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"Captain" Patrick Ewing

Son of Joshua the Immigrant


The Mason-Dixon Line

We are now before the birth of the nation.  We are not just before the American Revolution, we are almost 20 years before the French and Indian War, known to Europe as the Seven Years War.  We are at 1737, the year of Patrick Ewing's birth.  This is the time of a little-known conflict in North American history called "Cresap's War" (also known as the Conojocular War, from the Conejohela Valley where it was mainly located along the south (right) bank) was a border conflict between Pennsylvania and Maryland, fought in the 1730s. Hostilities erupted in 1730 with a series of violent incidents prompted by disputes over property rights and law enforcement, and escalated through the first half of the decade, culminating in the deployment of military forces by Maryland in 1736 and by Pennsylvania in 1737. The armed phase of the conflict ended in May 1738 with the intervention of King George II, who compelled the negotiation of a cease-fire. A final settlement did not occur until 1767 when the Mason–Dixon line was recognized as the permanent boundary between the two colonies. 


This conflict occurred in an area just west of the Susquehanna River, and southeast of Coderus Creek.  Just a couple of miles on the other side of the Susquehanna River was an area known as the Octoraro Hundred, a triangle of land between the Susquehanna and Octoraro Creek.  I've only heard one story concerning the reference to the name of this area,  and that it was named the Octoraro "Hundred" because it was the amount of land that it would take to feed and equip one hundred of the King's soldiers.  I'm hoping someday to get more clarity on this tale.  Having been there I might estimate the size of the area to be about 100 square miles, but that is just a guess.  

Patrick's father Joshua and his brothers and half-brother were early settlers of the land known as Cecil County in the Octoraro Hundred with the first purchase of Cecil County land going to a cousin Alexander Ewing (b. son of Robert in 1676 or 77 near Derry, Ulster Plantation, Ireland, and Baptized at the Burt Congregation that same year), acquiring 900 acres of land known as "The Levell" on the western side of the Octoraro Hundred just to the east of Conowingo Creek.  








Patrick was the oldest boy in the family, with sisters Margaret and Catherine being the oldest, and younger brothers Robert, Samuel, and Nathaniel bringing up the rear.  Patrick was 16 when his father died in 1753.  In Joshua's will, he confirms he has four sons, and names his wife and son Patrick as executors.  In the will, Patrick and his brother Robert received the plantation called "Boran's Forest" and "Addition to Success".  The youngest brothers received the property "Dividing".  At 16 Patrick, with the help of his mother, was taking extraordinary responsibility for the future success of the family, although most certainly older members of the family helped.  Patrick's older sister Catherine (oldest Margaret had died in 1753, perhaps before Joshua, and hence was not in the will) had married her first cousin William Ewing, son of Nathaniel.  This William is mentioned along with his brother John Ewing and James Porter to as "guardians" to see that justice and equity was done.  Over the years, Patrick and the other three brothers exchanged land, keeping to the will in spirit, but certainly having their own preferences.  





















Octoraro Hundred - Click for full size version


At some point, Patrick built a home on the property "Addition to Success".  Years after our William (son of Captain Patrick) had left for Georgia, Patrick died April 11, 1819 at the age of 82 years, and left the land to the second child and eldest son of wife Elizabeth Porter.  His name was also Patrick.  The younger Patrick tore the house of his father down in 1834 after building his own home named "Stone Lea" in its place.  The property is still there, is still called "Stone Lea", is still beautiful, resting on a hill overlooking the lovely Octoraro Creek.  The property has changed hands a few times of course, even once being the home of the owner of the New York Mets.  






