By Jim McMichael

[Journal of Clan Ewing Vol 2 No. 1 - Feb 1996, page 14]

Several years ago when I first got interested in my family history, I had access and possession of the records that my grandfather, James6 William Ewing, Jr., (James5, James4, Alexander3, John2, Alexander1, RobertA) had maintained from about 1900 to the early forties. He had started his records with his grandfather, James4, who was married twice and had a total of nineteen children. After studying those records, I was able to understand how I was related to some of my third and fourth cousins that lived in the same community.

Those records contained the facts about a person, such as birth, death, and marriage dates, but they did not tell anything about the person such as his occupation and etc. After bringing the information up to date in 1970 for most of the nineteen children, I lost interest in my research and did not do any more research for nearly twenty years. When I started with my research again, I was determined to find out a lot more about my McMichael family of which I knew very little.

That decision forced me to get into the records at the courthouse in the counties where my family had lived. With this new source of information, I did some more research for my Ewing family. At first, I was very reluctant to go to a courthouse to check the records because I did not know where to start or what to look for. Actually, the first courthouse where I checked records was Cecil County, Maryland in 1990 when I went to the reunion. One of the keys to researching old records is to not be anxious or get in a hurry.

The official records maintained by the counties where my ancestors lived have been very helpful to me. The deed records and court minutes are usually the earliest records found for a county. The Court Minutes make very interesting reading and you never know what "little" piece of information you will find. The deed book generally has the land transactions recorded. However, a lot of other types of information are recorded in the early Deed Books. In this journal, I will give some information from a deed and in a later issue I will give information from another deed or two. These deeds will give you an idea of what can be found in the recording of a land transaction.

On our way to the reunion in Malvern, Pennsylvania in September 1995, Lynn and I decided to check some records in Chester County, Pennsylvania since we knew that Samuel2 Ewing (John1) had married a Margaret McMichael. I also knew that some other Ewings and McMichaels had married.

The following information from a deed found gives some information about a family. I believe that a lot of deed book records have this type of information. In the Chester County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book V, pages 114-115, recorded 4 October 1775, the following deed from James McClellan to Samuel McCree is recorded:

This Indenture made the 28th Day of October, in the year of our Lord, One thousand seven hundred & fifty & one. Between James McClennan of the Township of Middletown, in the County of Chester and Province of Pennsylvania, Yeoman and Martha his wife / which said James was one of the Sons of Robert McClennan late of Middletown aforesaid, Yeoman, deceased and Elizabeth his wife, who was one of the Daughters of a Certain James Ewing late of the County aforesaid, Yeoman deceased / Robert McClennan of the Township and County aforesaid, Yeoman / another of the Sons of the said Robert McClennan deceased & Elizabeth his wife / Thomas McClennan of the said Township and County Yeoman and Elizabeth his wife / another of the Sons of the said Robert McClennan, deceased and Elizabeth is wife / Samuel McClennan of the said Township and County / another of the Sons of the said Robert McClennan, deceased and Elizabeth his wife / Charles McMichael of the said Township and County, Yeoman and Rebecca his wife / who was one of the Daughters of the said Robert McClennan, deceased and Elisabeth (sic) his wife / Mary McClennan of the same Township and County Spinster / another of the Daughters of the said Robert McClennan, deceased and Elizabeth his wife / of the one part, and Samuel McCree of the Township and County aforesaid, Yeoman, of the other part. Whereas James Ewing late of the Township of Lower Providence in the County aforesaid, Yeoman, deceased by his Last Will and Testament in Writing bearing date the Fourteenth Day of December, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand seven hundred Thirty nine, did amongst other things, Give and Bequeath One fourth part of his real Estate before in the same Will Devised to his Wife for Life, unto the Children of his Daughter Elizabeth, Wife of Robert McClennan, to Hold to them & their Heirs forever after the Decease of his said Wife, as by the said last Will and Testament duly proved and Registered at Chester, in the County aforesaid, the Twenty eight day of November, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand seven Hundred and Forty, and Recorded in Book B Vol 2 page 70, Relation being thereunto had, may more fully appear. . . .

