Sunday, November 10, 2013

James Ewing Powder Horn by Cory Jo Stewart

This horn was made by artist Cory Jo Stewart of Logap NC.  Cory Jo makes excellent folk art horns and he inscribed this simple horn with an old family story about James "Pocahontas James" Ewing, my ancestor, 9 generations ago.


Cory Jo's inscription reads: "If You Crave Horn And Rifle Fine But Take Not These For They Are Mine".  There is a folk art depiction of the encounter between James Ewing and the Outlaw Shockley.  Notice James' gun is going off and Shockley's is only flashing.  The story, as told in "James Ewing - Pioneer" by Nancy Hanks Ewing:

A story has come down through the ages regarding James and "Sarah" and their run-in with a pair of ruffians from a band known as the SHOCKLEY GANG. I conclude that the event happened at about this time in James' life (in the early 1750s) and therefore at this place.
          It seems that the Shockley Gang had been terrorizing the mountain settlers for some time - thieving, cattle rustling, etc., to the extent that a reward had been posted for any or all of them, "dead or alive".
          One day James had left the cabin without his prized flintlock, the best in that part of the country, it is said. During his absence, two men stopped at the cabin and asked "Sarah" for something to eat. Not knowing who they were, she obliged, of course, that being the hospitable custom of the day.
          But while they were eating, one of the men spotted James' rifle and decided he would like to have it for his own. "Sarah" protested, naturally, but had no way to enforce her protest, and the men went off with their "souvenir".
Let A.E. EWING tell it from there:
"When James returned to the cabin, he was told of what had happened. He at once suspected the men to be Shockley and one of his companions. James knew they were dangerous men, but his Scotch was up. He was ready to take a chance on his own life in the recovery of his much prized flintlock. He decided to pursue the robbers. He took his shot gun, loaded it with buckshot and started on his way.
"James had hunted "big game" before and knew every inch of the country for miles around. With hound-like precision he not only hit upon the trail, but followed it unerringly. Toward evening he came upon the bandits making camp for the night. They regarded themselves as safe from pursuit and were taking things easy. This is likely just what James depended upon when he set out alone on his hunt. He carefully re-primed his borrowed flintlock as he could not afford to have a "flash in the pan" in case he had to pull a trigger. He advanced so cautiously that his presence was unknown to the thieves until he boldly stepped up to them and demanded his rifle.
"Shockley's answer was to bring to his shoulder the very rifle he had just stolen. James was just as quick in bringing to shoulder his borrowed shotgun. Each was intent upon being the first to pull trigger. They pulled at the very same instant. Had both guns discharged, both men would have fallen dead. Fate was against Shockley. He had neglected to re-prime the stolen gun and it "flashed in the pan". He fell dead with a charge of buckshot in his breast. So close were they to each other that Shockley's neck cloth was burned by the fire from James's shotgun.
" But the fight was not yet ended. So suddenly had things taken place that Shockley's companion was not ready with his gun and James saw to it that he did not get hold of one by at once pouncing upon him. It was a hand-to-hand conflict. Down they went, each striving to get the better of the other. It was a bitter fight - first one on top, then the other. Finally James got his adversary fouled, brought his hunting knife into play upon the bandit's jugular, and that ended the fight. One mad Scotchman, prepared for the fray, had proved too much for two self-satisfied outlaws. James picked up his two flintlocks and returned to his cabin, calling it a day."
"In grandfather's version of the story it was said that James Ewing received a reward of several hundred dollars for putting an end to Shockley and his luckless companion. Years after grandfather's death, I related this story to Dr. Gilbert A. EWING, of Jackson, Ohio, a nephew of Grandfather Enoch. He had heard the same story from his father, George, but he had a different version of the "reward" part of the story. His version was that when it leaked out what James had accomplished, his friends urged him to claim the reward, but that he refused to do so, saying that he had all the reward he wanted in the recovery of his rifle and getting rid of two such "pesky varmints".



  1. Eric your 9th grandfather is my 4th great grandfather. Howdy cousin!
    I descend from his son William "Swago Bill" Ewing.

  2. Another cousin! Swago Bill is my Fourth Great Grandfather! =)

  3. Great to hear from my Cousins. Drop your names or send an email sometime.