Thor Ewing speaking at the EFA Gathering 2010, Uniontown PA
Thor Ewing
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Ewing Family Association Gathering 2010

Imagine you could meet up with family who you haven’t seen for 300 years. That’s how long it is since the ancestors of many American Ewings set sail from Ulster, and new genetic evidence shows that they’re mostly relatives of mine – even if we haven’t yet managed to join the dots according to conventional genealogy. So when I was invited to join my American cousins for the Ewing Family Association Gathering in 2010, I was really curious and needless to say, I jumped at the chance to go.

At first I tried to see if I could spot faces like those in my family album, but in the end I just couldn’t say. Maybe this woman looked a little like my aunt; maybe that man had that particular kind of family face; maybe it was all in my head. What I could say for sure though, and what I wasn’t necessarily expecting, is that I felt right at home. So even though our common ancestors were way back in forgotten history, it really did feel like a family get-together.

There were interesting lectures from Wally Ewing on the story of ‘Indian’ John Ewing who was captured by the Shawnee in 1763, and by David Neal Ewing on the use of Y-DNA evidence and the interpretation of the Ewing results so far. We also had some trips around the local countryside. For me, it was a very happy coincidence that we were based just a mile or so from the one place in America that my boyhood self had most wanted to visit – Jumoville Glen, the spot where the French and Indian War (a.k.a. American Indian War) had first erupted in 1754, through the actions of a young officer with the Virginia militia by the name of George Washington. We also visited places of local Ewing significance, including the courthouse where no fewer than three Ewing judges had presided, and the Washington Inn which had been an early Ewing establishment; indeed it seems that even the road here – the first National Highway – was partly a Ewing endeavour.

My own presentation was on the Saturday night, after a rather fine dinner. Because the Ewing Family Association had only just changed its name from Clan Ewing in America, I had prepared a talk on whether the Ewing family could (or perhaps even should) be called a ‘clan’. But over the previous couple of days I had noticed a real enthusiasm to learn about the early history of the Ewings in Scotland. So in the event I threw away my prepared spiel, to present a picture of life in late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Scotland, a land torn apart by religious wars and political rivalries. Although we only get glimpses of our Ewing ancestors’ part in this story, those brief glimpses reveal a fascinating and consistent picture of their religious and political position at that time.

I really enjoyed myself at the Gathering but too soon, it was all over and I was on the flight home. But I still have many happy memories of my visit to the Ewing Family Association Gathering in Uniontown, PA.

You can read more about the Ewings as a clan on my Clan Ewing page.