Somerlad was a mid-12th century lord of Irish/Viking/Gaelic origin who ruled over the Kingdom of Galloway and the Isles (off the west coast of Scotland). Scotland was not a united country but consisted of many scattered tribes or clans which seemed to be continually fighting. Norman influence was not that strong at this point and thereby the old traditions continued. Somerlad invaded the Scottish mainland and was slain at the Battle of Renfrew in 1164. His patrilineal descendants became heads of many Scottish Clans.

Somerled left four sons of which the oldest was Dougal (Dubhgall MacRory MacSomerled of Lorn).

The son of Dougal was MacDougal (or son of Dougal) which initiated Clan MacDougal. The English translation in the times of King Edward I (Longshanks) was MacDowall. Eventually the Irish “e” changed the clan name to MacDowell. This line were lords of Galloway located in southwest Scotland. Major clans of this area were Stewart, Douglas, Kennedy and Maxwell.


The following line of descendants was: Fergus McDowell of Garuchloyne (1300’s), Thomas MacDowell (1405-1488), Uchtred MacDowell (1434-1513) and Thomas MacDowell (1480-1513).

Both Uchred and son Thomas MacDowell, above, died at the Battle of Flodden Field on September 9, 1513. This was to become the last medieval battle in which pikes, swords and axes were used. Future battles included calvary and artillery. On this day 1500 English and 10,000 Scots, including King James IV, were slain. Many clergy, lords, nobles and Scottish landowners were killed. Many other ancestors in my tree, including two generations of Hays, were slain in the battle.

Thomas MacDowell, who died at Flodden Field, had married Isabella Stewart who was a descendant of the Plantagenet Kings of England and Robert Stewart III King of Scotland.

The line continued: Uchtred MacDowell (1504-1531) and Uchtred (10th Laird of Garthland) McDowell (1546-1600).

McDowell tarter

Uchtred (1546-1600) and his wife Margaret Stewart fled Scotland (political exile) for his part in the Ruthven Raid affair and settled in Ulster, Northern Ireland. His son John McDowell (1575-1653) went to Ireland as well in 1584 at the age of nine. It was in Ireland that John married Mary Wylie Here the McDowell’s would reside for three more generations before immigrating to the American Colonies.

overlook from Blueridge Parkway toward Walkertown
view toward McDowell County, faint mountains in background

John and Mary’s son Alexander (1595-1652) married Margaret Hull and lived in Antrim, Ireland. Alexander and Margaret’s son Thomas McDowell (1635-1682) married Anne Locke (1640-1685) in Antrim.

Thomas and Anne’s son Ephrain Samuel McDowell (1673-1774), immigrated to the American colonies. He is the subject of much of the main course of this blog to come. However, more of Thomas and Anne’s children immigrated to America. Sons John, Alexander and Robert immigrated and lived in Pennsylvania.

Daughters Sarah, with Husband John Archibald McCue, immigrated and lived in Prince Edward, Virginia where they were the parents of five sons and three daughters. She lived to the age of 109.

Ephraim’s sons John and James, daughter Mary Elizabeth McDowell Greenlee with husband James Greenlee all immigrated in 1729 and eventually settled in Rockbridge County, Virginia. It has been stated the Ephraim immigrated with two daughters and three son-in-laws but I do not know the details on this although daughter Margaret is stated to be the second daughter to immigrate.

John McDowell and Anne Locke’s son Charles McDowell (1670-1736). and his wife Rachael Cathy (1688-1754) immigrated to Pennsylvania. It is this Charles McDowell which is the grandfather to both Joseph “Pleasant Gardens” McDowell and Joseph “Quaker Meadows” McDowell.

As noted, the remaining discussion will be with Charles and his uncle Ephraim and their descendants. And this is where family trees divide. The future “Pleasant Garden” McDowell and “Quaker Meadows” McDowell were descendants of Charles who was the son of Ephraim’s brother Joseph (perhaps called John).

Ephraim Samuel McDowell was born in Londonderry, Ireland in 1673 and married his first cousin, Margaret Elizabeth Irvin who was the daughter of Robert and Margaret Wylie Irvin. Margaret died in 1728, the year before Ephraim immigrated, and is buried in a church yard in Raloo, Ireland. It is this Ephraim who was a remarkable man who led a long and adventurous life.

Ephrain was only sixteen when he was pressed to the siege of Londonderry in the year 1690. Ephrain went with forces supporting King William of Orange to the Battle of the Boyne at Old bridge near Drogheda, a good distance, perhaps more than a hundred seventy miles. Ephraim shod the King’s white horse the night before the battle. He had been training to be a blacksmith with his father Thomas who was a master blacksmith. The house where he lived and the shop where he wrought were in the village of Gleno. A description of the Battle of the Boyne can be found in my blog entitled Col. John Walker in My ancestor Doctor of Divinity George Walker was acting Governor of Londonderry and perished in the battle. In a few generations, the Walker descendants and the McDowell descendants from those in the battle would fight alongside each other during the Indian Wars in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1742.

