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February 26, 2014

Will of Luke Swain in Charleston, SC

Swain wills in Charleston, SC

Luke Swain

"South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Feb 2014), Charleston > Wills, 1800-1807, Vol. 028 > image 236 of 403.

County map of Southern States

For Future Reference as I research my Swain Family. Note how close Abbeville is to Franklin, GA.

Will of John Swain of Abbeville District, South Carolina

Will of John Swain of Abbeville District, written 7 Mar 1821. proved 7 Sep 1823 :

Actual record on left. Transcription below:

State of South Carolina Abbeville District In the name of God Amen. I John Swain calling to mind that it is appointed for all men once to die: being in a weak and low condition but of sound mind and memory do constitute and ordain this to be my last will and testament making null and void all others. First, I commit my soul to God who gave it and my body to be decently buried by my Executor. Second my will and desire is that my worldly goods be disposed of in manners following after the payment of all my just debts and of my estate. I will give and bequeath to my loving wife, Ann Swain: the plantation whereon I now live and all lands I possess to have and enjoy during her natural life reserving to my children: James Swain, Jane Swain, Jesse Swain, Nancy Swain, John Swain, Mary Swain, William Swain, Peggy Swain: the __ of living with her and cultivate the soil for their support until they or either of them marry or come of age __ such longer time as may be convenient for them or either of them and my beloved wife. I also give and bequeath to my beloved wife all the household and kitchen furniture stock of every kind and plantation tools during her natural life or until my youngest child Peggy Swain is eighteen years of age in case my wife is living when my youngest child is eighteen years of age my will is that the household and kitchen furniture stock and plantation tools be divided by appraisment between my wife and all of my children including my daughter Betsey Smith, my wife having one-third. I give unto my beloved wife four negros (to wit) Will, Cuffee, Milly & Eliza for and during the natural life of my beloved wife Anna Swain. My will and desire is that at the death of my wife all the property both real and personal that is hereby given to my beloved wife, return to and be considered as part of my estate and be divided amongst all my children either by appraisment or sale in case of the sale of the land. I do hereby authorize my executor to make titles thereto. Third, my will and desire is that after my decease my remaining negros Strother, Fillis, Rachel, Isaac, Manuel, Caroline, Malinda, Amy, _____ receive their increase if any be appraised and divided by lot between all my children James Swain, Betsey Smith, Jane Swain, Jesse Swain, Nancy Swain, Mary Swain, John Swain, William Swain, and Peggy Swain all the lots to be made equal by paying the difference of value in money. Lastly, I do hereby consistute and appoint my two sons Jesse Swain and John Swain my executors to carry this my last will and testament into execution. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this seventh day of March one thousand eight and twenty one in the presence of:
John Weatherall
Robert Swain
William Hodges

John Swain

The above will was proven by the oaths of Robert Swain and William Hodges on the seventh day of September 1823 and Jesse Swain one of the executors therein named was qualified before.

Citation: "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Feb 2014), Abbeville > Wills, 1815-1837, Vol. 02 > image 98 of 236.

My research notes: Two of the witnesses of this will are the same as the will of Robert Swain (previous post). The other witness is a Robert Swain, John's brother, i presume

This website shares a photo of john swain's tombstone. The inscription reads December 25, 1759- August 31, 1823 which would make him 64 when he died, and about 15 years older than his brother, Robert.

Will of Robert Swain of Abbeville, SC

This will may have nothing to do with my Swain line but I'm beginning to wonder if our Swains go through these Abbeville, SC Swains rather than the Nantucket Swains. I found this will as I was looking for documents on other swains and thought I'd share an original record ( I love looking at original records!).

This is the will of Robert Swain of Abbeville, SC written the 2 October 1812 and proved and recorded the 16 November 1812.

Robert Swain bequeaths:
  • Item: to son John Swain one hundred ten acres of land being the place or plantation whereon he now lives to him and his heirs:
  • Item: to daughter Jane Norris - one bay horse, one young cow to her and her heirs.
  • Item: to daughter Mary Swain -  Negro woman named Pat, Negro boy named Allen, Negro boy named Cyrus, and chestnut __ horse to her and her heirs forever.
  • Item: to son Robert Swain - plantation where I now live containing 165 acres or the remainder of the whole tract after the 110 acres already willed to John Swain. One negro man named Tom, one negro boy named Adam, one black horse and one gray horse, to him and his heirs forever.
  • Item: to daughter Elizabeth Reeves - tract of land containing 312 acres in Pendleton District on a branch of Barker's Creek land I purchased from Richard Sadler, one negro boy named George, two cows, to her and her heirs forever.
  • Plantation tools willed to Robert Swain
  • Everything else not mentioned specifically divided equally between Robert Swain and Mary Swain
  • Mary Swain to stay in home with Robert Swain and negro girl named Fanney

Executors: John Swain and Robert Swain
Witnesses: John Weatherall, William Richey, William Hodges

Citation for will: "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Feb 2014), Abbeville > Wills, 1787-1815, Vol. 01 > image 239 of 257.

This is the will of Nancy Swain, wife of Robert Swain who was willed 165 acres in his father, Robert Swain's will. The next page of this will was not scanned in the FamilySearch database. It goes from page 497 and the next image is 500-501.

Also: son, Robert Swain and wife Nancy (making this connection because in the will of Nancy Swain (above) she says that her estate consists of two slaves, one named Fanny) are buried at the Old Greenville Presbyterian Church Link to Inscriptions at Old Greenville Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Swain, Mrs. Nancy, wife of Robert Swain, died Apr. 17, 1855. Age about 65 yrs.
Swain, Robert, died Apr. 4, 1854. Aged upwards of 80 yrs.

