Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Judge McCorkle, re: the Josephs McDowell

Excerpt from "THE McDOWELS [sic] OF BURKE COUNTY Divided Over Who Commanded at King's Mountain, A SKETCH BY JUDGE M. L. McCORKLE": 

Joe, [Joseph McDowell] of Pleasant Garden, was a mere boy at the commencement of the Revolutionary War. Young as he was, he immediately went into active service in the Patriotic Army. He soon was promoted to the rank of major, in which his cousin Charles [McDowell] was colonel. He was engaged with it in every fight where his cousin commanded. When his cousin Charles retired from the command of the Burke and Rutherford Regiment he was placed in command. At the battle of King's Mountain he commanded the regiment, and Colonel Joe [McDowell], of Quaker Meadows, commanded the right wing of a "portion" of the regiment "under him." Hence, there is a dispute, which had the chief command in that gallant struggle. They were equally brave, equally patriotic, and equally able. One is known as Major Joe of Pleasant Garden, the other as Colonel Joe of Quaker Meadows. Both were at the Cowpens, where Colonel [Banastre] Tarleton succumbed to the sturdy blows of Col. [Daniel] Morgan. Major Joe possessed the fighting qualities which distinguished the family in all its branches. In the [Griffith] Rutherford campaign he killed an Indian in a hand-to-hand fight. He served from the beginning of the war to the close. He was not only a distinguished fighter, but an able statesman and civilian. He was a lawyer by profession. Several of his law books are now in my possession, in which he signed his own name. His autograph is "J. McDowell. P. G."
The signatures of the two Josephs are very different. The one signs his name "J. McDowell of Pleasant Garden," the other "Jos. McDowell of Quaker Meadows." They were known as Major Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Garden and Colonel Joseph of Quaker Meadows. Two of these law books of J. McDowell, in which is written his autograph, are "Hale's Pleas of the Crown," another "Vade Mecum." He was not only eminent as a soldier, but stood high as a statesman. He served in the North Carolina Legislature from 1785 to 1792. McDowell County was named in honor of him. He was a member of the North Carolina Convention of 1788, for the purpose of adopting or rejecting the Constitution of the United States in which he made a statesmanlike speech, opposing its adoption on the ground that it did not guarantee rights of the States, trial by jury and the great writ of "habeas corpus." He was regarded as possessing the brightest intellect of any of the name.
(Source: Originally read by Judge Matthew Locke McCorkle before the Mecklenburg Historical Society. Published in the Charlotte Democrat, Charlotte, N.C., 6 July 1894.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The 1795 Will of Joseph "P.G." McDowell

