William Alexander McEwen
William Alexander McEwen

By Spessard Stone

William Alexander McEwen, a pioneer settler of Wauchula, was a Confederate soldier, farmer, and fruit grower.

William Alexander McEwen, commonly known as Alex, was born on February 14, 1844 in Washington County, Georgia. He was the son of the Rev. William Penn McEwen, a Methodist minister, and his wife, Rutha (Sheppard) McEwen.

In 1858, according to his Confederate pension application, William A. McEwen moved to Florida, probably Lake City, as during the Civil War, he enlisted at Lake City as a private on February 11, 1863 in Capt. Asa Stewart's Company E, 9th Florida Regiment, Confederate States Army. In May 1864, the 9th Florida was sent to Richmond, Virginia. Private McEwen was captured on April 6, 1865 near Appomattox. National Archives records show that he was released on June 24, 1865 after taking an oath of allegiance. McEwen later, however, stated in his Confederate pension application: "That at the close of the war he was in prison at Newport News, Virginia, and he was unable to leave when the other prisoners did, but that he remained in the hospital until some time in the latter part of July when in company with Capt. John W. Whidden [ex-captain of Co. E 7th Fla., C. S. A.] returned to his home."

In Columbia County, Florida on December 2, 1866, William A. McEwen married Louisa A. Warren, born January 4, 1846 in Georgia. In 1867 William and Louisa and his parents and family resettled about a mile and a half south of present-day Wauchula at the site of old Fort Hartsuff. It is interesting to note that Fort Hartsuff was the home of Capt. John W. Whidden. William and Louisa McEwen and daughter Mary were listed in household 23/23, township 34, in the 1870 census of Manatee County. His parents were neighbors.

Alex McEwen was a farmer and fruit grower in Fort Hartsuff, which later became Wauchula. The 1873 Manatee County Tax Book showed W. A. McEweing [sic] was taxed on: 1 horse, 30 head of cattle, and 25 hogs. The 1880 census of Manatee County listed his neighbors to include the families of: Lewis Carlton, James J. Blount, Sarah Pearson, Wm. P. McEwen, C. G. West, William L. Bostick, and Albert Carlton. In July 1909, his property consisted of 1 horse, 6 head of cattle and 70 acres of land located at Wauchula. He also served as a county commissioner of DeSoto County, Florida.

On July 15, 1907, William A. McEwen applied for and, subsequently, received a Confederate pension of $100 per annum, certificate no. 6787. He gave his address as Wauchula, DeSoto County, Florida.

William Alexander McEwen died April 24, 1913. After his death, his widow, Louisa, received a pension of $120 per annum based on his service. She died January 6, 1915. They are buried in Wauchula Cemetery.

Issue of William A. and Louisa (Warren) McEwen:

1. Mary Elizabeth McEwen, born December 16, 1868; died January 15, 1948; married on June 10, 1890 Levi Walton Whitehurst.
2. Donnie McEwen, born September 4, 1870; died June 30, 1944; married on February 14, 1889 Charles M. Hendry (divorced Feb. 27, 1904).
3. Ruth Emily McEwen, born 1872; died January 30, 1953; married (1) Hiram Southerland, December 22, 1891; (2) Claude T. Bobo.
4. Joseph R. McEwen, born July 24, 1876; died January 5, 1900; never married.
5. Jesse Costello McEwen, born August 22, 1879; married on March 31, 1907 Jessie Chambless.
6. William Emory McEwen, born November 18, 1881; died July 13, 1942; married on January 3, 1906 Bessie Elma Branch.

William Alex McEwen and family, photo, courtesy of Steve Stallons, May 15, 2003

References: Confederate pension applications of William A. & Louisa McEwen, Florida Archives; Pioneer Florida, Volume 3; Marita McLendon; Hill Blackmon.

This profile is adapted from the author's profiles in The Herald-Advocate (Wauchula, Fla.) of November 13, 1986 and Lineage of John Carlton.

February 13, 2001 & links = October 17, 2001& music, April 14, 2002, "The Night They Took Old Dixie Down." Photo added May 16, 2003.