The above deed above gives a lot of family information. I will not go into all of the details. That is something you can do with study of the deed. This deed identifies a lot of people and their relationship. The James Ewing mentioned in the above deed is the ancestor of Margaret Ewing Fife. She tells of James Ewing in her book Ewing in Early America published in 1995.

My purpose with this article is to show how information for a family or multiple families can be found in the records stored at a courthouse. If you have never tried to research a deed or a will, I would suggest you go to your county courthouse to check a deed, any deed. Pick a name and look in the earlier years such as 1800. Usually, you will find a grantor (the seller) and grantee (the purchaser) index in each book. All of the deed books do not handle the index the same way. If you do not understand the index ask one of the clerks in the office for help. Also, many times, the index for the first 100 years, give or take a few years, may have been copied into one book. Look up the deed and read all of it. Then you might take the name(s) mentioned in the description of the property as a boundary line or corner, if that information is given, and look up that deed. Spend a hour or two checking out the place. You will feel more comfortable and not afraid to use those records that contains a lot of family information and history.

The wills may be in another building. Check the marriage license information. Look in all the corners, cabinets, top shelves and basements. Many times the clerks do not know what is stored in the basement besides the deed books.

The clerks in the offices are generally very helpful. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Your tax money is paying their wages.

Just about every old deed, will, court minutes, and other records have been microfilmed. The film will appear on the screen the same way it did in the books. Sometimes the index is in the front and sometimes the index is in the back of the book or film.

Check with your local genealogy library to find out what states film can be gotten through the inter-library loan program. My local library, Montgomery County, Texas, can get film from the Virginia State Library. I pay the postage which is usually $1.00 per roll. My local library has an index on film for what is available for each county in Virginia. Also, they have several good machines to make copies (10" x 14") of the document at 25 cents a page.

If you have a Mormon Church in your area, you can order film through them. They have copies of almost everything including some books. It costs about $2.75 per roll to order their film for a three week period. At the Church library I use, their machine makes copies on a letter size piece of paper costing 25 cents a page.

More later. Good luck with your research.


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By Jim McMichael

[Journal of Clan Ewing Vol 2 No. 2 - May 1996, page 14]

In the February Journal, we mentioned in this column how family information can be obtained by Deeds and other records at the Courthouses. I have selected a Deed recorded in the Wilson County, Tennessee Deed Book O-2, pages 157-165 which records the agreement and the division of the land by the heirs of David Bailey Smith. In a book published about a Smith family included information that indicated David Bailey Smith had died in DeKalb County, Tennessee. However, I was unable to find any records in DeKalb County for my great great grandfather, David Bailey Smith.

Since my great great grandfather had died intestate, I was very pleased when I found this deed. Actually, I had all of the names of the children of David Bailey Smith and their spouse, this would have been a wonderful document for someone that did not have all of the names included in this document.

In my opinion, this deed also tells us a lot about this family. Based on the problems that some families have today with the estate of a family, we see in this deed the concern of the family has to make sure everyone is treated equally.

                        The Agreement

We J.L. Smith, P.B. Smith, J.H. Smith, L.E. Smith, E.J. Grandstaff, I.D. Grandstaff, (sic) N.O. Robertson, A.E. Robertson, G.P. Clemmons, M.E. Clemmons having arranged satisfactorily with Nancy D. Smith, wife of D.B. Smith as to her interest hereby become the sole heirs of his estate. We here by agree to advertise to offer for public Sale all the personal property of D.B. Smith except one mare, cow and such household furniture as may be set apart to the use of N.D. Smith on Monday the 14th inst, Terms of sale notes with approved securities due twelve months from date of Sale for all amounts more than two dollars. We agree that J.L. Smith and G.P. Clemmons to conduct the business of Said Sale they are also to collect the bills receivable, take charge of cash on hand pay all liabilities against said Estate as soon as practicable, and make distributions of proceeds as soon as is consistent with the interest of all the parties concerned. They are to have the agreement between us and Nancy D. Smith recorded at Earliest convenience. We further agree that the land be divided into seven lots and valued. It is especially agreed that A.E. and N.O. Robertson receive lot no one including the residence building and all others except those in the use of J.H. Smith and said lot shall be valued without reference to the buildings before mentioned. The other six lots shall be drawn for after which the heirs are to be equalized on acct of Same being worth more than others;

A Surveyor shall be procured sometime in April 1879 and divide the land during same month, we make choice of the following persons as commissioners to value the land also to aid in dividing said land, J.A. Blankenship, H.H. Delay and W.D. Grandstaff.