Will of Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens*

In the name of God amen, I Joseph McDowell of the [Pleasant Gardens, marked out] State of North Carolina and the County of Burke and of the Pleasant Gardens do make my last will and testament [to Wit, marked out] in the manner and form following to wit,
My will is that my wife Mary McDowell have her lawful share of all my lands if she chooses during life. My further will is that she have my three slaves Cato Bine & Africa for her share of my slave property. My further will is that she have one of my best feather beds and furniture her own wearing apparel and my trunk. My further will is that she have two of my best work horses and a young black mare.
My will is that my son John have my six hundred acre tract of land lying on both sides of Pigeon river joining below the flower Garden in fee simple. My further will is that he have my half of the flower Garden place on Pidgeon river in fee simple.
My will is that my son George have the lower half of the old original six hundred and forty acre survey called the Pleasant Garden tract which is to be divided by a line running due North and South from the center of the said tract. My further will is that he have another two hundred and sixty acre tract joining the lower part of the aforesaid tract also another fifty acre tract on the waters of Garden Creek all of which lands I will to him in fee simple.
My will is that my son James have the upper half of the aforementioned six hundred and forty acre tract known by the name of the Pleasant Garden as soon as the life incumbrance expire. The meaning of this clause is, that the said James shall possess the aforesaid lands in whole, or, in part in proportion as it ceases to be incumbered. My further will is that he have that tract of land lying Bridge Creek joining the north end of the Pleasant Gardens tract containing one hundred acres more or less. All the preceeding lands I will to him in fee simple. I further will to my son James that tract of land lying on Buck Creek and known by the name of the McClewer or Chambers place containing two hundred and sixteen acres and that my Executors immediately procure a title to be made to my said son James by McClewer or Chambers according to their bonds now in my possession.
My will is that my daughter Ann have four hundred acres of land be the same more or less lying on both of the forks of French Broad River being my share of two tracts granted to me and James Miller. My further will is that three hundred and twenty acres of land lying on Richland Creek granted to my father and me and being my half of said grant be equally divided between my son James and my daughter Ann the aforesaid lands I will to my son James and daughter Ann in fee simple.
My will is that my executors shall sell the following lands to the best advantage for the benefit of my creditors and the education of my children, to wit, two hundred and sixty acres joining above the cherry fields lying on each side of French Broad River being my share of a tract of land granted to James Glasgow and me also two hundred acres of land lying on new found creek also seven hundred and fourteen acres of land lying in Cumberland which I purchased of Col. Joseph McDowell of Johns river and have his bond to make me a title and that my Executors have full power to make good and sufficient titles for said land, so sold.
My further will is that my Negro [word "man" marked out] slave Cate with her children Jean and her children Negro man Bob, James and Hannah Binahs child be kept with their issue as a joint property until my oldest child arrives at twenty one years of age. Then to be all valued and that a division take place between my four children as nearly equal as possible provided never the less it is my desire that my wife Mary have one of the girls whichsoever she chooses to wait upon her untill her day of marriage if that should ever take place. And my further will is that my Executors dispose of the aforesaid Negroes in the interium in such a manner as shall be most productive of benefit to my heirs at the same time it is my will that care be taken that said negroes be treated well. I further will that my Negro man Harry be sold at the discretion of my Executors. My further will is that one half of a tract of land containing [words "four seven hundred" marked out] seven hundred acres lying on Jonathan Creek on the west side of Pidgeon River be sold to the best advantage at such a time as my Executors may think most proper, and that the other half shall be vested in fee simple in the Heirs of a Col. Henderson of Greenbrier in Virginia they being entitled to it by virtue of an instrument of writing obtained of me about laying a land warrant they paying the _____ of taxes and their proportion of any cost and charges that may ___ in consequences of ___ of ___ with respect to said land.
My further will is that my cattle sheep hogs and geese together with my farming utensils be left in the care of my wife for the benefit of raising my children. That my bed furniture not ___ to willed to my wife be kept for the ___ use of my children and the remaining part of my household [word "furniture" marked out] affairs to remain with my wife to assist her in raising my children. The waggon & geers which I bought from Major Neely to be returned to him with some compensation for disappointment of sale provided he will again take it. But if he will not to be sold to the best advantage by my Executors.
My further will is that my Library be kept for the Joint of my sons. My further will is that my lands kept by way of legacy to my children be rented from time to time by my Executors in the most advantageous manner and that the profits arising from said lands be applied to the maintenance and education of my children. Also I appoint Joseph McDowell John Carson and James Murphy my Executors to this my last will and testament. The above will containing four pages and a part I declare to be my last will and testament published this 19th day of March in the year of our Lord 1795.

J. McDowell (SEAL)

In presence of
Catherine Arthurs
John M Wilson
Robt Logan, Jurat
Copy attest
J.E. ____ Clk.

*A copy of this will is found at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. The original is said to be in Burke County.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quaker Meadows is "Beshaged"

By 1776 Quaker Meadows, the Burke County estate of Colonel Charles McDowell, became a direct target of Cherokee raids, as General Griffith Rutherford of the North Carolina militia indicated in his letter to the new “Rebel” government in Hillsborough. 
Honourable Gentlemen,
I am under the nessety of sending you by express, the Allarming Condition this country is in, the Indins is making great prograce in Distroying and Murdering in the frontiers of this county. 37, I am informed was killed last Wedensday & Thursday on the Cuttaba [Catawba] River. I am also informed that Col. McDowel with 10 men and 126 women and children is Beshaged, in some kind of a fort, with Indins all round them, no help to them before yesterday and they were surrounded Wedensday. I expect the nex account to here that they are all destroyed. … Pray Gentlemen Consider our distress, send us plenty of Powder & I Hope under God we of Salsbury District is able to stand them, but, if you will allow us to go to the Nation, I expect you will order Hillsbourgh District to join Salisbury. Three of our Capitans is killed and one wounded. This day I set out with what men I can Raise for the relief of the Distrest. 
Your Humble Servant, 
Griffith Rutherford*
The government at Hillsborough called out the western militia. Help was received.
[I]n the spring of the year 1776 the Indians broke in upon the frontier settlements on the Catawba when there was a call for men to guard the inhabitants and bring them down to the Quaker Meadows when [Arthur McFalls] volunteered as a private and marched to their relief. And on their march back with the women and children, the Indians attacted [sic] them at the North Fork of the Catawba and pretty sharp action ensued but the Indians give way at last. The whites lost two men killed Captain Reuben White and Sabe Shelton a private & wounded captain Thomas Whitson. The Indians lost eight killed the number wounded not known – this battle was fought in the spring of 1776 he was under Captain John Harden after the Battle they took the women & children down to the Quaker Meadows where he was discharged after being out two weeks.
—Pension application of Arthur McFalls, excerpt**

