Albert B Osborne.

Makers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) online

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He was then elected by the Legislature, Judge of the County
Court for Lancaster and Northumberland Counties.

When in 1902 the Constitutional Convention of that year
abolished the County Courts, a mass-meeting of the Bar and
citizens of his district passed resolutions eulogistic of his ex-
cellent services during his long period as Judge and express-
ing their profound regret at losing him from the bench.

In other directions Judge Ewell has been highly honored.
When the Northern Neck Telegraph and Telephone Company
was organized in 1887, he was elected as director, resigning after
having served for twenty years.

He was made President of the Northern Neck Mutual Fire
Association on its organization in 1896 which position he yet
holds (1915).

He was elected President of the Lancaster National Bank
of Irvington, Virginia, on its organization in 1900 and still fills
that position.

Perhaps no service which he has ever rendered to his peo-
ple has given him more pleasure than his connection with the
Confederate Veteran Organization. He was elected Commander
of the Lawson-Ball Camp on its organization in 1894 and by
successive re-elections filled the post until his resignation some
years since. In 1909 he was elected Grand Commander of the
Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans for Virginia and served
in that capacity for the year, as allowed by its Constitution. In
his address delivered at the 1910 meeting he touched upon one
of the weak points of the Southern people and strongly pre-
sented his argument in favor of fair attention being given by
them, to the preservation of historic truth, in connection with
the causes and aftermath of the Civil War. His position was
well taken, for by their own neglect the Southern people had
allowed themselves to be placed before the world, in the attitude
of being merely rebels. But a higher power appears to have in-



560 JOHN CIlO\\.Si\t. EWELL

tervened in their favor an<l .Judge Ewell has lived to see a re-
markable change. Even in the North nearly all intelligent men
now speak of the "Civil War" and not of the "rebellion." And
the North now takes almost as great pride in Lee, the greatest
captain ever produced by the English-speaking people, and his
great Lieutenant, .lackson, as does the South. The healing in-
fluence of time, with a wider intelligence, is doing much to rem-
edy the neglect of which Judge Ewell spoke; though that does
not excuse the people for their neglect of a duty, sacred to both
the memory of the dead and the honor of the living.

For many years Judge Ewell has been an active member of
the historic Christ Church Parish of the Episcopal Church. He
has served as Warden and is now both a Vestryman and lay
reader.

Naturally he emphasizes religion as of first importance, but
he would not have the proper pursuit of secular duties neglected.
He would have the intellect so trained as to know what is true,
morality so recognized that it will induce the practice of what
is right. In his opinion the young man with the proper foun-
dation of principle and who with that, has ability, reliability
and integrity is assured of success in his business life.

Judge Ewell is somewhat anxious about our present meth-
ods in education, especially in connection with the promotion
of the best interests of the State and Nation. In his own words :
"It is very important to begin with the schools. In some, if
not all of the Southern Colleges, previous to 1861, a student
caught cheating at an examination, or telling a lie, would have
been driven from college by the students. Too much attention
is now given to athletic games, and we have too great a variety
of studies. The object in our schools should be principally to
develop the intellect and to establish a good character so as to
enable students both to know and to practice what is right. Such
students when entering upon life, would become voters who could
safely be trusted to elect public officials who would feel their re-
sponsibility in working for the interest of those whom they rep-
resented, and for the good of the State and Nation. To attain
such results, all teachers should not only be men of ability, but
also of high moral character, and all school officials should at
least have the same qualifications in character."

Judge EwelPs long and useful life has been a splendid il-
lustration of the principles for which he stands. Living his
whole life in his native county, he has gained the esteem and
confidence of the entire community by faithful service both in
war and peace.

The genealogical searcher must ever remember that family
names were not generally used until the twelfth century. The
personal or Christian name, for the sake of identity, was pre-



JOHN CHOWNING EWELL 561

fixed to the name of the county or parish in which his estate
was situated. This will be perceived in the excerpt from manu-
scripts given below where Robert Cake de Ewell is identical with
Robert de Codenten.

Ewell is a village about two miles from Epsom and thence
on the road to London. Apel or Capel denoted in the Saxon
tongue, a spring of water, and its situation at the head of a
small stream which runs into the Thines, probably gave occa-
sion to its name. In the Domesday Book it is written Etwell,
which means literally, "at the spring." In some records it is
called Atwell. The Domesday record says : "The King holds in
demesne, Etwell."

