ABOUT THE EWINGS OF GWINNETT
Some of you may remember back in the 1990s I had a website devoted to stories and family history. Then after a long absence I clawed my way back into the game and introduced my new site EwingsOfGwinnett.org in January 2017. So, where did I go?
A couple of decades ago, benefitting from research by Margaret Ewing Fife, I was nearly finished with my direct Ewing family lineage all the way back to the late 1600s in Scotland when it came to my attention that new DNA evidence proved that my William Ewing (b. 1768 or 1770) who purchased land in Jackson County Georgia sometime just before 1802, and somewhere along the way married Hannah Whaley, was in fact NOT related to the John Ewing of Cumberland County Pennsylvania. This is the William Ewing who brought forth the Ewings of Gwinnett County Georgia as well as other branches, notably the Green Berry Ewing family who continued west as Native American land was made available.
For many years Ewing branches all across the country followed and counted on the amazing work of Margaret Ewing Fife, who without the benefit of technology traveled all over the country to unravel the numerous Ewing lines in America with a great amount of success. Mrs. Fife's work provided momentum for many Ewing family groups to gain a firm and accurate understanding of their history and lineage. However, as well researched as her own family was, yDNA technology revealed a fatal flaw in Margaret’s association of my William (m. Hannah Whaley) with John Ewing of Cumberland County, casting doubt on all prior assumptions concerning my known lineage before 1768.
At this point, I must pause and give a little background about myself. I’m a businessman, avid historian, and amateur genealogist. I am the son of Thomas H. Ewing of Gwinnett County, noted researcher of many families in the Gwinnett County area, including Ewing, Aderhold, Brownlee, Peeples, Snell, and others, also past volunteer at the Gwinnett County Historical Society, past President of the Snellville Historical Society, author of numerous articles in Genealogical and Historical publications over the years, and author of “Snellville Consolidated School”, a history of one of the first schools in Georgia to unite one-room school houses into a single school. He was the source for much of Margaret Ewing Fife's research on the family from William Ewing (b 1768 or 1770) forward. I give a lot of credit to my father for giving me the history and genealogy "bug".
I have been working family history off and on for about 30 years, particularly through the 1990s when I took a number of road trips to follow Margaret's tracks. It was amazing to be browsing through some dusty old source document in some old obscure library in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, or New Jersey, and suddenly run across one of her business cards. That still happens to this day in fact. My expertise has always been researching the backdrop of history surrounding the family in our lineage, which provides much-needed color and interest to what would otherwise be just a mundane list of names, dates, and places. I put a great deal of work into this and was on the cusp of writing a companion book to Margaret's work Ewing in Early America, which would tell a real and true story of our family from the old country through the 20th century with the backdrop of history.
With all the work my father and I had done, you can imagine the let-down when the yDNA evidence derailed us. I was off track for about 10 years, with numerous other personal and professional challenges preventing me from being in the game, from my wife working through and surviving cancer, to achieving my Master’s Degree, to getting two daughters through high school and college and other activities, to just life in general.
A few years ago, there was an article in the Ewing Family Journal (formerly Clan Ewing), which mentioned very vaguely some possible linkage between our William Ewing and another known family of Ewings. I had previously performed a 37-marker test through Familytreedna.com and it pointed to families at least close to the Cecil County folks, so I upgraded to the 67-marker yDNA and Mitochondrial from Familytreedna.com supported by Ewing Family Association and the Ewing DNA project. This upgrade confirmed my William Ewing was directly linked to the family of Captain Patrick Ewing of the American Revolution period in Cecil County Maryland.
After numerous trips to Maryland and Pennsylvania in the past few years, as well as the Colombia Theological Seminary Library, Georgia State Archives, and numerous historical societies and courthouses in Georgia and the mid-Atlantic, I have been able to pretty much complete the story of my William. While I haven’t yet found all the details, I know he was born in Cecil County Maryland the son of Captain Patrick Ewing of Revolutionary War fame, moved to Georgia around 1801, married Hannah Whaley about the same time, and after living in Jackson County and Gwinnett County, he likely met his demise in Newton County Georgia.
As for the history of my family, I’ve now been able to take us from a little farm on Webb Gin House Road, Gwinnett County Georgia in the 1950s back to colonial times in Cecil County Maryland, then back through their likely 1727 arrival in New Castle Delaware to Londonderry and Coleraine in Northern Ireland in the late 1600s. Most of my research is conventional, and I’m always pushing to prove my research through primary source documents. But in this case where there were clear gaps in the records, yDNA testing came through and got me back on track.
However, this story is not yet complete as I have now expanded my Familytreedna.com kit to the BIG-Y test to hopefully give me another bump in direction. My plan is to solidify our history in Northern Ireland, with the hope of proving us back to Scotland. You may keep track of my progress at EwingsOfGwinnett.org, but in the meantime, I encourage you to take advantage of the potential of yDNA testing, especially BIG-Y through Familytreedna.com. Join the Ewing DNA project and take part in the completion of our story!