Stephen Saunders Ewing

Photo from the Heritage of Madison County (see The Haunting of Cedarhurst)
Born:Feb. 12, 1789, Lee County, Virginia
Died:Dec. 4, 1867, Aberdeen, Mississippi
Buried:Walter W. Trup plot Aberdeen Cemetery, MS.


•  President, Branch Bank of Huntsville. This banks was designated as a branch of the State Bank of Alabama, which had a capital of $2,000,000 over half of the stock being held by the state. Superintendece: Joh McKinley, Lemuel Mead, Nicholas Hobson, Frederick James and Stephen S. Ewing (branch capital of $150,000) - Record and Betts

•  "There is an old mansion in Huntsville that is reportedly haunted by the ghost of 15-year old Sally Carter. Stephen Ewing built the mansion in 1823. Sally was visiting her sister, Mary Ewing, when she was struck down with a fatal illness. She died several weeks shy of her 16th birthday, on November 28, 1837. Sightings of Sally's ghost started in 1919, when a teenage boy who was staying at the mansion had a dream about her. In the dream, Sally came to him and told him to fix her tombstone, which had been toppled over during the previous night's storm. Sure enough, when he went to visit her tombstone the next morning, it had been knocked down. Over the years many witnesses report seeing Sally's ghost, both in the house and near her grave. Due to numerous cases of vandalism of the grave site while it was located on the premises of the mansion, the bodies were exhumed and moved to an undisclosed location." - Paranormal

•  The ghost story of Sally Carter (died 1837, started apparitions in 1919) has a connection to Stephen Ewing's home. - Paranormal

•  Built the Cedarhurst Mansion in 1823. - Paranormal

•  He married Mary Huston "Polly" Carter about 1814, Huntsville, AL -

•  Son of William Ewing and Elizabeth Saunders -

•  Father of:
     1. Alexander Ewing,, born 2 Jun 1815, died 22 Aug 1857
     2. Charles Carter, born 22 Aug 1816, died 26 Jun 1852.
     3. Stephen S. Ewing, born 10 Nov 1817, died in childhood 21 Mar 1823. Another child born later is named the same.
     4. Sarah Elizabeth, born 18 Jun 1819, died 15 Oct 1899.
     5. William B. Ewing, born 16 Sep 1820, died in infancy 15 Aug 1821. Another child born later is named the same.
     6. Mary Ewing, born 17 Nov 1822, died in infancy 26 Nov 1822. Another child born later is named the same.
     7. James Ewing, born 12 Jun 1824, died 10 Mar 1850.
     8. John Ewing, born 24 Apr 1825, died 9 Feb 1895.
     9. George Ewing, born 28 Feb 1828, died 27 Oct 1911.
     10. Stephen Saunders Ewing, II, born 27 Dec 1830.
     11. Mary Ellen Ewing, born 30 Aug 1832, died 13 Jan 1866.
     12. William Bromfield Ewing, born 4 Jul 1833, died 30 Sep 1892.
     13. Thomas Morgan Ewing, born 13 Nov 1834, died 2 Oct 1906.
     14. Susan Purdom Ewing, born 2 Oct 1838, died 24 Sep 1903. -

•  "In his late teens or early twenties Stephen S. Ewing migrated to Alabama. He was listed in the 1810 Census as living in Cherokee County. By 1812 he was in business and acquiring property in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama. In 1814 he was a partner in the partnership of Beatty, Ewing, and Henderson. He organized the first bank in Huntsville and named it 'The First National Bank of Huntsville' according to data gathered by Battle Bell Ewing dated 25 December 1976. He was for several years the president of the National Bank of Huntsville. Stephen S. Ewing invested in a number of businesses including the Memphis and Charleston Railroad Company. He managed several businesses in Aberdeen, Mississippi with his sons, Charles C. and James Ewing. After his wife died in 1849 and his son Charles C. Ewing died in 1852 in Aberdeen, Mississippi, Stephen S. Ewing moved to Aberdeen and lived there until his death." - Ewing Family