Superiority of the manor of Ewell rested in the crown un-
til Henry II (1154-1189), who gave land here to Jordan de
Blosville. Henry also gave a rental to Maurice de Creon, a
knight of Anjou. His heir, of same name, a knight of Anjou
in 1272 granted all his heredity right in Ewell and other Lord-
ships in this County to Sir Robert Burnel. The manor of Ewell
has since passed to the Northeys. The Ewell family are not
mentioned in connection with this domain until some years later.
Manning and Bray in their History of Surrey tell us that.

Walter de Merton, Chancellor of England, under Henry III,
died in 1274, in his will making Master William de Ewell and
others executors.

Amongst Dr. Rawlinson's MSS., in the Bodleian Library
at Oxford is a book containing copies on parchment of many
deeds and rentals relating to estates in the parish of Ewell and
Coddington from Henry III (1219-1380) to Richard III inclu-
sive. By these it appears that a family sometimes called Cake
or le Cake and sometimes de Ewell, or Awel, was of prominence
there. Osbert Cake de Ewell, son of Norman de Ewell, con-
firms the grant of Roger, son of Roger Primes de Awelle, to
Gilbert, son of this Osbert. This deed is without date, but
Gilbert is witness to a deed dated 3 Henry, son of John (1219),
Robert Cake de Ewell grants to Master William de Ewell lands,
rents and services in Ewell. This Robert seems to be in other
deeds Robert de Codenton, and by that name grants lands to
Gilbert, son of Osbert nepoti et alumpno meo (my nephew
and pupil). In another he is said to have been rector of the
Church of Codington. William de Ewell is granted in several
deeds dated in the reigns of Edward I and II (1270-1327).
Eustace, prior of Merton, grants to Gilbert de Ewell a mill in
Ewell with services of their tenants there paying a rent of half
a mare; this deed is without date, but the only prior of Merton
of that name was chosen in 1240 and died in 1252. Temp.
Henry III. John le Blench, son of William le Blench de Ewell,
at the instance of Walter de Merton (who was rector of Coding-



.nm N riiou xi.\<; ILWKI.I,

ton in 1-7-i'l grants to <Jillert de K\vell iH'jxtti quotidian
Robert I de rodington and Agnes his wife, all his lands in Kwell
as well as the fee formerly of Maurice de rronci (Creon) as of
the fee of the Abbot of Chertsey, in demesnes and services and
all of which lie might have of the inheritance of Ilereward de
Ewell, atari UK i i iny ancestor or my great-great-great-grand-
father).

So it appears that Hereward de Ewell lived about 111)0 in
the time of Richard I.

In the Lay subsidy Roll for 1 .">!>:] or ]."">! M we find: John
Ewell in lands XX 8, lllj, signed Ewell sub. asst.

In the description of Surrey we learn that Ewell is not far
from London, and that Ewell Castle is a big pretentious cas-
tellated house built in 1804. Within the grounds there are
remains of that vast ill-omened Palace of Nonsuch, intended
by Henry VIII to outrival every royal dwelling in Christendom,
to build which he destroyed many old parish churches. Sev-
eral monuments and brasses have been transferred to the new r
church. It is this act of Henry VIII w T hich helps to baffle the
genealogical searchers for the Ewell lineage.

At the time of the Norman Conquest the greater part of
Surrey belonged to Earl Godwin. To Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux,
William's half-brother and Richard de Trobridge, son of Earl
Gilbertoven, were assigned thirty-eight Surry manors. As is
the case very frequently the phonetic spelling of Ewell is ex-
emplified in the account book of Thos. Powell, church warden
in 1590. He charges six shillings "for our dinner at Yeoll at
the time of the Visitation.

In the Leicester Parish Register the names Yewell, Youell
occur several times. Barber's explanation of the origin of the
name is somewhat grotesque, as there seems little doubt that
the family name was taken in this instance from the place,
which had been in existence for many years, and was w r ell known
to the Romans.

A most exhaustive investigation has disclosed the fact that
the Ew r ell family in England were seated, for a considerable time,
in that most delightful, quiet watering place know r n as Herne
Bav in the County of Kent. That it was a family of consider-

V V '

able local prominence is evidenced by the fact that in the parish
church of that place a tablet in the wall tells of the virtues of
the departed Ewells and is embellished w^ith the coat of arms
of the family.

