J. H. McEwen, formerly known as “Grandpa McEwen,” was born Bartholomew County, Feb. 4, 1832. When but an infant his parents moved to Decatur Co., Ind., where they resided until 1848, when with their family they moved to Fremont, Mahaska County, Iowa, where their son, J. H. was married to Miss Jerusha Amelia Morrow, Aug. 11, 1850.
With his wife and young family, McEwen left Iowa in 1860, making his way across the great plains with an ox team. After a long and perilous journey they arrived at the Dallas, Ore., from which point the family were sent by boat down the Columbia River to Portland, the father continuing his journey across the mountains through what is known as the Barlow Pass.
From Portland, Mr. McEwen moved on into Washington, making short stops at Montecello, Olympia, Doffmine Point and finally settling at Oakland, Mason County, where he resided until 1871, when with his family he came to Ellensburg to face the hardships of the early pioneer’s life.
His wife, the mother of all his children and she who bore with him the peril of the plains and the self denials and difficulties of the early settler’s life, preceded him in death by more than fourteen years, passing away Oct. 22, 1898. In 1905 he married Mrs. M. E. Ford, whose kind and patient life proved a benediction to his declining years, and whose gentle hand lovingly administered to his every need in his last moments of life which closed Jan 31, 1913 at 5:10 a.m., age 80 years, 11 months and 25 days.
Besides the wife of his old days, Mr. McEwen leaves to mourn his loss two sons, William of Ellensburg, Wash., and Harvey, of Toppenish, Wash., and three daughters, Mrs. Elizabeth Ferguson and Mrs. Etta Gore of Ellensburg, Wash., and Mrs. Laura Wheeler of Kittitas, Wash., and Mrs. Lou Evans of Toppenish, Wash.; all of whom were with him in his last illness and death, to see that he wanted no good thing.
Aside from his immediate family, he leaves 24 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, 4 great great grandchildren, with a host of friends and acquaintances. He was one of our early pioneers and knew the hardships of such a life, yet in all he was a dutiful and loving husband and father, a true friend and neighbor, and in the last ten years of his life was loyal to his church and to his Christ. He has gone to receive his reward.
Mason County Obituary
At Ellensburg on January 28th, John H. McEwen died, aged 81 years old. The McEwen family is the largest in the Kittitas Valley. Besides the widow, McEwen leaves five children, 24 grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, and four great great grandchildren. Only Mason county’s oldest resident will recall that Mr. McEwen crossed the plains in 1860, and soon after settled on what is known as “McEwen’s Prairie,” on the road from Shelton to Union City, where the family remained until about 1870, when they removed east of the mountains. Mr. McEwen raised stock in the early days in this county, and some of the timbers of the great barn which burned down years ago still remain.
Contributed by: Shelli Steedman