Rebecca Philips Williams
Born: 3 Apr
1820 in Nashville, Davidson Co., TN
Died: 27 Jul 1844 in Nashville, Davidson
20 Dec. 1832 Nashville, Davidson Co., TN
EWING, Edwin Hickman, (brother of Andrew and Orville Ewing),
a Representative from Tennessee was born in Nashville, Tenn., December 2, 1809. He completed preparatory studies,
and was graduated from the University of Nashville in 1827.
He became a trustee of the University in 1831, and served until his death.
He studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1831 and commenced practice in Nashville.
He was a member of the State house of representatives in 1841 and 1842. Elected as a Whig to the Twenty-ninth
Congress, Ewing served from March 4, 1845 to March 3, 1847, and was not a candidate for re-nomination, and resumed practicing
law in Nashville with his brother Andrew Ewing, until 1851.
His health was failing and he took a trip abroad beginning
on April 2, 1851, and was absent eighteen months.
In 1857 he bought a fine plantation in Rutherford
County, and moved there, but returned to Nashville in 1859 with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Emmet Eakin, and
lived with them for a year, when they removed to Saline County, Missouri, near Marshall.
In 1860 he again removed to Murfreesborough to live with his son, Josiah W. Ewing, intending to practice
law no more.
After the Civil War he was appointed president of the University
He died in Murfreesboro, Tenn., April 24, 1902; interment
in Murfreesboro City Cemetery.
The Ewing home on Highland Ave --->
The following article appeared in the Murfreesboro Post on Sunday
14 March 2010. It was written by Mike West, Post Managing Editor.
Judge Edwin Ewing, a forgotten political powerhouse
Following the Civil war, Edwin Ewing lived in Murfreesboro with
one of his daughters on North Highland Drive.
Built in 1856 by Dr. Ford Norfleet, the home
was a two-story brick and one of the finest of its time. Norfleet never lived in the home, which was sold to E.L. Jordan who
was married to Norfleet’s sister. The house was featured in the 1942 book, “Heartstones” by Mary B. Hughes
and was described as the Ewing-McElroy House.
Despite the war, Ewing remained politically
prominent to the point where the New York Times wrote an editorial questioning his request for amnesty in the post-war days.
"The Union between the North and the South was at an end forever and he had no hope of its restoration,” the editorial
quoted Ewing as saying.
“He regarded this as a war of subjugation,
and would never consent to such a domination as was attempted to be established over us. We see it now stated that this same
EDWIN H. EWING has expressed his readiness to accept amnesty on the conditions of the President's Proclamation, and freely
urges the same step upon his friends,” the
But Ewing received amnesty and continued his
law practice. After the war, Ewing’s son, Josiah and his wife, moved into the house, which was purchased by Ewing’s
father. Judge Ewing moved into the house as well.
The home became known for its parties and
elaborate flower garden, which featured beds of lilies and roses, bordered by violets. The garden’s paths radiated to
a honey-sucked covered summerhouse to the left of the two-story brick structure.
Judge Ewing would take evening promenades
on the long second-story balcony at the rear of the house, which was built traditionally with four bedrooms on the second
floor and the parlor, dining and other “public rooms” on the ground floor.
While the Ewings occupied the dwelling, it
was the scene of four lavish weddings. Following the death of Judge Ewing (in 1902) and his son, the home was sold to Professor
W.M. Mooney, who attempted to establish a boys’ school there. When the school failed, the property reverted to Mrs.
Ewing’s control. She ultimately sold it to Mrs. George D. Nelson, who established a home for handicapped children there.
Later the home was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Frank
H. McElroy, who continued to operate a school there. Ultimately, the land was purchased by Middle Tennessee Medical Center
and the house was demolished, making way for MTMC’s Bell Street Center.
As for Judge Ewing, he was laid to rest in
the Murfreesboro City Cemetery on Vine Street, where he remains an almost forgotten figure in Tennessee’s history.
Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans
by William S. Speer
HON. EDWIN HICKMAN EWING.
No name in Tennessee shines with a more steady radiance han
that of the Ewing
family. It is one of the immovable jewels of the State, and is connected with its
congressional, legislative, judicial, legal, medical, literary and banking history,
and dates back to 1780. There is not a stain upon its escutcheon. No member of it
has been marked or spotted as addicted to gaming, drunkenness, dissoluteness,
nor by the wiles and trickery of the demagogue. The heroic vices never attached
to the family. They are society people, distinguished for their culture, refinement
and high sense of honor, and are brave without vainglory, proud without being
haughty, affluent without arrogance, and prominent without being pretentious.
The oldest living and probably the best representative of the family
is the subject of this sketch, Hon. Edwin Hickman Ewing. He was born in Davidson County,
Tennessee, December 2. 1809, and there grew up, attending the schools of the city, and graduating in October, I 1827, from
the University of Nashville, under the
celebrated Dr. Philip Lindsley, in a class of twelve, among whom were Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, Hon. David W. Dickinson, for
several years M.C., Hon. Ebenezer
J. Shields, M.C. from Giles County, G. W. Foster, Thomas Foster, and Dr. Patrick D. Nelson, of Rutherford County.
From the age of fifteen young Ewing determined to be the best lawyer,
and in school and at college studied with that end in view. After graduation he obtained
license to practice, January, 1831, from Supreme Judge John Catron and Circuit Judge James Stewart, and thenceforward practiced
regularly in the County,
Circuit, Chancery and Supreme courts. He was in the Supreme Court as early as 1833. He practiced at Nashville without any
break from 1831 to 1851, except the
time he was in Congress and the Legislature, to be mentioned hereafter. In 1837 he took his brother, Hon. Andrew Ewing, into
partnership, which continued until
In 1840 he canvassed the counties around Nashville in favor of the
election of Gen. William Henry Harrison to the presidency, during which he got into divers
difficulties with Democratic politicians and editors, Judge Ewing's prominence and ability as a speaker making him a standing
target for the shots of the Democratic leaders.
In 1842 he was a member of the Tennessee Legislature from Davidson
County, elected as a Whig, without opposition. When that General Assembly organized he was made chairman of the committee
on federal relations.
In the latter part of 1845 he became the successor of Dr. J. H. Peyton,
brother of Hon. Bailey Peyton, who had been elected to represent Davidson, Sumner, Smith
and Macon counties in the United States Congress. Judge Ewing was elected in opposition to Gov. Trousdale. He took his seat
in January, 1846, after the committees had been formed. In Congress he made a number of speeches on the
tariff, the Oregon question, the Mexican war, and the river and harbor bill, which were published and at once gave him a reputation
which was an honor to himself
and a credit to his State. Hon. Alexander Stephens, then in Congress, said of his speech on the tariff, it was the best he
had ever heard on that subject.
Declining a re-election, he returned to his law practice, which he
continued with his brother until April, 1851, when, his health failing from his large and laborious
law business, he took a trip to Europe, starting April 2, 1851, and being absent eighteen months. He visited England, Scotland,
Ireland, France, Germany, Italy
and Switzerland, traveling in the latter country six hundred miles on foot, meanwhile recovering his health. He then went
to Egypt and up the Nile as far as
Assouan, at the cataracts, inspecting the pyramids, the temples and other noted ruins; and, then making a detour to Suez,
went down the Gulf of Suez to Mt. Sinai,
which he ascended; thence by the Gulf of Akabah visited Petra; thence to Hebron, on the borders of Palestine, and the home
of the patriarch Abraham, whose tomb
he visited. He then went to Jerusalem; to the river Jordan, and bathed in it; then to Bethlehem, to the Dead Sea, and then
north to Damascus—the oldest of cities;
saw the rivers Abana and Pharphar, and ascended to the headwaters of the famous stream. On the route from Damascus to Beirout,
he took in Baalbec and
measured a corner-stone in its walls-66318x12. From Beirout he went to Smyrna, thence to Constantinople, Trieste, Paris, London
and home. These travels in the
East made Judge Ewing, who is always an entertaining conversationalist, much sought after by those interested in oriental
places of historical interest.