Dr. James Ew T ell, a distinguished member of the Virginia
family, stated in his Medical Companion that his forbears were
of Welsh origin. This may be partly correct, but that the Ameri-
can progenitor came immediately from Surrey or from Kent
seems proved from the fact that their first home in Virginia was



JOHN CHOWNING EWELL 563

called Guilford, this being the name of a place quite near to
Ewell.

From several sources of information it appears that James
Ewell came to Virginia and was already settled in Accomac in
1668, and was evidently the same who in 1674 fulfilled a con-
tract to furnish 30,000 bricks.

He had four sons, Mark, George, Solomon and Charles. It
was this Charles who settled in Lancaster about 1690. He mar-
ried Charlotte, a daughter of Rev. John Bertrand and a grand-
daughter of the Comte de Joli. The Comte de Joli and his son-
in-law, Rev. John Bertrand, were both Huguenots, who left
France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
Charles Ewell had three sons, Charles, Bertrand and Solomon.
This last named, Solomon, remained in Lancaster and inherited
from his father the farm yet in the family, and now owned by
Judge Ewell and his sister, Miss Marianna Ewell.

Solomon married Eva Ball, a relative of Mary Ball, the
mother of George Washington.

Major James Ewell, the son of Solomon and Eva Ball Ewell,
was a Revolutionary Soldier. He was twice married. His first

t/

wife was Sarah Ann Conwav, whom he married Julv 12. 1783.

/ / .

Of his marriage a daughter was born October 14, 1784. This
daughter was twice married, first to Blair, and secondly to
Black, who was a descendant of an armigerous English family.
The descendants of this family now live in South Carolina and
Georgia. Major James Ewell married secondly on October 23,
1788, Ann Lee Gaskins, daughter of Colonel Thomas Gaskins.
who had served as a Colonel in the Revolutionary War.

Of this marriage was born James Ewell, who was a farmer,
a soldier in the war of 1812, and a man of strong religious
character. He was twice married, first to Agnes C. Eustace, on
July 29, 1813. Of this marriage there were three children, Mary
Ann, Maria Thornton, and Thomas Gaskins Ewell, all of whom
died unmarried. James Swell's second marriage was with Miss
Myra A. Chowning, daughter of Colonel John Chowning, who
served as Colonel in the War of 1812.

The children of this marriage were James Leroy, Marrianna,
John Chowning and Catherine Alice Ewell. James Leroy served
through the Civil War as a Lieutenant in the Confederate Army,
and died in 1866. Catherine Alice did not long survive her
brother, and the surviving children of James EwelFs second mar-
riage are Marianna and John Chowning Ewell, neither of whom
have ever married. Judge E well's line of descent therefore is
as follows: James Ewell, the immigrant; his son, Charles; his
son, Solomon ; his son, James ; his son, James 2 ; his son,
John Chowning; showing but six generations in 250 years a
rather unusual family record.



504 .JolIX <'HO\VM.\<; KNVKLL



bark to the first Charles, it appears (hat his two sons,
Bertram! and Charles-, moved to Prince William Com
Virginia. Both of these reared families. Charles (2) married
Sarah Ball, another member of the family to which Washing-
ton's mother belonged. There were three sons of this marriage,
Charles, Jesse and -lames Ewell. Charles died youni:. Jesse
and James were both Colonels in the Revolutionary War. Col-
onel Jesse married a daughter of his cousin Bert rand. There
were many children of this marriage among them, James and
Thomas, both of whom ranked among the eminent physicians
of the last century both as practitioners and as medical authors.
Dr. Thomas Ewell served as a surgeon in the United States
Navy and was the father of three notable sons : Colonel Benjamin
S. Ewell, LL.D., Lieutenant-General Richard S. Ewell, and
Lieutenant Thomas Ewell. The last named was killed in 1847
while leading his Company over the breastworks at Cerro Gordo,
during the Mexican War. Colonel Benjamin S. Ewell was a
man of splendid attainments, a gallant soldier, and with rare
unselfishness devoted the last thirty years of his long life to
the rehabilitation of the historic old College of William and
Mary which had been ruined by the Civil War. General Richard
S. Ewell was one of the most distinguished of the Confederate
Commanders succeeding to the command of Jackson's Corps
after the death of that great genius, and though crippled by the
loss of a leg, led his Corps until the end of the struggle, entirely
to the satisfaction of General Lee.