At the age of 62, Ephraim migrated from Ulster to America with sons John and James and daughters Mary and Margaret and many grandchildren. It is written by some historians that they sailed in May,1731 on the ship “George and Anne”  in company with the “John of Dublin.” Some documents state that Ephraim reached Philadelphia in September of 1729. They joined Ephraim’s brother, Andrew, who had migrated in 1725.

My research did not yield a voyage of the 1731 time frame but instead there was the infamous voyage of the “George and Anne” that lasted 135 days from May to October, 1729. A written account of the fated voyage by a passenger listed many of his fellow passenger and tabulated a rough list of the dead. Among the passengers were Andrew and James McDowell, Margaret and Mary McDowell and many McDowell children. There was no mention of Ephraim and there is no way to prove the McDowells on this voyage were Ephraim’s family. I do believe that Ephraim and company could likely have been on this vessel. Many accounts say Ephraim immigrated with three brothers, two of his sons, three brother-in-laws and many grandchildren. On the 1729 sailing of “George and Ann”, eleven of the ninety-eight dead during the fateful voyage were McDowells. We may never know the truth about this voyage on Ephraim’s family.

Regardless of which date Ephraim and family were on the ship “George and Ann”, the story is chilling. The “George and Ann ” with Ships Captain Rymer was chartered by Charles Clinton, the ancestor of the Clintons in New York, who was born in Longford, Ireland in the year 1690.   He was a man of wealth and influence, and convenced many of his friends and neighbors to emigrate with him to America.  He chartered the ship to transport them and their effects from Dublin to Philadelphia.

The whole number of passengers, including men, women, and children, was said one hundred and fourteen although other sources say one hundred ninety passengers.  Among the papers of Mr. Charles Clinton was a document showing that he paid the passage money for ninety-four of the passengers.

Mr. Clinton was unfortunate in his selection of a Captain.  Clinton kept writings of the journey and the tale as follows derives from his personal notes. He wrote, in summary, that Capt. Rymer was a cold blooded tyrant, of whom his officers and sailors were in constant fear.  The “George and Ann” sailed on the 20th of May, 1729 from the port of Dublin for Philadelphia, supplied with stores for a voyage of the ordinary length of thirty days but not for one hundred and thirty-five days that it actually took.  The passengers consisted of families who had converted their estates into gold in order to purchase lands in Pennsylvania. They had selected the mild season of the year for their passage, and expected to arrive in Philadelphia in July in order to find lodging before the winter.  They did not dream that half of  their number would perish before reaching the shores of America.

Several passengers, besides Mr.  Clinton, had considerable sums of gold and silver coins. This was known to the Captain. Capt. Rymer’s evil plan was to prolong the voyage and to keep his ship at sea until provisions were exhausted and thereby his passengers would die of famine and disease. The Captain planned to sieze their goods for his own use.  

The ship had not long been at sea before the passengers began to suspect that the captain had evil designs. The ship was making slow progress towards her port of destination, the passengers had been put on short allowance, and some had already died of disease endangered by the small quantity and bad quality of the provisions. Further starvation and death seemed inevitable if no change could be effected, and the passengers, after consideration, resolved to assume the command. Two Methodists, having some knowledge of the theory and practice of navigation, were appointed by Clinton to watch night and day the movements of Capt. Rymer.

One night soon afterwards, they discovered that although the wind was fair, the ship was sailing in an opposite direction from the true course.  They inquired of the helmsman why he so steered; his reply was, that is the Captains orders.

This observation and conversation was communicated to the other passengers. Several had died of starvation, and many had become so weak and emaciated by want of food and nourishment that they could scarcely stand.  Though weak and feeble they resolved to make an effort to compel the captain to keep his ship on her true course, day and night.  One of the passengers had a brace of pistols.  These were loaded and put into the hands of the Methodists , and all the passengers who had sufficient strength remaining followed them to the quarter deck.  With the loaded pistols in their hands they charged the captain with treachery, with protracting the voyage, with the designs of keeping the ship at sea untill all the passengers had perished of disease or famine, and for siezure of their goods. Capt. Rymer replied that the voyage had been prolonged by head winds, and not by any fault or connivance of himself of his officers.  They then charged him with having kept his ship off her course in the night, thus deceiving the passengers who were mostly landsmen, and unable in the dark weather to judge whether or not the ship was on her true course; with issuing fuller rations to his crew that to the passengers that he might be able to navigate his ship. Seeing the resolute and determined manner of the passengers, he made promises that he would not keep.