We further agree to pay each an equal proportion of the amount necessary to carry out our contract with Nancy D. Smith. The payments to be made the first before sale. Afterwards at beginning of each year. We further agree to invest title in fee simple to the persons heirs who shall draw the lots according to number drawn from 2 to 7 inclusive it being especially agreed that we confer full title to N.O. Robertson and A.E. Robertson to lot No. 1.

In testimony of our consent to the foregoing we hereby offer our signatures on this the 9th day of April one thousand eight hundred and seventy nine.


Attest                          J.L. Smith                   [Joshua L. (son)]

                                    P.B. Smith                  [Pressly B. (son)]

                                    J.H. Smith                   [John H. (son)]

                                    N.O. Robertson           [Nancy O. (daughter)]

                                    A.E. Robertson           [Alexander E (son-in-law)]

                                    G.P. Clemmons          [George P. (son-in-law)]

                                    M.E. Clemmons         [Mary E. (daughter)]

                                    L.E. Smith                  [Lucy E. (daughter)]

                                    I.P. Grandstaff            [Issac P. (son-in-law)]

                                    E.J. Grandstaff            [Elizabeth (daughter)]

Where as D.B. Smith died in Wilson County, Tenn intestate April 8, 1879 leaving his widow Nancy E. Smith (sic) and J.L. Smith, P.B. Smith, J.H. Smith, Eliza J. Grandstaff, wife of I.P. Grandstaff, Nancy O. Robertson wife of A.E. Robertson, Mary E. Clemmons wife of G.P. Clemmons and Lucy E. Smith his only heirs at law where as we the above heirs met together April 9, 1879 for the purpose of conferring with the view of coming to a conclusion as to the manner we would dispose of said D.B. Smiths Estate consisting of about one hundred and twenty acres of land and all his personal property, and whereas the following explanation was made to his widow Nancy E. Smith (sic) as to her rights in said Estate by Esq. J. A. Blankenship and H.H. Delay and W.D. Grandstaff. That under the law she was entitled to a dowery of one third the land including the residence, to one years support, two horses, two cows, a wagon, household and kitchen furniture, and to other exemptions as said dower in the Statue laws of Tennessee and whereas the other heirs before named in consideration of her waiving her right to dowry years support and all other exemptions offered to bind themselves to carry out the conditions of the following propositions. In consideration of the fact that said widow of her own free will and choice expresses her desire to make her home with Alex E. Robertson and wife, that they would give her the right of occupying the family residence during life or widowhood with the right to such household furniture as she needs that now belongs to said Estate to bind each and every heir to furnish her a good support as long as she lives or during widowhood it being understood that she is to have necessary clothing and what she makes by her own efforts she is to dispose of as she chooses that she shall keep one mare and cow to be cared for by said Robertson without pay, he having the right to use said mare as he chooses provided that at all times when she needs said animal she shall have the right of her services, and should said animal die the heirs before named shall secure another suitable for her purposes. The increase of said mare and cow to be disposed of at weaning time or his option afterwards and the proceeds applied to support of said Nancy E. Smith (sic) thereby discharging so much of the liabilities of the foregoing heirs to her support that the said A.E. Robertson in consideration of the fact that the widow has a right to occupy the family residence shall receive the residence building, cribs, stables and all other out houses on the premises except those where J.H. Smith now lives without any estimate being placed upon them when the land is divided as compensation, not for supplies, but for taking care of said widow. That she shall have necessary attention in case of sickness and that they pay expenses for same, and in event of death defray the funeral expenses. They, the foregoing heirs also agree to indemnify her the said Nancy E. Smith (sic) to perform the foregoing contract by giving her a lien upon each and every division of the before name tract of land as it may be set apart, and we especially agree that this shall have all the effect of a regular lien. Now I Nancy D. Smith in consideration of a faithful performance of the foregoing propositions expressly agree to waive all my rights as wife of my husband D.B. Smith. In testimony of our intention to comply in every particular with the foregoing contract, we J.L. Smith, P.B. Smith, J.H. Smith, Lucy E. Smith, E.J. Grandstaff, I.P. Grandstaff, G.P. Clemmons, M.E. Clemmons, N.O. Robertson, and A.E. Robertson on one part and Nancy D. Smith on the other hereby affix our signature this being the 9th day of April one thousand eight hundred and seventy nine.

