Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The McEwen Family of Lower Mount Bethel

             The McEwen Family of Lower Mount Bethel, a family of Scots-Irish Descent
by Cynthia Hughes Smith

The McEwen family of Lower Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania came to the United States prior to the Revolutionary War.   The McEwen name  has been spelled many different ways in the old records: McOwen, McCuen,  McKoun, McQuen, McQuan, McQuowin, McQuowen, McQuown, McConard, McKawan, M.Gauer. and McEwen.  Since this area was populated with  predominantly German speaking people, I am sure  the McEwen Scottish brogue was  very difficult to decipher  to the ear of the German and English speaking men who recorded the name in all these different records.

The First Generation -  John McQuown, Indian Trader and Revolutionary War Patriot

John McQuown,  who was born April 15, 1745,  was living in Lower Mount Bethel township, Northampton County,  Pennsylvania   at the time of the Revolutionary War.   He  was a soldier from Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania from 1776 - 1781.   His service record is recorded in the Revolutionary War Military Abstract Card File of  the  Pennsylvania State Archives.   He is listed as John McQuen, Northampton County, 6th Battalion, 6th company, 2nd class, May 14, 1778.  This also is as it is recorded in the Pennsylvania Archives 5th series Vol. 8  p. 426 - 437.  There are no other men with a similar name in Northampton County at that time.   The 6th Battalion, Northampton County Militia was under the command of  Colonel Jacob Stroud at Fort Penn which was located on the site of present-day Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.  The men  of the 6th Battalion played a pivotal role in Sullivan's punitive expedition against the Iroquois.  

His name appears on the January, 1775 Tax List for Hunter Settlement in Mount Bethel Township as John McKoun.  On August 7, 1777,  John McQuown signs the Oaths of Allegiance, Northampton County.  And in 1785 we find land warrants under the name John McOwen for 80 and 200 acres in Northampton County.

John married Margaret Herin,  a daughter of John Herin, who also  was a part of the Hunter Martin Settlement in Martin's Creek.  Margaret was born November 29, 1755. They were married December 3, 1771.  The McEwen family, like so many other Scots -Irish, were people who lived on the outer edge of the settled areas of the time. They relocated many times between Northampton County and Columbia County, Pennsylvania.  It is thought that John's occupation  was  that of an Indian Trader.     John died January 14, 1815 and  his wife died on May 21, 1826.  It is believed that they both died in Berwick, Columbia County.  They had a family of  six daughter's and  three son's.

The Second  Generation - William McEwen, Pioneer to Ohio
John and Margaret's  son, William McEwen, was born at Berwick, Columbia County, Pennsylvania on November 8, 1775.  When a young man, William came to Easton, Pennsylvania in Northampton County to learn the trade of blacksmith, which became his life's work.  He married Sarah Johnson and together they had a family of 21 children.   Sarah was the daughter of John Johnson and his wife Jerusha Kitchen.   John Johnson was a blacksmith and it is believed that William McEwen was sent by his father  back to Northampton County to learn the trade of blacksmith from him.  While apprenticing he married Sarah around the year 1801.

The Johnson's were part of the Presbyterian Scots- Irish Settlement at Martin's Creek, also know as the Hunter Martin Settlement.  John Johnson was born November 1, 1761 and died January 19, 1815.  His  wife, Jerusha was born February 18, 1764 and died September 8, 1822. They are  both  buried in the Scots- Irish cemetery. Sarah is mentioned in her father's will and we are able to connect the generations through that document.

William and Sarah bought and sold property in both Berwick, Columbia County, Pennsylvania and Mount Bethel, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.  In 1823 William and Sarah McEwen pioneered west to Seneca County,  Ohio where they were one of the first families to open up this territory for settlement.  William McEwen, with his large family, homesteaded the southwest quarter of section twenty-seven, in Clinton township, Seneca County.  There he built a cabin for his family and a blacksmith shop where he carried out his trade. 
William McEwen
Sarah Johnson McEwen
William McEwen died August 7, 1840 at the age of 64.  Sarah Johnson McEwen died September 17, 1842 at the age of 57 years.  They are buried in  Rock Run Cemetery, Sect.4, Eden Twp., Seneca Co., Ohio. The Cemetery is not far from the place where they lived. 