That Charles Ewell 1 , of Lancaster, was not the founder
but the son of the founder of the Virginia family seems to be
conclusively proven by the statement of Miss Alice Maud Ewell,
of Haymarket, Prince William County, to the effect that James
Ewell, of Accomac, mentioned in his will his son, Charles Ewell,
of Lancaster.

In the Dinwiddie papers, vol. 1, p. 14, we learn that the
families of Taylor, Forest, Hill, Ridout, Marbury, Gault, Stod-
dart, Pinckney, Lloyd, Ewell, Buchanan, and Tasker are all
related by marriage.

The Ewells of Surrey and Kent have always been included
among the Gentry of Great Britain, and, in this country, from
their first settlement in Virginia, they ranked as "gentlemen,"
a thing which in that day meant a definite position in the
community.

That the family was long established in Surrey and Kent
is established by the facts cited above, that it was an important
family is shown by the same facts, that it was settled there up
to the first half of the seventeenth century is demonstrated by
parish records.

As showing the antiquity of this family it is possible to



JOHN CHOWNING EWELL 565

obtain records of the marriage iii 1436 of a daughter of Dan
Ewell of Great Russel Street, London, to John of Heyland.
London and Ewell, although not such close neighbors then as
they are at present, were still not far distant.

The coat of arms of the Ewell family is thus heraldically de-
scribed : "Argent a rock proper."



JOHN DANIEL EIDSON

AMONG the families that have for generations held prom-
inent positions in the State of South Carolina and in
the prosperous county of Edgefield are the Eidsons and
the Bouknights. John Daniel Eidson, who has exem-
plified in his career the qualities of both, is to be counted among
the representative citizens of this section. Inherent patriotism
led him as a youth to give valiant service to the cause of the
Confederacy during the Civil War. When that great conflict
was ended, he entered upon the task of building for the future-
a task which has been lightened by the satisfaction of seeing
constant expansion in his material interests. Although his
sound judgment has been of great value to his fellow citizens
on many public questions, he has not sought advancement in
political life, but has been content to exert his influence for the
betterment of conditions.

Out of the growing complexity of the American affairs of
the past century, with the characteristic prodigality in the use
of the natural resources of the country and oftentimes a haphaz-
ard method of conducting business, there has developed within
the past few years a new and scientific point of view based
upon efficiency and conservation, and a thorough knowledge of
the means of production. As these principles are gradually
being forced upon the great mass of the people, the student of
economics has discovered that even before the era of science in
business and production there were men who, as a result of in-
telligent study of their own problems, had already made use of
those important methods. They have made the soil yield its
best, and in the gathering of the abundant crops had studied
the markets in order that their produce might be disposed of
with advantage to both seller and purchaser.

John D. Eidson was a scientific farmer and an intelligent
merchant from the beginning of his participation in the affairs
of Edgefield County. Upon returning from the war after three
years' service during which he showed marked bravery, he
learned the lessons of agriculture from his father, James Kussell
Eidson, who already had become known as a successful farming
manager. He found that good crop raising also involved good
marketing, and when in 1868 his intellectual qualities caused
him to be called as a teacher of the children of his community,
he devoted his spare time during his year as an educator to

[566]



JOHN DANIEL EIDSON 569

laying the plans for the future. From the class room he went
directly into business and, while conducting his store, made
valuable use of his agricultural skill, for the combining of two
lines of activity producer and sales representative for his own
products. This double occupation was of great instructive value
to him, as it gave him an insight into the varying and ever-
broadening demands of that portion of Edgefield County which
was adjacent to the town of Johnston, his birthplace.

Mr. Eidson saw that planters were in need of facilities for
the manufacture of their cotton. Alert and enterprising, he
was able, with his growing capital, to establish cotton gins,
which have since been greatly enlarged.

