Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Origin of the McDowells

From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston, pp. 381, 383:

By William McDowell.
    The McDowells are of Pictish origin and natives of Scotland, and away back about 200 B. C. one of them, the first that I can find anything about, had a duel with one of the Kings Habakon. You will find another William McDowell—was governor-general of Scotland in 1293, and had charge of Sterling Castle. You are further aware that this name is as old as the Creation. They are not of Celtic origin, they are not Irish; but the best blood that ever landed upon the American continent. They were early settlers in America. A great many of the McDowells that are in America are from Ireland. They went over there the time of the Cromwell settlement, in Ulster. You will find a great settlement of the McDowells near Belfast, along the Legon River, about fourteen miles from Belfast. You can find out there where the McDowells came from that landed there; some in the County Derry, County Monaghan—all over the north of Ireland. You likewise will find out that in Renfrewshire, Scotland, there are a great many, and in Ayrshire, and in Dumfrieshire, and in Gallowshire; there would be very little difficulty of finding out all about the McDowells in America—the McDowells that came later from Scotland. Sometimes the name is spelled McDowall, but after the Scotch Revolution the settlers in Ireland spelled it McDowell. They are all of Presbyterian, Covenanter origin.

Monday, January 28, 2008

more Joseph McDowell confusion...

From The Political Register and Congressional Directory, by Benjamin Perley Poore, pub. 1878, Houghton, Osgood and Company, page 512:

    McDowell, Joseph (father of Joseph J.* McDowell), was born at Winchester, Virginia; and his father soon afterwards removed to Burke County, North Carolina; was active in the Revolutionary movements, commanding a portion of the right wing under his brother [-in-law] Joseph at the battle of King's Mountain October 7, 1780; was a member of the House of Commons of North Carolina 1782-1788; was a member of the convention of 1788 to consider the adoption of the Federal Constitution, which he opposed; was elected to the Third Congress, serving from December 2, 1793, until March 3, 1795;** was again elected to the Fifth Congress, serving from May 15, 1797, to March 3, 1799.
*Joseph Jefferson McDowell (1800-1877)
**This is an error. It was his cousin Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens that served in the Third Congress. Please reference the U.S. Congressional Biography posts for each (linked via US Congress index labels.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Benjamin Borden's Agents & Settlers

From Kegley's Virginia Frontier: The Beginning of the Southwest: the Roanoke of Colonial Days, 1740-1783, by Frederick Bittle Kegley, The Stone Press, Roanoke, Virginia, 1938:

When Benjamin Borden came to Augusta he made different men his agents and lodged at their houses using the houses as places to see persons wanting land. Aside from John McDowell with whom he first met he had John Patterson, through whom he sold many tracts of land. McDowell first made entries of one hundred acres each for James Bell, Alexander Breckenridge, George, James, Robert and Adam Breckenridge, John Moore, Quentin Moore, John Walters, William McCanless, Robert Poage, Seth Poage, Daniel McAnaire and John Gwinn, the land to be given them if they would build and improve on it by the next April. This agreement was dated Feb. 21, 1738-39. The settlers got no deeds and brought suit against Borden's executor for titles. Benjamin Borden, Jr. charged in answer that James Bell caused a servant wench of his to be dressed in man's clothes and made an entry in her name as a man, and also caused another woman, the wife of William McCanless, to appear in her proper person on a different part of the land as the wife of another settler and thereby obtained another entry.
Among other purchasers were David Moore, Isaac Anderson, Andrew Moore, William Evans, John Downing, William Sawyers, John Paul, Robert Campbell, Samuel Wood, John Mathews, John Edmiston, Richard Woods, John Hays, Charles Hays, Samuel Walker, John McCraskey. Alexander Miller was the first Blacksmith and John Hays the first owner of a mill. James Greenlee* came in 1737.

*Note: In 1736 James Greenlee married Mary Elizabeth McDowell, sister of Borden's Grant surveyor John McDowell. She and her older brother John were children of McDowell patriarch Ephraim McDowell. Check index for more, including Borden/McDowell survey arrangement.

The Family vs Magdalen's 3rd Husband

Robert Harvey and Martha, his wife et als., vs. John Bowyer
--O. S. 140; N. S. 48--.
Orators Robert and Martha are children of Magdalen Bowyer of Rockbridge, wife of John.
Complainants are, viz: Robert Harvey and Martha; David McGavock and Elizabeth; James McDowell of Rockbridge; James McDowell, son of John, said John next friend to his infant children, Polly, Samuel, William, Sarah and John; George Moffett and Sarah, his wife, representatives of Magdalen Bowyer, deceased.
Samuel McDowell of Jessamine County, Ky., deposes 26th July, 1808: Was son of Magdalen; was Dr. McDowell; moved to Kentucky with his family in 1783. Andrew Reed was Samuel's son-in-law. Martha Harvey was only daughter of Benj. Borden, her sister Hanna having died infant and intestate. Elizabeth McDowell was widow of James McDowell (deceased intestate), son of Magdalen. Martha had been the wife of Benj. Hawkin's, deceased. Benj. Borden, Jr., died April, 1753. Magdalen Bowyer and Mary Greenlee were sisters-in-law. John McClung deposes 7th August, 1809, he was acquainted with Gen. John Bowyer on his arrival in this country, which was about fifty-five years ago. John came as a school teacher, which he followed only a few months, when he married Mrs. Magdalen Borden. Samuel McDowell's wife was sister of deponent. William Patton deposes (same time as above) that in fall coming it will be about 55 years since Genl. John Bowyer came first to this part of the country. Deponent was about 13 years old. Bowyer opened a school which William attended, and in a few weeks Bowyer and Magdalen were married. Bowyer had of property only a horse and saddle and the usual clothes which young men in his station had.

(From: Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, Vol. 2, by Lyman Chalkley, originally pub. Mary S. Lockwood, 1912; "Circuit Court Records, Section 'I'; Circuit Court Judgments and Causes Ended. These notes are extracted from the records of the District Court, the Circuit Superior Court, the Circuit Court, and all papers belonging to the records of the present Circuit Court. The references are to the bundles of original papers and style of suit or to the number of the order or record book in which the original papers will be found.")

Ephraim, John & James McDowell

Near this spot repose
the remains
the first of his name
in America.
Who died about 1730:
his son.
Who was killed by the
Indians in 1742:
his son.
born 1739. died 1772.
And ELIZABETH his wife.
Who died about 1810:
Also their Daughter
Who died 1803.
[marker location: McDowell Cemetery, near Fairfield, Rockbridge County, Virginia]
Ephraim McDowell, patriarch of the family, was born 1673 in Ireland, and lived to be 104, well past 1730. His longevity is documented by many sources. His death date on this marker is in error.

Ephraim McDowell (1673-1777)

My 7x great-grandfather Ephraim McDowell migrated to America with his children and grandchildren after the death of his wife Margaret Irvine in County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. Not all survived the arduous transatlantic voyage. They disembarked at the Quaker port city of Philadelphia and, like many early Scots-Irish immigrants, soon settled in western Pennsylvania.
In the fall of 1737, with his son John, daughter Mary Elizabeth, and son-in-law James Greenlee, Ephraim left Pennsylvania to go to John Lewis, a cousin who had left Ireland some years before and about 1732 had settled on the Middle River in the Shenandoah Valley near present-day Staunton, Virginia. It was their intention to locate near him. While on their way, when in camp on Lewis' Creek, a tributary of the South River, Benjamin Borden, Sr, joined them one night. He offered a thousand acres of land to anyone who would conduct him to his grant of land. The offer was promptly accepted by Ephraim's son John McDowell, a surveyor by trade. The three men conveyed their families to the home of John Lewis and then piloted Borden to what has since been known as "Borden's Grant." In consideration of a liberal share of the claim, the two McDowells and James Greenlee then undertook to assist in carrying out Borden's contract for him, and before the close of the year removed their own families to the grant, where they permanently settled—the first three settlers in that part of the valley. Ephraim McDowell’s homestead, "Timber Ridge," ranged 42,000 acres lying east of the Great Wagon Road through present-day Lexington, Virginia. He served in the Augusta County militia until 1743, when he was exempted from further service due to his advanced age (70 years). Still, Ephraim, who had defended the gates of Londonderry and fought in the Battle of the Boyne, would live another 34 years.

