Historical Sketch-by William Price-The EWING family of Pocahontas County and vicinity was founded by James EWING, born near Londonderry, Ireland, of Scotch parents, about 1720. He came to Virginia as a young man, and there married Margaret SARGENT [See comments concerning Margaret Sargent], of Irish birth, who bore him five children: Jennie, who married CLENDENNIN, Susan who married Moses MOORE, Elizabeth who married George DOUGHERTY, John, and William. John was born in 1747. At the time of the CLENDENNIN massacre in Greenbrier County, John, a mere lad, was taken prisoner by the Indians, and carried into the Ohio Country.
It seems that shortly after James' arrival in this country, James, who had never seen corn before, was taken by friends into a cornfield to see some. Not knowing what he was looking for, James fingered the tassel, the silk of an ear of corn, and remarked, "Tis a fine, straight stalk, but cruel light grain."
Enoch Ewing told A.E. EWING that "James married an "Irish" lass". (Irish by birth, perhaps, but no doubt Scotch by inheritance). If by 'young' Enoch meant about 18, and if James came here in 1740, as we suspect, then it figures that his birth year was about 1722.
A story has come down through the ages regarding James and "Sarah" and their run-in with a pair of ruffians from a band known as the SHOCKLEY GANG. It seems that the Shockley Gang had been terrorizing the mountain settlers for some time - thieving, cattle rustling, etc., to the extent that a reward had been posted for any or all of them, "dead or alive".
One day James had left the cabin without his prized flintlock, the best in that part of the country, it is said. During his absence, two men stopped at the cabin and asked "Sarah" for something to eat. Not knowing who they were, she obliged, of course, that being the hospitable custom of the day. But while they were eating, one of the men spotted James' rifle and decided he would like to have it for his own. "Sarah" protested, naturally, but had no way to enforce her protest, and the men went off with their "souvenir".
When James returned to the cabin, he was told of what had happened. He at once suspected the men to be Shockley and one of his companions. James knew they were dangerous men, but his Scotch was up. He was ready to take a chance on his own life in the recovery of his much prized flintlock. He decided to pursue the robbers. He took his shot gun, loaded it with buckshot and started on his way.
James had hunted "big game" before and knew every inch of the country for miles around. With hound-like precision he not only hit upon the trail, but followed it unerringly. Toward evening he came upon the bandits making camp for the night. They regarded themselves as safe from pursuit and were taking things easy. This is likely just what James depended upon when he set out alone on his hunt. He carefully re-primed his borrowed flintlock as he could not afford to have a "flash in the pan" in case he had to pull a trigger. He advanced so cautiously that his presence was unknown to the thieves until he boldly stepped up to them and demanded his rifle.
"Shockley's answer was to bring to his shoulder the very rifle he had just stolen. James was just as quick in bringing to shoulder his borrowed shotgun. Each was intent upon being the first to pull trigger. They pulled at the very same instant. Had both guns discharged, both men would have fallen dead. Fate was against Shockley. He had neglected to re-prime the stolen gun and it "flashed in the pan". He fell dead with a charge of buckshot in his breast. So close were they to each other that Shockley's neck cloth was burned by the fire from James's shotgun.
But the fight was not yet ended. So suddenly had things taken place that Shockley's companion was not ready with his gun and James saw to it that he did not get hold of one by at once pouncing upon him. It was a hand-to-hand conflict. Down they went, each striving to get the better of the other. It was a bitter fight - first one on top, then the other. Finally James got his adversary fouled, brought his hunting knife into play upon the bandit's jugular, and that ended the fight. One mad Scotchman, prepared for the fray, had proved too much for two self-satisfied outlaws. James picked up his two flintlocks and returned to his cabin, calling it a day."
It was said that James Ewing received a reward of several hundred dollars for putting an end to Shockley and his luckless companion. Years after grandfather's death, Dr. Gilbert A. EWING, of Jackson, Ohio, a nephew of Grandfather Enoch had heard the same story from his father, George, but he had a different version of the "reward" part of the story. His version was that when it leaked out what James had accomplished, his friends urged him to claim the reward, but that he refused to do so, saying that he had all the reward he wanted in the recovery of his rifle and getting rid of two such "pesky varmints".
In the very early days of gathering Ewing family history, Gilbert gave her the name Margaret SERGEANT, and A.E. is responsible for spreading that name widely in his early writings. But in later correspondence he retracted it and on all his copies of printed matter or carbons of those early letters he had penciled in, "not so". Gilbert was never quite sure where he'd gotten the name from, and when it later turned out that a John EWING in Pennsylvania had married a Hannah SERGEANT, Gilbert allowed as how maybe he'd confused the two. No marriage record for James has ever been found.
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
On 15 Aug 2015 at 06:40 GMT Melissa (Aronoff) Ewing wrote: