Marker Text: Nearby once stood a log house painted red, built by the McDowell family. John McDowell received land here for surveying Borden's Grant in the late 1730s. In 1742 McDowell was killed during a conflict between settlers and Indians. Dr. Ephraim McDowell, grandson of John McDowell, was born nearby on 11 November 1771. When he was 13 years old his family moved to Kentucky and he later became a prominent physician. He is referred to as the "father of ovariotomy surgery." A nearby cemetery contains the grave of kinsman James McDowell, governor of Virginia from 1843 to 1845.
Location: On U.S. Route 11, (North Lee Highway) 1.1 miles south of Fairfield, VA and is grouped with marker A-43 (McDowell's Grave). Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 2000.
After Lt. Governor Spotwood's Knight of the Golden Horseshoe visited the Shenandoah Valley in 1716 and word got out about the futile valley beyond the Blue Ridge mountains it took about 15 years before people moved to the area north from Pennsylvania through the lower Shenandoah Valley instead of across the mountains. Most of the settlement of the area began around 1731-32. One of the first families was the McDowell family that moved to this region of what is now Rockbridge County.
In 1737 the families of Ephraim McDowell, his son John, and his son-in-law James Greenlee headed south from Pennsylvania with the intent of settling in the Shenandoah Valley when they meet Benjamin Borden. Borden was going to survey the 100,000-acre land grant he had been given on the headwaters of the James River. John McDowell was a surveyor and offered to help in exchange for a land grant for his family. The McDowell family settled on the land and built a log home near this marker.
Photo is the Red House marker with the stone monument for Dr. Ephraim McDowell. The text and photo of the monument below. Click any photo to enlarge.
Ephraim McDowell came to the United States at the age of 62 from Northern Ireland and came to the Shenandoah Valley like many other Scotch-Irish did with sons John and James and daughters Mary and Margaret. Ephraim McDowell was the great-grandfather of Dr. Ephraim McDowell who was born near this site on November 11, 1771. At the time of Dr. Ephraim McDowell's birth this was Augusta County and did not become Rockbridge until 1778.
Photo is the family cemetery located behind the road markers, taken as it looks from the markers location. Click any photo to enlarge.
John McDowell's son Samuel married Mary McClung in 1754. Samuel was educated by his uncle, Alexander McDowell, who had been educated in Ireland. Samuel McDowell who was Dr. Ephraim McDowell's father was a member of the House of Burgesses, a soldier in a Virginia Company at Braddock's defeat, and a member of the Williamsburg Convention in 1776. At the close of the war, President Washington appointed Samuel McDowell, United States Judge for Kentucky. Samuel first went to Harrodsburg and then to Danville. He presided over all 10 conventions to form a constitution for Kentucky. He died in 1826.
Children of Samuel & Mary McClung McDowell
Magdalen married Andrew Reid
Sarah m. Caleb Wallace (Sarah died eight months later)
John m. 1. Sarah McDowell 2. Lucy Legrande 3. Jenny Lyle
James m. Mary Paxton Lyle
William m. Margaret Madison
Martha m. Abram Buford
Joseph m. Sarah Irvine
Ephraim married Sarah Shelby Dr. Ephraim McDowell
Mary m. Alexander Keith Marshall
Caleb m. Elizabeth McDowell
Andrew (did not marry)
Samuel m. Anna Irvine
Many families that settled in Virginia had a major impact upon the history of Virginia, just like the McDowell family. Some of them or their children moved westward and made their mark on history in their new adopted state. Samuel McDowell later moved to Kentucky where he and his son, Ephraim influenced the history of Kentucky. Many Virginia families followed a similar pattern. I have a series of several markers both in Virginia and Kentucky which shows the influence of the McDowell family in both states and I will cover these in the next few weeks, particularly those related to Dr. Ephraim McDowell.
Near this spot
Dr. Ephraim McDowell
was born November 11, 1771
The Father of Abdominal Surgery
Beginning medical study in Staunton, Virginia, continuing it in Edinburgh, Scotland, he later received the honorary degree from the University of Maryland. Possessing the highest attributes of the physician and surgeon, he was a pioneer in work which he saved the lives of countless thousands.
Erected 1929 by the Medical Society of Virginia.