The Catawba Valley Settlements

From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston, page 232:

    Amongst the earliest settlers in the valley of the upper Catawba, in the old county of Burke [then Rowan],* were Joseph McDowell the elder [b. 1715], a grandson of Ephraim, the founder of the family in Virginia, Kentucky and our own State, and his cousin, known as "Hunting John," who was near the same age. They migrated somewhere about the year 1760, and during the French-Indian war, from the old home of Ephraim McDowell, in Rockbridge** [then Augusta] County, Va., and because the country west of the Catawba was rendered unsafe by roving bands of Cherokee and Catawba braves, went with their families through Rowan and Mecklenburg counties to some point in South Carolina, near the northern boundary line. Their sturdy Scotch-Irish friends had already drifted from Pennsylvania, where they, with thousands of Germans, were first dumped by the English land agents upon American soil, to upper South Carolina, and had commemorated their first American home by naming the three northern counties of that State York, Chester and Lancaster.
*Burke was formed from Rowan County in 1777
**Rockbridge was formed in 1778 from Augusta and Botetourt counties in Virginia. Botetourt had been formed from Augusta in 1770. Augusta was formed from Orange County in 1738.

Mary McDowell Greenlee, re: "Borden's tract"

From Annals of Augusta County by Joseph Addison Waddell, pub. 1902,
C.R. Caldwell, page 31:

    Borden's tract was South of Beverley's Manor, and in the present county of Rockbridge. The first settlers on the tract were Ephraim McDowell and his family. His daughter, Mary Greenlee, related in a deposition taken in 1806 [at age 94], and still extant, the circumstances under which her father went there. Her brother, James McDowell, had come into Beverley's Manor during the spring of 1737, and planted a crop of corn, near Woods' Gap; and in the fall her father, her brother John, and her husband [James Greenlee] and herself came to occupy the settlement. Before they reached their destination, and after they had arranged their camp on a certain evening at Linnville Creek, (now Rockingham,) [Benjamin] Borden arrived and asked permission to spend the night with them, being doubtless on his way to his tract from his home in the lower Valley. He informed them of his grant, and offered them inducements to go there. The next day they came on to the house of John Lewis, and there it was finally arranged that the party should settle in Borden's tract. Ephraim McDowell was then a very aged man, and lived to be over one hundred years old. When a youth of 16 he was one of the defenders of Londonderry. He and his family located on Timber Ridge, originally called "Timber Grove," being attracted by the forest trees on the ridge, which were scarce elsewhere in the region. Borden offered a tract of one hundred acres to any one who should build a cabin on it, with the privilege of purchasing more at fifty shillings per hundred acres. Each cabin secured to him one thousand acres. Mrs. Mary Greenlee related in her deposition, referred to, that an Irish girl, named Peggy Millhollan, a servant of James Bell, dressed herself in men's clothes and secured five or six cabin rights. John Patterson, who was employed to count the cabins, was surprised to find so many people named Millhollan, but the trick was not discovered till after the return was made. Among the settlers in "Borden's grant" were William McCausland, William Sawyers, Robert Campbell, Samuel Woods, John Mathews (father of Sampson and George), Richard Woods, John Hays and his son, Charles and Samuel Walker. Borden obtained his patent November 8, 1739. He died in the latter part of 1743, in Frederick, leaving three sons, Benjamin, John and Joseph, and several daughters. The next spring his son Benjamin appeared in Rockbridge (as it is now) with authority under his father's will to adjust all matters with the settlers on the grant. He had, however, been in the settlement before his father's death.
    Mrs. Greenlee says Benjamin Borden, Jr., was "altogether illiterate," and did not make a good impression on his first arrival, but he proved to be an upright man, and won the confidence of the people. The saying: "As good as Ben. Burden's bill," passed into a proverb. He married Mrs. Magdalene McDowell, (originally a Miss Woods, of Rock fish), widow of John McDowell, who was killed by Indians in December, 1742, and by her had two daughters, Martha and Hannah. The former became the wife of Robert Harvey, the latter never married. Benjamin Borden, Jr., died of small-pox in 1753. His will was admitted to record by the County Court of Augusta, November 21, 1758. The executors appointed were John Lyle, Archibald Alexander and testator's wife, but the first named declined to serve. His personal estate was large for the time. During her second widowhood Mrs. Magdalene Borden contracted a third marriage with Colonel John Bowyer.

Friday, January 18, 2008

North Carolina's McDowell Heroes

From North Carolina, 1780-'81: Being a History of the Invasion of the Carolinas, by David Schenck, pub. 1889, Edwards & Broughton, North Carolina, pp. 464-466:

    To the brothers, Charles and Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, and to their no less gallant cousin, Joseph McDowell, of Pleasant Garden, Burke County, North Carolina, are due more credit and honor for the victory of King's Mountain than to any other leaders who participated in that decisive and wonderful battle. Yet, the name of McDowell does not appear on the granite shaft, raised by patriot hands, on those memorable heights—a reproach to the intelligence of the men who wrote its inscriptions and an indignity to North Carolina which contributed so largely to construct the monument. It was Colonel Charles McDowell, and Major Joseph McDowell, his brother, who originated the idea of organizing a force to capture Ferguson, and in conjunction with their cousin, they were the most prominent in executing the plan which they had conceived.

    Major Joseph McDowell was subsequently a General of militia and was known as General McDowell. He also served as a member of Congress from North Carolina during the years of 1787, 1788, 1791 and 1792. In 1788 he was a member of the State Convention which met for the consideration of the Federal Constitution. He was of Scotch-Irish descent; his ancestors came to North Carolina by the way of Virginia. The McDowells of North 
Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio are all of one common stock.

    On one of the foot hills of the Blue Ridge, a beautiful round knob, selected for its lovely view, and overhanging the "Quaker Meadows," is the cemetery of the McDowell family. On a slab of marble, erected as a head-stone, is this inscription:




    THE 31ST MARCH, 1815, AGED 

    ABOUT 70 YEARS." 

    By his side is the unmarked grave of Major Joseph McDowell, his brother. Not a stone is raised 
to his memory; not a line is carved to recount his deeds of valor and patriotism; no epitaph tells the 
story of King's Mountain and Cowpens and Ramsour's Mill, where he was foremost in the fight; 
no record speaks to the stranger and says, here lies a hero who was victorious in every field, and never 
turned his back on a foe. The only mark that indicates the grave of this gallant soldier is the 
letter J rudely carved on a white oak tree that stands at its head.
    What a reproach to those who enjoy the liberties that were purchased with his blood! Will the State he loved and served so well suffer this reproach to continue? 
    Close by his side, the remains of his cousin, Joseph McDowell,* of Pleasant Garden, lie. On a head-stone is this inscription:


    BORN 27TH FEBRUARY, 17-5, 
    (the other figure obliterated) 

    AGED 60 YEARS." 

    [*Blogger's note: *Actually, this is Capt. Joseph J. McDowell, born 1715 in Ireland, the father of Charles and Joseph of Quaker Meadows. Cousin Joseph "P.G." McDowell was interred at Round Hill Cemetery on his Pleasant Gardens estate.]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Silas McDowell (1795-1879)

Silas McDowell was a pomologist and botanist who discovered or introduced at least fifteen new apple varieties during the 1850s. He was a farmer, scientific observer, mountain guide, clerk of the Superior Court, and a man of letters. Born 16 May 1795 in York District, South Carolina, he was a cousin of Colonel Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens, for whom McDowell County, North Carolina, was named. Son of Elizabeth McDowell (b. 1772) and an unknown (or undisclosed) father, Silas was raised mostly by his maternal grandfather “Pacolet William” McDowell. In 1812 he went to Asheville, where he was educated at the respected Newton Academy. Two years later he returned to South Carolina for an apprenticeship with a tailor in Charleston.

From 1816 to 1846, Silas McDowell worked as a tailor, first in Morganton, North Carolina, and later in Macon County, North Carolina, where he also served a clerk of the Superior Court for nearly sixteen years. On his farm near Franklin, he raised and sold apples, fruit tree grafts, and rhododendrons. He also experimented with native American grape varieties. In addition, he served as a guide to John Lyon, Moses Ashley Curtis, and several other botanists, touring and collecting specimens in western North Carolina.