The Third  Generation - John McQuown  -  Returned to Northampton County to Marry

John McQuown was born 26 May 1806, most likely in Northampton County,  Pennsylvania  and died April  23, 1832.  These events are recorded in his Family Bible which was found in my grandparents attic on the family farm in Richmond, Pennsylvania.
When I began to do family research in the early 1970's I questioned by grandparents about what they knew of the family history. My grandfather, Homer McEwen said, "There were 21 McEwen's and they all went west except ours." All I had to do was figure out how far west the family had migrated.  Oral history told to my grandfather by his parents and grandfather proved to be the link that connected the Pennsylvania branch with their cousins in Ohio.  The family of our John did include "21" family members, all of whom traveled to Ohio in 1823.  But John returned to Northampton County,  Lower Mount Bethel Township, Pennsylvania to marry his sweetheart, Anna Houck.

John McEwen, Sr. married Anna Houck on November 6, 1828. This was also recorded in their Bible. Prior to John's marriage, William and Sarah McEwen, granted their son six acres of land in Lower Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania on February 28, 1828. Court records show that John and Anna McEwen sold their property in Lower Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County,  Pennsylvania on March 11, 1831. They may have been planning to join the rest of the McEwen's in Ohio.  Many persons from the Mt. Bethel's had migrated to the west, including a pastor from their church, the German Reformed Church, who was called to serve a church in Tiffin, Ohio, Seneca, County.  

John McEwen Family Bible

However, a series of tragic events struck the young family before they could follow through with their plans. Their baby, John Jr., who was born that spring on March 28, 1831, died that summer on August 18, 1831. The following spring, on April 23, 1832, John McEwen, Sr. also died. He was only 25 years old. When he died he left a daughter, Sallie Ann and his wife, Anna, who was pregnant. Three months after his death, on July 9, 1832, William McEwen, John's only surviving heir was born. Anna was left alone with a 3 year old daughter and an infant son.  Her plans for the future were forever changed.  

From the inventory of his estate which was filed in the courthouse in Belvidere, New Jersey, " John McGowan, Estate Insolvent" on December 25, 1834, it is learned that John had practiced the trade of sash maker (window panes).   The inventory list contained many tools used in this trade.

Anna Houck McEwen, was born February 10, 1807 in Northampton County,  Pennsylvania and died sometime around 1874. Anna was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Miller Houck. Her baptismal record is recorded in the Church Record of the Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Congregation at Mount Bethel Township in Northampton County  and in the Family Bible.  Anna and her son William are recorded on the 1850 census in the household of her father, John Houck.

It is most likely that John McEwen is buried in the Reformed Cemetery in Upper Mount  Bethel, Centerville, Pennsylvania in the plot where his wife Anna is buried. This resting place is marked on the cemetery map as the John McEwen plot.

The Fourth Generation - Billy McEwen -  Family Bible holds records

Born three months after  his father's death, William, named for his grandfather Wm. McEwen, was the only surviving heir of  his fatherHis birth date, July 9th, 1832,  is recorded in the John McEwen Family Bible now in the possession of Cynthia Hughes Smith. The copyright date on this Bible is 1827, which was just prior to John's marriage to Anna Houck.  It is likely that the Bible was a wedding gift to them, a custom at that time.  The Bible must have been kept by Anna until she gave it to her son Billy on April 13, 1851, when he has written in the Bible: "William McEwen, his Bible April the 13th the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifty one."  Inscriptions in the Bible include the records of John and Anna McEwen and  those of their three children. 