Attest                                                  Nancy D. Smith 

L.D. Stroud                                         J.L. Smith 

H.H. Delay                                         P.B. Smith 

J.A. Blankenship                                J.H. Smith 

Wm. D. Grandstaff                             L.E. Smith 

                                                            I.P. Grandstaff

                                                            E.P. Grandstaff

                                                            A.E. Robertson

                                                            N.O. Robertson

                                                            G.P. Clemmons

                                                            M.E. Clemmons

                                    State of Tennessee Wilson County

Personally appeared before me J.F. Coe Clerk of the County Court of said County the within named bargainor J.L. Smith & G.P. Clemmons with whom I am personally acquainted who acknowledged that they executed the attached instrument for the purposes therein contained witness my hand at office this 7th day of July 1879

                                    J.F. Coe, Clerk of the Wilson County Court

If you have not been into the official records that were kept at the courthouse in each of the counties within our states, I hope the above deed will be an encouragement to you to consider researching in those records. When you get into the basement of a courthouse looking at the deeds be sure to look in all of the corners and top of file cabinets and etc. You never know when you will find a small amount of information recorded in a book that will be just what you are looking for.


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By Jim McMichael

[Journal of Clan Ewing Vol 2 No. 4 - Nov 1996, page 12]

When I first thought about doing some articles on family research, I had two things in mind of trying to accomplish with the articles. First, I wanted to give a little information that would encourage those that do research to dig deeper into the records looking for the information that is not obvious and readily available. Second, I wanted to encourage those that have never researched their family and maybe they would become in doing some research.

For those that have never done any family research, maybe no one in your family line that you are aware of is researching the family. Let me propose a question for you. Would you like for the grandchild of your grandchildren to know something about the current generations. You can do a lot to document you family. Without leaving home, you can most likely document a good bit of four or five generations of your family.

Obviously, you can document your brothers and sisters for you and your spouse. You know the parents for you and your spouse. That is two generations. Without much effort, you can most likely identify your grandparents and the grandparents for your spouse. That is three generations. You can identify your children and the spouse of each of your children and your nieces and nephews and their spouses. That is four generations. Your grandchildren would be five generations.

With a little effort, a few letters, a few telephone calls, and other types of contacts, you might be able to identify your great grandparents for you and your spouse. That is six generations.

The original article had "Family Group Sheet" reproduced for the purpose of showing how source information was shown. Due to the quality of the page, it is not being reproduced for this presentation on the Internet. Each piece of information recorded for the family had a source identified for that piece of information. Basically, it is nothing more than a superscript number with a footnote giving the source for the information.

Since you have not done genealogy research, you would not have a form like the one shown. You do not need to have printed forms. When I first started putting my information together, about 30 years ago, I got me a three ring binder and notebook paper. The same kind of paper I used when I was going to school.

On the blank piece of notebook paper, you can identify the information such as:

            Name: (full name)

            Birth:  (on this line, you can also show the place of birth)

            Death: (on this line, you can also show the place of death)


            Father:            (full name)                  Mother:           (full maiden name)

You repeat the same information changing "Name" to "Wife" or "Spouse"

For listing the children, you can have some imaginary columns for:

Name              Birth                           Death                          Spouse

I put the place of birth and death next to the date for each person.

Start the information with you and your spouse. That will give you one complete family. Now, you need make a family sheet for your parents and one for your spouse's parents. Then, you can make a family sheet for each of your children that are married.

What have is enough information that will allow you to go forward or backwards for as many generation that you have information. You should continue to make make family sheets for the grandparents for you and your spouse and the great grandparents for you and your spouse if you can go back that far. You have made a family sheet for your children and that identifies all of your grandchildren. If any of your grandchildren are married, you should make a family sheet for each of them. If you have great grandchildren and they are married continue to make the family sheets.