McDowell was largely a self-taught scientist. He wrote extensively on a wide variety of scientific and literary subjects, including botany, horticulture, mineralogy, geology, zoology, and local and state history. He is perhaps best known as the originator of the "thermal belt" concept (which is a zone on a mountainside where frost and freezes are less common than in the valleys and on the mountaintops).

He gained fame as a writer and storyteller, and was the source of much of Eoneguski, "the first North Carolina novel," written by Senator Robert Strange. McDowell's writings were published in such widely diverse places as Harper’s, The North Carolina Planter, The Raleigh Observer, and Southern Cultivator. His prose landscape sketches were highly praised by James Wood Davidson in The Living Writers of the South (1869).

McDowell married Elizabeth Erwin in 1828. They, along with Silas' mother Elizabeth, moved to his farm in Macon County, North Carolina, which he had purchased in 1820. He had learned about the area from a former landlord, who had been part of General Griffith Rutherford's 1776 Cherokee expedition, and bought the land after the Cherokee cession in 1819. McDowell wrote about this farm in an 1873 letter to Lyman Draper, and said that he had “resolved to buy the Hiddintown in the Cullasajah Valley" while a "romantic youth" in school. He lived on the farm, which he variously referred to as Hiddintown, Sugartown, and the Vale of Cullasajah, until his death in 1879. The name Cullasajah, today spelled Cullasaja and used to designate a small river between Highlands and Franklin, North Carolina, has been variously spelled over the years as Cullasajah, Cullasaga, Cullasaja, and Callasaga. One of the apple varieties developed by McDowell, which is still cultivated, bears the name Callasaga.

(Sources: “Silas McDowell & Southern Apples,” compiled by T. Duane Phillips; and "Silas McDowell and the Early Botanical Exploration of Western North Carolina," by Gary S. Dunbar, North Carolina Historical Review, 1964)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Borden's Grant settlers request a "Captin"...

From a petition to Lieutenant Governor William Gooch of Virginia, dated 30 July 1742, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i, p. 235:

(click image to enlarge)
The full text:
July 30th 
Petition of the Frontier Inhabitants for appointment of Proper Officers &c for their defense
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 [Moffett], John Goof, James Sutherland, James Milo, James McDowell, John Anderson, Joabe Anderson, James Anderson, Mathew Lyel, John Gray and many others.

Silas McDowell, re: Joseph "P.G." McDowell

From The Irvines and Their Kin, by Lucinda Boyd; Chicago: R.R. Donnelly, 1908, pp. 309-310:

    "I have in my possession a manuscript from Silas McDowell of Macon County, North Carolina, who endeavored to correct all errors, and give the people historical facts. He was born in 1795, four years before the death of Joseph of Pleasant Gardens, and was a man of remarkable memory, and gathered facts. He says of Joseph McDowell:– 'If there was any man in this part of the State that distinguished himself in mind, as ranking far above his fellows, except Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens, Burke county, tradition has not transmitted the fact; though there were scores of strong-minded, honorable, and patriotic men in this division of the State, who figured in the Revolutionary war. McDowell’s light went out when he was in his noon-day prime, and in the last decade of the 18th century, 1799, and from that time till 1820 there has arisen no bright and particular star.' Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens was born February 25, 1758, and died, as I said, in 1799, at the age of forty-one."
[Blogger's note: Lucinda Boyd excerpted this text from Margaret Erwin "Maggie" McDowell, b. 1856, great-granddaughter of Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens.]

Col. Joseph "P.G." McDowell, per Wheeler

From Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians, by John H. Wheeler, Columbus Printing Works, Columbus, Ohio, 1884, pp.84-85:

    ...Colonel Joseph McDowell was born on 25th February, 1758, at Pleasant Gardens, in Burke County. He was always called "Colonel Joe of the Pleasant Gardens," to distinguish him from "General Joe of Quaker Meadows."
    He was a soldier and a statesman, and the most distinguished of the name.
    He early entered the profession of arms. At the age of 18 he joined General Rutherford in an expedition, in 1776, against the Cherokee Indians, in which he displayed much gallantry and desperate courage. It is known that in a hand-to-hand fight he killed an Indian chief with his sword.
    He was active in repressing the Tories, and took part in the battle at Ramsour's Mills, on 20th June, 1780, near Lincolnton, as mentioned by General Graham in eulogistic terms, for his conduct on that occasion, and materially aided in achieving a complete victory over a superior force.
    At Cane Creek, in Rutherford County, with General Charles McDowell, he led the militia, chiefly of Burke County, and had a severe skirmish with a strong detachment of Ferguson's army, then stationed at Gilbert Town, and drove them back.
    Immediately afterward he aided in measures which culminated in the glorious victory of King's Mountain.
    This was the darkest period of the dubious conflict. Gates was defeated at Camden; Savannah and Charleston surrendered to the British; Sumter, at Fishing Creek, (18th August, 1780;) Cornwallis, in "all the pride and circumstance" of a conqueror, held the undisputed possession of Charlotte and its vicinity.
    Ferguson, with strong force, was winning the attachment of the people from liberty to loyalty; while the Tories ravaged the whole country with vindictive fury.
    There was not a regular soldier south of Virginia, and every organized force was scattered or disbanded. The time had come, and these brave men felt that they must "do or die."
    Amid all these disastrous circumstances, the patriotic spirits of Cleaveland, Campbell, Sevier, and McDowell did not despair. They determined to attack the forces of Ferguson. They were all of equal rank, and as the troops were in the district of Charles McDowell, he was entitled to the command.
    From a manuscript letter of Shelby, in my possession, he says:
      "Colonel [Charles] McDowell was the commanding officer of the district we were in, and had commanded the armies of the militia all the summer before, against the same enemy. He was brave and patriotic, but we considered him too far advanced in life and too inactive to command the enterprise.
      "It was decided to send to headquarters for some general officer to command the expedition.
      "Colonel McDowell, who had the good of his country more at heart than any title of command, submitted, and stated that he would be the messenger to go to headquarters. He accordingly started immediately, leaving his men under his brother, Major Joseph McDowell."
    The next day Shelby urged that time was precious and delays dangerous. The advance was made. Colonel Joseph McDowell, the subject of our present sketch, led the boys of Burke and Rutherford Counties to battle and to victory, (7th October, 1780,) and his command was on the right wing of the attacking forces, and aided greatly in insuring victory. Ferguson fell bravely fighting and his army completely routed.
    The next important battle in which Colonel Joseph McDowell was engaged was the Cowpens, fought by Morgan and Tarleton on 17th January, 1781, in which he led the North Carolina militia, which terminated in a glorious victory of Morgan, whose name is preserved in gratitude for his services by the county town of Burke.
    This ended the military career of our patriotic soldier.
    His civil services were equally brilliant; from his elevated character, his acknowledged abilities, and popular address, he was always a favorite with the people. His name is preserved by calling a county for him erected in 1842. He was a member of the House of Commons in 1787 and 1788; also a member of the Convention that met at Hillsboro, 1788, to consider the Constitution of the United States, of which he was the decided opponent, and which was rejected by a majority of 100 votes. He was again elected to the Legislature in 1791 and 1792; in 1793 he was elected to represent this district in the Congress of of the United States.
    Of the influence and the popularity of the McDowells there can be no more ample proof than that in 1787, 1788 and 1792 the Senator and both of the members of the House were of this family.
    His presence was tall and commanding, of great dignity of demeanor, and of impressive eloquence. Scrupulous in his statements and faithful in all business transactions.
    He married Mary, the daughter of George Moffett of Augusta County, Virginia. He died in April, 1795, leaving two sons, John and James, and one daughter, Annie, who married Captain Charles McDowell, of "Quaker Meadows."
    His widow became the second wife of Colonel John Carson, whose first wife was Rachel, daughter of "Hunting John," of Pleasant Gardens, a sketch of whom we shall present when the McDowells are finished.