*Dispatch from North Carolina militia’s General Griffith Rutherford to the Council of Safety, dated 14 July 1776
**Pension application of Arthur McFalls W91871, State of North Carolina, Yancey County: Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions June Court 1836, excerpt

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The 1754 Will of Charles McDowell

In 1754 Charles McDowell,* the father of "Hunting John" and daughters Ann, Rachel, Mary, Hannah, and Elizabeth, died at age fifty-seven in Anson County, North Carolina. He had emigrated along with many other family members and friends from Ulster, Ireland, in the early 1700s, first settling in western Pennsylvania. Following the Great Wagon Road along the Shenandoah Valley, they lived for a time in Virginia before finally making their permanent home on the Carolina frontier. Charles knew his time was coming soon as he wrote this will, the first ever recorded in the Anson County courthouse.
In the name of God Amen. I Charles McDowell of Anson County in the Province of North Carolina being sick & weak of body but of Perfect mind & memory thanks be to almighty God for the same and calling to mind the mortality of life and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die have made and constituted this my Last Will and Testament in form and manner following Revoking all other wills and Testaments whatsoever by me made and appointed I doo allow this and no other to be my last will and Testament.
Impremis. First of all I recomment my soul in the hands of God that gave it & my body to the Grave to be Buryed in a Desent Christean Burial.
Item. I Doo appoint & Constitute my well beloved wife Rachal McDowell Executor of this my Last Will & Testament & I Doo appoint my Good friend and neighbour George Cathee of the County & province aforesaid to be her assistant in the Executorship.
Item. I Doo Give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Rachal McDowell one third part of my Estate to be at her own Descression and a free property to her Mairs and Coults that she has always clamed as Her own for to be at her own Disposull & farther it is my willl and desire that my wife Rachal McDowell may make her home with her daughter Hannah Caller if she scease cause.
Item. I doo Give & Bequeath to my well beloved son John McDowell Ten pounds Current money of Virginia to be paid by my Executors.
Item. I Doo Give & bequeath to my Well beloved Daughter Rachel Eagan of Augusta County in the Colony of Virginia Two Hundred acres of Land lying & being on Broad river in North Carolina in Anson County to her & her heirs Execus. admins. or assigns for Ever.
Item. I Doo Leave unto my well beloved Brother Josp McDowell of Frederick County in Virginea one brown broad Cloath Coat & one beaver Hat & and one pare of Shoe bootes.
Item. and all the rest of my personal Estate after my Lawfull debts are paid to be Equally Divided between my four Daughters Anne Evans Elizabeth Barns Mary McPters & Hannah Caller to be in Joyd by them and their heirs for Ever.
In Witnes whereof I have inter Changeable set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty fourth day of January and in the year of lord God 1754.**

*Charles McDowell, born about 1697, was the son of Joseph McDowell and Ann Calhoun. He preceded his brother Joseph J. McDowell to the Carolina frontier from Virginia. 
**His will was probated 4 June 1754.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The "Pleasant Gardens"