Billy grew up in Lower Mount  Bethel, Pennsylvania.  He was educated in the local school system and when an adult, he practiced the trade of shoemaker.   

Billy and his wife Sarah belonged to the Richmond United Methodist Church in the village of Richmond, Pennsylvania. It is noted in his obituary that "his home was a stopping place for Methodist ministers, where they always received a royal welcome and were bountifully cared for." 

Billy's marriage was reported in the Easton paper, December 11, 1852. Newspaper abstract - Argus - Easton, PA , Vol. I , p. 242; "Ewen, William W. Married Sarah Rasely, December 11, 1852. Both of Lower Mt. Bethel".   Sarah Rasely was the daughter of Henry and Jane Ayers Rasley.  The Rasely's were the parents of a large family of daughters.  Around 1872 Billy and Sarah McEwen bought the Henry Rasely property.  This farm is still the home of the McEwen family today.  Sarah Rasely McEwen was the mother of only one child, a son whom she named Henry to honor her father.

Billy died April 21, 1902 and Sarah died  January 12, 1919.  They are buried in the Richmond United Methodist Church Cemetery. 

The Fifth Generation  - Henry McEwen - The only child of an only child


Henry,  born  May 14, 1856,  was the only child of William and Sarah Rasley McEwen.  He was born on the farm that William and Sarah had taken over from Sarah's parents, Henry and Jane Rasley.  Henry engaged in truck farming and continued to nurture the land as his ancestors had done.  His farm produced vegetables, potatoes, strawberries, and eggs as well as milk. He raised red and white cows; Ayrshires.  His fields were plowed by teams of horses. And he rode to church in a surrey with fringe on top.  He was civic minded, participating in township government and was active on the school board. 

Henry, Clara and Homer
Henry McEwen married Clara Illick on Christmas Day, December 25, 1878 at the Methodist Church in Richmond, Pennsylvania.  She was born on September 15, 1859, daughter of Samuel and Henrietta Illick of  Richmond, Pennsylvania.  Both grew up attending church together and were members of the Richmond Methodist church all their lives. Henry and Clara Illick McEwen were the parents of two children. Their first born, a son they named Charles, only lived a few weeks. Born June 20, 1882, Charles was described as a "blue baby".   In 1895 their second son, William Homer was born.  Clara was 36 years old and Henry was 39 when they finally became parents after 17 years of marriage.

When Clara died February 20, 1942, they had been married for 63 years.  Henry lived to be 90 years old when he died on August 19, 1946 and at that time he was the oldest member of the Richmond Methodist Church in age and years of membership and was serving as the president of the official board. They are buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church.

The Sixth Generation -  William Homer McEwen - Life time Farmer

William  "Homer" McEwen was born and raised and raised his family on the same property that has been the family farm since William and Sarah bought it from Sarah's parents about 1872.  

Homer and Clara
He was born on October 10, 1895 and was the only child of his parents. He received his education in the local school system before going to the Easton Academy which is now Lafayette University  for high school.

Homer was a farmer all of his life.  In the beginning he raised Ayshires, like his father, but later  Holstines  were the preferred dairy breed. They also had chickens and took the eggs to the auction in Hackettstown once a week. Crops were hay, wheat and corn. He bought his first automobile about 1919, a Model T Ford,  and was the first McEwen to learn to drive a car. Farm machinery was added to the operation during his lifetime.

Homer married Sarah "Eliza" Long, on August 5, 1920 in Red Lion, Pennsylvania.  They had meet when Eliza's father was the pastor of the  Reformed Church (now Trinity UCC) in Stone Church, Upper Mount Bethel.  Eliza was born in Spring City,  Pennsylvania on March 24, 1898,  the daughter of Rev. Howard H. and Ella Mae Heffner Long.  He was the Reformed minister at Stone Church, where the Long family had lived from 1903 until 1918.