Capt. Rymer did not make landfall at the Capes of Virginia but landed in Cape Cod on October 4, 1729. He had consistently kept the vessel at sea despite daily perishing of passengers for want of food. The captain understood that when he ported in Philadelphia, he would be arrested. His alternative was to delay by keeping the ship at sea and persist in his evil purpose.

On Cape Cod, a Capt. Lothrop responded to a distress signal from the “George and Ann” and he went aboard and wrote:

He making up to her went aboard; found her to be a vessel from Ireland, bound for Philadelphia, who have been from thence 20 weeks and brought out 190 passengers,

30 of whom were children, being destitute of provision, (having only but 15 biscuit on board) 100 of them starved to death, among which were children except one, and the remainder of the passengers looked very ghastfully.

They craved hard for water; of which one drank to that degree that he soon after died; two more died while Capt. Lothrop was aboard.  Only three of the sailors were alive (besides the master and mate) and they very sick. They entreated him to pilot them into the first harbor they could get into, but the master was for bringing them to Boston.  They told him if he would not let the pilot carry them into what place he should think fit, they would throw him overboard; upon which Capt. Lothrop having brought the vesseloff of sandy Point, told them there was not but one house there, with provisions; ’tis thought many are since dead.  Not withstanding their extremity, and the sad spectacles of death before their eyes, and near prospect of their own, ’twas astonishing to behold their impenitence, and to here their own profane speeches.”

The point which Capt.  Lothrop calls Sandy, was then about four miles north of Monomoy Point.  A vessel then entering Chatham harbor could sail eight miles in a northerly direction within the islands up to the present town of Eastham.  It is certain that Capt.

After landing in Cape Cod for some relief, Capt. Rymer proceeded on his voyage to Philadelphia with the remaining passesngers and some of their goods.  After his arrival the sailors, releived from the terror in which they had been held, entered a complaint against their Captain.  He was arrested, and a trial conducted in Philadelphia. He was sent in irons to Dublin. The charges of cruelty to his passengers and crew, of extortion, and of an attempt to embezzle the goods of the passengers were proved and he was condemned to be hung and quartered, and this just sentence was duly executed in Dublin.

At least eighty-six of the ship’s 168 passengers died during the Atlantic crossing. Eleven of those lost were McDowells. Clinton wrote that the McDowell dead were a sister of Andrew McDowell, Andrew McDowell’s brother, James McDowell’s wife, John McDowell, and two daughters of James McDowell. If these McDowells were not Ephaim’s immediate family, it must be relatives. A great family tragedy no doubt.

By 1731, we know that brothers Ephraim, Andrew, John (Joseph), Alexander, Robert and Joseph’ son Charles have immigrated to the American British colony. The family was said to have been Covenanters, a17th-centry Scottish religious and political movement that supported a Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Alexander became a Presbyterian Minister but the matter of religious faith for the family as a whole is not known.

In addition, sister Sarah immigrated with husband John McCue. She married John Archibald McCue in 1705, in Ireland. They were the parents of at least 5 sons and 3 daughters. She died in 1789, in Prince Edward, Virginia, Colonial America, at the age of 109.

We also know that Ephraim migrated from Ulster to America with sons John and James and daughters Mary and Margaret. They reached Philadelphia and joined Ephraim’s brother Andrew who had migrated in 1725.

In 1737, Ephraim moved to Rockbridge County, Virginia with son John, John’s wife Magdalene Woods, daughter Mary Elizabeth McDowell Greenless and her husband James who she had married the year before in Pennsylvania. Much of the life and adventures of this family would be written out in a deposition by Mary McDowell Greelee in 1806 when she was ninety-nine years of age. She was so adapt at recalling the history and names of the county and she would be known as “the mother of Rockbridge County.”

James McDowell (son of Ephraim and brother of Mary Greenlee) came into Beverley’s Manor during the spring of 1737 and planted a crop of corn near Woods’ Gap in Beverly Manor. In the fall, Ephraim, Ephraim’s son John, and Mary Greenlee and husband James 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), Borden arrived and asked permission to spend the night with them while on his way to his tract from his home in the lower valley. He informed them of his grant and offered them a thousand acre tract if John would do the surveying. The next day they came on to the house of John Lewis, a relative of Ephraim’s, and there it was finally arranged that the party should settle in Borden’s tract.

In clarification of the grants, after 1736, a grant was granted to William Beverly, John Randolph, John Robinson and Richard Randolph by the colonial government in the acreage of 118,491 acres for settlement by settlers. This was called the Beverly Grant and it’s location is near the confluence of current interstate highways 81 and 64 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Beverly wanted to help Scottish and Irish immigrants. Shortly after another grant to the southwest was made in 1738 and called Borden Tract. This is where the McDowells settled. The area became Augusta County. The map of Old Augusta County shows it stretched along the Shenandoah Valley from Staunton to Drapers Meadow.