Not long after his arrival at Nashville, he was called upon to pronounce
a eulogy on Daniel Webster. This address, delivered in 1852, gave him more fame as a
writer and orator than any other of his numerous addresses and papers, on all manner of subjects, published sometimes over
his own name; sometimes under a nom de plume.
Judge Ewing continued to practice law, in a perfunctory way, only
in important cases, until 1857, at which time he was worth upwards of one hundred thousand dollars. In 1857 he bought a fine
plantation in Rutherford County, and moved
there, but returned to Nashville in 1859 with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Emmet Eakin, and lived with them for
a year, when they removed to Saline County, Missouri, near Marshall. In 1860 he again removed to Murfreesborough to live with
his son, Josiah W. Ewing, intending to practice law no more.
The war came on and his sons, Josiah and Orville, both went into
the Confederate service, and Judge Ewing remained on his son's place, three miles from Murfreesborough. During the war Judge
Ewing was under surveillance of the Federal troops on account of his sympathy for the South, though up to the war he had been
a Union man, but heartily with the South after Federal invasion begun.
After the war he continued to live with his son until January 1,
1866, when he resumed the practice of law at Murfreesborough, in partnership with Hon. E. D. Hancock. This partnership was
dissolved in 1869, after which Judge Ewing appeared in cases mostly at Nashville—bank and railroad cases—meanwhile
frequently contributing articles to the press on metaphysics, religion, and politics. He wrote what may be called the basis
of the speeches and writings that have since been made on the State debt question, Judge Ewing taking the ground that the
State is liable for the whole debt, but that the creditors should allow a large deduction as an equity.
In 1880 he was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee,
vice Judge Cooper, disqualified on account of his having, as chancellor, decided many of the cases taken by appeal from Davidson
County. He afterwards took the place of Judge Peter Turney, absent on account of rheumatism and the old wound he received
during the war. In 1881-2, by request of the other members of the court,
Gov. Hawkins appointed Judge Ewing special judge in place of Judge Cooper, incapacitated on account of being the owner of
State bonds, to sit, in what has since become the "one hundred and three case." Judge Ewing delivered the
opinion advancing the case on the docket, and afterwards, in the final disposition of the case, three of the judges, Freeman,
McFarland and Turney, enjoined the issuance of new bonds by the funding board. Judge Ewing wrote and delivered the dissenting
opinion, which the lawyers speak of as his monument. This opinion was the most labored effort of Judge Ewing's life. [See
Court Reports, 1881-21. For the past three or four years Judge Ewing has been receiving no fees, practicing merely to wind
up his old cases, only a few of which now remain.
Judge Ewing married at Nashville, in 1832, Miss Rebecca
Williams, a native of Davidson County, daughter of Josiah
Williams (at one time Sheriff of Davidson County), a large
farmer on the splendid tract since known as Maplewood."
Her grandfather died in North Carolina. His oldest son,
William Williams, was at one time a member of the
Legislature from Davidson County. The Williams family came
from North Carolina, and were quite prominent people in
Davidson County. They are of Welsh extraction. Mrs. Ewing's
mother was a daughter of Joseph Phillips, a respectable
magistrate of Davidson County. Mrs. Ewing's cousin, Mrs.
John Felix Demoville, of Nashville, is a grand-daughter of
Joseph Phillips, as is also Mrs. James C. Warner, a sister of Mrs. Ewing. Judge Ewing and his two brothers, Andrew and
Orville, married three sisters, daughters of Josiah Williams.
Comments by Larry Feldhaus:
Josiah Williams was never Sheriff of Davidson County. The author appears to confuse him with Willoughby Williams who lived
down Gallatin Road from Josiah and served as Sheriff of Davidson County around 1830.
Rebecca Williams Ewing’s grandfather on the Williams
side died in Nashville TN. Her grandfather on the Philips side died on Swift Creek outside of Tarboro NC.
Notice that Philips is spelled with one “L” and not two “L”s
as written above.
