|William Oliver Ewing, born July 15, 1841 Juniata County, Pennsylvania; died April 20, 1905 Yates City, IL, left a widow Mary Louise Bird Ewing. William had a twin brother Robert Harper Ewing. The twins were orphaned when their parents and sister Nancy died in a smallpox epidemic in PA 1849. The orphaned children, we believe William, Robert, Jane, and Johnson Alexander, all raised by separate families and brought to Illinois by the Harper family were siblings. Through the power of the internet and dogged determination, descendants of each sibling except Johnson met, shared research, and put most of the pieces back in place. Also a fortutious discovery of a Van Swearingen Diary by a descendant of twin Robert gave us the death dates and cause of death of the father and daughter which confirmed oral family tradition but for the sibling was Nancy and not a brother as was recorded in a now-obscure Illinois history in a biography of the son and IL state senator, Clinton L. Ewing. The mother, Agnes Harper, we have never located her grave nor information about her passing. Twin Robert married and moved to Nebraska near Lincoln and then to the far SW of the state; his grave nor that of Johnson Alexander's have never been located either the last I knew.|
William's main occupation seems to have been a butcher, they left Yates City for a time and lived in Nodaway County, Missouri, then moved to Chicago where my grandmother was born, then back to Yates City.
During the civil war, it was a common practice to pay a substitute to go in your place. William had a family, and it is thought that his father-in-law, a man of means, paid Alonzo Kelly of nearby Yates City, to serve in his place. Alonzo died in the swamps of Louisiana of disease and is buried in a veterans cemetery in Baton Rouge. This I was able to confirm by sending for civil war military records so our family owes a debt of gratitude to Alonzo. Shortly thereafter, William and Mary Louise had another son and named the child Alonzo who never married and went gold prospecting in Alaska where he died.