allow us to designate ancestors as certain. Strong circumstantial evidence permits us to label some ancestors as almost certain or probable. Less persuasive circumstantial evidence leaves us with possible ancestral relatives. Finally, we need to be cautious when examining un-sourced material which not only abounds in many of the published family, county, and town histories but also permeate much of the expanding genealogical material available on the Internet.

Research Notes

William and Eleanor (Sullivan) Ewing

The query in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register,[17] stating that William Ewing’s wife is Eleanor Sullivan, born in Dublin, is from January 1898, Vol. 52, page 82.

Records of William Ewing's family in Scotland are in Parish Records of Kilmarnock, Scotland, FHL film #1041385 and FHL film #1041386.[18]

Material about the life of William Ewing in Halifax and the genealogy of his son-in-law, Stephen Wilcox, has been contributed by Constance Lancaster, genealogy curator of the Halifax Historical Society,[19] and author of material which appears in Born in Controversy: History of Halifax, Vermont,[20] Researched, written, and compiled by the History Committee for the Halifax Historical Society, Inc., 2008, pages 118-119, 278-280.

The 1778 petition by William Ewing of Halifax to Vermont authorities regarding a land dispute appears in the Manuscript Vermont State Papers (MsVtSp), Vol. 21, p. 8.[21]

In 1781 (May 2nd), William Ewing is among the seventy-four people from Greenwich, Massachusetts, who signed a petition to the Governor, Council, and House of Representatives of the State of Vermont, seeking a charter for a township. Source: MsVtSP, Vol. 21, page 256.

Material discussed by Margaret Ewing Fife appears in her book's chapter titled William Ewing (1728-1790) & James Ewing (1755-1806).[22] It includes portions of the 1790 letter, discussing the life of William Ewing, which was written by his nephew, Rev. James Ewing (who died in 1806 in Hopewell, New Jersey).

John Ewing of Sturbridge

His 1769 birth record is in Vital Records of Sturbridge, Massachusetts. [23]

Joshua Ewing (Soldier and Wife-beater)

The information about Joshua Ewing marrying Lovinia Durkee, plus William Ewing’s presence in Wales, is in Absalom Gardner’s Family History of Wales, Roll 31, Corbin Manuscript collection.[24]

Joshua Ewing’s military record is in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Vol. 5, page 442.[25]

The un-sourced family tree on asserting information about Joshua Ewing is on the Family Trees web site in the 'Griffiths Master Dec 2008' database.[26]

The record of John Sullivan Ewing’s marriage to Clarissa Patrick is in the General Index to Vermont Vital Records.[27]

The 1807 record of William Ewing’s sale of 144¾ acres of land in Windsor to John S. Ewing (probably his grandson, John Sullivan Ewing) for $462 is in Windsor Land Records, Vol. 9, page 186.[28]

The information about Lovinia Ewing, her marriage to Jacob Nichols, and their son, William Sullivan Nichols, is from Historical Celebration of the Town of Brimfield, Hampden County, Mass (C.S. Bryan Co., 1879)[29] and Vital Records of Brimfield, MA, FHL Film 0223943.[30]

Information about Lovinia (Durkee) Ewing’s second marriage to Benjamin Merrick in Brimfield and the information that one of her grandsons was named John Sullivan Merrick is from George Byron Merrick's Genealogy of the Merrick-Mirick-Myrick family of Massachusetts, 1636‑1902 (Tracy, Gibbs, & Co., 1902).[31]

Joshua Ewing’s efforts to sell property in Vermont and in South Brimfield, Massachusetts, are detailed in an advertisement in American Mercury, August 29, 1785.[32]

The details about Joshua Ewing’s divorce are in Connecticut Divorces: Superior Court Records for the Counties of New London, Tolland and Windham 1719‑1910, compiled by Grace Louise Knox and Barbara B. Ferris, Heritage Books, Inc., 1987.[33]

Elinor Ewing

The peculiar birth index record for Elinor Ewing is listed in the General Index to Vermont Vital Records.[34] Information from the actual town records was shared with me by Constance Lancaster in an EMail message on September 14, 2009.

A statement from Delaware State Facts & Information[35] states that "Delaware remained a part of Pennsylvania until the Revolutionary War but had its own assembly from 1704."

The identification of Elinor Ewing as William Ewing’s daughter, her status as the wife of Stephen Wilcox, and the discussion of William Ewing in Halifax prior to November 11, 1773, are all in the material written by Constance Lancaster appearing in Born in Controversy: History of Halifax, Vermont, Researched, written, and compiled by the History Committee for the Halifax Historical Society, Inc., 2008, pp. 118-119, 278-280.[36]

The information about William Ewing in the Brimfield church in 1772 is in Wales Baptist Church Records, Corbin Manuscript collection, Roll 31, Hampden County.[37]

Constance Lancaster's information about William Ewing and the Wilcox's being Baptists, the proximity of their properties, and the fact that no other Ewings were in Halifax are within an EMail message from her on September 14, 2009.

