Capt. Alexander (devil Alex) & Sarah B. (Sallie) Smith Ewing
b. 10 Mar 1752 VA, d. 9 Apr 1822 TN- b. 12 Aug 1761 TN, d. 15 June 1840 TN
Capt. Alexander Ewing
Capt. Alexander Ewing “Devil Alex”- Early settler ofN.W. Davidson Co., TN. Served in Revolutionary War as Aide-de-Camp to Gen. Green. Wounded at Guilford (NC) Earned nickname and 2666 acres. Built and owned first brick plantation house in area, 1/4 mile East. Later built Ewing Mansion on Buena Vista Pike. He and his wife Sarah are buried directly across in Ewing Plantation Cemetery. Location: Ewing Drive at Knight Road.
Alexander Ewing was born on the estate of his father, John Ewing, in Montgomery County, VA. He was my third great-grandfather. Alexander was 23 when the Revolution began and he lost no time in joining the fight for his new country.
His official war record can be found in several sources, one of which is Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, p. 220: “Ewing, Alexander (Va). 2d Lieutenant 14th Virginia, 3d September, 1777; regiment designated l0th Virginia, 14th September, 1778; 1″1 Lieutenant, 14th February, 1779; Captain, 1781; Aide-de-Camp to General Greene, 1781 to close ofwar; wounded at Guilford, 15th March, 1781.(Died 1822.)” His resignation dated January 1, 1782, was signed by “Steuben, Maj. Gen. Commanding in Virginia.” He was referred to as “Devil Alex” by his fellow soldiers, one would hope in honor of his ferocious style of combat.
After his resignation, Alexander received a North Carolina Military Warrant (No. 909) for 2,666+ acres of land in what is now Tennessee. Most of the land was in Davidson County, but his Will indicates that he also owned land in Wilson, Franklin, Williamson, and Rutherford counties, TN. This land grant and another mention of Alexander’s being wounded in combat at The Battle of Guilford Courthouse are recorded in Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstuck.
Alexander resided and later died on his Davidson County land, most of which can be found in the northern part ofNashville. His mansion, Woodlon Hall, is still in existence, as well as the family burial ground. The Ewing name is seen in various landmarks and roads, such as Ewing Creek, and Ewing Creek Drive. He and my 3rct greatgrandmother Sarah (Sally) were most successful in the husbandry of the plantation and its operation. In his Last Will and Testament, he bequeaths specific tracts ofland to his heirs totaling 2,798 acres, 150 shares of the capital stock of the Bank of the State of Tennessee, several town lots, and fifty slaves listed by name. An Inventory of Goods made after his death showed other of his possessions. He had indeed become a wealthy man, the last of my direct line to be in such an enviable position.
Alexander and Sally were active in the social life of Davidson County and were contemporaries of Andrew Jackson’s and Rachel Donelson’s families. In fact, Andrew Jackson witnessed Alexander’s signature on at least
one legal document. Rachel Donelson’s brothers engaged in the defense of their land and neighboring plantations against Indian attack, along with Alexander and his sons. Although Tennessee was still in some ways a frontier land fraught with expected and unexpected dangers, lavish entertainments were hosted by plantation owners like Alexander Ewing. Andrew Jackson, and the Donelsons- made possible by the wealth accumulated from careful supervision of lands and other goods and by the labor furnished by slaves. But this way of life was fast approaching an end in the South, and the Civil War loomed on the horizon. The day of the “Gentleman Planter” both in the more established South and on this newer frontier was fast approaching its demise.
My second great-grandfather James Ewing would see life on Ewing lands change radically, for he lived on upon that land after the Civil War had ended and witnessed and experienced the tragic results first hand.
Alexander Ewing – Will
TEXT OF THE WILL AND TESTAMENT OF
6 June 1822–Davidson County, Tennessee
I Alexander Ewing of Davidson County in the State of Tennessee do make and publish my last will and testament as follows:
1st. I give to my beloved wife Sally during her natural life, one third part of all the lands I possess in Davidson County including the mansion house, out houses, and an other building on the tract of land whereon I now reside to be laid off by my executors hereinafter named. Also I give to her during her natural life the use of one-half of the stock upon my farm and farming utensils to be divided by my said executors, also the whole of the household and kitchen furniture with the exception of beds and bed furniture which are to be equally divided by my said executors between her and her three sons Alexander, Randal McGavock, and William Black, taking into such division the beds and bed furniture which have recently been given to Randal and Alexander or which may be given to them previous to my death. It being my desire that my wife should not be restricted in the disposition or sale of any of the above personal property bequeathed to her aforesaid, but that she should seU or dispose of such part thereof, as she may think necessary or proper. Also I give to her during her natural life one-half of all the slaves of which I may die possessed except those hereinafter specifically bequeathed to be divided by my said executors.