Ephraim was sixty-three went he moved to Augusta County and is credited with having built the first road across the Blue Ridge. In 1742, during the fighting against Indians, Ephraim served as a private in the company led by his son Captain John McDowell. Ephraim was forced to retire from the militia at age seventy. He died just hours before his 101 birthday. He is buried near Fairfield, VA on the road from Staunton to Lexington, VA.

Ephraim’s son Captain John McDowell had to prove he was entitled to dwell in the colony. He made an oath on 28th February, 1739 at Orange Court that he imported himself, Magdaline (his wife), Samuel McDowell (his son) and John Rutter (his servant) at his own charge from Great Britain 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.

In 1734, in Pennsylvania, John McDowell married Magdalena Wood, who lived to the remarkable age of 104. She was a daughter of Michael Woods and Margaret Campbell of the House of Campbell and of the noble family of Argyle. After John’s death, she married Benjamin Borden and thirdly Col. Bowyer.

Besides being a surveyor and farmer, John McDowell was a Captain in the militia. John and seven militiamen under his command were killed on December 18,1742 by Iroquois Indians on a raiding skirmish. Colonel James Patton, Captain John McDowell led the first battle with the Indians in the valley of Virginia.

Muster List of 1742 of Old Augusta County, a public record (unedited and in form of old records). I have no idea why Captain’s list No. 10 isn’t listed:

William Beverley, Esq., County Lieutenant; James Patton, Colonel; Capt. John Smith, No. 1; Capt. Andrew Lewis, No. 2; Capt. John Buchanan; No. 3; Capt. James Cathey, No. 4; Capt. John Christian, No. 5; Capt Sam Gay, No. 6; Capt. Peter Sheul (Scholl), No. 7; Capt. James Gill (First Burgess), No. 8; Capt. John Willson, No. 9; Capt. Hugh Thompson, No. 10; Capt. George Robinson, No. 11; Capt. John McDowell, No. 12.

Heare followeth a list of all the Muster (?) of Augusta County under their respective officers and Captains:

No. 1 – Captain John Smith’s List: John Smith, Captain; John Moffet, Lieutenant; William Anderson, Ensign; Daniel Daniston, Sergeant; Sam Hogshead, John Hogshead, Will Hogshead, Dan. McAnearMath. Edmeston, John Finley, Walter Trimble, John Francis, Robert Ralston, John Young, Alex. BlairAlex. CraigThomas GillespyAnd. Erwine, Benj. Erwine, John Erwine, Edw. ErwineJohn TrimbleJames Trimble, Rob. Moffett, James Wright, Rob. King, Jam. Armstrong, John Pattison, Jas. LesleyFelix KanadyThomas Gordon, And. Mitchell, Jas. Robertson, Gabrl. Pickins, Rob. Leeper, Sam. Moore, John Miller, James Miller, Patr. Quine, Mat. Armstrong, John Ramsey, Dan. Daniston, Sam Northward, Rob. RenickJohn ArcherSampn. ArcherJam.’s SayersThos. McCuloughGeorge AndersonJohn AndersonRob. PoageRob. PattersonJas. CrafordWill Baskins.

Note: Locations include northeast section of Beverley Manor, Long Glade (North Branch of Shenandoah River)

No. 3 – Capt. John Buchanan’s List: John Buchanan, Captain; Will Evins, Lieutenant; Josef Catton, Ensign; John Mitchell, Sergeant; Joseph Kanada, James Cooke, Charles Donocho, Solo Moffett, Jas. Sunderlin, Will Sayers, John Dyche, Rob. Catton, Charles Gamble, Sam Walker, Alex. Walker, John Walker, Joseph Walker, Cha. Hays, And. Martin, John Edmoston, Jas. Robinson, Ths. Duchart, Will Quinn, Thomas Williams, Jab Anderson, Joh Anderson, James Anderson, Isaac Anderson, And. Hays, John McCroserce, Will Buchanan, Rich. Courser, Sam Dunlap, Will Lonchrage, Rob. Dunlap, Jams Ecken, Will McCantes, John Moor, Will Moor, David Moor, Alex. Moor, And. Moor, Will Mitchel, Nathn. Evins, John Stephenson, James Eken, Jas. Greenlee, John Paul, Mat. Lyle, Joh. Gray, Ths. McSpedan, Joh. Mathews, Will Armstrong, Rob. Huddon, Will Hall, Sam. Gray, Isaac Taylor, Michael O’Docherty, Sam McClewer, Edw. Boyle, Will Humphrey, Nathn. McClewer, John Philip Weaver.