James Ewing (died 1828, Canada)

Numerous contributions by Elizabeth Ewing Fox have provided invaluable information for this section and have also made it possible to correct some errors in Fife's Ewing in Early America.

Margaret Ewing Fife’s arguments for identifying James Ewing (died September 4, 1828 in Canada) as one of William’s children appear in Fife's Chapter William Ewing (1728-1790) & James Ewing (1755-1806), pp. 47, 50-51.[38]

The pension abstract naming James Ewing and Naomi Cooley is in Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files. Vol. I A‑E.[39]

Information about James Ewing may be found in Caverly's History of the Town of Pittsford, pages 60-61, 132-33, 164-65, 235-45, 270-73, 593, 599-601, 701.[40]

Information about Ewing burials in the Fairview Cemetery, Haldimand, Canada, was shared with me by Hal Ewing.

The obituary of James Sullivan Ewing, reprinted from the Waushana Argus, Wautoma, Wisconsin, 8 Nov 1878 , appeared in Branches & Twigs - Bulletin of the Genealogical Society of Vermont, Vol. 17, No. 2 Spring 1988.[41]

Elizabeth Ewing Fox’s information about James Ewing’s son and grandson both with middle names of 'Sullivan' was shared with me by EMail on March 9, 2009.

Alexander Ewing

Information about Alexander Ewing may be found in Caverly's History of the Town of Pittsford, pages 60, 61, 271-72, 281, 294, 530, 593, 600,[42] in page 251 in History of Rutland County, Vermont,[43] and in the 1800 Census for Pittsford, Rutland County, Vermont.

Hannah Ewing

The description of Hannah Ewing as the daughter of a Scotchman and a chaplain in the British Army is in Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts by William Richard Cutter and (ed.) William Frederick Adams, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1910.[44] A synopsis appears in Epitaphs From a Graveyard in Weston with Notes by George Kuhx Clarke, LL. B., of Needham, in Dedham Historical Register, 1890, Dedham Historical Society (Mass.), Vol. 10. Edited J. H. Tittle: Dedham Historical Society.[45]

Sources for the information placing William Ewing in Weston from 1789 to 1793 and for the Weston church allegations of misconduct against Hannah Ewing are: 1) Train and Ewing Families; Weston, Massachusetts: 1705‑1814. Prepared by Madeline W. Mullin, Local History Librarian, Weston Public Library,[46] Weston, Massachusetts, citing Jones, Edward A., History of the First Baptist Church in Weston, Mass., Boston, 1890, page 5.[47] (Material EMailed to Louis Lehmann, July 9, 2009); 2) Records of the Baptist Church of Christ in Weston, Mass, constituted 1789 - Jan 1st 1838, Revised and copied from the old book of records or notes;[48] and 3) Records of the Important Transactions of the Baptist Church in Weston from the First Baptist Church, Weston, Massachusetts.[49]

The record Capt. Levi Bishop of Windsor, Vermont & [the widow] Hannah Train of Weston married June 7 1807 is in Town of Weston: Births, deaths and marriages, 1707‑1850, 1703 - Gravestones - 1900, Church records, 1709‑1825, Weston (Mass.), Mary Frances Peirce, Published by McIndoe Bros., printers, 1901.[50]

William Ewing, the Revolutionary War Soldier

The Revolutionary War extract about this William Ewing is from Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Vol. 5, page 442.[51]

Information about the marriage of William Ewing and Rhoda Pierce, and the births of their children, is in Births, Marriages, Deaths, Publishments, Shutesbury, Massachusetts; 1763‑1842. FHL film #0768337 and FHL Film #0886455.[52]


Editor's Note:  Short Citations are used in later footnotes to refer back to the full

citations given in the footnotes where the Short Citations are defined.

[1] Fife, Margaret Ewing (ed. James R. McMichael). Ewing in Early America, Family History Publishers, Bountiful, Utah, 84101. Available from Higginson Books and online at the Ewing Family Association web site. [Short Citation: Fife - Ewing in America]

[2] Vital records [Sturbridge, Massachusetts], 1723-1797 (FHL Film 863529). These microfilm records may be found at Family History Centers established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). To locate a center near you go to: LDS List of Centers. This microfilm is also available for free download from Internet Archive. [Short Citation: Sturbridge Records]

[3] New England Historical and Genealogical Register [NEHGR], Jan. 1898, Vol. 52, p. 82. NEHGR may be searched via an online service – available at New England Ancestors - Services – provided by the New England Historic Genealogy Society. [Short Citation: NEHGR]

[4] Corbin Manuscript Collection, Roll 31, Hampden County. The Corbin Manuscript Collection may be found online here. The collection, its contents and its availability are discussed in an article posted by the New England Genealogy Society. [Short Citation: Corbin Manuscripts]

[5] The North River runs through Halifax, Massachusetts. At the time of the Revolution, Halifax was considered a part of Cumberland County, New York, and under its jurisdiction.