•  "The plan was to render navigable by a series of locks and dams, the Big Spring branch or creek to its confluence with Price's Fork of Indian creek, and the latter stream, from that point to where it flows into the Tennessee river at Triana. The first positive action toward the attainment of this end was then taken when, on December 21, 1820, 'Indian Creek Navigation Company' was chartered by act of the Legislature, with Leroy Pope, Thomas Fearn, Stephen S. Ewing, Henry Cook and Samuel Hazard, as commissioners to open books for subscription to stock in the corporation." The story continues in this resource. - Betts

•  The building of Stephen S. Ewing located on the Public Square was rented to serve as a courtroom and county clerk's office while the new courthouse was under construction. "According to the commissioner's court records, this building served as the temporary courthouse from August of 1837 to January of 1840. Apparently the new courthouse was occupied before its final completion during the early part of 1842." - Temporary court house

•  Record lists early settlers showing up on squatter's lists, tax records, etc in Madison County. Stephen Saunders Ewing was found on records dating 1811. Vol. 2, p. 522. - Record

•  Cedarhurst: Ewing - Thornton Home
"High on a hillside, in a grove of aged trees, stands one of the earliest homes of Huntsville. The builder, Stephen S. Ewing, great-grandfather of Mr. Carlisle Davis, purchased the land on December 13, 1823, from Ebenezer Titus, who had bought 132 acres from Jesse McClendon, holder of the original land grant. The house is thought to have been completed in 1825. In 1828 Mr. Ewing deeded a tract of land adjoining the home site to be used for a school. That the house was built in two sections is evidenced by variations in the thickness of the walls. The four front rooms are 19'6" square with walls 19" thick, while at the rear there are three rooms with walls 15" thick. The lower rear chamber was 33' x 18'; the two above are 16'6" x 18'. There are two lovely old stairways. The one in the rear descends into a hall which was partitioned off by a later owner. The floors o f wide planking are original with the exception of one room. The large brass rimlocks and the doorpull are also original. In the dining room are windows with the same panes of handmade glass. On December 12, 1865, forty-two years after he bought the land, Mr. Ewing sold the home to Robert C. Brickell, father of Judge R.C. Brickell, and moved to Mississippi. In 1871, Mr. Brickell moved, selling the house to Joseph F. Doyle. The Tardy family, the W.C. Davis family, the Hughes family, and the Gwins owned the house consecutively. In 1919, Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Thornton purchased the home and 350 acres of adjoining land extending north and west to California Street." - Cedarhurst