No. 4 – Capt. James Cathey’s ListJames Cathey, Captain; John Given, John Case, Andr. Case, Will Brown, David Logan, John Case, Sam Case, Thos. Stephenson, David Stephenson, John McClewer, Joseph Hanna, John Frame, Hugh Camble, Michel Dickey, Nichel Leeper, Sam Hues, Rob. Craig, Wm. Monson, William Johston, James Givens, David Nelson, Rob. Koney, James Fowler, Edw. Givens, James Case, George Anderson, Nathan Underwood, George Anderson, James Scott, Andr. Cathey, Francis Raley, John McCown, John King, Robert Joweter, Rob Brown, Rob. McDowell, Wm. Hains, James Allan, Jams. Chambers, Sam Givens, Thos. Lander (Lauder), Archabel Hamilton.

No. 5 – Capt. John Christian’s ListJohn Christian, CaptainWilliam Christian, LieutenantFran Betty, Ensign; Jhn. Holms, Josep Read, Finley McClewr, George Camble, George Caldwell, Wm. Caldwell, Alex. Thompson, Jas. Caldwell, Isaac McCulough, Jas. Armstrong, Wm. Armstrong, Thos. Henderson, Wm. Henderson, Rob Conigham, Wm. Conigham, Thos. Black, Wm. Johnston, Joh Davison, And. Cowin, Jas. Moody, Jas. Willson, Niol. Leeper, Jno. Turk, Wm. Adams, David Mitchel, Rob. Ramsey, George Breakinsed, John Mitchel, Jas. Fulton, John Fulton, John Brownlee, Chas. Camble, Jas. Camble, Will Camble, Jno. Buchanan, Nathan McClewer, Jas. Robinson, Antho Black, Will Long, Thos. Bell, Jas. Bell, Jno. Black, Wm. Robinson, Thos. Shields, And. McCord, Thos. Beans, Arth. Hamilton, And. Scott, John Maxwell, Pat. Barney, Alex. Brackinsedg, Rob. Brackinsedg, James Brackinsedg, _____ McCoulough, Jas. Miler, Rob. McClenachan, Jno. Doacke, Sam Doacke, Patt Hayes, And. Boyd, Jas. Black, Alex. Fordice, David Steel, Moses Thompson, John Thompson, And. Russell, Rand McDonel, Hug Martine, Joh Robinson, Jas. Beans, Rob. Alexander, Ths. Lewis.

Note: Locations include southwest and southwest sections of Beverley Manor

No. 7 – Capt. Peter Shoull’s List: Peter Shoull, Captain; And. Burd, Lieutenant; Math. Skeens, Ensign; Abram Harden, John Hill, Johnath Burley, John Harison, Georg. Clemens, Wm. Halimes, Zebulun Harrison, Jno. Davis, Jno. Taylor, Joseph Burley, William White, Isaac Lotos, Wm. Sherral, Valante Severe, John Cumberland, Jacob Jacobs, Thos. Moor, Stephanes Haveworth, Jas. Haveworth, John Beeson, Steph. Howard, Absolom Howard, Joseph Howard, John Benson, Benj. Hames (Haines), John Harrison, Thos. Lowker, Griffiths Thomas, John White, Adam Sherral, Rob. Caldwal, John Miller, Will Brizes (Briges), Wm. Carrel, John Hodg, Absolom Haveworth, John Haveworth.

No. 8 – Capt. James Gill’s ListJames Gill, Captain; John Dobbin, Lieutenant; Wm. Sharrel, Bons Harding, Wm. Welling, John Johnson, John Wilkins, George Furbush, Barnabee McHenery, Rick Dictum, Dan Murley, Nicola Brock, Martin Shoemaker, John Howlain, And. Holman, George Legler, Joseph Dunham, Timothy Taylor, George Willes, Sam Brown, John Cumberland, Sam Beason, James Spencer, Wm. Prickett, Wm. Hall, Wm. McClain, Michael Brock, Thos. West, Wm. Sames, Cornelius Murley, Nicol Cain, Henery Brock, John Fisher, Thos. Wilkins, Joseph Harding, John Ryal, Abram Dunblederey, Riley Moor, Fraderich Brock, John McClairn, William Sharrle, Sr.; William Sharrle, Jr.

No. 9 – Capt. John Willson’s Lists: John Wilson, Captain; Sam Calehison, Nathan Lusk, John Shields, John Greer, John Patterson, George Davison. John Hunter, Wm. Hunter, James Hunter, John Rusk, James Clark, Wm. Vance, Rob Croket, John Trumble, Wm. King, Sa. Walace, John Spear, Thomas Peery, Alex. McConnel, Rob. Young, James Young, Jacob Lockard, Patt. Cook, James Lockard, William McCutcheon, James McCutcheon, Rob. McCutcheon, Alex. Crocket, Wm. Camble, Nathl. Davis, James Philip, John Barclay, James Lusk, James Trumble, Benj. Walker, Wm. Leadgerwood, Morris Offral, Rob Davies, John Brown, Wm. McClantok, Wm. Johnson, John Young, Hugh Young, Thos. Kirkpatrick, David Camble, John McCutcheon.