The American Revolution

During the American Revolution, Patrick served as the Commissary for Cecil County to supply the Colonial Army.  This meant that he would go from farm to farm, or operate from an office and supporters of the cause come to him and provide for a fee in Maryland currency, or sometimes voluntarily, supplies and foodstuff for the Colonial army.  At some point he was awarded the rank of Captain of the Colonial Army, perhaps to lend authority to his role.  I have in my possession numerous examples of his service to George Washington and the Colonial Army.  In the minutes for the Council of Safety, Annapolis MD, February 16, 1776, "Ordered, That the Treasurer of the Western-Shore pay to Mr˙ Patrick Ewing eighty Pounds, on account of Captain Nathaniel Ramsay' s Company."  Also, in the "Registers and Clerks of the Provincial Court, and of Anne Arundel County, required to furnish a list of their Record Books, and to prepare for the removal of the Records, v5:1523", we see: "Ordered, That the Treasurer of the Western-Shore pay to Mr˙ Patrick Ewing one hundred and twenty Pounds, for subsist and advance money for Captain Nathaniel Ramsey' s Recruits." We also see that the Maryland Convention, the "Proceedings of the Convention of the Province of MARYLAND, held at the City of ANNAPOLIS, on WEDNESDAY, the 14th of AUGUST, 1776", CECIL COUNTY representatives were — Joseph Gilpin, Patrick Ewing, and David Smith. Also, a report from the Committee of Elections shows "That by return from Cecil County, Joseph Gilpin, Patrick Ewing, David Smith, and Benjamin Brevard, Esquires, were duly elected." to serve as representatives on August 15, 1776.  Note that these events occurred both before and after the Declaration of Independence. 


Soon after the Continental Congress voted in support of the Declaration, Patrick was a member of the Maryland
convention that formed the first State Constitution in 1776 [McSherry's History 399].

BREAKING NEWS!!! - Thanks to EFA reearcher Karen Avery that found this:

During the American Revolution, apparently Patrick Ewing, his first wife Jane, his second wife Elizebeth (Jane's sister), and family attended First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, All Patrick's children were baptized there (note, Margaret Ewing Fife only cites two children, Elizabeth and Patrick Jr as being baptized there).  But In fact the baptism record here clearly records that all of his children from Putnam (b. 22 April 1776) were baptized there.  Those children that came before Putnam, including Margaret, Joshua, James Porter, Robert, William (mine), Samuel, and Andrew were baptized elsewhere.  

Well thought of in the leadership of the Continental Army

There are many stories in any war.  It's always nice to run across some when they involve your direct ancestors.  Here is one from the grandson of Captain Patrick, which might be just a story, or it might be a true event that reflects his reputation among the military leadership of the new nation.  

Hon. Edwin Ewing of Rising Sun, MD (grandson of Capt. Patrick Ewing) tells about his grandfather during the Revolutionary War.  Patrick Ewing was a quartermaster and on a retreat, when all the soldiers were crowding into a boat, the General drew his sword and ordered the soldiers to let the gentleman (Patrick Ewing) on board. For this act of kindness he thanked General Putnam and promised to name his son for the general and this he did in 1776, naming his son, Putnam Ewing.

If this story is true then it might indicate that Patrick was involved early in the war, perhaps even in Massachusetts  or Long Island, and if as a quartermaster, then perhaps as a part of a Maryland regiment.  This is an area I will continue to research.  

Known to George Washington

Samuel Chase was a signatory to the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Maryland. His influence abounded, and to the young nation was likely a welcome character reference for the people and resources to none other than General George Washington.  At some point in the summer of 1777, Washington was entertaining the thought of possible conflict in the area of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia after British General Howe had failed to lure Washington into a conflict in the New Jersey area.  Washington suspected a British effort to gain control of Philadelphia, which was then the seat of the Second Continental Congress, or some other target in the mid-Atlantic colonies.  Inquiring about the environment surrounding Maryland, Samuel Chase replied to General Washington:

To George Washington from Samuel Chase, 25 August 1777 Philadelphia. Augst 25. 1777.Dear Sir. From an Opinion that your Excellency would wish to be acquainted with the Country, which will probably be the Seat of this Summers Campain, and that a Knowledge of such Persons, there, in whom You may repose a Confidence, would be acceptable to You, I take the Liberty to solicit, for a Moment, your attention to this Subject. You will receive, by Dr Shippen, a pretty exact Map of the Country, and which will afford a general Idea of it. the Distances & natural Advantages can only be known by your own observation. Mr Henry Hollingsworth is active and well acquainted; Mr Jos. Gilpin, Patrick Ewing, -- Hyland, Jos. Baxter, Charles Rumsey, Dockery Thompson and Wm Clark, all of Cæcil County, may be relied on. If any Intelligence should be wanted, or Service rendered, in Kent County, John Voores & J. Henry at George Town, and Capt. -- Kent and -- Leathrbury, assembly Men, Joseph Nicholson Senr and John Cadwallader Esqr: may be depended on.


