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McNEW History “Tidbits”

Taken from "RIPLEY COUNTY HISTORY, 1818-1988,

Written by The People of Ripley County, Indiana, and compiled by the Ripley County History Book Committee with the cooperation of the Ripley County Historical Society and Ross' Run Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.  (MCNEW Information contributed by Karen Ann McNEW.)


The best information we have at present places the McNEWs in the vicinity of Annandale and Loch Lamond before 1689. The move to North Ireland was in the later part of the 1600's, and they settled near Londonderry in the extreme north.

According to family tradition in 1788 two brothers (McNEW) and a cousin took a ship from Edinburgh, Scotland and came to Virginia. But the JOHNSON-McNEW book lists Edward and wife Nancy McNEW, along with the JOHNSONS, WHEELERS, REAS, BACHMANS, and other families, including others of the name of McNEW as having come from North Ireland to Virginia in 1789. From other sources we learn the four brothers named McNEW came to Virginia at that time. They were WILLIAM, ELISHA, JAMES EDWARD, and DANIEL SHADRACH.

Daniel Shadrach, our ancestor, was lost trace of after leaving Virginia, but we find a Shadrach McNEW listed in the census records of Green County, Tennessee. We have only the names of two of his children, ZEDEKIAH and a RICHARD, who crossed the Cumberland Gap and went on to Indiana, where they settled. The son ZEDEKIAH settled in Ripley County, but we have no name of his wife nor dates. We do not have the names of any of his children but one, a JOHN McNEW, who was born, lived, and died there on the same farm in Ripley County.

This John McNEW, who adopted the middle name BRUSHCREEK so his mail would not become confused with another John McNEW living in the neighborhood, was born in 1812. On February 25, 1831, he married Jenny (Jane, not sure which) WATERS. These two had seventeen children; all of which had been born in Ripley County. They are as follows: (1) Henry, (2) Zedekiah, (3) Susanna, (4) Scott, (5) Mary Jane, (7) Thomas, (8) Sarah A., (9) James, (10) Nancy, (11) Moses, (12) Ellen F., (13) Aaron, (14) Benjamin Tucker, (15) Marion F., (16) Elizabeth, (17) Solomon.

Benjamin Tucker McNEW (also see gedcom submitted by Clayton MCNEW) was born on December 14, 1850. He married a girl from Jennings County by the name of Clara Alice O'CONNOR in 1875. They cleared and built a farm in the Hopewell area of Ripley County, which is still owned by the family today. They raised five children there. Their names are, in order, Oscar, Nora Etta, Norma Ellen, Wilbur Earl, and Zuma Francis. They married respectively, Tessie RICE, John SMITH, Arthur DAVIS, Lena HEATON, William SWEEZY.

Wilbur continued to live on the farm after his parents were gone. He was born on March 18, 1893. He married Lena Edith HEATON on the 10 March 1917 in Ripley County. Their union produced six children: Earl Keith (b. 1918), Wanda Loraine (b. 1920), Robert Eugene (b. 1924), Betty Lee (b. 1926), Etta Ruth (b. 1927), Nancy Jane (b. 1939). Wilbur was a businessman. In the late forties he built a pay lake, which they named Horseshoe Lake because of its shape, across the street from the farm house Benjamin McNEW had built. It became a profitable business. He then, with the help of his children built a fertilizer plant in Holton in the late fifties, which also became profitable.

When his children had grown-up and started moving out on their own, he and Lena moved off the farm and lived in a house they built on the lake. Their son Robert moved into the old homestead, and continues to live there with his wife, Zuella HULL (married 1949). In the early seventies Earl Keith, Wilbur's first born, and his wife Irma JEFFRIES (m. 1941) took over the fertilizer plant and continued running it until their daughter took control of it in the late seventies.

Wilbur and Lena's other four children are married and have children of their own. Wanda married Justin JACKSON in 1937 and lives on the west side of Holton. In 1960, Nancy married David BODENBERG and now lives in a new house on Horseshoe Lake. Betty now lives in Florida with her husband Wade Buford GILLEY (m. 1942). Etta Ruth married in 1958 to Charles CROAN lives in Greencastle, Indiana. Many of Wilbur and Lena's grandchildren and great grandchildren are spread throughout the United States.


(Submitted by Patricia Domingo)

The following was excerpted from a Letter Robert Dihel McNew wrote to Mike McNew, Dated September 4, 1976:

The information that Albert and Lottie have given us helped a lot in finding out where our ancestors came from. Also it sort of verified the statement of my friend, Ryan, who placed the Clan north of New Castle on Tyne. According to the Johnston papers, we came from the vicinity of Annadale, which is close to Dumfries, in the lowlands of Scotland.

According to the books on the subject (see the Scotch Irish in America-- there are several books on the subject), the Lowlanders and Highlanders were a different type of people. They were at war with each other most of the time, and between the English on one side and the Highlanders on the other, the Lowlanders had lost most of their land by 1610, and were ready for the move to Ireland when the Ulster settlements started.

The English government sent soldiers, who drove the native Irish off their lands, and settled the Lowland Scots there. Then it was a struggle with the Catholic Irish (most of the Scots were protestant) and the oppression by their English landlords during the next 150 years or so, which made the Scots ready to move again, this time to America.

The McNews, Rheas, Baucums, Wheelers, and Johnstons seem to have been related before leaving Ireland. Also all of the Lowland families did not leave Scotland, so some of the McNews might have been left there, and come directly to America.

However, the fact that these families all settled in southwestern Virginia, makes it probable that they all came from the same location. Tradition within the family says that more than one McNew Family came to Virginia in 1789, along with other Scots from North Ireland.

From Washington County Virginia, the McNew Clan spread over most of the United States. Some moved to the Ohio Valley, others down into the Carolinas, but the large marjority moved west into Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The Family in Pine Bluff, Arkansas are from the Ohio Valley group (Ripley County, Indiana), but an old settlement of McNews have lived in the vicinity of Conway, Arkansas, long enough to have a cemetery named for them. They probably came from Tennessee or directly from Virginia.

This is about all the information I have to date, so if you can add anything to it, I would sure be pleased to receive it. There are a great many dates and other information missing, we would like to have, and what we do have has hardly touched on the whole McNew Clan.

Hope to hear from you some day soon.
Best Wishes,

[original signed]

Robert Dihel McNew

The Genealogy Register "