•  "In 1837 a sixteen year old girl named Sally Carter came to Madison County to visit her sister, Mary Carter Ewing, the wife of a wealthy land owner. Mr. Stephan Ewing owned a plantation called Cedarhurst located on the corner of Whitesburg and Drake. He chose that name because of the lovely green cedars that lined the driveway leading to the plantation house.
     Shortly after arriving, Sally got sick and died. Her family buried her in the plantation cemetery. Not long afterward the Ewing's three daughters caught whooping cough and died. They, too, were buried in the plantation cemetery. Mary died in 1865 and joined her daughters and sister in their burial ground. That same year, Ewing sold the plantation to Robert C. Brickell. The next fifty-five years saw a number of owners: Joseph F. Doyle, the Tardies, W.C. Davis, the Hughes, the Gwins.
     The first report of Sally's return is recorded when the Davis family inhabited the house. An elderly woman told of this incident about fifty years after it happened. The woman, then young, was in a bedroom upstairs on a bright sunny day. She heard someone walking up the stairs and felt sure that it was not Miss Mattie Davis who was downstairs. Even though she was frightened, she stood still. The figure was coming closer when her nerve broke and she ran down the back stairs. When Miss Davis saw her face, she asked, 'What is wrong?' The young woman told her, 'It was only Sally,' Miss Davis responded.
     In 1919 the J.D. Thorntons became owners. The next encounter occurred not long after that. Mrs. Thornton's seventeen year old cousin, Charles Roland from Dothan, came to visit. It must have been a family reunion, for all of the bedrooms were filled with kin. He slept on a cot outside the bedroom where Sally had died.
     During the night a thunderstorm came, bringing fierce thunder and lightning. The winds tore through the trees. It finally subsided, and the dawn rose, clear and sunny. At breakfast Charles was missing. Mrs. Thornton found him on the front porch, shaking all over. He said he had had a nighttime encounter with a ghost. An apparition appeared, looking like a beautiful teenage girl. She said she was Sally Carter. She said that the storm had blown down her gravestone, and asked if he would place it upright again. Leaving the breakfast table and laughing all the way, the Thornton family trooped to the tiny graveyard. They teased Charles as they went.
     They found that, indeed Sally's tombstone lay on the ground. For some reason the breakfast party did not put Sally's stone upright again. Perhaps that is why unexplained activity has continued at Cedarhurst. Charles himself failed to fulfill her request. Neither did he linger. Back to Dothan he hurried, never to return to his cousin's house.
     During the long ownership of Cedarhurst by the Thornton's, Mrs. Thornton never saw the apparition, though she admits to having heard sounds that a ghost could make: walking, doors opening and closing. However, she reasoned that these sounds could occur in any old house.
     Now, Mrs. Thornton had a roomer for seven years. He slept in the room where Sally died. He was not aware of the ghost. But soon he became aware of heavy ashtrays being tossed in the air, falling and breaking. The man, who was a chain smoker, decided upon hearing of Sally that she did not approve of his habit. He offered another bit of information. There was a heavy bolt on the inside of the bedroom door which he locked when he was in the room. On several occasions he found the bolt unlocked. He attributed this to the age of the house.
     Other incidents have enlarged Sally's story. For example, thrill seekers through the years found the plantation cemetery and chipped off small pieces of Sally's gravestone, until only remnants of her marker remained.
     In the 1980s a developer purchased Cedarhurst. Its destiny was to be a residential development. The developer decided to retain the house itself to become the clubhouse for the residents. Then the graveyard had to be removed.
     The person in charge of moving the remains dug up an intriguing bit of information. While the men and machinery found and exhumed the vault of Mary Carter Ewing, they found no trace of a vault for Sally. The men conducted a methodical search, but a vault for Sally did not appear. Some people speculate that perhaps she was never buried there. On the other hand, perhaps at her burial a vault was unobtainable.
     Work for the high priced housing development continued, and in May, 1985, Decorator's Showplace proudly opened the clubhouse, showing off the stately mansion. It was open to the public for about two weeks. About a week after the opening, something happened in Sally's room.
     Each night, straightened and ready for the next day's visitors, the house was secured under lock and key. Now, Sally's fussy room reflected a teenage girl's choices. It vibrated in blue and peach bows, silk flowers and even a personal diary. The decorators thought it perfect for Sally.
     Strangely, one morning they found the floral bouquet overturned on the floor. That could have happened from a slight shifting of the wooden floor during the night. But the activity of a week later is not as easy to explain. Hostesses inspected the house each day upon closing and straightened what needed it. Then they locked up the house. One morning upon arrival, the hostesses found Sally's bedroom in shambles: the diary open on the floor, silk flowers scattered about, and the bedcoverings wadded up in the middle of the bed. No one knows to this day what caused the havoc.
     From 1986 to 1992, Prissy Lampert was community director for the Cedarhurst residents. She accumulated a number of Sally Carter stories. In 1989 a Huntsville High School class met there for a reunion. One of the young men entered Sally's bedroom and began making disparaging remarks about her. As he went out, the door slammed and locked. Prissy says the door never closes on its own. They found keys and opened the door. The same young man entered and continued his comments. He reached for a piece of hard candy in a bowl and put it in his mouth. Before the candy was eaten he had broken a gold crown. He didn't sleep much that night.
     In 1990 a wedding took place in the clubhouse. The groom and his brother were bringing in chairs the night before the event. As they entered the front door they heard footsteps on the floor above. That is the location of Sally's bedroom. Knowing the house contained two flights of stairs, each brother mounted one. They met in he dark hall above, scaring each other silly, but finding nothing.
     It is a courtesy that guests of Cedarhurst residents may sleep in the bedrooms of the clubhouse. These guests continue to hear footsteps at night. Sometimes they hear a door softly closing. So from her death in 1837 to the present Sally Carter lives on in the minds and imaginations of our citizens. People who study the phenomenon of ghosts have found a pattern. An apparition appears again and again because something is troubling that spirit. Something is unresolved. The apparition will continue to appear until it has found a peaceful solution.
     What could be troubling the spirit of the lovely sixteen year old Sally Carter? She has walked the boards of that stately plantation mansion for over one hundred fifty years. My wish for her is that she finally rest in peace just as the epitaph on her tomb states:
My flesh shall slumber in the ground,
Till the last trumpet's joyful sound.
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise,
And in my Savior's image rise." - The Haunting of Cedarhurst