"He was a famous hunter, and delighted in 'trapping,' and to a late period of his life, he could be seen on his way to the mountains, with four large bear traps tied behind him on his horse, with his trusty rifle on his shoulder. On these excursions he would go alone, and be absent for a month or more, hunting the deer, turkies, and bears, and in silent communion with nature and with nature’s God."
—John Hill Wheeler, writing of "Hunting John" McDowell*
There was a wrestling match.
Sometime around 1743, Hunting John McDowell of Augusta County, Virginia, and Henry Weidner,*** a McDowell family friend from Philadelphia, crossed the Catawba River together at Sherrill’s Ford in North Carolina. Only one white family, that of Adam Sherrill, had preceded them into that part of the Carolina frontier. McDowell and Weidner continued westward along the Catawba, and came upon a land tract of unparalleled beauty. They called it “the pleasant garden,” and each wanted it for his own. In traditional Scots-Irish custom, they agreed to wrestle to determine whose the land would be. McDowell won, “using the effective ‘knee trip’”** to defeat Weidner. 
"John McDowell built his house on the west side of the Catawba River, on land now called the Hany Field, a part of the fine body of land well known as 'The Pleasant Gardens,' which for fertility of soil, healthfulness of climate and splendor of scenery, cannot be excelled."*
In 1748 Hunting John received his land grant from John Carteret, Earl of Granville (the former Lord Proprietor, who, upon dissolution of the Lords Proprietor, kept his land in lieu of buyout by the Crown.) The tract extended from Swan Ponds up the Catawba River to Garden City and Buck Creek. Swan Ponds was about three miles above what later became the homestead of his uncle Joseph J. McDowell. Hunting John sold Swan Ponds, without ever occupying it, to Colonel Waightstill Avery, and chose to build his home at “the pleasant garden.” In 1753 that area of Anson County became part of Rowan County, then later, in 1777, part of Burke County. (Later still, in 1842, it would become the heart of McDowell County, created to honor Hunting John’s son Joseph “of Pleasant Gardens.”)
Hunting John had married Ann “Annie” Evans while still in Augusta County, Virginia, about 1746. She was the widow of John Edmiston, who died while their only child was still very young. Hunting John took young Nicholas “Edington” into his household to raise as one of his own. John and Annie would have three children, all born at their North Carolina home: Rachel, Joseph, and Ann. Their only son together was born 25 February 1758 and became "Joseph of Pleasant Gardens.” As he gained renown, and to differentiate him from his cousin Joe of Quaker Meadows, many simply would call him “P.G.”
*Source: John Hill Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians, 1884, Columbus Printing Works, Columbus, Ohio
**“The Wrestling Match,” from Father Weidner, The King of the Forks, by R. Vance Whitener, 1916, Spartanburg, South Carolina
***Henry Weidner’s name is also found in documents as Widener, Whitener, and Whitner.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Captain John “Indian Wars” McDowell

John McDowell (born 1714), youngest son of American McDowell patriarch Ephraim and surveyor of Borden’s Grant in Virginia, married Magdalen Woods in 1734 while the family was still in Pennsylvania. Like so many of the McDowells, she had made the crossing to America from Ireland with her parents and siblings. John and “Magdalena” had three children together before John’s untimely death at age 28 on 14 December 1742. 
John received his Captain’s commission in the Virginia militia after numerous Augusta County landholders made a direct plea (in desperate need of spellcheck):
"To the Honorable, William Gooch Esqr His Majestys’ Lieut: Governor &c &c—
We your pittionours humbly sheweth that we your Honours Loly and Dutifull Subganckes hath ventred our Lives & all that we have In settling ye back parts of Virginia which was a veri Great Hassirt & Dengrous, for it is the Hathins [heathens] Road to ware, which has proved hortfull to severil of ous that were ye first settlers of these back woods & wee your Honibill pittionors some time a goo pittioned your Honnour for to have Commissioned men amungst ous which we your Honnours most Duttifull subjects thought properist men & men that had Hart and Curidg to hed us yn mind of — & to defend your Contray and your poor Sobgacks Intrist from ye voilince of ye Haithen—But yet agine we Humbly perfume to poot your Honnour yn mind of our Great want of them in hopes that your Honner will Grant a Captins’ Commission to John McDowell, with follring ofishers, and your Honnours’ Complyence in this will be Great settisfiction to your most Duttifull and Humbil pittioners—and we as in Duty bond shall Ever pray—
Andrew Moore, David Moore, James Eikins, Geroge Marfit, John Goof, James Sutherland, James Milo, James McDowell, John Anderson, Joabe Anderson, James Anderson, Mathew Lyel, John Gray and many others."*
Captain McDowell assembled a Company of thirty-three men, including his father Ephraim and brother James. In early December 1742, a similar number of Delaware Indians entered the McDowell settlement in Borden’s Grant, “saying that they were on their way to assail the Catawba tribe with which they were at war.” John McDowell met with the Indians, who professed their friendship for the whites. He, in turn, entertained them for a day and “treated them with whiskey.” The Delawares then traveled down the south branch of the North River and camped for about a week. Besides hunting, they proceeded to terrorize local settlers and shoot loose horses at random. In response to grievous complaints, Captain McDowell’s Company was ordered by Colonel James Patton of the Virginia militia to conduct the Delaware Indians beyond the white settlements. On 14 December 1742 they caught up with the suspect Indians at the junction of the James and North rivers. The Company proceeded to gather the group together and initiate the escort. About half of the Indians were on horseback, the rest on foot. One was said to have been lame, not keeping pace with the company, and had walked off into the woods. A soldier at the back of the line fired into the trees at him, and the Indians immediately began a full-fledged attack upon McDowell’s entire Company.** John and eight of his men were killed. At least seventeen Indians also died. In the battle’s aftermath, to avoid all-out war with the multiple nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, Lieutenant Governor George Thomas of Pennsylvania negotiated the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. Agreement was reached that Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor William Gooch would pay the Iroquois a reparation of 100 pounds sterling. 
After what came to be called the “Massacre at Balcony Downs,” many referred to the Captain as John “Indian Wars” McDowell. By this time there were numerous McDowells up and down the Great Wagon Road, so it became a way to distinguish him from others in the retelling. 
*Petition to Lt. Governor William Gooch of Virginia, dated 30 July 1742, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i, p. 235
**Joseph Addison Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, 1902, C.R. Caldwell, Augusta County, Virginia. Specifics of the account are from an 1808 letter sent from Judge Samuel McDowell, son of Captain John McDowell, to Colonel Arthur Campbell.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

