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Ewing family collection

Identifier: L323

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises personal and business papers from the Ewing family, particulraly the brothers William Griffith (W.G.) and George Washington (G.W.) Ewing and their companies in Fort Wayne, Indiana and numerous other locations in the Midwest, ranging from 1818-1887, regarding land speculation; the fur trade; trade and relations with Native Americans and Hoosier pioneers; the settlement of Indiana and the Old Northwest; the development of Fort Wayne; state and national politics; and internal improvements. The bulk of the collection encompasses the Ewing brothers' correspondence, accounts, receipts, legal documents, indentures, and other papers related to their business interests (1825-1866). Papers concerning the "Indian trade" include correspondence, letterbooks, and accounts relating to their trade with the Potawatomi and Miami peoples in northern Indiana and Kansas (1820s-1850s), the Sac and Fox Nation in Wisconsin and Iowa (1840s-1850s), the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin (1850s), the Winnebago, Ottawa and Chippewa, and Sioux peoples in Minnesota (1850s-1860s), and the Osage and Shawnee peoples in Missouri and Kansas (1840s-1850s). There are also papers relating to legal agreements and land purchases between the Ewings and various Native individuals; the Ewing brothers' involvement in Indian removal in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota during the 1820s-1850s; as well as their correspondence with the U.S. commissioners for Indiana Affairs and other federal officials concerning federal policy toward Native peoples, the activities of federal Indian agents, and the Ewings' and other traders' claims against individual Native Americans (1820s-1850s). W.G. Ewing's letters from Washington, D.C. about his lobbying on behalf of Indian traders (1840s-1850s) and the Ewings' account books, including ledgers for their trading posts in St. Peters, Minnesota (1845-1847) and Westport, Missouri (1852-1865), also contain pertinent information with regards to the Ewings' relations with Native Americans in the West.

The remaining business records for W.G. and G.W. Ewing Company constitute correspondence, letterbooks, and accounts concerning fur trading operations in Indiana, Michigan and the West during the 1820s-1850s; correspondence and accounts with their agent in the East, Suydam, Sage and Company of New York (1825-circa 1850); papers relating to their competition and agreements with the American Fur Company and Pierre Chouteau and Company (1820s-1850s); and correspondence concerning the fur markets in England and Germany. Other papers, such as correspondence, deeds, receipts, indentures, and volumes of plat maps and lists of sale, concern the brothers' real estate ventures, including the Ewings' property in Fort Wayne and northern Indiana, Chicago, Missouri, and St. Paul and Winona, Minnesota (1820s-1860s); the Wabash and Erie Canal and the canal lands purchased by the brothers (1830s); and the Ewing Addition in Fort Wayne (1823-1859).

Other materials in the collection comprise correspondence and accounts for their general merchandise business in northern Indiana; correspondence relating to state and national politics (1820s-1850s); family correspondence, especially about family finances (1820s-1880s); receipts and other items concerning personal expenses; and the business papers of their father, Alexander Ewing, regarding his trade business in Fort Wayne (1818-1827).

The remaining papers concern the administration of the Ewings' estates (1854-1889) by the estate agent, Byrum D. Miner, and executors William A. Ewing and G.W. Ewing's son-in-law, Jesse Holladay, after the death of W.G. in 1854 and G.W. in 1866, including correspondence, accounts, and letterbooks, particularly regarding the settlement of accounts and the management of the family property in the Midwest.

Large oversize materials in the collection comprise a W.G. and G.W. account sheet with J. Byrne, Jr. (1854); a list of W.G. and G.W. Ewing's heirs concerning their joint Washington, D.C. property (1868); two abstracts of title for Josette Beaubieu's reserve (1853, 1859); hand-drawn plan maps of Ewing property in Wabash and Fort Wayne, Indiana; Chicago and Cairo City, Illinois; and along Lake Superior in Minnesota; a sectional map of Kansas Territory, as well as maps of Delaware lands in Kansas owned by the Leavenworth Pawnee and Western Railroad Company and the Winnebago agency in Minnesota (circa 1830s-1860s); and newspaper sheets (1848-1863).

Full sheets of newspapers, originally used to wrap and transport the Ewings' business papers, include the following publications by state:

Illinois: Chicago Daily Democrat (May 18, 1854); Chicago Daily Tribune (May 19, 1854); Daily Chicago Journal (December 28, 1854); Cairo City Weekly Gazette (March 5, 1863; April 9, 1863).

Indiana: Fort Wayne Times (July 27, 1848; February 15, 1849; September 19, 1850); Fort Wayne Times and People's Press (February 24, 1848; April 27, 1853; May 4, 1853); Wabash Gazette and Intelligencer (January 2, 1862).

Kansas: Kansas Public Ledger (April 25, 1851; May 23, 1851; June 6, 1851; June 13, 1851).

Maryland: Baltimore Sun (July 21, 1851; August 19, 1853).

Minnesota: Saint Paul Pioneer (December 20, 1862); Mankato Weekly Record (May 9, 1863); Winona Daily Republican (June 8, 1863).

Missouri: St. Louis Republican (February 12, 1848); St. Louis Weekly Reveille (May 14, 1849).

New York: New York Herald (May 4, 1849; April 2, 1853; June 28, 1854); New York Tribune (September 9, 1854).

Washington, D.C.: The National Intelligencer (July 16, 1850; March 10, 1855); The Republic (April 17, 1851); The Daily Globe (July 17, 1852; August 6, 1852; August 7, 1852).

Wisconsin: Superior Chronicle (April 12, 1862).