•  Originally, the buildings built on the north side of the public square were called "Exchange Row." The building on the south side were known as "Commercial Row" Stephen bought property on the Commercial Row. - North Alabama

Related Links:

• - Genealogical information by Darla Weiser can be found behind membership fee wall. (Originally found at

•  Betts - Early History of Huntsville, Alabama 21804 to 1870 by Edward Chambers Betts, printed 1916, pages 32 and 66-70.

•  Cedarhurst - The Heritage of Madison County, AL by Madison County Heritage Book Committee, printed in 1998, pp. 47-8.

•  Ewing Family - Genealogy

•  Historic Markers - Listed as a Developer on the Historic Marker for the Indian Creek Canal

•  Huntsville Banking - Article by Pat Jones in The Huntsville Historical Review, Volume 5, #2 & #3, Apr-75, Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, pages 3-30 (especially related to Stephen on 3 & 13.)

•  Indian Creek Canal - Huntsville's Indian Creek Canal by Sarah Huff Fisk, The Huntsville Historical Review, Volume 33, #1, Winter-Spring 2008, Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, pages 43-53.

•  Makes More Sense - Genealogical information by Shane Hill and Cindy Scott.

•  North Alabama - North Alabama: Historical and Biographical, by T. A. DeLand and Davis Smith © 1888, page 248.

•  Odd Normality - The story of Sally Carter's ghost. (Originally found at

•  Paranormal - Alabama Ghost Stories: Story of Sally Carter. (Originally found at

•  Plats - National Archives and Records Administration, U.S., Indexed Earl Land Ownership and Township Plats, 1785-1898 Record for Stephen Ewing, Alabama, Huntsville Meridian(Nortern Part of Alabama, S and W R 1 T1 - S and W R 1 7 T22. (information behind membership fee wall) (Originally found at,1526,1438,1777&fn=Stephen&ln=Ewing&st=r&ssrc=pt_t1583999_p1178405571_kpidz0q3d1178405571z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgPLz0q3dpid&pid=96061.)

•  Record - A Dream Come True: The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Volume 1, by James Record, © 1970, pp. 85, 341 and Volume 2, 1987, p. 522

•  Temporary Court House - "The Public Square in Madison County History" by Frances C. Roberts, The Huntsville Historical Review, Volume 20, #2, Jul-93, Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, page 16.

•  The Haunting of Cedarhurst - Sally Carter's Story. The Heritage of Madison County, AL by Madison County Heritage Book Committee, submitted by Sara Wattenbarger McDaris, Storyteller, HPL, 1994 and printed in 1998, p. 60-1

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Betts
•  Huntsville Banking
•  Indian Creek Canal
•  North Alabama
•  Temporary Court House