Isaac Shelby, re: Charles McDowell, per Draper

From King's Mountain and Its Heroes: History of the Battle of King's Mountain, by Lyman Copeland Draper, pub. 1881, P.G. Thomson, pp. 188-190:

    [Isaac] Shelby's object in suggesting Colonel [William] Campbell's appointment [to command at Kings Mountain], is best explained by himself. "I made the proposition," says Shelby in his pamphlet, in 1823, "to silence the expectations of Colonel [Charles] McDowell to command us—he being the commanding officer of the district we were then in, and had commanded the armies of militia assembled in that quarter all the summer before against the same enemy. He was a brave and patriotic man, but we considered him too far advanced in life, and too inactive for the command of such an enterprise as we were engaged in. I was sure he would not serve under a younger officer from his own State, and hoped that his feelings would, in some degree, be saved by the appointment of Colonel Campbell." In his narrative, in the American Review, December, 1848, Governor Shelby makes no reference to McDowell's age, but simply states, that he "was too slow an officer" for the enterprise. 
Though Colonel Shelby speaks of McDowell's age as objectionable for such a service, it really deserved little, if any, consideration. He was then only some thirty-seven years of age—Colonel Cleveland was some years older, and Shelby himself, the youngest of the Colonels, was only seven years his junior. It may be curious to note, that "Old Put," then in active service, was twenty-five years older than McDowell, General Evan Shelby, the Colonel's father, who, the year before, commanded an important expedition against the Chicamauga Indian towns, was twenty-three years older, General Stark fifteen, Washington eleven, Marion ten, Sumter at least four, and General Greene one. The real objection to Colonel McDowell was not so much his age, as his lack of tact and efficiency for such a command; and, it has been hinted, moreover, that his conduct at the Cane creek affair was not without its influence in producing the general distrust entertained of his fitness to lead the mountain men on this important service. The expression was quite general, that General Morgan or General Davidson should be sent to take the command; the former, especially, who had gained such renown at Saratoga, and had recently joined General Gates, was highly esteemed by the mountaineers.

    Colonel McDowell, who had the good of his country at heart more than any title to command, submitted gracefully to what was done; but observed, that as he could not be permitted to command, he would, if agreeable, convey to head-quarters the request for a general officer. This was warmly approved, as it was justly declared that he was well acquainted with the situation of the country, and could, better than any other, concert with General Gates a plan of future operations, and they would await his return. The manner in which this was presented gratified McDowell, who at once set off on his mission, leaving his men under the command of his brother, Major Joseph McDowell. Passing through Burke county, McDowell's command, particularly, was considerably increased by relatives, friends and neighbors; and there John Spelts, or Continental Jack, as he was familiarly called by his associates, first joined Shelby's regiment, but fought under McDowell. Colonel Campbell now assumed the chief command; in which, however, he was to be directed and regulated by the determination of the Colonels, who were to meet every day for consultation.
    Everything was now arranged quite satisfactorily to the Whig chiefs; and their men were full of martial ardor, anxious to meet the foe, confident of their ability, with their unerring rifles, to overthrow Ferguson and his Loyalist followers, even were their numbers far greater than they 
were represented.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The 1796 Will of "Hunting John" McDowell

Excerpt from “Hunting John” McDowell’s will, misspellings intact, dated 28 May 1796:

    "... I also bequeath to John McDowell, my grandson, my part of the Flowery Garden and a hundred acres of land that I have entered adjoining the said place; further 640 acres of land upon Beaver Creek; also a negro fellow named Aaron.
    I further bequeth to my dearly beloved [grand]*son, Joseph McDowell, 400 acres of land upon Johnathan's Creek, this forementioned land lying in Buncombe County. Furthermore, he is to have fifty pounds current money paid to him or his current guardian out of my estate.
    I also bequeath my part of the Locust Grove, a tract of land of 640 acres lying in Buncombe County, to my dearly beloved grandson, William Whitson.
    I also bequeath to loving grandsons, John and Thomas Whitson, 640 acres of land known by the name of Richland Creek, equal parts to each, below the lands of John Carson, Esq. on said creek.
    To my beloved grandson, Joseph Whitson, I give and bequeath 320 acres of land lying upon the mouth of Ivie Mill Creek in Buncombe County. ..."
*Note: I believe that this is meant to read "grandson" rather than "son," especially since it is in a list of grandsons and mentions a guardian. It likely refers to the youngest child of Mary Moffett McDowell, newly widowed after the death of Hunting John's son Joseph "P.G." McDowell. This would be their son, Joseph Moffett McDowell, born 10 January 1796.

Wheeler, the confusion, and "Hunting John"

From Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians, by John H. Wheeler, Columbus Printing Works, Columbus, Ohio, 1884:

    In my "History of North Carolina," as to this family, it is stated that Charles and Joseph McDowell were brothers, the sons of Joseph, who, with his wife Margaret O'Neal, had emigrated from Ireland, settled in Winchester, Virginia, where Charles and Joseph were born. For authority of these facts, statements were furnished from members of this family and others which were believed. Recent and more thorough examinations make these statements doubtful. A letter from one of the family* to me, states: "It is singular how inaccurate has been any knowledge as to this family. An investigation, instituted some time ago, with a view of establishing a descent which would lead to the securing of a large estate through Margaret O'Neal, developed the fact, beyond all question, that her husband (the father of General Charles McDowell, and General Joseph,) was named John instead of Joseph, that they married in Ireland, and lived at Quaker Meadows, in Burke County."
    Lanman, in his "Biographical Annals of Congress," states: "Joseph McDowell was a Representative in Congress from 1793 to 1795; and again from 1797 to 1799."
    The family tradition and record is, he died in 1795. The first error does not destroy the truth of history that the family were of Irish origin; and the second arises from there being two of the same name of the same family. Every effort and pains have been taken to make the present sketch correct. If any error occurs, the corrections will be gratefully received. In compiling genealogical tables, or pedigrees, great attention is necessary in clearly stating the number of generations, in any given period, as they form a guide to the probability of persons having sprung from any particular ancestor or individual. A generation is the interval between the birth of a father and the birth of son. Thirty-three years have been allowed to a generation, or three generations for every hundred years. The birth and death dates, as well as the location, should be stated, since "chronology and locality are the eyes of history." The repetition of the same names, without dates or place, creates confusion in our American genealogy, as it has caused in this instance.
    John McDowell, called "Hunting John," who resided at Pleasant Gardens, was one of the early pioneers of Western Carolina. He was, it is believed, a native of Ireland. He and a man by the name of Henry Widener, (many of whose descendants now live in Catawba County, known by the name of Whitener,) came to this country when it was an unbroken wilderness, for the purpose of hunting and securing homes for their families. 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.
    The date of his birth, or the time of his settling, or the date of his death, from the loss of family records, cannot be given; but from tradition, he lived in this lovely spot with his wife (Mrs. Annie Edmundston) to a good old age.
    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. He realized the exquisite lines of Byron--
      Crime came not near him; she is not the child
      Of solitude. Health shrank not from him,
      For her home is in the rarely trodden wild; [...]
      Tall and swift of foot were they,
      Beyond the dwarfing city's pale abortion,
      Because their thoughts had never learned to stray
      On care or gain; the green woods were their portion,
      No sinking spirits told them they grew gray,
      No fashion made them apes of her distortion
      Simple and civil; and their rifles
      Tho' very true, were not used for trifles.**

    He left two daughters and one son: Anna, who married William Whitson; Rachel, who married John Carson; and Colonel Joseph McDowell, who was born on 25th February, 1758, at Pleasant Gardens, in Burke County. He was always called "Colonel Joe of the Pleasant Gardens," to distinguish him from "General Joe of Quaker Meadows."

    * Dr. G. W. Michal, of Newton, N. C., to whom I am indebted for much information as to the McDowell family.
    [**These lines from Lord Byron's Canto VIII combine passages from stanzas LXII & LXVI that are very loosely transcribed.]
    Note: A genealogical breakout including brothers Joseph and Charles McDowell, "Hunting John" McDowell, and the cousins Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens and Joseph McDowell of Quaker Meadows is contained in the 12.21.07 blog post Joseph McDowell & Draper's Misstatement.