The farm was given the name Maple Hedge Farm about 1920, when Eliza determined that a good name was needed. She told me she came up with the name because there was a hedge of boxwood along the road and driveway and there were many large maple trees in the yard. Homer was the only child of his parents, like his father and grandfather before him.  His children, Lois, Homer Jr. and Howard were the first set of siblings on the farm, and their children were the first McEwen cousins.
Wm. Homer  died on October 21, 1977.   Sarah Eliza Long McEwen died on May 9, 1987.  They are buried  in the cemetery at the Richmond Methodist Church. 

The Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Generations on the family farm – William Howard, Larry and Kevin McEwen.

“In 1990 Maple Hedge Farm was honored by the state Department of Agriculture for being an official Pennsylvania Century Farm. To qualify as a Century Farm, the farm must have been owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years, a family member must live on the farm and the farm must contain at least 10 of the original acres. ” (Mathias)   Leaning against the picture window, W. Howard McEwen scans the hillside, the  barns, the geese parading in the front yard, the traffic whizzing by on Route 611. ‘I hope it won't ever be sold,’ he said. ‘I hope we can keep it in the family as  long as possible.’ He knows developments are burgeoning in the Slate Belt. He knows many friends who have given up farming. But he prays that won't happen to Maple Hedge Farm, the family farm which has been owned by five generations of   McEwens and today has three generations working it --father, son and grandson.” (Mathias)

William Howard McEwen died on June 13, 1997.  He was married first to Marie Good and second to Theresa Martocci.  Howard and Marie are buried in the cemetery at the Richmond Methodist Church.  Today Maple Hedge Farm is owned in partnership by Larry McEwen and his son Kevin.  

The McEwen Family has been present in Lower Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania for over 240 years.

I wish to thank Bruce McEwen for all the research he has done on the McEwen family and for his generosity in sharing it with me.  His diligence in searching for the forbears in the McEwen family is to be admired.  Through collaboration of  his research and mine I am pleased to have been able to piece together the story of our earliest McEwen family in Northampton County.

Click on  Homer and Eliza Long McEwen to see a report of their direct ancestors.


"A Sturdy Scotsman."  Notes compiled  by Bruce McEwen. Medina Ohio, 2005.  Electronic transfer.

Pennsylvania State Archives @ http://www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us

John Johnson's Will. File# 3044, 1815. Lower Mt Bethel Twp., Northampton Co., PA

John McEwen Family Bible. The Holy Bible,1827. Inscribed, "William McEwen, his Bible April the 13th the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifty one." This Bible is now in the possession of Cynthia H. Smith.

Houck Family Bible, Biblia - Die Ganza Heilige Schristt, 1844. Inscribed, “This is the property of John Houck in the year of our Lord 1856.” This Bible is now in the possession of Cynthia H. Smith.

“Valentine Miller,” Notes dated Feb. 1940, written by a granddaughter of John Houck,  Miss L. Victoria Houck. Recieved from Carol Houck Bollenback, July 10, 1991.  Photocopies on file with Cynthia H. Smith. 

Seneca Co. Ohio Court Records. Oct. 10, 1843. Letter of attorney naming Henry McEwen of Seneca Co. Ohio to represent John Houck the guardian of William McEwen, son of John McEwen, deceased.

“Muller Family Descendants,” Received October 1996 from Doris Rizza, Scottdale, PA 15683.  Electronic transfer.

Church Record of the Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Congregation at Mount Bethel Township, Northampton Co., PA , 1914. Transcribed from the old German Record by the Rev. Dr. Wm. Wackernagel.  Containing birth records from 1774 - 1890.

Mathias,  Madeleine.  “Century Farm is Tie That Binds: It’s One Family’s Gift to the Future.” The Morning Call, Thursday, January 25, 1990, page 3.

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1 comment:

  1. Don't forget to click on the links of different people's names. The links will take you to additional pages I have posted about them. There you will see more pictures, etc. You are welcome to join this site via the members, followers or circles.