Skill in handling his own business brought the recognition
that led to the entrusting of the important affairs of other per-
sons to him. Delicate financial matters require the judgment
of a man of experience, and Mr. Eidson received many com-
missions to act for others, always with excellent results. In
time he made formal announcement that brokerage had been
added to his other interests, and that branch of his work also
has grown to large proportions. He has not, however, relin-
quished the other branches of his business. On the contrary
he has added still another phase of activity. Not content to
see the grain growing in abundance in the fields about that sec-
tion of South Carolina, but believing that his native town should
be a leader in the development of the finished product, he be-
came the proprietor of the Johnston Roller Flour Mills, which
ranks as one of the largest flour mill properties in the State.

As the years have passed Mr. Eidson has not ceased to main-
tain a masterful grasp upon the business structure that he has
built up. Habits of industry, which perhaps were inculcated
in part by the rigorous discipline to which the soldier boy was
subjected when he fought for the Confederacy, have continued
unabated through a fruitful career, while his liberality in deal-
ing with business associates has brought increasing recognition,
and the esteem in which he is held and the confidence that is
reposed in his judgment have brought to him high honors. He
was elected President of the Bank of Johnston, and for more
than a decade has administered the affairs of that institution
with prudence and good judgment. He has also been made the
warden and intendant of the town of Johnston, President of
the Johnston Educational Joint Stock Company, Past Dictator
of the Knights of Honor, Past Chancellor Commander of the
Knights of Pythias, and has been an active worker in these
organizations for many years. His affiliation with the Demo-
cratic Party has brought him into contact with leaders in public
life, and he believes that association with such leaders has
yielded a potent influence in guiding his course. As a mem-



fiTO JOHN DANIEL EIDSON

ber of the Methodist Episcopal Church South his interest in
religious advancement in the community has been marked, and
the local parish has honored him by election as steward and
district steward.

Mr. Eidson has, no doubt, inherited his business ability and
intellectual qualities from both of his parents. His father,
James Russell Eidson, besides being engaged in the manage-
ment of his farm, was a trial justice and a school trustee. He
was interested in military affairs and w r as captain of a com-
pany of militia. The father of James R. Eidson, John Eidson,
was also a school teacher, magistrate and farmer. Mrs. James
R. Eidson was the daughter of Daniel Bouknight, a Methodist
clergyman, w r ho also engaged in farming in addition to his
clerical duties. The Bouknights were residents of the County of
Lexington, and were among those people of German origin who
for generations have settled from time to time in that section
of South Carolina.

A member of the Bouknight family was among the acces-
sions to the Lutheran Church that followed the establishment
of the theological seminary at Lexington village by the South
Carolina synod of that denomination. The buildings for the
seminary were erected in 1833, and a classical seminary was
established at the same time. Both were opened in January,
1834. The joint support of this seminary by the synods of
North and South Carolina was established in 1836, and in the
next few years both States, as well as other Southern States
received large additions to their lists of ministers from among
those who had studied here. The Rev. S. Bouknight was licensed
in 1840, and his work as a clergyman was principally in the
Lexington district.

While the parents of the Rev. Daniel Bouknight of the
Methodist Church were among the later arrivals from Germany,
they came among the descendants of earlier generations of Ger-
man immigrants who had done much for the development of
South Carolina. Persecution in their own homes in Europe
had driven these people to the New T World, and it was a British
monarch who paved the way for their prosperous settlements
in America. Queen Anne made large provision for the welfare
of many Germans who had become homeless exiles during the
great War of the Spanish Succession. Extensive grants of land
in New York and in North and South Carolina were made for
the people from the Palatinate, and one of their principal set-
tlements was in Saxe Gotha, now called Lexington County in
honor of the Battle of Lexington in the Revolutionary struggle.

The paternal grandmother of the present head of the Eidson
family was Miss Martha Humphries, who was born in Edgefield
County, now Saluda. She was descended from one of the

v /



JOHN DANIEL EIDSON 571

Colonial families of the State. When the Provincial Congress
of South Carolina met, January 11, 1775, to approve the pro-
ceedings of the Continental Congress, it named a committee to
execute the action that had been taken regarding the imports
of British goods. Ralph Humphries was named as the member
for Saxe-Gotha township. Mr. Humphries later was elected to
the Colony Congress, was chosen a justice of the peace, a com-
missioner of election, and a Representative to the Legislature.
He was active throughout the days of the Revolution, and was



Online LibraryAlbert B OsborneMakers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) → online text (page 43 of 48)