More re: Ephraim McDowell & the Migration

From Historic Families of Kentucky, by Thomas Marshall Green, pub. 1889, R. Clarke:

    Ephraim McDowell, who fought at Boyne river, as well as at Londonderry, was already an elderly man, when, with his two sons, John and James, his daughters, Mary and Margaret, and numerous kinsmen and co-religionists, he emigrated to America to build for himself and his a new home. In his interesting "Sketches of Virginia," Foote states that he was accompanied to Virginia by his wife, and that his son John was a widower when he left Ireland; but, as in the deposition of Mrs. Mary E. Greenlee, the daughter of Ephraim, her father, her brother John, her husband, and herself, are designated as composing the party emigrating to Virginia from Pennsylvania, and no mention is anywhere made of her mother, Mr. Foote is probably in error; and the uniform tradition of the family is more likely to be correct—that the wife of Ephraim McDowell died in Ireland, and that John McDowell had never been married until he came to America. The exact date of his arrival in Pennsylvania is not known. The journal of Charles Clinton—the founder of the historic family of that name in New York—gives an account of his voyage from the county of Longford, in the good ship "George and Ann," in company with the "John of Dublin," having many McDowells aboard as his fellow passengers. The "George and Ann" set sail on the 9th of May, 1729. On the 8th of June, a child of James McDowell died, and was thrown overboard; several other children of the same afterward died; also a John McDowell, and the sister, brother and wife of Andrew McDowell. The ship reached land, on the coast of Pennsylvania, on the 4th day of September, 1729. Whether or not the conjecture that Ephraim McDowell was a passenger with his kindred on board this ship at that time is correct, it is certain that about the same time he and his family, and numerous other McDowells, Irvines, Campbells, McElroys, and Mitchells, came over together, and settled in the same Pennsylvania county.
    In Pennsylvania, Ephraim McDowell remained several years. There his son, John, was married to Magdalena Wood, whose mother was a Campbell, and, as tradition has it, of the noble family of Argyle. There Samuel, the eldest son of John and Magdalena McDowell, was born, in 1735. There, too, probably, Mary, the daughter of Ephraim, met, was beloved by, and married James Greenlee, a Presbyterian Irishman, of English descent, and said to have been remotely descended from the Argyle Campbells.

The 1729 Voyage of the George and Ann

Excerpt from the Journal of the Voyage of Charles Clinton from Ireland to America, 1729:

"I took my Journey from The County of Longford, on Friday the 9th day of May; came to Dublin ye 12th ditto. Entered on shipboard the ship called the George and Ann, ye 18th. Sett sail the 20th.
Came to anchor at Glenarm on the 24th, where Matthw. McClaughry and his wife and two of his family went on shoar and quit their voyage.
Set sail from Glenarm on ye 25th and came to anchor at Green Castle, in the Lough of Foyle, the 26th, where we stay'd till ye 29th; then sett sail in company with the John of Dublin bound for Newcastle in the same country.
Ditto. Came in sight of Loughsuly [Lough Swilly] ye 30 th. Sail'd by Tory [Tory Island] and Horn-head.
On the 30th, at night, a strong wind arose, ye continued to ye first of June at evening which Loosened our Bowsprit with Hazard of our masts.
June 2d we had a fair breeze for our westerly course.
On the 3d ditto my daughter Catharine and son James fell sick of the measles.
A strong gale of westerly wind continues to ye 10th ditto.
James Wilson's child died ye 5th.
On the 7th met ye Mary from Pennsylvania from which she sail'd to us in 5 weeks and 5 days.
On the 8th ditto a child of James McDowel's died and was thrown overboard.
On the 10th ye wind came to East and be South.
On ye llth changed more Easterly and continues fair and seasonable.
On the 12th the wind blew North and be East, a fresh gale bywhich we sail'd 40 leagues in 20 hours, and found we were in 49 degrees 20 minutes North Latitude by observation.
My son James, on ye 28th of August, 1728 at 7 In ye morning.
A son of James Majore's.
A brother of Andrew McDowell's.
Two daughters of James McDowell's.
A daughter of Walter Davis's.
Robert Frazer.
Patt McCann, servant to Tho. Armstrong.
Will Hamilton.
James Greer, servant to Alex. Mitchell.
Widow Gordon's daughter.
James Mondy died Thursday,llth of September.
A servant of Mr. Cruisels.
A son of James Beaty's.
Fran. Nicholson
A sister of Andrew McDowell's.
A daughter of John Beatty's.
Two of Mr. Cruise's men servants.
Margarey Armstrong. [daughter of Thos. Armstrong]
A servant of Mr. Cruise's.
Two of John Beatty's children.
Jamei Thompson's wife.
James Brown.
A daughter of James McDowell's
A daughter of Thos. Delap's.
A servant of Mr. Cruise's.
A child of Widow Mitchell's.
John Oliver's wife.
James Majore's eldest daughter.
John Rook, a sailor.
Joseph Stafford.
John McDowell.
John Beatty.
Andrew McDowell's sister.
James Wilson's wife.
James McDowell's wife.
Sarah Hamilton, Will Hamilton's sister.
Thos. Armstrong, died Monday ye 29th of September.
John Beatty's wife.
Isabella Johnston.
Edward Norris.
Margaret McClaughry.
Widow Frazer's daughter.
Andrew McDowell's brother.
Joseph Mclaughry.
Mattw McClaughry.
A young sister of Andrew McDowel.
Thom Delap. and his daughter Catherine.
James Barkly.
Discovered land on ye Continent of America ye 4th day of October, 1729."

In May 1729, the George and Ann set sail from Ireland for the American colonies. The trip, at the time, averaged four weeks of sailing. The journey of the George and Ann took over four months. The passengers and crew—those who survived—made first landfall at Cape Cod rather than their intended destination of Philadelphia. At least eighty-six of the ship’s 168 passengers died during the Atlantic crossing. Eleven of those lost were McDowells.

(Journal of the Voyage of Charles Clinton from Ireland to America, transcribed from The Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries, by John Austin Stevens, Martha Joanna Lamb, Henry Phelps Johnston, and William Abbatt, 1877, A. S. Barnes & Company. A copy of Charles Clinton’s journal is reportedly preserved in The New York Public Library.)

"Hunting John" & his son Joseph,
of Pleasant Gardens

From Historic Families of Kentucky, By Thomas Marshall Green, Published 1889, R. Clarke, Kentucky, pp.24-25:

    ... "Hunting John," was the first of the McDowells to move to the Catawba country. Draper narrates that when Charles McDowell called the leading men of the Catawba valley together, in 1780, and, to meet the present emergency, suggested that they should repair to Gilbert Town, and there take British protection, as the only means of saving their live stock, which were essential to the support of the country—justifying it as a temporary expedient—"Hunting John" absolutely refused to adopt the suggestion. With others who agreed with him, he proposed to drive all the stock they could collect into the deep coves at the base of the Black Mountain, leaving to others the humiliating office of taking protection, in order to save the remainder. The distinguished Indian fighter, Captain John Carson, and the Davidsons, and others, were selected to take protection, which they did, deeming it justifiable and not unpatriotic under the circumstances. His [i.e., Hunting John's] son Joseph McDowell, who married Mary Moffett, was born at the Pleasant Garden, February 25, 1758. A boy when the Revolution broke out, he immediately went into active service in the patriot army. He soon rose to a captaincy in the Burke regiment, of which his cousins Charles was the colonel and Joseph the major. He was with it in every fight in which it was engaged. At King's Mountain, while Major Joseph, of Quaker Meadows, acted as colonel, Captain Joseph, of Pleasant Garden, acted as major. Hence the dispute as to which of the two it was who commanded in that fight. They were equally brave, equally patriotic, equally able. Captain Joe, of the Pleasant Garden, is the one known in history as major, while he of the Quaker Meadows is known as colonel [and subsequently, respectively, colonel and general]. Both were at the Cowpens, where Tarleton succumbed to the sturdy blows of the wagoner, Morgan. Serving from the beginning to the close of the war for independence, Major Joe [of Pleasant Gardens] possessed the fighting characteristics which distinguished the breed in all its branches. In the Rutherford campaign he killed an Indian in single combat. Educated as a physician, his distinction as a statesman was not less than that he won as a soldier. As Joseph McDowell, Jr., he served in the North Carolina House of Commons from 1787 to 1792. McDowell county, North Carolina, was named for him. He was also a member of the North Carolina Convention of 1788, and was generally regarded as the brightest intellect of any of the North Carolina connection. He died in 1795, leaving several children.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

McDowells in Western North Carolina

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., North Carolina, pp. 70-71:

    WESTWARD THE COURSE OF EMPIRE TAKES ITS WAY. From Judge A. C. Avery's "Historic Homes of North Carolina" (N. C. Booklet, Vol. iv, No. 3) we get a glimpse of the slow approach of the whites of the Blue Ridge: "According to tradition the Quaker Meadows farm near Morganton was so called long before the McDowells or any other whites established homes in Burke county, and derived its name from the fact that the Indians, after clearing parts of the broad and fertile bottoms, had suffered the wild grass to spring up and form a large meadow, near which a Quaker had camped before the French and Indian War, and traded for furs." This was none other than Bishop Spangenberg, the Moravian, who, on the 19th of November, 1752, (Vol. v, Colonial Records, p. 6) records in his diary that he was encamped near Quaker Meadows "in the forest 50 miles from any settlement."

