Person:Ephraim McDowell (1)

Ephraim McDowell, of Augusta County, VA
  • HEphraim McDowell, of Augusta County, VAAbt 1672 - Abt 1770
  • WMargaret IrvineAbt 1682 - Abt 1728
m. 1706
  1. Mary Elizabeth McDowell1707 - 1809
  2. William McDowellAbt 1710 - 1796
  3. James McDowellAbt 1712 - Abt 1760
  4. Capt. John McDowell, Early Virginia Land Surveyor1714 - 1742
  5. Margaret McDowellAbt 1716 -
Facts and Events
Name Ephraim McDowell, of Augusta County, VA
Gender Male
Birth? Abt 1672 Longford, County Londonderry, Ulster, Ireland
Alt Birth? 3 Mar 1673 Raloo, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Alt Marriage Abt 1702 to Margaret Irvine
Marriage 1706 Irelandto Margaret Irvine
Death? Abt 1770 Augusta County, Virginia[area became Rockbridge County in 1777]

Ephraim McDowell was one of the Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia


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NOT to be confused with Ephraim McDowell (abt. 1688-1762) of Somerset County, New Jersey.

Record of Importation to Orange County, Virginia

Early Settlers, who transported themselves to the colonies, over the age of 16, were given "headrights" (grants of 50 acres of land per "head"), if they appeared in the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which the land was granted. The following person appeared in Orange County, Virginia court on 29 February 1739:

  • Ephraim McDowell (being old), John McDowell, his son, James & Margaret McDowell

Early Land Acquisition in Augusta County, VA


Ephraim McDowell's land (Borden Tract, NE 300 acres, 1747) as shown on the map meticulously drawn by J.R. Hildebrand, cartographer. This map is copyrighted©, used by permission of John Hildebrand, son of J.R. Hildebrand, April, 2009. Note: adjoining land of Ephraim McDowell to the south is tract acquired by John McDowell, Ephraim's son.

Acquisition of Land from Chalkley's:

  • Page 365.--27th March, 1747. Benj. Borden, &c., to Ephraim McDowell (sold in testator's lifetime); 300 acres for 5 shillings, part of 92,100; John McDowell's land. Witnessed and acknowledged as above.

Disposition of Land from Chalkley's:

  • Page 97.—3d May. 1755. Ephraim McDowell to James McDowell, £5, 300 acres; John McDowell's line, part of Borden's 92,100. Ephraim ( ) McDowell. Teste: John Bowyer, Samuel McDowell, Magdalen Bowyer.

Records in Augusta County, VA

From Chalkley’s Augusta County Records:

  • Vol. 2 - No. 12 - [abt. 1742] Capt. John McDowell's List: John McDowell, Captain; James McDowell, Ephraim McDowell, David Breeden, Alex. McClewer, John McClewer, Halbert 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 Cunigham, James 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.
  • Vol. 1 - MARCH 10, 1745/6. - (21) Ephraim McDowell committed to answer Roger Keys.
  • Vol. 2 - Page 122--Mary Greenlee deposes, 10th November, 1806, she and her husband settled in Borden's Grant in 1737. Her son John was born 4th October, 1738. She, her husband, her father (Emphraim McDowell, then very aged), and her brother, John McDowell, were on their way to Beverley Manor; camped on Linvel's Creek (the spring before her brother James had raised a crop on South River in Beverley Manor, above Turk's, near Wood Gap); there Benj. Borden came to their camp and they conducted him to his grant which he had never seen, for which Borden proposed giving 1,000 acres. They went on to the house of John Lewis, near Staunton, who was a relative of Ephraim McDowell. Relates the Milhollin story. They were the first party of white settlers in Borden's Grant. In two years there were more than 100 settlers. Borden resided with a Mrs. Hunter, whose daughter afterwards married one Guin, to whom he gave the land whereon they lived. Her brother John was killed about Christmas before her son Samuel (first of the name) was born (he was born April, 1743). Benj. Borden, Jr., came into the grant in bad plight and seemed to be not much respected by John McDowell's wife, whom Benj. afterwards married. Jno. Hart had removed to Beverley Manor some time before deponent moved to Borden's. Joseph Borden had lived with his brother Benj.; went to school, had the smallpox about time of Benj's. death. When he was about 18 or 19 he left the grant, very much disliked, and dissatisfied with the treatment of his brother's wife. Beaty was the first surveyor she knew in Borden's grant. Borden had been in Williamsburg, and there in a frolic Gov. Gooch's son-in-law, Needier, has given him his interest in the grant. Borden's executor, Hardin, offered to her brother James all the unsold land for a bottle of wine to anyone who would pay the quit rents, but James refused it because he feared it would run him into jail. This was shortly after Margaret Borden married Jno. Bowyer. John Moore settled in the grant at an early day, where Charles Campbell now lives. Andrew Moore settled where his grandson William now lives. These were also early settlers, viz: Wm. McCandless, Wm. Sawyers, Rob. Campbell, Saml. Wood, John Mathews, Richd. Woods, John Hays and his son Charles Hays, Saml. Walker, John McCraskey. Alexr. Miller was the first blacksmith in the settlement. One Thomas Taylor married Elizabeth Paxton. Taylor was killed by the falling of a tree shortly after the marriage. Miller removed and his land has been in possession of Telford. Deponent's daughter Mary was born May, 1745. McMullen was also an early settler; he was a school teacher and had a daughter married. John Hays's was the first mill in the grant. Quit rents were not exacted for 2 years at the instance of Anderson, a preacher.

