John McDowell

Maj. John McDowell, b 08 December 1757, VA, d 17 July 1835, Lexington, Fayette, KY

Married: 1. Sarah McDowell, m 06 Sept 1781, Rockbridge Co., VA, 2. Lucy Nash LeGrand,    m 12 April 1804, Lexington, Fayette, KY, 3. Jane “Jenny” Lyle, m Sept 1822, Fayette Co., KY

John was born in Virginia, in 1757, re- 
ceiving the best education that could be obtained in those 
days of peril, from teachers who had frequently to lay 
aside the ferule in order to grasp the rifle. The writer is 
under the impression that he was a volunteer in the cam- 
paign against the Indians known as Dunmore's War, but 
he w T as not with his father's company at Point Pleasant, 
nor does his name anywhere appear in the list of the 
brave men who were under Andrew Lewis in that bloody 
light. 

At the beginning of the Revolution, he volunteered 
in the patriot army, went at once into active service, and 
continued therein until the close of the struggle, from 
which he emerged with the rank of captain and a well- 
earned reputation for gallantry. He belonged to the Vir- 
ginia line of the Continental establishment ; that is, to the 
regulars. He was with Washington at the crossing of the 
Delaware, fought at Princeton and Trenton, and endured 
the rigors of the winter camp at Valley Forge. At Bran- 
dywine he w T as severely wounded, was in the hottest of the 
fight at Monmouth, and witnessed the surrender of Corn- 
wallis at Yorktown. With such a record, and a staunch 
Federalist, he naturally became a member of the Society 
of the Cincinnati. If he purchased a lot in the town of 
Lexington, Kentucky, in 1781, as stated by Collins, he did 
not then remove into the district. He certainly made a 
purchase at a sale of lots in that town in 1788, and in the 
following year brought his family to Fayette county, wdiere 
he made his permanent settlement. In all the Indian cam- 
paigns after 1785 he had an active part. Immediately 
after the establishment of the state, in 1792, he was ap- 
pointed one of the first three majors commissioned by 
Shelby, who had fought beside his father at Point Pleas- 
ant, had conquered with his kinsmen at King's Mountain, 
and knew full well the quality and value of the man ; the 
other two majors, commissioned at the same time, were his 
brother James and John Morrison. 

In the War of 1812 
he earned distinction in the rank of major. His father 
had been prominent in every movement that led to the 
erection of the new commonwealth; but his selection, by 
the people of Fayette, to represent them in the first state 
legislature, that assembled in 1792, was a fitting tribute to 
his own intelligence, worth and admitted capacity for af- 
fairs. His associates in the then important trust were such 
men as Colonel Robert Patterson, Colonel William Russell, 
Hubbard Taylor, and James Trotter. That lie acquitted 
himself well in civil office, as he had done in the field, is 
evidenced by his re-election six times to the same position. 
In 1799, he was a member of the convention that framed 
the second state constitution, that lasted fifty years. He 
married his first cousin, Sarah, daughter of James Mc- 
Dowell and Elizabeth Cloyd.

Major McDowell, after the death of his first wife, 
married, secondly, Lucy Le Grand, descended from a 
French Huguenot, who, after leaving Bohain, of which he 
was a native, was naturalized in England, whence he emi- 
grated to New York. There, in 1699, he united with the 
Reformed Dutch Church — a Calvinistic organization. 
From New York some of his descendants found their way 
to Virginia, where one of them, Rev. Nashe Le Grand, he- 
came one of the most eloquent and best beloved of Pres- 
byterian ministers. Major John McDowell and Lucy Le 
Grand were the parents of the celebrated Dr. Joseph Nashe 
McDowell, of St. Louis — a man singularly unlike his kindred 
iirhis eccentric temper and erratic career, but of unquestioned 
learning and genius in his profession, and in other lines of science 
and thought.

Historic Families of Kentucky
Copyright, 1889, 
Bv Thomas Marshall Green
CINCINNATI: ROBERT CLARKE & CO 
May 1913
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