The Williams moved from Virginia to Scotland Neck NC where
they lived with a large group of Scottish emigrants prior to moving to Louisburg NC and eventually to Nashville TN. I am not
certain of their nationality prior to emigrating to the U.S., but I have assumed they were Scottish. My grandmother
always said they were Scotch-Irish.
Judge Robert Ewing, of Nashville,
member of the board of public works and affairs (facetiously
called the 'big three"), is a son of Andrew Ewing, and a nephew
of Judge Ewing, subject of this sketch. His niece, Rebecca, daughter of Andrew Ewing, is the wife of Henry Watterson, the famous editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Of Judge Ewing's five brothers:
(1). John 0. Ewing became a physician
of much merit and prominence, but died at the age
of twenty-six in the year 1826. His son, John 0., married a daughter of Alexander Campbell, the famous West Virginia preacher, and afterwards married a daughter of John M. Bass, of Nashville.
Henry Ewing was clerk of the County court of Davidson, and afterwards in New York.
Albert Ewing was a Christian preacher, and died at Eureka, Illinois, sixty-eight years old. He married Jane Caroline, daughter
of the celebrated Alexander Campbell.
Ewing was president of the Planters Bank of Nashville for many years.
Though bred a lawyer he never practiced.
Comments by Larry Feldhaus: Orville Ewing
married Milbrey Horn Williams, daughter of Josiah Frederick Williams.
(5). Andrew Ewing was a
member of Congress as a Democrat from a Whig district.
He died at Atlanta, Georgia, in the Confederate service, being
judge of the permanent military court of Gen. Bragg's Army of the Tennessee. He left a reputation for being one of the best common law lawyers the State ever had. He was a very eloquent speaker, and being a prominent politician was one of the Democratic leaders of Tennessee.
Comments by Larry Feldhaus: Andrew Ewing married Rowena Josey Williams, daughter of Josiah Frederick Williams.
By his marriage with Miss
Williams Judge Ewing has had four children:
(1). Josiah W. Ewing, born in 1834;
graduated from Bethany College, West Virginia, under
President Alexander Campbell; married, in 1855, Miss
Ada B. Hord, daughter of Thomas Hord, a wealthy and
highly respected farmer and retired lawyer of Rutherford
County. He has four children, Thomas H., Orville, Emmet
Jane Caroline Ewing, born in 1836; graduated from the Nashville Female Academy; married Emmet Eakin, who died during the war,
and by him had four children, Rowena, Florence, Sallie (Lovie) and Arthur D. The latter died at Memphis, at the age of twenty,
a professor in the medical college of that city. After the war Mrs. Eakin became the wife of Dr. James E. Wendell, of Murfreesborough,
and bore him one child, a daughter, Jane, who died at the age of twelve. The mother died in 1872, aged thirty-five.
(3), Florence Ewing, educated at Nashville and married, first, Andrew Fletcher, by whom she had two children,
Edwin, and one who died in infancy. After Mr. Fletcher's death she married Dan P. Perkins, of a prominent Williamson
County family, and by this marriage has two children, Rebecca and Sarah Lou.
(4). Orville Ewing, who went
into the Confederate army in Col. Joel A. Battle's Twentieth Tennessee regiment as sargeantmajor, and was badly wounded and
taken prisoner at the battle of Mill Springs. He was killed in the battle of Murfreesborough, Wednesday, December 31, 1862,
the very day he was appointed to a position on the staff of Gen. William Preston.
Judge Ewing has one great-grandchild,
Ethel Reed, daughter of Florence Reed, who is the
daughter of Jane Caroline Eakin and wife of James H. Reed, a hardware merchant at Murfreesborough.
Judge Ewing's father, Nathan Ewing,
was clerk of the County court of Davidson County,
a man who sustained a character of exceeding honesty, diligence and attention to business. He was the son of Andrew Ewing, who came from Rockbridge County, Virginia, to Tennessee, in 1780, and was the first clerk of the County court of Davidson County, which, with Sumner County, then embraced nearly all of Middle Tennessee. Judge Ewing's father was born in Virginia in 1776.