From Pennsylvania to Virginia

During the French and Indian War Joseph J. McDowell, born 1715 in Ireland and son of the first Joseph of this line, served as a Lieutenant in Captain Robert Rutherford’s Company of Rangers, colloquially known as “Robins Rangers” in the Virginia militia. He is said to have been a member of the return escort for the survivors of Braddock’s Defeat in summer 1755. In 1758 Joseph was still listed as a Lieutenant in the Frederick County militia, but by October 1761 he had attained the rank of Captain.
Joseph J. and his Irish wife Margaret O'Neill had relocated to Virginia after their daughters Sarah, Nancy, and Elizabeth were born in Pennsylvania. After settling in Winchester, Orange County,* Virginia, their first son Hugh was born in 1742. Five more children followed, all born in Winchester: Charles, Hannah, Jane, John, and Joseph. Second son Charles was born 18 October 1743. His headstone would one day read “General Charles McDowell…, who died, as he had lived, a patriot.”** Youngest child Joseph, born 15 February 1756, would become “Quaker Meadows Joe,” the first of the two Josephs often the source of confusion after the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. 
As early as 1738, Joseph J.’s older brother Charles was in Orange County, Virginia, when he was ordered by the county court to assist in a road-clearing project. (At the time, it was common for courts to use road work as a form of taxation.) In 1740 Charles acquired 600 acres within Jost Hite’s grant along Opequon Creek in Orange County. Brother Joseph later bought the tract from Charles, increasing Joseph’s landholdings around Winchester to more than 830 acres.
Older brother Charles and his family continued southward along the Great Wagon Road. Their next destination was Timber Ridge, further down the Shenandoah Valley, which was already settled with McDowells and other kin.
* Frederick County would be created from Orange County in 1743. 
**Inscription on Charles McDowell's grave marker at Quaker Meadows Cemetery in Burke County, North Carolina.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Scots-Irish Migration

The McDowells were among devout Presbyterian Scots who, beginning in the late 1500s, migrated from the lowlands of Scotland to Ireland. Religious persecutions in the reigns of James VI of Scotland (who later became England’s James I) and Charles I of England provoked many Presbyterians to leave Scotland, particularly in the aftermath of the Ruthven Raid, during which several Protestant noblemen staged an audacious coup d’etat. In August 1582, those nobles met up with James VI while the teenaged King of Scots was out hunting, and invited him to join them at nearby Ruthven Castle. James accepted their invitation and was subsequently held hostage for ten months during which time William Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, ruled Scotland. After James’s escape in June 1583, Protestants became prime suspects regarding their allegiance to Scotland’s king. Though brought up in the Protestant Church of Scotland, he had been baptized in a Catholic ceremony at Stirling Castle. And he was, after all, the only child of Mary, the devoutly Catholic former Queen of Scots, who had been held in England by Queen Elizabeth I since 1568.
Meanwhile, during this time, the Presbyterian McDowells were still in Galloway, the descendants of Prince Fergus, born around 1095. Nearly five hundred years later in 1575, John McDowell, great-grandfather of the first Joseph McDowell of the line, was born in Galloway. (John's father Uchtred, 1oth of Garthland, had been a suspect in the Ruthven Raid before his summons was deleted by royal warrant in 1584.) By 1595, John emigrated to Ireland as a political exile along with others who would become called Scots-Irish, Scotch-Irish, or Ulster Scots. However, within a few generations Ireland, too, would become unsafe for Presbyterians such as he.