Sure enough, British General William Howe utilized the fleet of brother Admiral Sir Richard Howe, left New York Harbor, turned south and into the Cheasapeake Bay, then north toward Maryland.  Once he had reached the limits of the fleet, he embarked his army on transports, and landed them at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay several miles south of the "Head of the Elk", also known as "Elkhead" or modern day Elkton. From there, he advanced northward toward Philadelphia. Washington prepared defenses against Howe's movements at Brandywine Creek, but was flanked and beaten back in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. After further skirmishes and maneuvers, Howe was able to enter and occupy Philadelphia. Washington then unsuccessfully attacked one of Howe's garrisons at Germantown before retreating to Valley Forge for the winter.

The Elephant In the Room

Valley Forge, forever brings to mind of a near-defeated continental army, starving and frozen, living in mud caves and shacks cobbled together from whatever materials could be found, a mere ghost of the hopes of a new nation, on the brink of total loss.  And all because of corruption in the supply lines that would not permit the free supply of the troops from the bountiful farms within the colonies.  

This is the story we were taught in school.  I myself can remember thinking "How could the suppliers of the soldiers at Valley Forge be so selfish?"  We all have probably wondered why Valley Forge had to happen, and why it took George Washington directing Nathaneal Greene to turn the supply lines around and get the army fit for training again.  

Well there's the truth and then there's the truth.  To this day when you visit the Valley Forge National Military Park Visitor Center, and when you tour all around the park, you are hammered with visions of a starving army, just barely making it, living in cobbled together huts fashioned in the style of the home state.  I'm not going to say it's a lie.  And Captain Patrick Ewing was very much a part of the cause, but he was also very much a part of the solution.  

Clearly Nathaneal Greene helped make a difference, and yes there was corruption, supplies sitting idle, and the like, but there were also dangers from loyalist disruption.  General Greene and others played a part in correcting that.  

However, the end of Valley Forge in 1778 did not end the difficulties in getting supplies to the Continental Army.  In the "Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, April 1, 1778 through October 26, 1779 Volume 21, Page 516 ", we find the following item dated September 8 1779:

Circular. In Council Annapolis 8th Septr 1779 
We last night recd a Letter from his Exy Genl Washington dated the 28th of last Month inclosing a Copy of one to him from Colo Wadsworth dated the 27th which give alarming Apprehensions of the Army's suffering for want of Flour & pressing extraordinary Exertions for a Supply. We do not know whether you have received fresh Instructions from Colo Blaine on this Circumstance so unexpected by us, but whether you have or not, you may be assured that you cannot render more essential Service in your Department than in providing and pressing forward as quick as possible, all the Flour you can; it is an Object of too great Magnitude to delay, either for Formality of precise and regular Orders, or a Trifle in the Price and we doubt not you'll attend to it accordingly. If from your Circumstances it will be necessary to appologize to Colo Blaine, we imagine this will excuse you, if not, we dare say Genl Washington's Letter will. Pray advise us of your Receipt of this and the Resolution you take in Consequence of it 
We are.

ca To Patrick Ewing, Cecil, & Robt Buchanan, Balto

I once found a positive note, penned by General George Washington himself, specifically mentioning Patrick Ewing and his contribution.  I saved it and then I lost it.  I will find it again some day.  If memory serves, it was not in an easy-to-find place.  But once I find it, it will be recorded here.





















