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McDowell Family

Northern Ireland, or Ulster as it is called, has a unique bond with the United States. Many who came to be known as Scotch Irish in America came from this region. One of these people was Ephraim McDowell, great-grandfather of Dr. Ephraim McDowell. He was born in Londonderry, Ireland in 1673 and married his first cousin, Margaret Irvin who was the daughter of Christopher and Margaret Wylie Irvin. Margaret died and is buried in a church yard in Raloo, Ireland.


    At the age of 62, Ephraim migrated from Ulster to America with sons John and James and daughters Mary and Margaret. They sailed in May 1729 on the ship “George and Anne” and reached Philadelphia in September. They joined Ephraim’s brother, Andrew, who had migrated in 1725.

In 1737, Ephraim moved to Rockbridge County, Virginia. He is credited with having built the first road across the Blue Ridge. He is buried near Fairfield, Virginia on the road from Staunton to Lexington, Virginia. Son John married Magdalene Woods, daughter of Michael Woods and Margaret Campbell. He was a surveyor. John was killed on Christmas Day, 1742 by Iroquois Indians on a raiding skirmish. He may have been the first of the Saxon race from Rockbridge County buried in Virginia.

John’s son Samuel married Mary McClung in 1754. (Mary was said to be the prettiest girl in Virginia.) She was the daughter of John McClung and Elizabeth Alexander. Samuel was educated by his uncle, Alexander McDowell, who had been educated in Ireland. Samuel was a member of the House of Burgesses, a soldier in a Virginia Company at Braddock’s defeat, and a member of the Williamsburg Convention in 1776. At the close of the war, President Washington appointed Samuel United States Judge for Kentucky. At that time Samuel came to Harrodsburg and then to Danville. He presided over all 10 conventions to form a constitution for Kentucky. He died in 1826.


Children of Samuel & Mary McClung McDowell
Magdalen m. Andrew Reid
Sarah m. Caleb Wallace (Sarah died eight months later)
John m. 1. Sarah McDowell 2. Lucy Legrande 3. Jenny Lyle
James m. Mary Paxton Lyle
William m. Margaret Madison
Martha m. Abram Buford
Joseph m. Sarah Irvine
Ephraim m. Sarah Shelby
Mary m. Alexander Keith Marshall
Caleb m. Elizabeth McDowell
Andrew (did not marry)
Samuel m. Anna Irvine
Children of Ephraim & Sarah Shelby McDowell
Susannah Hart m. David Irvine
Isaac Shelby
Mary Thompson m. George Young
William Wallace m. Mary Hall
Adeline m. James Deaderick
Catharine m. Addison Anderson
Sarah Letitia
Sally Ann Clay

We always love to have McDowell family members visit the House! Please keep in touch!


Telephone: 859.236.2804
Please click here for Driving Directions or here for printable pdf.

McDowell House Museum
125 South Second Street
Danville, KY 40422

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