    THE McDOWELL FAMILY. Judge Avery goes on to give some account of the McDowells: Ephraim McDowell, the first of the name in this country, having emigrated from the north of Ireland, when at the age of 62, accompanied by two sons, settled at the old McDowell home in Rockbridge county, Virginia. His [nephew] Joseph and his grandnephew "Hunting John" moved South about 1760, but owing to the French and Indian War went to the northern border of South Carolina, where their sturdy Scotch-Irish friends had already named three counties of the State, York, Chester and Lancaster. One reason for the late settlement of these Piedmont regions was because the English land agents dumped the Scotch-Irish and German immigrants in Pennsylvania, from which State some moved as soon as possible to the unclaimed lands of the South.

    "HUNTING JOHN" AND HIS SPORTING FRIENDS. "But as soon as the French and Indian war permitted the McDowells removed to Burke. 'Hunting John' was so called because of his venturing into the wilderness in pursuit of game, and was probably the first to live at his beautiful home, Pleasant Gardens, in the Catawba Valley, in what is now McDowell county. About this time also his [uncle] Joseph settled at Quaker Meadows; though 'Hunting John' first entered Swan Ponds, about three miles above Quaker Meadows, but afterwards sold it, without having occupied it, to Waightstill Avery. . . . The McDowells and Carsons of that day and later reared thorough-bred horses, and made race-paths in the broad lowlands of every large farm. They were superb horsemen, crack shots and trained hunters. John McDowell of Pleasant Gardens was a Nimrod when he lived in Virginia, and we learn from tradition that he acted as guide for his cousins over the hunting grounds when, at the risk of their lives, they, with their kinsmen, James Greenlee and Captain Bowman, [who fell at Ramseur's Mill in the Revolutionary War] traveled over and inspected the valley of the Catawba from Morganton to Old Fort, and selected the large domain allotted to each of them."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Joseph McDowell / John Carson
1798 War Department Accounting

From Papers of the War Department, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University:

(click image to enlarge)
Document Information
Date: June 27, 1798
Author Name: William Simmons (primary)
Location: Accountant's Office
Recipient Name: Joseph McDowell (primary)

(Source: Collection: National Archives and Records Administration: Letterbook, War Dept Accountant, RG217)

Running the Boundary Line

From A History of Watauga County, North Carolina, by John Preston Arthur, published 2002, Genealogical Publishing Company, page 120:

    Running the State Line.— As the Cherokees occupied the territory southwest of the Big Pigeon River in what is now Haywood County, no provision was made for running the line beyond this point. Generally speaking, the line was to follow the tops of the Stone, the Smoky and the Unaka Mountains from Virginia to Georgia, but to be surveyed and marked only from Virginia to the Pigeon. The surveying party consisted of Col. Joseph McDowell, David Vance, Mussendine Matthews, speaker of the House, commissioners. John Strother and Robert Henry were the surveyors. The party met May 19, 1799, at Captain Isaac Weaver's, near what is now Tuckerdale, a station on the new Virginia-Carolina Railway, in Ashe County.

From the diary of John Strother, surveyor:
    25th [May 1799]. – We had a very disagreeable night the morning appears gloomy—some of our horses lost. Mr. Logan cut his foot; it will be bad. The horses were at length found. We all eat our breakfast & set out on the line, went ¾ mile. It set in and rained hard and obliged us to take up camp at the first place that offered, which was a branch of Roan’s Creek, where we spent an uncomfortable evening. The next day being the Lard’s day we spent it here in prayers for a plesant tour to ye Painted Rock. Genl McDowell left us this day. He is sick.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Capt. John McDowell's Proven Rights

From Waddell’s Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, page 37:

    “On the 28th of February 1739, John McDowell, who settled in Borden’s Grant, made oath at Orange Court that ‘he imported himself, Magdaline, his wife, and Samuel McDowell, his son, and John Rutter, his servant, at his own charge from Great Britain in the year 1737, to dwell in this colony, and that this is the first time of proving their rights in order to obtain land pursuant to the royal instructions.’”
Waddell further says, “Captain John McDowell, was a prominent Captain of a military force of Augusta County in 1742. Ephraim McDowell, then an old man, was a member of his son John’s company. All grown men were enrolled without respect to age.”

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Uncle Samuel McDowell

Patrick Henry was one of the most influential (and radical) advocates of the American Revolution. He is perhaps best known for the speech he made in the Virginia House of Burgesses on 23 March 1775, urging the legislature to take military action against the encroaching British military force. The House was deeply divided, but was very much leaning toward not committing troops. As Henry stood in Saint John's Church in Richmond, he ended his speech with his most famous words: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" This speech is credited, by some, with single-handedly delivering the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War.
My 5x great-uncle Samuel McDowell (1735-1817) was one of two delegates from Augusta County to the Virginia Conventions of 1775, and was present that day in the House of Burgesses. His life remains a lesson in citizenship and patriotism. Samuel McDowell had been a Captain in the French and Indian War, commissioned 16 August 1759. On 21 November 1759, he was installed as County Commissioner and Justice in Augusta County, Virginia. He was a Captain of the Rangers Company at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. At the Battle of Point Pleasant, he served as Aide-de-Camp to General Isaac Shelby, who later became the first Governor of Kentucky. Samuel was commissioned a Colonel in the Revolutionary War, serving in General Nathanael Greene's campaign in North Carolina, and was with the army that drove General Cornwallis to Wilmington. In 1775, in conjunction with his kinsman Thomas Lewis, son of Augusta County settler John Lewis and brother of General Andrew Lewis, hero of Point Pleasant, Samuel was chosen to represent the freeholders of Augusta County in the convention which met at Richmond, Virginia. He was also a member of the second convention that met at Williamsburg in 1776. As an officer, Colonel Samuel McDowell distinguished himself in the Battle of Guilford Court House. In addition, he raised a battalion at his own expense to aid in repelling the invasion of Virginia by Benedict Arnold.
In 1783, uncle Samuel McDowell moved his family to what became Fayette County, Kentucky (but was then still part of Virginia), where he was a surveyor. He was appointed to the first District Court ever held in Kentucky, 3 March 1783, and was President of the convention which was called to frame the constitution for the state of Kentucky on 19 April 1792.
All this, and 13 children, too.

(source: "Rockbridge County, Virginia Notebook," The News-Gazette, Lexington, Virginia)

Martha McDowell, Colonel Buford & the Butcher

My cousin Martha McDowell, daughter of Colonel Samuel McDowell and Mary McClung, was born 26 June 1766 in Augusta County, Virginia. I don't know much about Martha, except that she married Colonel Abraham Buford, a military man caught in a terrible, terrible situation still argued about in history circles.
Abraham Buford was a Continental Army officer during the Revolutionary War, most known as commanding officer during the "Waxhaw Massacre." Born in Culpeper County, Virginia, Buford quickly organized a company of minutemen upon the outbreak of war in 1775, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel by May 1778. Assuming command of the 11th Virginia Regiment in September, he would be assigned to the 3rd Virginia Regiment in April 1780 and sent south to relieve regiments during the British siege of Charleston, South Carolina.
Banastre Tarleton [pictured, portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds] was a British officer and politician. His reputation for ruthlessness earned him the nicknames "Bloody Ban" and "Butcher" amongst American revolutionists. On May 29, 1780, Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, with a force of 150 mounted soldiers, overtook the detachment of 350 to 380 Virginia Continentals led by Colonel Buford near Lancaster, South Carolina. Buford refused to surrender or even to stop his march. Only after sustaining heavy casualties did Buford order surrender. The battle has always been controversial, since after breaking Buford's line Tarleton's men slaughtered many of the Virginians who surrendered, literally hacking them down with their sabres. Some sources, such as Buford's Adjutant Henry Bowyer and Surgeon's Mate Robert Brownfield, claim that Buford belatedly raised a white flag, but was ignored by Tarleton. In Tarleton's own account, he virtually admits the massacre, stating that his horse had been shot from under him during the initial charge and his men, thinking him dead, engaged in "a vindictive asperity not easily restrained." In the end, 113 Americans were killed and another 203 captured, 150 of whom were so badly wounded that they had to be left behind. Tarleton's casualties were 5 killed and 12 wounded. The British called the affair the Battle of Waxhaw Creek, while the Americans knew it as the Buford Massacre or the Waxhaw Massacre.
Colonel Buford escaped on horseback with his remaining men and would hold no further commands for the remainder of the war. He and Martha eventually settled in Scott County, Kentucky.