No. 11 – Capt. George Robinson’s ListGeorge Robinson, Captain; James McFeron, Lieutenant; Pat. Shirky, EnsignJames Ranfro, SergeantDan Manaughan, Mark Coal, Peter RanfroGeorge Draper, Rob Roland, Edw. Smith, Fran Kelly, And. Ganghagall, Henry Stiles, Hen Philip, Thomas Rindel, Thomas LooneyRob LooneyDan LooneyAdam Looney, Mark Joans, John Askins, John Flower, James Coal, Bryan Cass, Cornel Dougherty, Wm. Acres, Tasker Tosh, Hen Brown, Sam Brown, James Burk, Wm. Bean, _____Evins, Sam Martin, Peter Kinder, Stephen Evins, Peter Watkins, Stephen Ranfro, Benj. Davis, Wm. Clark, Wm. Shepherd, Benj. Deeson, John Smith, Hugh Coruthers, Wm. Bradshay, John Coal, Wm. Craven, Simon Acres, Nicol Horseford, _____ Meason.

Note: Locations include James River (Buffalo Creek, Looney’s Mill Creek), Roanoke River (Goose Creek)

No. 12 – Capt. John McDowell’s ListJohn McDowell, CaptainJames McDowellEphraim McDowell, David Breeden, Alex. McClewerJohn McClewerHalbert McClewer, Sam McRoberts, Thomas Taylor, John McKnab, And. McKnab, Thos. Whiteside, Malco Whiteside, John Aleson, David Bires, Alex. McClure, Moses McClure, John Gray, Patt McKnabb, Wm. Hall, John Miless, Wm. Miles. James Hardiman, Charles Quail, Wm. Wood, Hen. Kirkham, Gilbert Gamble, James Gamble, Rob. Young, Math. Young, _____ Long, _____ Long, James More, Hugh CunighamJames Cunigham, John Cares, Frances McCowan, Hum. Beaker, John Peter Salley, Mitch. Miller, Loromor Mason, John Matthews, John Cosier, Irwin Patterson, Edward Patterson, Joseph Finney, Michael Finney, Sam Wood, Rich. Wood, Joseph Lapsley.

Note: Locations include much of the Borden Tract

The Walkers listed in Captain James Buchanon’s list were the Wigtown Walkers and the ancestors of the four Walker Brothers I wrote a story about called “The Walker Brothers, Cornerstone of America.” These four brothers include famous mountain man Joe Walker and Jacob Walker, the last man to fall at the Alamo. You can access my book on Kindle/Amazon Prime. I discuss in more detail about the Indian Wars in Old Augusta County.

Here is the telling of the Indian battle from Augusta County records (no corrects have been made):

Captain McDowell assembled a company of thirty-three men, including his father Ephraim and brother James. In early December 1742, a similar number of Delaware Indians entered the McDowell settlement in Borden’s Grant, “saying that they were on their way to assail the Catawba tribe with which they were at war.” John McDowell met with the Indians, who professed their friendship for the whites. He, in turn, entertained them for a day and “treated them with whiskey.” The Delawares then traveled down the south branch of the North River and camped for about a week. Besides hunting, they proceeded to terrorize local settlers and shoot loose horses at random. In response to grievous complaints, Captain McDowell’s Company was ordered by Colonel James Patton of the Virginia militia to conduct the Delaware Indians beyond the white settlements. On 14 December 1742 they caught up with the suspect Indians at the junction of the James and North rivers. The Company proceeded to gather the group together and initiate the escort. About half of the Indians were on horseback, the rest on foot. One was said to have been lame, not keeping pace with the company, and had walked off into the woods. A soldier at the back of the line fired into the trees at him, and the Indians immediately began a full-fledged attack upon McDowell’s entire Company.  John and eight of his men were killed. At least seventeen Indians also died. In the battle’s aftermath, to avoid all-out war with the multiple nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, Lieutenant Governor George Thomas of Pennsylvania negotiated the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. Agreement was reached that Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor William Gooch would pay the Iroquois a reparation of 100 pounds sterling. 