Early Account of the McDowell Family

Excerpts from: "My McDowell Family", by Leo McDowell

John McDowell (born c1670, a brother of Ephraim McDowell of the Battle of the Boyne and later of Virginia, b. 1672), was believed to have not made the voyage to America. It was thought that perhaps he remained behind in Ireland, had died prior to other family members departure in 1729-31, or had died during the fateful voyage of the George and Ann in 1729. However, John and his brothers Alexander and William McDowell had imported themselves earlier to America around 1718-1719. Settling first in Monmouth and Somerset Counties in New Jersey. Alexander McDowell purchased former Penn land at Peapack on the Raritan River in Somerset County, New Jersey. John McDowell owned land in nearby New Castle County, Delaware. Both John and his brother Alexander were described as mariners in early colonial records. Alexander and his family ran ships out of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. It is at Perth Amboy, in about 1731, that Ephraim McDowell met up with his brothers before continuing westward into Pennsylvania and finally Virginia in 1736. Their brother William had settled at Parnell's Knob in 1719 and was well known in Chester and Lancaster Counties in Pennsylvania. John McDowell of New Castle County, Delaware died in 1738. John's death set about a new migration of his family members that eventually resulted in the initial population of McDowells in Anson County, North Carolina between 1748 and 1750.

When John McDowell of New Castle County, Delaware died in 1738, Charles and Joseph McDowell (later of North Carolina) removed to the area of present day Winchester, Frederick (old Orange) County, Virginia. His son Robert McDowell of New Castle County, bought land in Caln and Nottingham townships in Chester/Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Robert went down to Virginia with Ephraim's family in 1737, but did not stay and later returned to Pennsylvania, possibly upon receiving news of his father John's death in 1738. Robert and his family, however, did later removed to Anson County, North Carolina by 1750 joining Charles McDowell, “Hunting” John McDowell, Mary McDowell, and Joseph McDowell in receiving their grants at the Royal Assembly at New Bern.

Ephraim, his son John, and his nephew Robert had all been present at the Orange County Virginia Court of Common Pleas on 28 February 1739 to receive their Virginia Headrights. Headrights were grants of 50 acres of land per “head” (or per white male over the age of 16) to those men who transported themselves to the colonies. By this reckoning, (provided his sons James and William were over 16 years old) Robert McDowell was entitled to 150 acres of land in Orange County Virginia. The Scots/Irish chose lands in America that closely resembled the areas from which they had come in Northern Ireland. Preferring the rolling hills and highlands of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains and fertile Cumberland and Shenandoah Valleys of Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The frontier McDowells, like other Scots/Irish families, originally occupied the hills around the settlements in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, McDowells made their home in settlements like Carlisle, Caln, Nottingham, Donegal, and Stranbane. When Lancaster County was established on 10 May 1729, it became the prototype for the sixty-three counties to follow. The original three counties, Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester, were created as copies of typical English shires.

The frontier conditions of Chester County's backwoods, from which Lancaster was formed, presented knotty problems to the civilized Englishmen. Lancaster County, therefore, was an experiment in pragmatism erected on the periphery of William Penn's "Holy Experiment". Pennsylvania's "first western county" would test the genius of English government and political common sense. Political control of Pennsylvania at this time, however, firmly rested in the hands of the Quakers. The pacifistic Quakers did not look with favor upon the arrival of the bellicose Scots/Irish, who generally moved toward the frontier and whose contempt for the English was only slightly milder than their hatred of the "red savages." A new county might cause competition, for surely the Scots/Irish would demand representation in the Provincial Assembly. Then, there was also opposition from the Germans in the hinterlands. More local government would mean more regulations and higher taxes. Fortunately, on the banks of the Susquehanna River at Wright's Ferry there existed a settlement of remarkably competent Quaker politicians who adjusted intelligently to the challenges of the frontier, including the Indians and Scots/Irish.