The Ewings are of Scotch-Irish, deep-dyed,
Judge Ewing's mother, whose maiden
name was Sarah Hill, was a daughter of Daniel Hill,
a fanner, a native of North Carolina, who came to Tennessee, when she was nine years old. Lieut.-Gen. D. H. Hill, one of Gen. Lee's most distinguished corps commanders, belongs to the same family. Mrs. Ewing's mother was a Hickman, of North Carolina. Hickman County, Tennessee, was named for the brother of Judge Ewing's maternal grandmother, and for him Judge Ewing, himself, was named Edwin Hickman. He was prominent as an Indian fighter, was a surveyor and pioneer settler in Tennessee. He was killed in camp at night by the Indians.
Judge Ewing's mother died
in 1855, at the age of seventy-five, a model woman, of fine
sense, of extensive reading, a well-balanced mind and fascinating conversational talents, fond of poetry and of quoting the standard poets. She, too, was of Scotch-Irish origin, but in her religious faith a staunch " Campbellite."
She had six sons who grew to manhood,
and made some figure in life, and there has never
been a vice of gaming, drunkenness or dissoluteness attached to their names. Her last child was a daughter, Sarah, who died four years old.
Judge Ewing belongs to no secret
society, and to no church, and never had any partnership
or formed any association except with lawyers. In religion, he is an agnostic—denying nothing, affirming nothing, as his writings clearly show. Yet he is a man of broad Catholicism and liberality of opinion. He is one of the most
successful lawyers in Tennessee, and has always been
considered a wealthy man. When asked for the methods
by which he had succeeded, he replied, " I can't
say that I had any method. I lived from day to day and from hand to mouth. In that regard I am like the knife grinder, I have no story to tell."
For an estimate of Judge Ewing's
character, the writer sought an interview with Judge
W. H. Williamson, of Lebanon, and Hon. James D. Richardson, of Murfreesborough, and from their informal conversation, gathered the following:
Judge Ewing is not what is called
a social man except with his intimate friends and
men of the profession. Yet he is very kind-hearted and sympathetic. He and his brother, Andrew, were always popular but without demagogy. Andrew was a fine popular speaker, persuasive and earnest, and the best jury lawyer Tennessee ever had. It is said their mother never went to rest at night until every one of her sons were up stairs in bed; and she made men of them all, strong men who are as
so many monuments to her motherly care, and as so
many jewels to the State.
There is not a man of the Ewing name,
all the way back and all the way down, but is of
unblemished character. Judge Ewing has long been considered the Nestor of the Tennessee bar. In ability, wisdom, profound learning in the law, and fine belles-lettres scholarship, there is no lawyer in Tennessee that ranks him. He is a hard-working, energetic, brilliant lawyer; an untiring investigator, leaving nothing
unturned, working because he loves to work. His style
of oratory is earnest, sometimes vehement.
Gen. Joseph B. Palmer, of Murfreesborough,
when asked for an estimate of Judge Ewing's character, replied: "Mr.
Ewing is a profound and critical scholar, to which he has made the
addition of a most extensive and careful course of general reading.
Very few business men have read so much. He has frequently filled a place
on the Supreme bench for long spaces of time, under special appointments, and
his written opinions, published in the reports of the last thirty years, mark him a genius and the possessor of deep learning, of which the most distinguished of lawyers might feel a just and honorable pride. To the younger members of the profession wherever he has lived, he has always been of incalculable advantage, ready to advise and
instruct and aid them in the solution of embarrassing difficulties, which often greatly depress young men. This he was enabled
to do, owing to his great readiness with the best authorities on almost any
legal proposition that might be sprung. In addition to this, his own elevated example and conduct in his profession has been a constant stimulus to every young man who had any ambition to excel in the law. In his profession Judge Ewing has always charged good fees, uniformly, but not extravagantly, nor extortionately by any means, and while he has taken reasonable compensation for his services, his object has been usefulness to others rather than pecuniary profit to himself. He is a very fine business man, giving close attention to all matters entrusted to his care, as well as to his own personal dealings with all men. In his feelings and intercourse with men of whatever creed, he is liberal, catholic and charitable. Taken all in all, he is an honor to his race and a blessing to his country."