Friday, February 21, 2014

John Swain and all those Girls

Milus and Katy Swain, Parker or Knox, TX circa 1905.
click on the photo to see it larger

Meet my great-great grandpa, Milus Swain. He's the tall man on the right. 
And then meet my great-grandpa, John William Swain
or Willy as they called him, he's the boy on the left.  

John had six older sisters ( his oldest sister died of  pneumonia at the age of 1). When John's mother, Margaret, died when he was three, his father, Milus, remarried the woman in this photo, Katy Stimpson. It would take 8 years and four more daughters ( although it looks like five from this photo) before another male Swain would come along. John must have learned early how to get along with women! By the time he left home he had lived with two mothers, ten sisters, and his step-mother's mother (from census records it looks like she lived with the family for over 10 years. She's in the photo in black). After this photo, the girl streak ended. Six more children were born to Milus and Katy, but only one more daughter.

Milus had even more women in his life. He was the man of the house for his three older sisters and widowed mother before he was even 7. And then he ended up having 11 daughters of his own. So when my brother, a Swain, who's expecting his first child asks whether I think he's having a boy or a girl. . . I have to say, it's going to be a girl!

A big thank you to Ron Gaddy for sharing this photo. This picture comes from his grandmother, Louella Hayre. She is the daughter of Milus' sister, Permella Rebecca Swain.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

Mary M.C. Swain (1825-1895) and William W. Swain (1826-1864) of McNairy, TN
Parents of Parmilla Swain Hair, Sarah Caroline Swain McBride, Nancy Swain,
Milus Leroy Franklin Swain (my direct line) and William Harvey Swain.

Happy Valentine's Day! Doesn't this couple look like they are in love??!! ;)
Coincidently, today also marks 150 years since the man above was killed scouting out the territory in Mississippi during the Civil War.

I never thought I would see a picture of my great-great-great grandparents, but after sending the document I found last week to a relative who I noticed was working on my Swain line, she sent me this picture. Turns out she and I are third cousins with the couple above as our common grandparents. Her aunt, who was a great-granddaughter of Mary M.C. Swain, had this photo in her collection. Thank you Davine for sharing this awesome picture. Putting a name with a face, seeing family resemblances, being able to look at their eyes (and working together with third cousins) . . .it's what makes learning about my family fun.

She sent me another picture that was in another aunt's collection; however, it's unknown who the picture is of. Of course I'm hoping someone will tell me it's Milus Swain, my great-great-grandfather, but that would be wishful thinking! The picture comes from William Harvey's family, brother of Milus Swain. I'm sending this photo out to cyberspace with the hope that someone will recognize the individuals.

Anyone know?

And speaking of pictures,  if you haven't checked out the photos section of you should! It's a free account. Make a log in, sign in, enter in your first few generations until it ties in to other people's family lines and see if anyone has added pictures of your family (click on" memories" at the top and then "people" on the submenu). I've added about 30 pictures of my grandma's family and so anyone related to me would be able to look at those photos. It's pretty neat!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

William W. Swain and the Civil War

Mary M.C. Alexander Swain made claim for lost
property during the civil war. p27
What this one document shares about my 3-Great Grandfather's life is incredible.

Here's the background of this story:
In 1872 my 3rd great grandmother Mary M.C. Swain made a claim for lost property during the civil war. Several of her horses were taken for the conflict and she was trying to get compensated $900.00 for the loss. She went to court and was asked several questions about her past and her husband's [William W. Swain] experience in the war. This page is her response to one of the questions and this is what it says:

"My husband left home and went north to the state of Illinois and there enlisted in the Union Army in the state of Illinois sometime in the fall of 1861, and was in the fight at Fort Henry and Danalson, and soon after that he was taken sick and discharged from the Servis at Cincinatti and then came home about October 1862 and he then went to scouting for the Union Army in this county and on the 14th day of February 1864 he was killed by the Rebels, he was under General Hatch at East Port Miss. when he was killed."

William W. Swain must have felt strongly about the Union's cause to join in the fighting all the way in Illinois. He lived at the time in McNairy, TN, a boundary county between Tennessee and Mississippi. Then, being sick and discharged, he was home only long enough to get well and turned around to serve again where he could. His wife's brother, and a neighbor at the time was said to be a "rebel" and William was a "loyal" which shows how close the conflict came and how intense the feelings were at the time. After reading further, I learned that William's own brother Edwin was killed fighting in the confederate army and five of his nephews (from 3 of his siblings) also fought with the confederates.

An even more interesting part of this document can be found several pages later (p. 32) describing how the confederate army treated Mary and her family upon learning the news of William's enlistment into the Union army.

"In 1861 when my husband first went North and the news came back that he was in the Union Army they threatened to take our land and sell it for the use of the confederate army or government. And in the month of June 1862 Major Houghton of the rebel army came to our house, and told me that if my husband did not come up and deliver himself to the confederate army that he would burn everything we had. And in 1864 some were under Skinner (a rebel commander" came to our house and gave me 10 days to leave in or they would drive me out of my house and burn up the place, and they threatened to take my daughter and hold her in prison until my husband gave himself up to them, but they did not do either."

To see what this document proves about the Swain family line you can go to this post:

Source: Southern Claims Commission, McNairy, TN, Claimant: Mary M. C. Swain, Claim # 17779, 
Date: 12/05/1872, page 27, accessed here on 2/07/2014 There are 43 pages to this document.

Explanation of Southern Claims Commission: NARA M1407. The Southern Claims Commission denied these claims by southerners seeking compensation for property loss. They were barred or disallowed for a number of reasons.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Every Family Has a Story

I had an amazing time taking a two day break from my responsibilities to sit and learn about family history at the Rootstech 2014 Conference in downtown Salt Lake City this weekend with my mother. It was quite motivating and fascinating to learn what's available in online family history and discover new ways of connecting our families (more on that in another post) and also to spend time with my mom doing something we both love.

I was particularly impressed with this short video clip played before the opening key note address each morning. It  illustrates what I feel is the power of learning about our family's history. I believe that knowing our past gives us strength and hope. It gives us a sense of direction and helps us understand who we are.

Each of us does have a story to tell. And I am so excited to start telling and sharing mine..