(Sources: Wikipedia - Waxhaw Massacre, Banastre Tarleton, Abraham Buford)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Lyman Draper, the McDowells,
Daniel Boone & John McCue

Staunton, July 23d/83
Hon. Lyman C. Draper,
My Dear Sir,
I was engaged in the midst of an important criminal case as counsel for the defense when yr letter of the 7th inst. came to hand which occupied me about twelve days. This will account for my not replying to your letter at an earlier date.
I am descended from Henry Miller of the Iron Works—the first established west of the Blue Ridge—& second I suppose to that of G__ Spottswood in America. I know little of the Miller, Boone & Winter families. My mothers maiden name was Hannah Winters Moffett, daughter of James McDowell Moffett, who was the son of Col. Geo. Moffett of Indian warfare & revolutionary memory—and Sarah or Mary Marg McDowell daughter of Jno. & Magdalen McDowell—Jno. The son of Ephraim McDowell. Magdalene his John’s wife was a Woods. Jno McDowell my great great grandfather was killed by the Indians near Balcony Falls in Rockbridge Co.
I know that Col D. Boone was related to my maternal ancestor – the grandfather of my mother– Henry Miller—founder of Millers Iron Works on Mossy Creek in the southwestern part of Augusta Co. He accumulated a vast fortune in lands & left descendants innumerable. Henry Miller was the founder of many great families as I have been told—& know, that all or nearly all have held respectable positions in society. Henry of the Iron Works died at his residence, a splendid hewn stone mansion on his furnace property—when about 37 years of age. The late Jno Howe Peyton—that great lawyer father of J. Lewis Peyton said of him—he had brains enough to fill the Office of President of the United States.
I know that Miller of the I Works & Dan’l Boon were related and visited this Co. trading with the Indians--& were fast friends. How related I know not. I have written to several persons in reference to the subjects of yr letter, who are believed to be better informed than any others, and so soon as I hear from them – you shall hear from me.
Have you seen Hale’s pamphlet on Boon? If not, will loan you the only copy I have—sent me by the authors. Mr. Hale is of Charleston Kanawha Co. Va. His given name I do not recall. ___by postal whether or not you have the pamphlet. Maj J.M. McCue, my first cousin, knows more of Dan’l Boon & Miller than any man living—also of the Winter family. Write to him my care Staunton Va. A letter from you will bring out his knowledge. To me he says “Oh—Mr. Draper knows all I do.” He is very much engage in historic research just now in another line.
I trust yr History of King’s Mountain will do justice to my kindred, the North Carolina McDowells whose names do not appear on the monument. Are you not related to or connected with the McDowell’s in some way. Let me know & how.
Court day & no time to read over for correction.
Most truly,
Yr fnd & obt servt

Jno H McCue

[note in margin]
Thanks for Wisconsin Collection. JH McCue

(J.H. McCue to Lyman C. Draper, July 23, 1883; Draper Manuscripts, 20C63; transcribed from microfilm copy of the original document from the Draper Manuscripts Collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; spelling and punctuation are as they appear in the original text)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

1800 Census, Burke County, North Carolina

McDowell, Charles: 2 [James R., Athan Allen], 1 [Charles Gordon], 0, 0, 1 [self]; 0, 1 [Sarah Grace “Sallie,”] 1 [Margaret “Peggy,”] 0, 1 [wife Grace Greenlee]
McDowell, Joseph: 1 [Hugh Hervey], 0, 0, 1 [self], 0; 3 [Clarissa Mira, Celia, Hannah], 2 [Margaret, Elizabeth], 1 [Sarah], 1 [wife Margaret Moffett], 0
McDowell, John: 1, 2, 0, 0, 1 [self]; 1, 2, 1, 1, 0
McDowel [sic], William: 0, 1, 3, 0, 1 [self]; 0, 2, 0, 0, 1
McDowell, Ann:* 0, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 0, 1 [self] 
*This is Ann "Annie" Evans, widow of "Hunting John" McDowell, and mother of Joseph "P.G." McDowell of Pleasant Gardens. 
(numbers indicate free white household members, in order: males 0-9 years, males 10-15, males 16-25, males 26-44, males 45+; females 0-9 years, females 10-15 years, females 16-25, females 26-44, females 45+) 

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Settlers of Burke County, North Carolina

From Sketches of the Pioneers in Burke County History, by Col. Thomas George Walton, first published in the Morganton Herald in 1894:

"The MCDOWELLs, BOWMANs, and GREENLEEs came from Virginia to Burke County previous to the Revolution. JOSEPH MCDOWELL's grant on Quaker Meadows was dated 1749. They were all related by marriage or consanguinity. JOSEPH MCDOWELL, SR., was of Scotch descent, and emigrated from North Ireland to America. He was born in 1715, and emigrated with his wife at an early age, having offended his wife's relatives, the proud O'NEALs, the descendants of the ancient Irish kings, by his marriage with their sister, MARGARET O'NEAL. Wheeler, in his History of North Carolina writes as if they (Joseph and his wife Mary [sic, Margaret]) only had two sons, Generals CHARLES and JOSEPH MCDOWELL. On the contrary, there were four: HUGH, CHARLES, JOSEPH, and JOHN MCDOWELL. Charles died the owner of Quaker Meadows; Joseph died the owner of the fine plantation on John's River, where the widow of the late Dr. JOHN MCDOWELL now lives [in 1894]. Dr. MCDOWELL was grandson of Major JOSEPH MCDOWELL, of Pleasant Gardens, the son of HUNTING JOHN MCDOWELL,* the brother of JOSEPH MCDOWELL, SR.
HUGH MCDOWELL was the father of MARGARET, who married Capt. JAMES MURPHY, and the only child, JOHN HUGH (MURPHY) was the offspring of this marriage. He married MARGARET STRINGER AVERY, a niece of Col. WAIGHTSTILL AVERY, SR."

*"Hunting John" McDowell (b. abt 1717) was actually the son of Charles McDowell (b. abt 1697), who was the oldest brother of Joseph McDowell, Sr. (b. 27 Feb 1715). "Hunting John" was therefore the nephew of Joseph McDowell, Sr.

1790 Census, Burke County, North Carolina

1st Company
McDowell, James: 1 [self], 2, 2, 2
McDowell, John: 1 [self, i.e., "Hunting John,"], 1 [?], 1 [wife Ann "Annie" Evans], 1
McDowell, Joseph, Jun. [son of "Hunting John," Pleasant Gardens**]: 1 [self], 2 [John Moffett, George], 1 [wife Mary Moffett], 9
Carson, John: 2 [self, ?], 5 [Joseph McDowell, Jason Hazzard, Charles, James, John W.], 2 [Sarah “Sally,” wife Rachel Matilda McDowell], 12

6th Company***
McDowell, John: 2, 2, 4, 5

7th Company****
McDowell, Joseph, Col. [Quaker Meadows]: 2 [self, ?], 0, 5 [Hannah, Margaret, Elizabeth, Sarah, wife Margaret Moffett], 10
McDowell, Charles [Quaker Meadows]: 1 [self], 2 [Charles Gordon, Athan Allen], 5 [Margaret “Peggy,” Sarah “Sallie,” Eliza Grace, wife Grace Greenlee, ?], 10

13th Company*****
McDowell, William: 1 [self], 4, 4, 0

*Present McDowell County & part of present northern Rutherford County
**Scots-Irish naming tradition of the time assigned "Junior" to the youngest within the extended family, and not the direct son. "Jun." suffix is verbatim from handwritten 1790 census document.
***Western Burke County, including Bridgewater, Lake James and part of present eastern McDowell County
****Middle Burke County, including Quaker Meadows
*****South-southeastern Burke County, including Salem and South Mountains

(numbers indicate household members, in order: white males 16 years and over, white males 0-15 years, white females, slaves)

Kings Mountain manuscripts, pre-Draper

From Western North Carolina: A History (1730-1913), by John Preston Arthur, published 1914, Edwards & Broughton, North Carolina, page 98:

    "The white occupation of North Carolina had extended only to the Blue Ridge when the Revolution began;" but at its close General Charles McDowell, Col. David Vance and Private Robert Henry were among the first to cross the Blue Ridge and settle in the new county of Buncombe. As a reward for their services, no doubt, they were appointed to run and mark the line between North Carolina and Tennessee in 1799, McDowell and Vance as commissioners and Henry as surveyor. While on this work they wrote and left in the care of Robert Henry their narratives of the battle of Kings Mountain and the fight at Cowan's ford. After his death Robert Henry's son, William L. Henry, furnished the manuscript to the late Dr. J. F. E. Hardy, and he sent it to Dr. Lyman C. Draper, of Wisconsin. On it is largely based his 'King's Mountain and its Heroes' (1880)." 