2nd. I give to my son Jan1es Ewing and his heirs forever a tract ofland on Smiths Fork of Caney Creek in Wilson County containing six hundred and forty acres, also a tract of land on Elk river in Franklin County containing six hundred and forty acres, also the slaves now in his possession, to wit, George and Sarah his wife, Lucy, Polly, Peggy, Washington, and Jack together with their increase. Also twenty-five shares ofthe capital stock of the Bank of the State of Tennessee.
3rd. I give to my son Alexander Ewing and his heirs forever one-half of the tract ofland in Williamson County near Franklin containing five hundred and thirty-eight acres; also two Lots or parts of lots in the town of Nashville on Water Street which were conveyed by Hall and W. Nairy to C. Stump, by him to Thomas Shute, and by him to me, also the following slaves: Andrew and his wife Milly and her children, Cynthia excepted, also Tom, Phillis, Henry, and Rhoda–also twenty-five shares of the capital stock of the Bank of the State of Tennessee.
4th. I give to my son Randal McGavock Ewing and his heirs forever the other half of said tract of land of five hundred and thirty-eight acres to be equally divided as to quality and quantity between him and Alexander by my said executors should I not make a division between them in my lifetime. Also a part of Lot no. 6 in the town of Nashville on Water Street including Stump’s Warehouse which was conveyed by James Trimble also by Thomas Shute to me. Also the follpwing slaves, to wit, Caesar and China his wife and her children, also Phoebe, Ezekial, Bob and Judy–also 50 shares of the bank stock of the Nashville Bank.
5th. I give to my son William Black Ewing and his heirs forever the tract of land whereon I now live in Davidson County containing about five hundred acres subject to the life estate of my beloved wife therein before mentioned; also sixty acres ofland on Stones River in Rutherford County, also the other half of the stock on my farm, and fiuming utensils, also upon the death of my beloved wife the stock, farming utensils, household and kitchen fumiture which may then remain on my farm, the use and disposition of which is bequeathed to her as aforesaid, also the other half of my slaves of which I may die possessed as aforesaid with the exception of those specifically bequeathed and upon the death of my beloved wife the said slaves and their increase which are bequeathed to her during her lifetime, are to be equally divided by my said executors between my said sons Alexander, Randal McGavock, and William Black, also I give to my son William B. fifty shares of the capital stock of the Nashville Bank.
6th. I give to my grandson, Alexander Ewing McGavock, and his heirs forever a tract ofland containing 320 acres on Loosa Hatchee River in the eleventh district in Range 2 Sec. 4.
7th. I give to my grandson Oscar Smith Ewing and his heirs forever a tract of land containing three hundred acres in the eleventh district in Range 3 Sec. 7.
8th. I give to my grandaughter Nancy Kent McGavock and her heirs forever my negro girl slave named Cynthia and her increase provided my said grandaughter should live to attain the age of eighteen years or should marry, but should neither of these events happen the said slave and her increase are to be divided with the residue of my estate hereinafter mentioned.
9th. I give to my son William B. my gold watch.
lOth. All the rest and residue of my lands not herein before specifically divided, I give to my sons James, Alexander, Randal McGavock, and William Black and their heirs forever.
11th. All the rest and residue of my personal estate of every description not herein specifically bequeathed after the payment of my just debts I give and bequeath to my beloved wife and my sons Alexander, Randal
McGavock, and William Black and their heirs forever.
12th. All the aforesaid devises and bequests to my son Alexander Ewing are to depend on the contingency that he does not marry Sarah Jefferson, and in the event that he should not comply with my desire in that particular and should marry her, he is to take nothing under this will but all and every the devises and bequests to him are thereupon to vest in my sons Randal McGavock and William Black and their heirs, and lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friends Alvin B. Hayes and William L. Brown and my son Alexander Ewing Executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all others by me heretofore made. In the division of that part of my estate respecting which my son Alexander is a legatee or devisee he is not to act. And I do hereby direct that my said executors shall not be required to give bond and security previous to their taking Letters Testamentary. Vc Witness my hand and seal this 6th February 1822.
