Ephraim McDowell

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Ephraim McDowell

Birthdate: (100)
Birthplace: Raloo Parish, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Death: March 2, 1774 (100)
Timber Ridge, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Rockbridge, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas McDowell and Anne McDowell
Husband of Margaret McDowell
Father of Lieut. James McDowell; Mary Elizabeth Greenlee; Mary Simonton; Capt. John McDowell; Margaretta Mitchell and 3 others
Brother of Joseph McDowell; Alexander McDowell; John McDowell, I; Sarah McCune; Andrew McDowell and 3 others

Occupation: blacksmith, Surveyor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Ephraim McDowell

Ephraim McDowell

  • Birth: Mar 3 1673 - Raloo Parish, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
  • Death: Mar 2 1774 - Timber Ridge, Rockbridge, Virginia, USA
  • Father: Thomas McDowell, Ann Locke
  • Married: Margaret Irvine
  • Children: Mary Elizabeth, John, Margaretta, James

From Find A Grave Memorial# 8999776

"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 Robert and Margaret Wylie Irvin. Margaret died and is buried in a church yard in Raloo, Ireland.

Ephraim fought at Londonderry on December 9, 1688, at the age of 16, when McDonnell of Antrim approached the walls of Londonderry. He fought at the Boyne River, as well (Battle of the Boyne, 12 Jul 1690). Met John Borden who offered a 1,000 acres of land to anyone who would conduct him to his land grant. Offer accepted by John McDowell. Ephraim, John Greelee (son-in-law), and grandson James Greenlee were the first three settlers in that part of the valley.

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 Co, VA. He is credited with having built the first road across the Blue Ridge.

All the McDowells of Raloo are descended from Ephraim 'through his eldest son THOMAS who remained in Glencoe'. 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.

An old man at the time of the Revolutionary War, he was one of the first to raise the sword of freedom for the Colonies. His grandson James McDowell was the 26th Governor of VA. His portrait hangs with the other past Governor's portraits in the Old State House in Richmond, VA. The County of McDowell in the southwest corner of West Virginia is named after him and in the City of Richmond one of the most common names is that of McDowell.

He is buried near Fairfield, VA ... in an enclosed cemetery on the road between Lexington and Staunton, VA.


He is of Scotch Irish ancestry.

The McDowells and Irvines of Castle Irvine and of Bonshaw Castle, nine miles from Lockerbie, Dumfrieshire, Galloway, Scotland) often intermarried and manufactured linen in a linen mill along the Ballywallog river in Glenoe, near Larne, County Antrim, Northern Ireland from 1584 until declining business forced their emigration to America....by the years 1724 and 1729.

Ephraim McDowell was one of the apprentice boys who shut the gates to Londonderry at the siege of Londonderry at the age of 16, and later fought at the Battle of Boyne River, in 1690. His brother, John, supposedly died during the Siege, but may have been confused with brother Charles, of which little is known, other than the fact that the three brothers were present at the Siege of Londonderry in 1689. In Ireland, young Ephraim became a blacksmith in Glenoe, near Larne in Antrim. It is there that he married his first cousin, Margaret Irvine, the great granddaughter of the 10th Laird of Drum Castle in Scotland. Long, long ago, a visitor to Glenoe, wrote, "Passing down the one long street of that village, bordered on each side by tall stone houses, once the property of the Irvines and the Mc Dowells, we come on the blacksmith shop of Ephraim McDowell, which looks as if he had laid down his hammer but yesterday. I followed the narrow rocky street until I came to the linen mills, once belonging to the Irvines, Wylies, and McDowells. The Ballyvallog furnished the water power that turned these wheels of many mills, so sadly silent now. It is a narrow stream and runs across a beautiful brae, falling 75 feet into a well-shaped opening in sold rock into a pool. From this the water leaps over an immense stone that crosses the space at the bottom of the opening of this well, formed by nature and just opposite the waterfall.

In Londonderry Ephriam met and married Margaret Irvine, daughter of James Irvine, a neighbor of the McDowells. They had four children: James, Mary Elizabeth, Margaretta, and John. Ephriam's wife, Margaret, died in Ireland.

In the 1720's/30's (in the old age of Ephraim) the family came to Virginia via Pennsylvania to Rockbridge County, VA near Lexington. They arrived in Rockbridge County in the fall of 1737. They possibly arrived in Pennsylvania, on the good ship "George and Ann" on 4 Sep 1729. There were a number of McDowells on the ship; many from County Longford, Ireland, a John McDowell of Dublin; a James McDowell, who had several children too died on the trip and were thrown over board, the first on 8 Jun 1729; a John McDowell; and, the sister, brother and wife of Andrew McDowell. The relationship of John McDowell, the immigrante and Joseph McDowell, the immigrante (John and Joseph were brothers) to Ephraim is not proven, however it is believed they are nephews or sons of a cousin of Ephraim.

Ephraim served in the Augusta County militia until 1743, when he was exempted from further service due to his age (70 years). He lived in Augusta County until his death, having accumulated an estate which was regarded as very large in those days. He was esteemed by all for his intelligence, usefulness and probity, wielding a singular and beneficent influence among the intrepid and independent spirits by whom he was surrounded, and retaining the possession of his faculties to the last.

Ephraim, although already an old man in his sixties, was credited with building the first road through the Blue Ridge Mountains to connect the Shenandoah valley with the tidewater country. He was nearly 7 feet tall and of stalwart frame, and it is said, of a terrible countenance. Even in his old age, he busied himself in shrewd business dealings accumulating great land wealth and establishing schools and churches.

The date of his death is probably 1770 as family tradition has it that he died at age 98. Ephraim died NOT until the break of the American Revolution and NOT until he had heard the praises bestowed on his grandchildren for their bravery, at the Battle of Point Pleasant, in 1774. Ephraim died in Timber Ridge on the Borden Tract, Rockbridge County, Virginia.

A staunch Scots-Irish Presbyterian, Ephraim is buried at the site of Maryland Tavern owned by his son, Capt John. A monument erected in the mid 1800's, by the children of his great-grandson, Governor James McDowell of VA, shows that he died 'about 1780'.



  1. Genealogy of the Greenlee Families in America, Scotland, Ireland and England with Ancestors of Elizabeth Brooks Greenlee and Emily Brooks Greenlee.  Also Genealogical Data on the McDowells of Virginia and Kentucky.  by Ralph Stebbins Greenlee and Robert Lemuel Greenlee. Chicago, Illinois, Privately Printed 1908
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Ephraim McDowell's Timeline

March 3, 1673
Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Age 32
Larne, Larne, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
October 6, 1709
Age 36
Gleno, Raloo Parish, County Antrim, Ireland
October 6, 1711
Age 38
November 17, 1711
Age 38
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Age 39
Connor, County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Age 40
Antrim, Northern Ireland
Age 42
Raloo Parish, Antrim, , Ireland
May 1729
Age 56