Those Scots/Irish who had indentured themselves to reach America, had set out for the frontier immediately upon fulfilling their indenture. The other persons of means supplied themselves with the materials required on the frontier; muskets, dried and salted provisions, seed for planting, implements, blankets, etc. The McDowells who arrived were of the latter type. In fact, at least one son of Ephraim (John b. 1714) had brought along his servant from Ireland, named John Rutter. This was not an uncommon practice by persons of means. Of course, once in America, the servant could later qualify for his own headrights upon his release from service. The “frontier” was 40-50 miles west of Philadelphia, and south in the foothills of the mountains in Western Maryland or along the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River, or their tributaries. These frontiersmen marked their property by cutting their initials in trees on the boundary of what they considered to be theirs, then cut circles in the bark to kill the tree. Some often refused to pay for the land, since they believed God owned it. Their Scots/Irish language, religion, culture, and customs continued in America.

In September of 1737, Ephraim McDowell (already an old man at the age of nearly 65) and his sons John and James McDowell and his daughter Mary Elizabeth McDowell Greenlee and her husband James Greenlee were in camp on Linville Creek in Rockingham (old Orange) County , Virginia. They were journeying down what was sometimes called the Indian Road, Great Wagon, or Pennsylvania Road. They were heading for the South River in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. James McDowell had come in advance and had planted corn in 1736 in the valley opposite Woods Gap in the Shenandoahs. These McDowells had come out of County Antrim sailing from Larne or Belfast with their kin, the families McElroy, McCune, McCampbell, McKee, Moffett, and Irvine (the family of Ephraim's wife).

The early McDowells that had died in Pennsylvania before moving on included John McDowell (died 17 October 1738). John McDowell is buried at Christ Church burial ground (resting place of Benjamin Franklin) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. John McDowell, probably a son of Alexander McDowell of Perth Amboy, became a mariner and captain of the ship Jolly Bachelor. John died onboard his ship at Cape Fear, in Brunswick County, North Carolina in 1735. John left his property to his brother James, sister Jane McDowell Nesbit, and a friend - Lydia Jones. He also gave a legacy of ten pounds to his uncle John McDowell of New Castle County, Delaware, 10 pounds to the Presbyterian church in Dover, Delaware, and five pounds to the Episcopal church in the same place. He wished that a “small brick wall be put around (my) grave with two marble stones set up, one at the head and one at the foot, as is commonly used in such cases at Philadelphia”.

  1.   Macdowall,Fergus D. H., MacDougall, William L. The MacDowalls. (, 2009)
    Pages 52, 53.

    Mary Semple of Mounthill, near Larne in County Antrim, Ulster (an Irish genealogist from the early 1900s), wrote about the McDowells and associated families in County Antrim. Mary Semple researched and presented extensive genealogies of the Blair, Irvine, Knox, and Lyle families as well – families which bear close ties of kinship to the McDowells in Ulster, Canada, and America.

    The research of Mary Semple was done via family Bibles, personal interviews and stories passed down by word of mouth from living relatives, other written documentation, and through civil and church records. Mary Semple also had access to the records of the Presbyterian Church in Raloo near Larne, town and civil records, and the Raloo Presbyterian Church graveyard where many of the McDowells and related families are buried, including Margaret Irvine McDowell (died 1728) – the wife of Ephraim McDowell of Virginia.

    Some of the odest McDowell headstones in the Raloo churchyard bear the coat-of-arms and mottos of MacDowalls of Garthland. This supports Mary Semple’s claim that the McDowells of Gleno, Raloo Parish, County Antrim, Ulster descend from that family.

    According to Mary Semple,

    Uchtred MacDowall, 8th of Garthland succeeded his grandfather in 1513 and married his cousin Marion Stewart, daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Gurlies. Their son, John MacDowall succeeded in 1531, he married Margaret Campbell. John was killed at Pinkie in 1547. His son, Uchtred MacDowall married Margaret Kennedy, daughter of Sir Hugh Kennedy. Their 7th son, John McDowell came to Gleno, Raloo Parish, near Larne, Ireland by 1595 as a political exile. He married Mary Wylie. Their GRANDSON, Thomas MacDowall, married Ann Locke. Their son, Ephriam MacDowall, married his cousin Margaret Irvine.

    The above Ephriam McDowell married Margaret Irvine who died, left Gleno with two of his sons, two daughters and three brothers-in-law for America. They sailed from Larne in a sailing ship called the ‘George and Ann’ on May 29, 1731. After a short stay in Pittsburgh, Pa., they settled in Virginia. He was a lad of 16 when he was pressed to the siege of Londonderry. He went with King William to the Battle of the Boyne and shod the King’s white horse the night before the battle. He had been learning to be a blacksmith with his father. The house where he lived and the shop where he wrought are still to be seen in the lovely village of Gleno.
    All the (then present) McDowells of Raloo are descended from him through his eldest son Thomas who remained in Gleno. His brother-in-law Alexander Irvine was one of the ‘Apprentice Boys’ who closed the gates of Derry in the face of King James’ Army.

    Ephriam was one (of the sons) who went with him to America. Although an old man at the time of the Revolutionary War, (he) was among the first to raise the sword of freedom for the Colonies.