Signed, sealed, published and declared in the presence of us,
Robert W. Green
State of Tennessee Davidson County Court April Sessions 1822
A paper purporting to be the last will and testament of Alexander Ewing deceased was produced in open court and proved thus. Jacob MacGavock and Robert W. Green two of the subscribing witnesses being duly sworn say they became such in the presence of the testator and at his request and that they believe he was in his right mind at the time of the executing said paper writing. It is therefore ordered that the same be entered of record as such will of said Alexander Ewing deceased and thereupon Alvin B. Hayes, William Brown, and Alexander Ewing Ins. The executors named in said will came into court and qualified as such ordered that they have letters testamentary granted to them.
Alexander Ewing, Capt. – Inventory of estate
INVENTORY OF THE ESTATE OF ALEXANDER EWING
Alexander Ewing Dec. Inventory Recorded June 6th 1822
An inventory of the personal estate of Alexander Ewing deceased: 29 slaves to wit Orange and his wife Lydia, Jerry and his wife Jinney and her nine children, to wit: Sookey, Syleria, Levin, Hulda, Matilda, Jinsey, Milton, Mitchell, and Tennessee–John, Humphrey, and George, children ofSookey–Turner, Andrew, and Caroline, children of Sylvia, Nancy or Nanny and her three children Frederick or Fed, Jim and Thornton, Susannah or Sous and her two children Harry and Marion, Daniel, John, Phil–14 head ofhorses including one colt, 49 head of cattle including calves, 100 head of sheep including lambs, 122 hogs and pigs, 3 deer, 1 wagori and gear, 1 ox cart, 7 ploughs, 7 axes, 12 weeding hoes, 2 stone hammers, 40tt iron, 3 cradles & 5 scythes, 1 crosscut saw, 1 hand saw, several augers, chisels, and carpenter tools, spades, 3 shovels, 3 harrows, 6 barrels salt, 200tt sugar, 40tt coffee, 100tt dried beef, 400tt hog lard, 50tt tallow, 5 cotton wheels, 2 flax wheels, 2 cribs corn containing 400 barrels by estimation, 6 stacks fodder, and some hay–and a quantity of unthrashed oats and rye. Household furniture, one clock, 1 rifle, one shot gun, 6 beds bedsteads and furniture, and kitchen furniture. A quantity ofbacon, some picked cotton, near a barrel of whiskey, some leather and other small articles convenient for housekeeping, $899 in bank paper, $90.25 in silver, $10 in gold, $989–the following bonds and notes 1 executed by Robert Gorman, Shadrack Jarman, and A. Harris for $1000 dated 21 April1818 and due April1821 with a credit of $43.32 cents endorsed on 13 Dec. 1821, and another credit of $5 50 endorsed on 20 March 1821. One other bond executed by the same persons of the same date due 21st April1822 for $1000. Thos. Childress bound to A. Ewing for $317.12 dated 3d May 1820 due 60 days thereafter–One other bond executed by said Childress by his attorney R. W. Green for $474 57/100 dated 7th January 1822 due 60 days after date also an order drawn by Tho. Childress in favor of Robert M. Green for $50 which was paid by said Ewing for said Childress on 18th March 1820, W. B. Ballentine of Kentucky bond to said Ewing for $30 dated 30th May 1821 due 1 Dec. Thereafter–C. Giles, Geo. Elliot, and James Jackson note to said Ewing for $1000 dated lOth September 1819 payable on or before first June ensuing in the hands ofWm. Hadley for collection–One bond on Stump and Cox and others to Alexander Ewing dated 30 March 1819 at 6 mo. For $9200 in suit, and respecting which it is believed some agreement was made by said Ewing in his lifetime one note on T. H. Fletcher endorsed by G. E. Washington dated 30th July 1819 at 15 days for $250 in suit against endorser–one note on Stump and Cox endorsed by C. Stump for $1060 dated 13 April1819 due first May thereafter in suit C. Stump, respecting this also it is believed some agreement was made by same Ewing in his lifetime.
A. B. Hayes for self &
Alex C. Ewing
State of Tennessee Davidson County Court 1822
The foregoing inventory of the estate of Alexander Ewing, deceased, was returned into court by Alvin B.
Hayes, William L. Brown, and Alexander C. Ewing his executors V c. and ordered to be recorded.