"The Mountain Men," per Teddy Roosevelt

From The Winning of the West, Vol. 3, by Theodore Roosevelt, published 1900, G.P. Putnam's Sons:

"Having reduced South Carolina to submission, the British commander [Major Patrick Ferguson] then threatened North Carolina; and Col. [Charles] McDowell, the commander of the whig militia in that district, sent across the mountains to the Holston men praying that they would come to his help. Though suffering continually from Indian ravages, and momentarily expecting a formidable inroad, they responded nobly to the call. Sevier remained to patrol the border and watch the Cherokees, while Isaac Shelby crossed the mountains with a couple of hundred mounted riflemen, early in July. The mountain men were joined by McDowell, with whom they found also a handful of Georgians and some South Carolinans; who when their States were subdued had fled northward, resolute to fight their oppressors to the last. The arrival of the mountain men put new life into the dispirited whigs." 

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Two Josephs McDowell

From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston, pp. 235-237:

    Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, was a handsome man, wonderfully magnetic, universally popular, and of more than ordinary ability. He was a born leader of men, and was represented by the old men of succeeding generations to have retained to his death the unbounded confidence and affection of the old soldiers. Margaret Moffitt was a woman of extraordinary beauty, as was her sister, Mary.
    After the battle of King's Mountain, in October, Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, remained in the field with 190 mounted riflemen, including the younger Joseph, as one of his officers, until he joined Morgan on December 29, and participated in the battle of Cow Pens.
    Joseph, of Pleasant Gardens, was a brilliant man, of more solid ability than his cousin, of the same name. The late Silas McDowell, who died in Macon County, but lived during his early life first in Burke and then in Buncombe, in discussing in an unpublished letter, of which I have a copy, the prominent men who lived west of Lincoln County, reaches the conclusion that prior to the day of D. L. Swain, Samuel P. Carson and Dr. Robert B. Vance, no man in that section had, according to tradition, towered far above his fellows intellectually, except Joseph McDowell, of Pleasant Gardens, whose "light went out when he was in his noonday prime, and in the last decade of the eighteenth century." He was born February 26, 1758 and died 1795. His widow married Colonel John Carson, whose first wife was the daughter of "Hunting John." Samuel P. Carson, the oldest son by the second marriage of Mary Moffitt McDowell, was a member of the Senate of North Carolina in 1822, and was born Jan. 22, 1798 (See Wheeler's Reminiscences, page 89). Joseph, of Quaker Meadows, was born in 1756, was two years older, and therefore must have been Joseph, Sr. Wheeler records the name of Joseph McDowell, Sr., as having served successively from 1787 to 1792, inclusively, as a member of the House of Commons from Burke County, but not after a later date (See list of Burke Legislators, Wheeler's History, Part 22, page 62). Joseph McDowell, according to the same authority, was a State Senator, succeeding General Charles from 1791 to 1795, inclusively, and during that time did not serve in Congress, though he unquestionably served later. These and other facts have led the writer to believe Joseph Jr., served one term in Congress from 1793 to 1795, when he died, and that afterwards, and up to the time of his death, the elder cousin was a member. Joseph McDowell, Jr., was not in public life after 1792, unless he served one term in Congress before his death. It is not probable that he lived from 1792 to 1795 without holding an official position.

McDowells at Kings Mountain

From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston, pp. 235-237:

    Charles McDowell had organized the clan into a compact, formidable force. The proposed scene of conflict was in his district, and, under military rules then in force, he was entitled to command. When, however, it became apparent that jealousy might impair the efficiency of the little army, he cheerfully agreed to go to Mecklenburg 
or Rowan and invite General Davidson to take charge. After he had left on this mission it was deemed by the council of war best to attack Ferguson before his forces could be strengthened by Cornwallis, and the result indicated the wisdom of this conclusion. Governor Shelby published an account in 1823, in which, after lauding General Charles McDowell as a patriot and a brave and able officer, he said that after it was decided by the council to send to headquarters for a general officer to take command, Charles McDowell requested, as he could not command, to be allowed to take 
the message, and added that "He accordingly started immediately, leaving his men under his brother, Major Joseph McDowell." (Wheeler's History, Part 2, page 59.) It was Shelby who next day made the generous move to place Campbell in command to obviate the danger of delay. Within the next twenty years some of the lineal descendants of Joseph McDowell, of Pleasant Gardens, have insisted that the command of the Burke men at King's Mountain devolved on their ancestor, not on his cousin Joseph, of Quaker Meadows. The writer would be rejoiced to be convinced that this contention is well founded, but is constrained to conclude that it is not. Shelby had come over with Sevier, at the instance of Charles McDowell, under whose command he had previously fought, with all three of the McDowells, at Musgrove's Mill, and other places. He must have known whether the brother or the cousin of Colonel Charles McDowell was next in rank to him, and he said it was the brother.
    “Poor's Sketches of Congressmen” state that Joseph McDowell who was born at Winchester, Va., in 1756, and died in 1801, was elected a member of the third and also of the fifth Congress, and commanded a portion of the right wing of the army that stormed King's Mountain. In a subsequent sketch of Joseph J. McDowell, he says he was born in Burke County, N. C., Nov. 13, 1800, was a son of Joseph McDowell, member from North Carolina, and was himself a member from 1843 to 1847. The widow of Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, left North Carolina with her little children and went to Kentucky soon after her husband’s death. His home was on the banks of the Johns River, near where Bishop Spangenburg must have encamped when he declared that the land was the most fertile he had seen in Carolina. These sketches have always been prepared after consultation with the member as to his previous history, and we must conclude that both father and son bore testimony to the truth of history—the father that he was in command, the son that such was the family history derived from his mother. Dr. Hervey McDowell, of Cynthiana. Ky., who presided over the first Scotch-Irish Convention, at Nashville, Tenn., and who died at the ripe age of four score, a year or two since, had devoted much of his life to the study of family history, and had conversed with members of the family who knew Joseph of Quaker Meadows, and Joseph of Pleasant Gardens, and were familiar with their history.
    Speaking of the agreement of Colonel Charles McDowell to go to headquarters, Dr. Hervey McDowell says:
    "He thereupon turned over the command of his regiment to his brother, Joseph, of Quaker Meadows, who was thus promoted from the position of Major, which he had held in his regiment, to that of acting Colonel, and in the regular order of promotion Captain Joe, of Pleasant Gardens (the cousin and brother-in-law of the other Joe) became Major Joe, he having been senior captain of the regiment." 

    With the rank, one of Colonel and the other of Major, these cousins of the same name led the brave sharpshooters who fought so heroically at Cow-Pens and in the many fights of less consequence. Sarah McDowell, a daughter of Captain John, who was killed by the Shawnees, married Colonel George Moffitt, a wealthy and distinguished officer in the war for independence. His accomplished daughter, Margaret, married Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, and her youngest sister became the wife of Joseph of Pleasant Gardens. The cousins served Burke County acceptably in the House of Commons and Senate of the State Legislature and in the Convention at Hillsboro, as they had both won distinction while fighting side by side on a number of battlefields. The writer has inclined to the opinion that both served in Congress, Joseph McDowell, Jr., of Pleasant Gardens, from 1793 to 1795, when he died, and Joseph, Sr., of Quaker Meadows, from 1797 to 1799. But this is still a debated question.