Dr. John Hole’s Neighbor
John Ewing, Early Settler
by Joellen Ulliman, Curator
In 1785, John Ewing started his westward journey with his young wife Elizabeth. Their route took them from Cumberland Co., Pennsylvania through Kentucky, where son Samuel was born, to Cincinnati. There he met the enthusiastic Dr. John Hole who told him about the wonders in Washington Twp., Ohio.
Mr. Ewing decided to buy 690 adjoining acres of land north of Dr. Hole’s property. He was interested in farming, and the land he chose was ideal. Eventually he extended his purchase to 996 acres.
In early 1797, Mr. Ewing moved his family, now including eight children, to their new home. He built a log cabin for temporary shelter. After 1809, he built a two story home at 281 W. Whipp Rd.
John Ewing was devoted to his church and was instrumental in starting the first Presbyterian parish in this area in downtown Dayton (now Westminister Presbyterian Church). Services started in a small log building, moved a few times, and eventually settled into the existing two story brick church on the corner of First and Ludlow.
He was also involved in local government. Well respected and productive, Mr. Ewing collected taxes for Dayton Township in 1799. After Ohio became a state in 1803, he was elected an associate judge for Montgomery County. One of Centerville's founding fathers, Benjamin Archer, also held this esteemed position.
The court met on the second floor of the popular Newcom’s Tavern. They heard the very first case on July 27, 1803; it involved Washington Township resident Peter Sunderland. Apparently, Peter assaulted Benjamin Scott. The court found him guilty and charged him a $6 fine. One year later, the same two men were in court again for fighting. Ever so fair, the judges found Benjamin Scott guilty and charged him $6.
Never idle, Judge Ewing was selected as one of a few to incorporate “The Washington Social Club,” Centerville’s first library, on February 19, 1810. On December 28, 1813, he was elected to the board of trustees of “The Dayton Manufacturing Company,” Dayton’s first bank.
He farmed, hunted, and was a solid family man. He and Elizabeth gave birth to two more children here in Ohio. Local legend reports he hunted down and killed a bear on his property. Incidentally, according to Beers’s History of Montgomery County published in 1882, the last bear killed in the area was in 1826.
Judge Ewing died in October 1817, just days before the new brick church on First and Ludlow held its first service. His wife Elizabeth passed only 18 months later. His beautiful home eventually went to his son John, Jr. and his bride, Elizabeth Etwell. They raised 14 children in that house…a living testament to family and faith.