Sunday, January 20, 2008

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.