If you want to know what REALLY happened at Valley Forge, I recommend you acquire a copy of the book "Valley Forge Winter - Civilians and Soldiers in War", by Wayne Bodle.  My friend Wayne Bodle is the foremost authority on Valley Forge, served for decades as the park historian, and knows more about what really happened there than anyone else on the planet.  Except that what he has to say sometimes conflicts with academia.  This book is actually a very compressed summary derived from a  huge compendium of research entitled "Valley Forge Historical Research Report" and completed back in 1982 by Mr Bodle and Jacqueline Thibaut.  When I asked about his research in the context of specifically Captain Patrick and Cecil County Maryland, he referred me to Ms. Thibaut, who had done more work on logistics than he, but indicated that his own essay on Cheney Clow, a bandit/loyalist/insurgent in the vicinity of Cecil County and eastward to Delaware is a strong clue to the problems of supplies coming from the mid-Atlantic states.  

According to "A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789", by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al.
Volume 426, Page 316, Captain Patrick continued to serve his community as Justice of Cecil County frmo 1782 until at least 1795, then Judge, Court of Appeals for Tax Assessment, Cecil County in 1786 (apparently serving in both offices simultaneously).  However, not all were so satisfied with the work of our Patrick.  In December 1788, Ewing's commission as Justice was discouraged by all four Cecil County delegates, who charged that Ewing had become "extremely obnoxious......, inasmuch as he is generally esteemed a promoter of violence & outrage against the Laws......".  Nevertheless, his commission was confirmed.  

According to the Maryland Archives biography mentioned above, Patrick had slaves.  This should come as no surprise, nor should it be a point of shock or rethinking of his merit, for in that day in any of the colonies, if you did not either have Irish indentured servants or African slaves, you were in the minority if you had any substantial amount of land.  At the most, Patrick had 5 slaves, at the least, near the end of his life he had 3.  


Certainly in our modern way of looking at things, slavery was clearly wrong.  So let me ask a touchy question.  What did his slaves think of him?


The following article appeared in the 'Fulton Missouri Weekly Gazette", Fulton, Callaway County, Missouri, Friday, July 2, 1909.  This was the residence of Joshua Ewing, son of Patrick, who lived and died there years after Patrick had passed.  I offer my advance apologies for the vernacular, which modern sensibilities will certainly find offensive, but I assure you my citation here is an exact quote and is reflective of the period, and intended to convey the sentiment appropriate of that period.  




The loyalty of the old-time Negro slave to her "white folks" was shown in a pathetic way Monday at Mokane at the funeral of Joshua Ewing [died Saturday, June 26, 1909'] of this city, by Clara Ewing, 91 years old, a former slave in the family of Mr. Ewing, who is now an inmate of the county infirmary on [at] Ham's Prairie.  


The aged negress learned of the death of Mr. Ewing, and early Monday morning escaped from the infirmary and started on a nine-mile journey to Mokane to attend the funeral and burial.  When she had made more than half the distance on foot she was overtaken by G.P. Ratekin, a nephew of the deceased, who took her into his buggy and carried her the remainder of the distance.


She sat in a retired corner of the church throughout the funeral service, and at the close of the sermon, after all of the congregation had viewed the remains, she went to the casket and stood for a moment looking on the features of her former master and benefactor.  The simple grief of the old woman was so touching that it brought tears to the eyes of nearly every person in the audience.


The old negress originally belonged to the father [Captain Patrick Ewing] of Mr. Ewing.  He sold her while she was still a slave, and her anguish because of being parted from the family was so keen that it caused Mr. Ewing [Patrick's son Joshua] to by her from her purchaser for $600.  She was practically given her freedom at that time but she continued to live with the family for many years.  She told people at the funeral that she would have been present at the obsequies even though she would have had to travel through fire to get to it, for it was her "last chance to see ol' marster" [master].

Certainly this is not an acquital for the institution of slavery, but clearly in the Patrick Ewing family slaves became part of the family and were well treated.  I have no other evidence of slavery in the direct line of my family.  As wrong as it was through modern eyes, I'm glad of that.  In later generations, we saw some share-cropping, but no slavery.  

Scandal in the family?