  • 1818-1889


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Administrative Note

The Ewing brothers formed the firm of W.G. and G.W. Ewing Company, a trading house in Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, operating from 1827 to 1854. The company's activities included fur trading in Indiana, Michigan and the West, in association with the firm of Suydam, Sage and Company of New York (1820s-circa 1850); trading with Native Americans in northern Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, and Kansas from the 1820s to the 1860s; and general merchandise business in Fort Wayne and other locales in northern Indiana. The company also engaged in real estate investments in Fort Wayne, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, and elsewhere in the Midwest. The brothers also formed several other partnerships with local businessmen, such as Richard Chute in Minnesota, to aid their interests in specific regions.


Items in the collection.

Trennert, Robert A., Jr. Indian Traders on the Middle Border: The House of Ewing, 1827-54. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 1981.

Biographical Note

Alexander Ewing was born May 28, 1769(?) in Pennsylvania. He fought in the American Revolution, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Ewing married Charlotte Griffith (1780-1843) and they had several children, including Sophia Charlotte (1796-1867), Charles Wayne (1798-1843), William Griffith (1801-1854), Alexander Hamilton (1803-1847), George Washington (1804-1866), Lavinia (1809-1835), and Louise (1819-1887). Alexander Ewing died in January of 1827 and was buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

William Griffith (W.G.) Ewing was born to Alexander and Charlotte (Griffith) Ewing on October 18, 1801 in Detroit, Michigan. He made his living as an entrepreneur through real estate speculation and many forms of trade, and lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana from 1822-1854, where he and his brother, George Washington (G.W.) Ewing, were partners in the firm of W.G. and G.W. Ewing Company. W.G. Ewing married Esther Bearss (1809-1871) about 1828 and they had two children: William Griffith, Jr. (1830-1866; born William Griffith Wallace, to William and Hannah Wallace. Last name changed to Ewing upon adoption by W.G. and Esther Ewing) and Charlotte F. (1836-1871). W.G. Ewing was the director of the Fort Wayne branch of the Indiana State Bank and as a member of the Whig Party. He briefly delved into politics, serving as an Indiana state senator from 1838-1841, before unsuccessfully running for office as a U.S. congressman in 1847. W.G. Ewing died on July 11, 1854 and was buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

George Washington (G.W.) Ewing was born on December 10, 1804 in Monroe, Michigan. He married Harriet Bourie and they had several children, including Oliver H. (1831-1861), Lavinia Harriet (1837-1906), George W., Jr. (1841-1872), Willie G. Ewing (1844-1847), Catharine Esther, and two unnamed infants. G.W. Ewing traveled extensively for business and lived in several locations including Fort Wayne (1822-1830), Logansport in Cass County, Indiana (1830-1839), Peru in Miami County, Indiana (1839-1846), Westport and St. Louis, Missouri (1846-1854), before moving back to Fort Wayne (1854-1866). Like his brother, he served as an Indiana state senator, though for the Democratic Party, from 1836-1840. G.W. Ewing died on May 29, 1866 and was buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Lavinia Harriet Ewing was born to G.W. and Harriet Ewing on April 24, 1837 in Logansport, Indiana. She married Jesse Holladay (1825-1907), who later served as an executor of Lavinia's father's estate. Lavinia Holladay died on February 17, 1906 and was buried in Evanston, Illinois.


Items in the collection.

"Administrator's Notice." Fort Wayne Times, December 21, 1854, 2. Accessed May 13, 2016. "William G. Ewing." 1830 United States Federal Census. Accessed May 13, 2016. "William G. Ewing." 1850 United States Federal Census. Accessed May 13, 2016. "Col. Alexander Ewing." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 13, 2016. "George W. Ewing." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 13, 2016. "Lavinia Harriet Ewing Holladay." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 13, 2016. "William G. Ewing." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 13, 2016.


57 Cubic Feet (74 manuscript boxes, 5 cubic foot boxes, 3 small oversize boxes, 9 large oversize boxes, 17 volumes, 4 large oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Arranged in the following series and subseries:

Series 1: W.G. and G.W. Ewing and family business papers, 1818-1878

Subseries 1.1: General business papers, 1818-1878, undated

Subseries 1.2: Real estate and legal papers, 1824-1889, undated

Subseries 1.3: Fur trade papers, 1827-1861, undated

Subseries 1.4: Papers related to Native Americans, 1825-1863, undated

Series 2: Ewing family estate papers, 1826-1887

Subseries 2.1: Ewing family estate papers, 1826-1866

Subseries 2.2: W.G. Ewing estate papers, 1849-1869

Subseries 2.3: G.W. Ewing estate papers, 1866-1887, undated

Series 3: Ewing family personal papers, 1826-1869

Series 4: Volumes, 1823-1877

Subseries 4.1: W.G. and G.W. Ewing business account books, 1823-1866, undated

Subseries 4.2: Ewing family estate books, 1846-1877, undated

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Mary C. Ewing on 1922/06/D6.


No further additions are expected.

Related Archival Material

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

S447: William G. Ewing papers

S1825: George W. Ewing papers

S2844: William G. Ewing article

L062: Hamilton family papers

L160: John Tipton papers


Three-fourths of the Ewing family collection was calendared during the 1920s-1930s. The resultant card catalog, which contains item-level entries listed by date and person's name, is available for browsing on-site in the Manuscripts reading room. The uncalendared portion of the collection largely comprises the Ewing family estate papers (1866-1880s).

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2016/12/22 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2016/12/28 by Brittany Kropf.
Ewing family collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.