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Charles Manly McDowell
(August 9, 1861 - May 27, 1921)

The following story was told by Margaret McDowell Verbeck, and excerpts are reprinted with permission from the Burke County Historical Society and the publication "The Heritage of Burke County", copyright 1981.

 

Charles Manly McDowell (1862 - 1921), son of James Charles Sheffield McDowell (1831 - 1863) and Julia Manly McDowell, daughter of Governor Charles Manly, was born at Quaker Meadows Plantation in Burke County, North Carolina on August 9, 1861. Both the McDowells and the Manlys from whom he was descended were prominently and actively identified with the affairs of North Carolina during and after the Revolutionary War.

 

Manly McDowell was the great grandson of General Charles McDowell, the Revolutionary War officer. Manly's McDowell grandparents were Charles McDowell (1785 - 1859) of the McDowells of Quaker Meadows and Anne McDowell of the McDowells of Pleasant Gardens.

 

Manly was a descendant of Ephriam McDowell through his grandmother, Anne McDowell, a daughter of Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens and his wife Mary Moffitt, daughter of George Moffitt and Sarah McDowell. Sarah McDowell was the only daughter of John McDowell, one of the two sons of Ephriam. Manly's descent from Ephriam through his grandmother, Anne McDowell of the McDowells of Pleasant Gardens has been carefully researched and established.

 

Ephriam McDowell was descended from Somerled (or Somervil), Lord of the Isles, then from his son Dougall who founded the Clan of Dougall or MacDougal, one of the eldest of the fifty-two Highland Clans proper. In the coat of arms of the McDougals or McDowells ins quartered the lymphiad or ancient four-eared galley found in the armorial bearings of the clans of the western part of Scotland.

 

Ephriam's family fled from Scotland to Ireland and settled near Londonberry. Ephriam was born in 1672 in Londonberry County. He was only sixteen years of age when on December 9, 1688, McDonell of Antrim approached the walls of Londonberry. Ephriam went to the defense of the heroic town and assisted in closing the gates against the intruders. He also fought against the forces of James II at Boyne River.

 

In Londonderry Ephriam met and married Margaret Irvine, daughter of James Irvine, a neighbor of the McDowells. They had four children: James, Mary Elizabeth, Margaretta, and John. Ephriam's wife, Margaret, died in Ireland.

 

When Ephriam was past middle age, he and his two sons and two daughters immigrated to America. A number of Scotch-Irish families left Dublin on May 3, 1729, on two ships: the John of Dublin and the George and Ann. Several McDowell families were on the George and Ann, but ten members of these families died in passage. The others landed at Philadelphia in August, 1729, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

 

In 1737 Ephriam, his son John, his son-in-law James Greenlee (1707 - 1757) and his daughter Mary Elizabeth McDowell Greenlee (1711 - 1809) moved to Virginia. His son James and his daughter Margaretta probably moved to Virginia on a different date or dates. Later some of the McDowells and Greenlees moved to North Carolina, but James remained in Virginia and became a prominent citizen. Margaretta married James Mitchell. John married Magdalene Woods, was killed by the Indians, and is buried in Virginia.

 

Among the earliest settlers in the Catawba Valley of Burke County was Joseph McDowell (1715 - 1775), probably a cousin of "Hunting" John McDowell. The Collet Map of 1770 shows Quaker Meadows, the home of Joseph McDowell. Joseph was the great, grand grandfather of Charles Manly McDowell. Upon Joseph's death in 1775, his son, General Charles McDowell (c. 1743 - 1815) inherited the Quaker Meadows Plantation. Later the plantation came into the possession of Charles McDowell, Jr. (1785 - 1859), and upon his death in 1859 it passed to his only surviving son, James Charles Sheffield McDowell (1831 - 1863). The plantation was valued at $25,000, the highest valuation in the county in 1860.

 

James Charles Sheffield McDowell (1831 - 1863) became Colonel of the 54th North Carolina Regiment on September 7, 1862. He was mortally wounded in the attack on Marye's Heights near Fredericksburg and died May 8, 1863, at the age of thirty-one.

 

James Charles Sheffield McDowell (1831 - 1863) and Julia Manly McDowell (1832 - 1900) had four children: Samuel, Cora, Annie, and Charles Manly (August 9, 1861 - May 27, 1921).

 

On December 30, 1903 in Washington, D.C., Manly married Matilda Falls (July 16, 1872 - February 25, 1920), daughter of the Rev. Neilson Falls (1842 - 1916), rector of Grace Episcopal Church, and Lucy Walton Falls. They made their home in Morganton and were members of Grace Episcopal Church.

 

Manly McDowell possessed unusual ability in leadership and was influential in political activities. He was one of the most virile and aggressive leaders in North Carolina. Politicians in Washington considered him an influential factor to be reckoned with, and his voice in any gathering carried telling force. Although he was recognized as a man of remarkably strong political influence, both his friends and opponents credited him with fine and gentlemanly qualities: a keen sense of honor, loyalty to high ideals, and a standard that would brook no underhanded methods to obtain his or his party's objectives.

 

As Sheriff of Burke County from 1898 to 1906, he was an effective executive officer of the court, conservator of the peace, custodian of the jail, and tax collector.

 

When efforts were made in 1886 to restock the streams of Burke County, he obtained fish for distribution from the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries.

 

In the early decades of the twentieth century he operated a dairy on the Table Rock Road. In addition he was one of the owners of the Burke County Telephone Company with its exchange and independent lines prior to the establishment of the Bell System. Probably the McDowell who operated an insurance agency with John Pearson in an office over Tull's Drug Store was Manly.

 

Under an appointment by President Wilson he was for years a Federal Revenue Agent with headquarters in Greensboro. Shortly before his death he resigned the position because of failing health.

 

Matilda Falls McDowell died February 15, 1920; Charles Manly McDowell died May 27, 1921. They are buried in Grace Episcopal Church Graveyard at Morganton. They left two children: Margaret McDowell (Verbeck) and Charles Manly McDowell, Jr. (January 23, 1911 - July 26, 1941).

 

-Margaret McDowell Verbeck

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