[6] Information about accessing vital records for Vermont may be found at Vermont Vital Records. [Short Citation: Vermont Vital Records]

[7] Halifax Historical Society, West Halifax, Vermont.

[8] Born in Controversy: History of Halifax, Vermont, Researched, written, and compiled by the History Committee for the Halifax Historical Society, Inc., 2008. This publication is not available online. Contact the author at the Society to obtain a copy. But note that the first printing is sold out so availability requires a second printing. In the interim, it may be available from some libraries via interlibrary loan. For example, the Brooks Memorial Library at Brattleboro, Vermont, might have a circulating copy available for interlibrary loan. [Short Citation: Born in Controversy]

[9] Ewing, Harold F. 'Hal' Jr. and William L. 'Bill' Ewing. James Ewing's Ancestry, Ewing Family J., Vol. 15, No. 1 (February 2009), pp. 9-12. Available online at the Ewing Family Association's web site.

[10] Reuben Cooley is also one of the petitioners.

[11] Some volumes, but not Vol. III, of the Vermont Historical Gazetteer have been posted online. Copies of all volumes are available in the library at the Vermont Historical Society, Barre, Vermont.

[12] Caverly, A.M. History of the Town of Pittsford, Vt.: with biographical sketches and family records, Pittsford Historical Society, Pittsford, Vt.., 1976. Available on Also available for free download. [Short Citation: Caverly - Town of Pittsford]

[13] Smith, H. P. and W. S. Rann (eds.). History of Rutland County, Vermont, D. Mason & Co. Publishers, Syracuse, N.Y., 1886. Available for free download from the Internet Archive. [Short Citation: Smith - History of Rutland County]

[14] Cutter, William Richard and (ed.) William Frederick Adams. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1910. Available for free download from the Internet Archive. [Short Citation: Cutter - Memoirs]

[15] Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Vol. 5, p. 442. An online version, broken down by volume, is provided at the web site for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; search for 'Massachusetts Soldiers Sailors'. This record, which comprises seventeen volumes, may be searched via A PDF version may be downloaded, for free, from the Internet Archive. [Short Citation: Soldiers and Sailors]

[16] Backus - History of New England

[17] NEHGR

[18] LDS Microfilm

[19] Halifax Historical Society, West Halifax, Vermont.

[20] Born in Controversy

[21] Index to Manuscript Vermont State Papers (MsVtSP), Vol. 21, p. 8. Better known as the Nye Index, MsVtSP was originally created by Mary Greene Nye, the Editor of State Papers from 1927 until 1950 as a personal name card file. The card file is open to the public and located in the Reference Room at the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration Office in Montpelier, Vermont. The index may be searched online by clicking here. [Short Citation: MsVtSp]

[22] Fife - Ewing in America

[23] Sturbridge Records

[24] Corbin Manuscripts

[25] Soldiers and Sailors

[26] provides some incredible services. But they make it very hard to get to a genealogy database, such as the 'Griffiths Master Dec 2008' database cited here. One can search for an individual, for example 'Joshua Ewing', but this often receives hundreds of hits. One cannot search Ancestry's web site – as near as I can tell – for a specific database. After playing around, I've found that there are two ways to get to the information about Joshua Ewing. The first is to go to Trees at and search for a Joshua Ewing who was born in 1760. The second is to directly go to this at Joshua Ewing's record.

[27] Vermont Vital Records

[28] Windsor Land Records, Vol. 7, p 161. Windsor, Vermont, land records may be searched by clicking here. [Short Citation: Windsor Land Records].

[29] This book has been made available online by the Google Books Project. Go to Google Books and search for 'Brimfield'.

[30] LDS Microfilm

[31] Available for free download from the Internet Archive.

[32] Available from America's Historical Newspapers. Online access to America's Historical Newspapers requires a fee. Access may often be made at public libraries. [Short Citation: Historical Newspapers]

[33] This source is not available online. cites it here, but indicates that its availability is limited.

[34] Vermont Vital Records

[35] My Delaware Genealogy [ site unavailable, 4/2017]

[36] Born in Controversy

[37] Corbin Manuscript

[38] Fife - Ewing in America

[39] This source is apparently out-of-print and there are no online versions.

[40] Caverly - Town of Pittsford

[41] For information about the Genealogical Society of Vermont click here.

[42] Caverly - Town of Pittsford

[43] Smith - History of Rutland County

[44] Cutter - Memoirs

[45] This description appears in information posted online by the Google Books Project. To get to it, first do a Google search for 'Epitaphs From a Graveyard in Weston with', then click on 'The Dedham historical register - Google Books Result' link and then scroll down to the 'Epitaphs from a Graveyard in Weston' heading.

[46] Weston Library

[47] Can not be found on the Internet.

[48] ditto

[49] ditto

[50] This book has been made available online by the Google Books Project. Go to Google Books and search for 'Town of Weston: Births'. It is also available for free download from Internet Archive.

[51] Soldiers and Sailors

[52] LDS Microfilms