If you have files all of the family sheets in your notebook in alphabetical order, you can look up various families without knowing all of the information. For example, you can not remember the birthday for your spouse's youngest brother's son Robert first child. By looking up the person's name for the common link for who you want to look up, you can find the name of that person's children or parents. Then, you can go backwards or forwards since you have the parents name for the family involved and the children and the spouse name for each child.

If you can name you parents, your grandparents and your great grandparents, you will have identified fifteen people for you and the same number for your spouse.

In order to get all of the information for your grandparents, you may need to talk with an aunt or uncle for help. When you write that information on your family sheet, you would identify the information with a "footnote" showing something like a personal interview with Uncle Charlie on 1 Nov 1996.

You could make copies of your completed information and give a copy to your children and/or grandchildren. If they will continue to add to the information, the children for three generations that are not yet born will be able to know something about their ancestors. If you start with yourself and identify nine complete generations of your ancestors, you will have identified 1,023 people. It would be the same for your spouse.

You can supplement the raw data about a person or family with some additional stories or just how you saw and felt about that person.

Information can become lost real fast. Both of my McMichael grandparents had died six years before I was born. Therefore, their names were not ever mentioned around the house as far as I can remember. It was later that I learned who they were by name. By doing genealogy research and looking at deed, wills, and other types of information, I have learned a lot about my grandparents on my maternal and paternal side of the family. In fact, I was able to find where my mother and father have a common ancestor eight generation back. You may be living within a short distance of a relative or you may be working with a relative that you are not aware of.

The following two documents give some interesting information about an incident that occurred when some land was being surveyed.


Documents received from Margaret Fife, [My reference no. 19950204], stapled between 1734 Tax list for Chester County, PA and 1729 Tax list for East Nottingham.


John Barrett of ye Coty Chester Yeoman being Examined upon his Solemn affirmation Saith ye on ye 18th 7th 1734 he was Imployed by John Taylor to carry ye Chaine & as he was Measureing a Line of John Cristys land Alexer Ewing ye Younger came & commanded him to stop & takeing up a stick Declared he would be ye Death of ye first man that went forward & Calling for his Gunn it was handed to him, then he repeating ye Same words added he would Shoot him ye wentt forward having his thumb on ye Cock of his Gun which he ye Sd Barret took from him & Shott off

Affirmed ye 18th of ye 7th mo 1734                                                    John Barrett

Before me.      Elisha Gatchell


Robert Porter of ye County of Chester Yemon being Examined on his sollom Affermation Saith yt he being in Compene With John Taylor Sorvaier of Sd County as he was survaing a piese of Land for John Cristy ye 18th day of 7th 1734 This afirmest Heard A great Out Cry among ye Chain Carers & John Churchman yt Cared inistremt upon Which Just Gatchel Commanded ye Dept to make hast to Keepe ye Kings Peece and to Lay hold of those yt Oferd to A ____ ye Survaier Or those yt he had __ ____ and when this Afirmest came to ye afore Sd Chain Carers he Saw Elexander Ewing ye Younger have last holt of ye Barret One of ye above Sd Chain Carers On Which this afirmest Layd Hold of Sd Ewing and Commanded ye Kings Peace One when ye Sd Ewing though this Afirmest Two Blows with his fist & twor his shirt.

Affirmd ye 19th of 7th 1734                                                    Robt Porter

before Me.      Elisha Gatchell

(NOTE: The 7th month based on the old calendar is the month of September.)

When you take the names from the above two documents and compare them to information that can be found in the tax records, listed below, you can begin to put the neighborhood together to some extent. There are many interesting documents available, but it takes some extra effort to locate some of the documents. However, when you do find something about your family, it helps to expand your knowledge about a particular family.

The following are names taken from tax list for Chester County, Pennsylvania:

Tax List East Nottingham 1729

  1. Elishia Getchell Esqr

24. John Churchman

43. Nathaniel Porter

52. Wm & Andrew Porter

55. Alexander Ewing

56. Alexander Ewing, Junr

57. William Ewing

58. John Ewing

61. John Cristy

65. William Porter

       George Churchman

Tax List East Nottingham Rate 1734

Elisha Gatchel

Wm Ewing

J W ? Churchman

Allexandr Ewing

John Ewing

John Cristy



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J. A.









John    1   2


Alexander     1   2

James     1   2

James William



















Samuel     1   2
















David Bailey




Nancy D.





John     1   2

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