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Biography of James and Joshua Ewing

W. H. Beers [Chicago, 1883]

Page 292

In 1798, these brothers emigrated from Kentucky to Darby Township and settled a short distance northwest of the site of Plain City. They bought farms lying on boths ides of Big Darby. One reason for making their purchases on each side of the stream was that they might have ready access to the prairie grazing lands, and at the same time have tillable lands on the elevated bottoms along the creek. they supposed, as did many others, that the open prairies would afford them pasturage for many years to come. In this, however, they were sadly mistaken, and James lived to see those prairies owned by many industrious farmers, inclosed with good fences, and their surroundings indicative of thrift and prosperity.

James Ewing was financially more favored than most of the pioneers. In those early days he was considered "rich," with almost unlimited means at his command. He was one of the Directors of the Franklin Bank of Franklinton, Ohio, and this connection made him useful to the community in which he resided. The borrower of capital, by getting Mr. Ewing's recommendation as to the financial safety of the note, could always get ready cash. Indeed, it may be said of him that he was more than an ordinary bank stock director, for he issued individual notes of small denominations, which passed readily at their face value in his portion of the county. For many years, th eonly post office in that region of country was kept by him for the accommodation of his neighbors, and in connection with it he handled dry goods, groceries, notions, etc., in such quantities as would meet the pressing demands of the people. The land which he selected was the site of an old Mingo village, but hte Indians deserted in in 1786, at the time of the destruction of the Mackacheek towns by Gen. Logan. When Mr. Ewing settled there, the remains of the huts were still to be seen, also an old blacksmith-shop wherein, according to Jonathan Alder, a white man named Butler did iron-work for the Indians. The savages, however, frequently revisited the vicinity, and, although ostensibly friendly, were a source of considerable annoyance to the whites, as they always looked upon the latter as intruders; but the presence of Jonathan Alder in the neighborhood prevented bloodshed or serious trouble between the opposing races. Upon the erection of Union County in 1820, the property of the Ewing brothers was thrown into the new county. Prior to the creation of Madison County, we find that James Ewing was paid $8.75 "for seven days' services in taking the list of taxable property and the enumeration of white males in Darby Township for the year 1803." This appears on the official record of the Associate Judges of Franklin County dated January 10, 1804. James ewing was born in 1770, and died in 1850. In 1808, he married elizabeth Cary, daughter of Luther and Rhoda Cary, then residing in what is now Canaan Township. Mrs. Ewing was born in 1780, and died in 1865. They were the parents of three children, viz., Thomas M., born in1809, died at Cardington in 1876; David C., born in1811, died in 1835; and Phoebe, born in 1813, died in infancy. The family were adherents of the Presbyterian Church, and were very much respected throughout the valley in which they resided so many years.

Joshua Ewing died during the "sickly seasons" of 1822-23. He married Margaret Jamison, who bore him the following children – James Scott, Green, George, Eliza, Polly (who married David Chapman, the Surveyor), Margaret, Cynthia, Harriet (who marreid William Allen, of Plain City), and Martha. Mr. Ewing was elected Justice of the Peace at the first election held in Darby Township, after the organization of Franklin County, in 1803. Upon the erection of Madison County, he was elected a member of the Board of Commissioners, serving continuously in that capacity for the first seven years of the county's history. In 1800, Mr. Ewing brought four sheep to his farm, which were the first introduced into Madison County. One day an Indian was passing by, and his dog discovering the sheep pursued them and killed one of the animals. This so irritated Mr. Ewing that he shot the dog at once. The Indian vowed vengeance, threatening to kill Ewing in retaliation, but through the influence of Jonathan Alder, who happened to be present, the shedding of human blood was prevented. Ewing was a brave man, and told Alder he could defend himself, but the latter knowing the treacherous character of the savages, felt that it would not be wise to let the trouble go any further; so smoothing the matter over for the time, he was finally enabled to persuade the Indian to leave the country. He had demanded pay for his dog, but Ewingpositively refused to give him a cent, and being a man of determined character, remained firm in his purpose. Mr. Ewing was a Surveyor, and made many of the early surveys of Madison County, ere the terrible miasma of the Darby plains marked him as its victim, with the scores of others, who fell beneath its poisonous breath.

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