Mary McDowell Greenlee deserves mention here. She had an interesting long life; she lived to be a hundred and two years of age. This is what was written about here:

Mary Greenlee was a feisty lady and some people thought she was a witch. The Indians thought she was crazy. They believed bad things would happen to them if they harmed a crazy person and Mary was allowed to freely roam in and out of their camps. Mary probably was not crazy, but was actually very smart, although somewhat eccentric. She probably understood some of the Indians’ superstitions and used them to her advantage. By letting them think she was crazy, she was not in any danger from them. In Mary Greenlee’s time, people believed witches were about in great force. They believed these witches signed contracts with the devil in their own blood. They also believed witches had great powers which were used for evil doings. Once at a quilting party, Mary urged one of the guests to eat more saying, “The mare that does double work should be best fed.” This comment was taken by the other ladies to mean that Mary was a witch. The lady she urged to eat was turned into a horse at night and ridden on Mary’s haunts. Some of the stock of Mr. Craig of Triple Forks mysteriously disappeared. As Mary Greenlee was believed to be a witch, she was blamed for the loss. Other such accusations apparently abounded regarding Mary Greenlee; however, no evidence has been found which indicates she was ever tried as a witch. Once, when Alice Lewis, a young daughter of John and Margaret (Lynn) Lewis, was captured by the natives, Mary went into the Indian camps and rescued her. In her later years, Justices of the Peace visited Mary. There were many disputes about land ownership and Mary had been in the Rockbridge with the first group of settlers. On November 10, 1806, at the age of 99, Mary told the Justices of the Peace just who owned certain tracts of land in Borden’s Grant in the 1730’s and 1740’s. This deposition was given in case of Joseph Burden, vs. Alex Culton and others. This not only helped settle the disputes, but also left a good record of some of the earliest settlers of Rockbridge.

In this deposition, Mary stated she and her husband James Greenlee settled in Borden’s Grant in the fall of 1737. She stated that she, her husband, father and brothers, were intending to settle in Beverly Manor, but met up with Benjamin Borden while enroute and decided move onto his lands. She also stated her brother James had raised a crop of corn in Beverly Manor the year before they settled in Borden’s Grant. Mary said John Lewis was related to her father.

Mary left to historians the story of the Millhollen girl who was a servant of Joseph Bell. Ms. Millhollen dressed herself in mens clothes, built five or six small cabins, and reserved the cabin rights in the name of Millhollen, using various first names for each cabin right. Any cabins erected entitled the builder to 100 acres of land, and the right to purchase a larger quantity at fifty shillings per one hundred acres.

Mary’s deposition named many early settlers. Among other things, she noted Alex Miller was the first blacksmith to locate in Borden’s Grant. John Hays built the first mill in Borden’s Grant, very soon after the area was settled. She named many of the settlers and how they came to acquire title to their lands.

When Mary first came to the Borden Grant, she and her husband built their first cabin near a spring very close to present-day Fairfield. They sold this after a while and bought land from her brother James McDowell. On this land, Mary and James ran a tavern near Timber Ridge. James died about 1763, and Mary ran the tavern for another 17 years. In 1780, Mary moved near Natural Bridge to live with her son. She helped him run a ferry across the James River; Mary lived near Natural Bridge until her death in 1809, at age 102. She was buried on her son’s farm, now (1994) owned by Sallie (Locher) Letcher.

Mary Greenlee has often been called “The Mother of Rockbridge County.” She is an important personality to the local history of Rockbridge. Written by Angela M. Ruley and appears in The Rockbridge County, Virginia Heritage Book 1778-1997.

The Mary Greenlee Monument was erected by APVA September 1944 and the following is inscribed on the stone:




1707 – 1809

Indian attacks and massacres in and around Augusta County from 1754 until 1763 were:
Fort Vause, 1756,
Ft. Upper Tract 1758
Ft. Seybert 1758
Ft. Warden 1758
Hawksbill Settlement 1758

Augusta County was frontier country at that time and attacks by mainly Shawnee were frequent. Stockades were built in strategic locations for defense. In addition to massacre of families, many colonists were taken in captivity

Before Augusta County was broken into more counties, the land mass was huge and extended to the Monongalia, Holston, New and South Branch Rivers.

At this juncture of the blog, I feel the necessity of clarifying the tree or descendants of the McDowells from County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. Please understand that there are many versions of this lineage and most are incorrect. This is my version. The “Pleasant Garden” and “Quaker Meadows” McDowell’s are through Ephraim’s brother John (Joseph). This will be explained throughout the remainder of the blog. There is considerable disagreement as to what was the direct line from Thomas McDowell to “Pleasant Gardens” and “Quaker Meadows” Joseph McDowell’s. I think my lineage below is correct but I could entertain different information if available. I have spent considerable time unraveling this tree and it has been difficult because so many ancestry and genealogy trees are just passing along incorrect information. I have generated a descendant tree on from Alexander McDowell. The tree and the descendant publication should clarify some of the confusion. The largest problem with unraveling the McDowell tree is due to the same names used throughout the generations. There is overuse of Thomas, Joseph and John McDowell. The second problem is that much information and trees are incorrect and others have reused this information as if it were absolute.

