Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Ohio Ewings in the 19th Century

I recommend an excellent book by Dr. Kenneth J. Heineman, Civil War Dynasty: The Ewing Family of Ohio (New York: New York University Press: New York) 2013. For anyone with an interest in Ohio history or politics, or Ohio’s important contribution to the Civil War, this well written and meticulously researched work will be a delight.

The book chronicles the politically important and powerful Ewing family from Lancaster, Ohio. Thomas Ewing, the family patriarch, practiced law in Lancaster, Ohio, served as a U. S. Senator, the Secretary of Treasury, and the first Secretary of the Interior. Thomas Ewing’s three sons, Thomas Jr., Charles, and Hugh (all born in Lancaster, Ohio), served in the Union Army finishing the war as generals with highly distinguished careers.

In 1829 Charles Sherman, a successful lawyer who sat on the Ohio Supreme Court and close friend of Thomas Ewing, died leaving his widow with 11 children and no inheritance. Thomas Ewing took in the 9-year old boy, William Tecumseh Sherman, raised him the Ewing household and helped get him an appointment at West Point. In 1850 William Tecumseh Sherman married Thomas Ewing’s daughter, Eleanor (“Ellen”).

Heineman describes in rich depth this important family who was influential in America’s most divisive and violent periods. All of my Buckeye friends will find this book fruitful and entertaining.

The author, Kenneth Heineman, grew up in and attended high school in Lancaster. He recalls his involvement with the Fairfield Heritage Association (FHA) and the Sherman House Museum in Lancaster where important influences that guided him into a career as a professional historian. While in high school he played the role of General Hugh Ewing in an FHA presentation at the Ohio State Fair. One cannot under estimate the importance of local history organizations.