In 1661, at the re-establishment of Episcopacy in Ireland, the newly appointed bishops, with Jeremy Taylor as their leader, turned all the Presbyterian ministers out of their charges upon the ground that they had never been ordained. This ignoring of Presbyterian ordination carried with it a denial of the validity of any official act performed by a Presbyterian minister. For instance, the validity of marriage, involving the questions of legitimacy and inheritance. This wrong was not corrected until 1782. Second, In 1704 the Sacramental Test Act was passed, which required all persons holding any office, civil or military, or receiving any pay from the sovereign to take sacraments in the established church within three months after their appointment. This, of course, excluded all Presbyterians from civil and military offices of every kind.
—Rev. W.A. West
A reason to emigrate arose again, this time coinciding with the rising power and impending rebellion of the American colonies. Calvinists in Ireland in the late 17th and early 18th centuries were caught between an Anglican elite and a burgeoning Catholic majority. They found themselves exploited and discriminated against by landlords, and increasingly taxed by churches to which they did not belong. Under the 1704 Test Act, Presbyterian marriages were no longer recognized, dissenters were denied job opportunities, and, all too often, they were not even allowed to bury their dead unless a funeral service was held within the “Established Church.” 
Archbishop Boulton sent to the Secretary of State in England, a “melancholy account,” as he calls it, of the state of the North. He says the people who go complain of the oppressions they suffer, as well as the dearness of provisions. The whole North, he says, is in a ferment, and the humour has spread like a contagion. “The worst is,” says the Archbishop, “that it affects only Protestants, and reigns chiefly in the North, which is the seat of our linen manufacture.” Writing in March, 1729, he says: “There are now seven ships at Belfast, that are carrying off about 1000 passengers thither”—to America.*
During the same time period, there had also been drought, disease, poor harvests, and industry downturn. Those negative factors could happen anywhere, of course. America would be full of unknowns, especially on the frontier. Many chose to take the risk. McDowells, their families, and friends gathered at the ports and boarded the ships. They disembarked in a new world.
*Source: Joseph A. Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, 1901, C. Russell Caldwell, Staunton, Virginia