The immediate descendant tree for Thomas McDowell of Antrim, Ulster, Ireland

Thomas McDowell (1628-1692) — Ann Locke (1640-1705)

Joseph (or John) McDowell (1668-1738)

Alexander McDowell

Ephraim Samuel McDowell (1664-1765)

William McDowell (1682-1759)

Ester McDowell (1690-1716)

Sarah McDowell (1673-1789)

There has been publications that state there was another son, named John, that died in the Battle of the Boyne or previously at the Siege of Londonderry between 1689 and 1690. I have found no proof either way of this.

The immediate descendant tree for Ephraim Samuel McDowell

Ephraim McDowell (1673-1774) – Margaret Irvin (1674–1728)

Alexander McDowell (1706-1782)

Mary Elizabeth McDowell Greenlee (1707-1809)

James McDowell (1709-1746)

Capt. John McDowell (1714-1742) – Magdalena Woods (1706-1810)

children of Capt. John and Magdalena:

Samuel McDowell (1735-1817) – Mary McClung (1734-1827) Colonel Samuel was a Revolutionary War Soldier and a judge in Kentucky.

James McDowell (1739-1771)- Elizabeth Cloyd (1739-1810) James died in Kentucky.

Sarah Martha McDowell (1741-1801) – George Moffett Sarah married Joseph “Quaker Meadows” McDowell

The immediate descendant tree for Joseph (or John) McDowell (1668-1738) , son of Thomas McDowell.

Charles McDowell (1688-1754)- Rachael Cathy

children of Charles and Rachael

Sarah Nancy Finlely, Elizabeth McKinny, General Charles McDowell, Hannah Chrisman, Jane Brown, Major John McDowell, Col. Joseph McDowell, William McDowell and Mary McDowell. John McDowell (1718-1796) married Ann Evans and was referred to as “Hunting John” McDowell. Their Son Joseph McDowell, born on February 25, 1758, was called Joseph “Pleasant Gardens” McDowell

Joseph J. McDowell (1715-1771)- Margaret O’Neil Settled in Quaker Meadows

children of Joseph and Margaret:

Ann Evans, Rachael Matilda Eagan, Mary Ann McPheeters, Elizabeth McDowell , Hanna Keller, Mary Jane McDowell, Donna Thomas and Joseph “Quaker Meadows” McDowell (1756-1801) and Hugh Charles McDowell (1747-1825).

Charles, Joseph’s oldest son, was born about 1697. He married Rachel, who gave birth to one son and five daughters. Son John, born about 1717, made the journey from Ireland to America as a teenager. In the American wilderness he earned renown for his skills as a hunter, and would ever after be called “Hunting John” McDowell. Hunting John, like his father, would have but one son, born in 1758: Joseph “of Pleasant Gardens,” one of the McDowell cousins of the Revolution.

In 1748, “Hunting” John McDowell received a land grant from the colony of North Carolina for property known today as Pleasant Gardens, including acreage that originally extended from Swan’s Pond (Catawba County) up the Catawba River west to present-day Marion and into the region known as Buck Creek. McDowell went hunting with his friend Henry Weidner, and the two came upon a lush green valley with thousands of acres of what they thought was virgin forest. They were both interested in the land, and McDowell won a wrestling match to decide who should apply for it.

McDowell settled here with his family, and received two more land grants. established residence here family, and subsequently received two land grants.

His son, Joseph McDowell, fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain. McDowell County is named in his honor. Today, McDowell’s home survives, one of the few remaining that was built by its namesake.

Joseph J., the youngest of Joseph and Ann’s sons, was born February 27, 1715, nearly twenty years after his oldest brother Charles. Joseph J. was raised to become a weaver in Ireland’s textile industry but he emigrated to America shortly after marrying Irish Margaret O’Neill. As a grandson of Scottish lowlanders, Joseph J. McDowell had allegedly offended his wife’s Irish relatives by marrying one of their own. Margaret was a member of Ireland’s O’Neill clan, descended from a Gaelic dynasty that ruled much of Ireland in the early Middle Ages. They did not take kindly to clouding their pure Irish gene pool with Scots. Joseph J. McDowell and his bride Margaret left Ireland for the American colonies. Their eight children would all be born there. The youngest, born in 1756, would be named Joseph, and later in life became known as “Quaker Meadows Joe.”

Margaret O’Neill was born about 1717 at Shane’s Castle on Lough Neah in County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. Built in 1345, the castle was originally called Eden-duff-Carrick. Shane O’Neill (1530-1567), named it for himself. Many changes were made to the castle over the centuries. Shane’s Castle has been used extensively as a set location in all seasons of HBO’s award-winning series Game of Thrones and has been the site of many large concerts.

When I began this blog, my tree indicated that I had links to both Ephraim and Joseph McDowell. During research, I realized my link to the McDowell’s was via a William James Murphy who I thought had married Margaret McDowell. This appears to be incorrect. At any rate, I enjoyed the research as I learned a great deal of Scottish history and genealogy especially since my DNA results indicate I have 35% Scottish DNA.