I've wondered if there was a scandal in the family which might have resulted in some of the children, in particular my William, leaving Cecil County.  We know that of the four brothers and one half-brother who first settled Cecil County, there were numerous cases of cousins marrying, particularly with the Porters.  At least one of these was mentioned specifically in Patrick's will, where he had the audacity to state that Catherine, his third daughter, would only get her inheritance if she divorced her husband and first cousin James B. Porter, or if he died.  In modern eyes this is a rather morbid thing to put in a will.  About the same time these two married our William left Cecil County for Georgia.  It would be pure speculation to say this was related, but who knows?

Around this point in time, the family started to scatter into the four winds, with some remaining in Cecil County (descendants to this day), some leaving for Lee or Russell County Virginia, some for Kentucky or North Carolina, even South Carolina.  Some ended up in Ohio and even Missouri.  The most important one came to Georgia.  😊

My thinking is that this migration was a sign of the times.  The Scots-Irish Migration was moving on.  Some to the lands of the Northwest Territories and westward, some down the Great Valley and Cumberland Trails to the southwest and then west.  It was time for new land and more elbow room.

Scots-Irish Presbyterian 'til the end

There is a file on West Nottingham Presbyterian Church at the Presbyterian Historical Society, 425 Lombard St, Philadelphia, PA.  I've been there many times researching many things, but in March and June of 2018 I found the file and there was Patrick, regularly paying tithes, renting a seat in a pew, and even voting in a building expansion (he voted "Aye", and so did his son William).  His family was there.  And among the records was a map of the church, before and after the expansion.  

Death, Burial, Desecration, Reburial, Tribute

Captain Patrick died April 11, 1819.  He was buried at "Polks Graveyard", a small plot of the period a few miles to the west of his home, and about a mile east of his church, West Nottingham Presbyterian Church.  According to the book "The Ewing Family" by Col. Wm A. Ewing published around 1897, 'Of “Capt.” Patrick (213) Ewing, b. Feb.11, l737, we know from his tombstone in “Polks Graveyard” (near Porters Bridge) that he “Departed this life April 11, 1819, aged 82 years, 2 months, & 10 days. He lived and died an honest man.”'

In the late 1990s his grave was disturbed and was in danger of being destroyed.  The farm's owner saved the stone and presented it to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The group made an extraordinary effort to preserve Patrick's memory, even though "progress" destroyed the actual grave, among many others at Polk's Graveyard.  2pm on Sunday, October 11, 1998, a ceremony was held in celebration of this Patriot, and placing the original stone as well as a modern marker with a fitting tribute.  I'm thankful for this gesture from the DAR, preserving the dignity of a historical figure and a respect for history which is difficult to find these days. 


The Land - Octoraro Hundred, Cecil County Maryland

The second Ewing known to acquire land in the Octoraro Hundred was believed to be Nathaniel, half-brother to our Joshua, father to Patrick.  The importance of this Nathaniel cannot be dismissed.  He was born in Coleraine, Ireland in 1693, and was the first of this group of brothers to die in America.  We shall speak more on this Nathaniel when we discuss Joshua in detail in the next chapter.  But all the evidence of our earliest known ancestor comes from information we have on Nathaniel.  

In 1728, Nathaniel and Joshua jointly purchase a 600 acre tract of land called "DIVIDING" in Octoraro Hundred, Cecil County.  In 1748 Joshua bought 219 acres of nearby "BORAN'S FOREST" (misspelled - actually called "Borden's Forest" after a William Borden).  Further, at the same time he bought an adjacent property called "ADDITION TO SUCCESS", a strip of land between "BORAN'S FOREST" (current-day spelling) and "DIVIDING".  By Joshua's death in 1753, he owned three tracts of land.  Below are maps of the location of these properties.  They come into play through much of young Patrick's life.  By the time Patrick was born on Feb 1, 1737, Joshua already co-owned "DIVIDING".  Then by the time Patrick was eleven his father nearly doubled his holdings.  Clearly the properties were making money and the family was prospering.  

Valley Forge.jpg
The Valley Forge Winter.jpg

An early map, thought to be from around the 1740s on animal skin, depicting the area of Cecil County Maryland and the Octoraro Hundred.  - Cecil County Historical Society.

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