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Josephs McDowell & Kin

In 1631 Thomas McDowell, son of Alexander, was born in the village of Glenoe, a settlement on the plain above the larger towns of Larne and Carrickfergus in County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. Thomas became a blacksmith, and he married Anne Locke around 1668. They named the first of their five sons Joseph. He was the first “Joseph” of this McDowell line. Their other four sons came in succession: John, Alexander, Ephraim, and William. Two daughters, Esther and Sarah, followed.
Joseph would become grandfather and great-grandfather of the two American cousin Josephs McDowell who later became the subjects of much confusion in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. He married Ann Calhoun of Corkagh, County Donegal, Ulster. (Her father Robert was a Scottish immigrant born in Dunbarton, and maintained for himself the Gaelic surname spelling of “Colquhoun.” Ann’s sister Mary wed Huguenot Andrew Lewis, whose son John was a primary settler in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and a northstar for his McDowell relatives.) Joseph and Ann had four children together, all sons: Charles, Robert, William, and Joseph J.
Charles, Joseph’s oldest son, was born about 1697. He married Rachel, who gave birth to one son and five daughters. Son John, born about 1717, made the journey from Ireland to America as a teenager. In the American wilderness he earned renown for his skills as a hunter, and would ever after be called “Hunting John” McDowell. Hunting John, like his father, would have but one son, born in 1758: Joseph “of Pleasant Gardens,” one of the McDowell cousins of the Revolution.
Joseph J., the youngest of Joseph and Ann’s sons, was born 27 February 1715, nearly twenty years after his oldest brother Charles. Young Joseph J. was raised to become a weaver in Ireland’s textile industry, but he instead emigrated to America shortly after taking the thoroughly Irish Margaret O’Neill* for his bride. As a grandson of Scottish lowlanders, Joseph J. McDowell had allegedly offended his wife’s Irish relatives by marrying one of their own. Margaret was, after all, a member of Ireland’s revered O’Neill clan, descended from a Gaelic dynasty that ruled much of Ireland in the early Middle Ages, particularly in the north. They were fierce nativists and did not take kindly to clouding their pure Irish gene pool with outsiders. Rather than tempt a tragic fate, Joseph J. McDowell and his bride Margaret fled Ireland for the American colonies, and their eight children would all be born there. The youngest, born in 1756, would be named Joseph, and later in life became known as “Quaker Meadows Joe,” the other McDowell cousin in question. 
The children of the first Joseph McDowell did descend from lowland Scots, the target of native Irish discrimination. But they were also nephews of Ephraim McDowell, who, at age 16, helped defend Londonderry against the approach of Jacobite Alexander MacDonnell at the beginning of the Williamite War in Ireland in December 1688. Ephraim also served in the successful defense of Ireland at the tide-turning Battle of the Boyne two years later against England’s deposed King James II. In 1729, though, Ephraim left with his children  and grandchildren to live the rest of his years in America. He continued a life of service, and was a member of the Virginia militia until age 70, when he was deemed too old to serve. (He nevertheless lived another 30+ years.) He was progenitor of the McDowells in the colony of Virginia, as well as in the territory that became Kentucky, on the far side of the mountains. Indeed, he is also said to have built the first road across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ephraim McDowell was an exceptional man and set an example for the generations that followed. 

*Margaret O’Neill, daughter of Samuel O’Neill (c. 1680-), was born about 1717 at Shane’s Castle on Lough Neah in County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. Built in 1345 by a member of the O’Neill dynasty, the castle was originally called Eden-duff-carrick. Shane McBrian O’Neill (c. 1530-1567), known by historians as Shane the Proud, renamed it for himself. Numerous additions were made to the castle complex throughout the centuries. Shane’s Castle has been used extensively as a set location in all seasons of HBO’s award-winning series Game of Thrones.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

McDowells, from Galloway to America

The monks of Holyrood in Edinburgh, where he lived his last days, called him “Prince” Fergus. They were alluding to his marriage with Princess Elizabeth, one of the many illegitimate children of King Henry I of England. Elizabeth’s mother was likely Princess Nest ferch Rhys of Wales, known to have also borne a son named after Henry.*

Fergus, Lord of Galloway, had been named the first such lord by Scotland’s King David I, whose sister Matilda happened to be Henry I’s wife. Fergus and David shared family ties to the English king and they would remain faithful in their support of him as long as Henry occupied the throne. Fergus and Elizabeth's offspring gave rise to the clan of Dougall, anglicized Dowell, known by the 13th century as MacDowell. Their oldest son Uchtred,** second Lord of Galloway, had a son named Dowall (or Duegald, in Gaelic). It was from Dowall that the McDowell name branched forth.
Galloway was unique within Britain during the early Middle Ages. Geographically, it occupied the southwest coastal border of Scotland, with Ireland in view from points along the sea coast. For four generations, beginning with Fergus, the Lords of Galloway were an independent dynasty within Britain. Royal charters during that time were addressed: “To all good men, French, English, Scots, and Galwegians.” Over generations, though, power ultimately changed hands and allegiances shifted. After the death in 1234 of Alan, the fourth Lord of Galloway, King Alexander II of Scotland forced the leadership of Galloway to be partitioned between Alan's three surviving legitimate daughters. (There had been no legitimate sons.) Alexander’s goal was to secure Galloway under Scottish rule and he was successful. Galwegian independence was no more.
John McDowell, born in 1575 to Uchtred MacDowell, 10th Lord of Garthland in Galloway, initiated the McDowell family's migration westward from Scotland. By 1595, John was living in County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland, as a political exile. He had settled in Glenoe, in the parish of Raloo near Larne, where he met and married Irish native Mary Wylie. Grandson Thomas, son of their first-born Alexander and his wife Margaret Hall, was father of Joseph, John, William, Alexander, and Ephraim, some of the earliest McDowells to survive the Atlantic crossing and make America their new home. 
*“Nesta” had been taken hostage by England during the relentless border wars with Wales. England became her home. The King, already married to Matilda, the sister of Scotland’s David I, married Nesta to Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor, the Constable of Pembroke. She would notably become the female progenitor of the FitzGerald dynasty in Great Britain and Ireland.
**Fergus’s son Uchtred was called a cousin of Henry II, King of England, by 12th century English chronicler Roger de Hoveden. Henry II was a maternal grandson of Henry I, and this would support the genetic link to Princess Elizabeth.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Joseph M. McDowell & Mary Queen, 1839

