Berkeley County, West Virginia Biography of Gilbert McKOWN


         Gilbert McKOWN was the originator of the McKown family in Berkeley County, West Virginia; he was a native of Ireland. He married an Irish girl by the name of Jane CRAWFORD. Because of religious persecution there, he fled with his young bride to America, settling in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Hearing of a settlement of Baptists from New York at Middletown, or Gerardstown as it was renamed in 1743, he moved to Berkeley County and purchased an estate from Lord Fairfax.

         In 1745, Gilbert McKown moved his family to his new home, having built his cabin on the little stream which is now the headwaters of Mill Creek. The family name was formerly spelled McCowen. Gilbert McKown, after becoming firmly established in his forest home, sent to Ireland for his aged father, Andrew McKown, who lived to be 114 years old and was buried in a clump of trees at the old Busey homestead on the Gerardstown-Inwood road, east of Gerardstown. In direct descent was Samuel McKown, whose descendants were Hunter McKown and Gilbert McKown, the latter the father of J.C. McKown and Gilbert C. McKown, editor of the Martinsburg Evening Journal.

         The family members were earnest Christians of the Presbyterian faith and attended services at the old log Presbyterian Church at Tuscarora, 7 miles away. The entire family, to rest their horses for the week ahead, walked to and from church, carrying their shoes and stockings and walking barefoot to within sight of the church (to conserve their shoes).

         Gilbert M’Kewan (McKown) was found on a list of trustees for the government of the town of Gerardstown; John McKown was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church in that town; Gilbert McKown was one of the pioneers of the apple industry of Berkeley County, and his son, Sheriff J.C. McKown continued the business on a larger scale than his father; Hunter McKown, who was was educated for the ministry, but had to retire early because of ill health, was also a pioneer orchard man of the area; and John McKown was a member of the County Court of Berkeley County.


    Submitted by Marilyn Gouge and extracted from History of Berkeley County, West Virginia, 1928

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