Source: Lumpkin County, Georgia, Marriage Book A-1, 1838-1849
(click to enlarge)
Lumpkin County
To any Judge Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the Peace or Minister of the Gospel  You are hereby authorized to join together in the holy Estate of Matrimony Joseph M. McDowell* and Miss Mary Queen and to make your return on this license to this office of their actual _ intermarriage and of the day on which the same was solemnized  Given under my hand this 16th of June 1839. 
M.P. Quillian C.C.O.
By Bessy Turner
June 16th 1839. I have this day Join together in the holy Bands of Matrimony Joseph M McDowell and Miss Mary Queen  Bessy Turner J.P.

*I am speculating that this may actually be Joseph Moffett McDowell, son of Joseph "P.G." McDowell and Mary Moffett, claimed by many to have died young. Census data proves that both bride and groom, as well as their parents, were born in North Carolina. In 1822, sixty-one families moved to Georgia's Nacoochee Valley in Habersham County from Burke County, North Carolina, during the Georgia Gold Rush. Lumpkin County, just west of Habersham, was the area where the rush initiated, and was created in 1832 in conjunction with the seizure and survey of Native American lands. (White County was formed between the two counties in 1838 from parts of Habersham and Hall counties. Joseph and Mary McDowell's federal census data indicates they lived in White County 1860-1880 after residing in Habersham 1850, though they may not have physically moved.)

Another key to the theory is Joseph and Mary's third child, a son, my great-great-grandfather. Born 1847 in Habersham County, Georgia, he was named Adolphus Erwin McDowell. In 1848, James Moffett McDowell (born 1791), who had inherited McDowell House at Pleasant Gardens (in what by then had become McDowell County, North Carolina) from his late father P.G., deeded the property over to his late wife Margaret Caroline Erwin's brother Adolphus Lorenzo Erwin in order to pay off debts. The matching names of Joseph's son Adolphus Erwin and possible brother-in-law Adolphus Erwin are simply too blatant to pass off as random coincidence. The implication of a Pleasant Gardens connection is too strong to ignore. Research is ongoing. 

Update 12.22.16:
A "Letter of Dismission" in the name of Joseph McDowell is on file in the Georgia Wills & Probate Records 1742-1992. The item is in the Letters of Dismission: Administration, Guardianship and Executors, Vol. B, 1878-1932. His Administrator was J.M. Reese, probate date is 4 January 1886, and the place of record is Gordon County, Georgia. 
Joseph McDowell's possible nephew Dr Joseph Lewis McDowell, was born in North Carolina in 1812, and later made his home in Gordon County, Georgia. He was the first-born of Joseph "P.G." McDowell's own first, John Moffett McDowell, born at "Pleasant Gardens," Burke County, North Carolina, in 1787.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Joseph of Pleasant Gardens
Congressional Biography

From the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

"McDOWELL, Joseph, (cousin of Joseph McDowell [1756-1801]), a Representative from North Carolina; born at 'Pleasant Gardens,' near Morganton, Burke (now McDowell) County, N.C., February 25, 1758; attended schools at Winchester, Va.; served in the Revolutionary Army and was commissioned a major; was subsequently general of militia; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1791 and practiced in Burke, Rowan, and Rutherford Counties, N.C.; member of the state house of commons 1785-1792; elected as an Anti-Administration candidate to the Third Congress (March 4, 1793-March 3, 1795); renominated but declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1794; resumed the practice of law and engaged in agricultural pursuits; member of the commission appointed to settle the boundary line between North Carolina and Tennessee in 1796; died on his estate, 'Pleasant Gardens,' near Morganton, N.C., March 7, 1799; interment at Round Hill on his estate."