This means that Robert Swain, son of Robert Swain of the above will was born around 1874. He would have been about 35 years old when his father died.

My thoughts for my research: It seems like a family who is divided by the civil war would be more likely to have lived in the south for a significant amount of time rather than have just moved into the south one generation earlier. Many researchers on my Swain family say that William W. Swain is the son of Joseph Swain and Jedidah Macy who were Nantucketers and moved to Guilford, North Carolina somewhere around the 1780s. To have moved all the way to North Carolina from Massachussets, and then 15 years later move again to Georgia . . . it just seems like that's a little more far fetched.  William W. Swain Sr. married Rebecca Williamson in 1808 in Franklin Co., Georgia. Abbeville, SC is right along the border between South Carolina and Georgia and is only about three counties away from Franklin, GA.

Also, William W. Swain's census records indicate he was born in North Carolina but his life synopsis in his son's biography indicates South Carolina. Abbeville was in the Peidmont Area of South Carolina. This Peidmont Historical Society of South Carolina says (William W. Swain was born in 1783): "Prior to the early 1800's, North Carolina also claimed the northern portion of the South Carolina Piedmont. So, some of the early records will be found in Tryon County and Mecklenburg County as well as the colonial and state records of North Carolina."s Perhaps this could be why there's a discrepancy as to where William W. claimed he was born.

February 20, 2014

Timeline for William W. Swain Jr. and Mary M.C. Swain

Another Timeline, this time of William W. Swain Jr. and Mary M.C. Swain family. If anyone has anything else to add please email me. This is a work in progress. 

1825: May 25, Birth of Mary M.C. Swain

1826: Birth of William W. Swain Jr. in Lincoln County, Tennessee (birth based on ages in census)

1830: Residence: Henderson, Tennessee with parents (census)

1840: Residence: Henderson, Tennessee with parents (census)

1846: 22 December, William W. Swain marries Mary M.C. Alexander (unsourced)

1847: October 9, Permilla born in McNairy, TN (year from age at census)

1850: Caroline born in McNairy, TN (year from age at census)

1850: Census: McNairy, TN 1850 Census, McNairy, TN
            Family Summary: Household 1510: William Swain Sr. 69; Rebecca 64; Martha Brown 17  Household 1511: William Swain Jr. 24; Mary 23; Rebecca 2; Caroline 1m; Hiram Brown 17. 

1855: Nancy D.L. born in McNairy, TN (year from age at census)

1856: 17 Feb Milus L.F. born in McNairy, TN Death Certificate of Milus Swain

1860: Census: McNairy, TN 1860 Census, McNairy, TN
        Family Summary: Household 1802: William Swain Sr. 78; Rebecca 74; Household 1801: William Swain 34; Martha M 35; Permetlas A. 12; Sarah P. 10; Nancy L. 5; Milus F 3.

1861: William Harvey born in McNairy, TN

1861: Fall, William W. Swain travels to Illinois to enlist in the war Claim of Mary M.C. Swain p27

1864: 14 February William W. Swain is killed scouting for the Union army in Mississippi Claim of Mary M.C. Swain p27

1870: Census: McNairy, TN 1870 Census, McNairy, TN
        Family Summary: Household 55: Mary C. 44; Permilla 22; Sarah C. 20; Nancy D. 15; Milus F. 13; William H. 9; Nancy G Alexander 83. Household 54: James H. Alexander 52; Harvy S. 23; Sarah E. 20; Almidia S. 1m.

1871: 4 October Parmella Swain marries Lafayette Hair 

1872: 7 October Mary's petition to the court to claim compensation on lost property, McNairy, TN

1873: 16 January Sarah Caroline marries James McBride

1873: 13 July & 8 August Mary's court appearance to claim property lost in the war, McNairy, TN

1875: 11 March Nancy D.L. is married to John T. Morris in McNairy, TN

1878: Joseph G Dodds testifies for Mary's case to collect on lost property, McNairy,TN

1879: 24 February Milus marries Margaret Detherage

1880: Census, McNairy, TN 1880 Census, McNairy, TN
       Family Summary: Household 12: M.C. Swain 54, Harvey W. 19 (son), M.P.A. McBride 5 (granddaughter). Household 13: M.F.L. Swain 22; M.N. 22; A.E. 6/12 months (pneumonia); T. 11 (nephew).

1882 : 5 October William Harvey marries Elzetty Hardin

1895: March 9, Death of Mary M.C. Swain in McNairy, TN. Buried at Mars Hill Cemetery

February 17, 2014

Timeline of William Swain Sr. and his Family

Just so I can keep everything sorted out and have one place I can look at all the records for the family of William Swain and Rebecca Williamson Swain. If you can add to this timeline, please email me.

1783: Biography: Born in South Carolina, of Irish descent.
         Census says North Carolina

1788: Biography: Rebecca Williamson born in Georgia

1796: Biography: Moved to Georgia

1808: Biography: Married Rebecca Williamson in Franklin County, Geargia Marriage Record of William and Rebecca

1809: Birth of Lucinda Swain in Georgia (listed in Will. Age approximation from 1860 Census)     1860 Census of Lucinda & Absalom Brown in Randolph, AK

1811: Birth of Patsy Swain in Georgia (listed in Will, used birth date already in familysearch. Not sourced)

1812: Biography: Moved to Lincoln County, TN

1814: Birth of Sylvania Swain (Listed in Will. Estimation based on census records. I don't have sources)

1816: Birth of Edwin Swain (Listed in will as E.C. Age approximation from 1850 Census in McNairy, TN) 1850 Census of Edward & Francis Riggs in McNairy, TN

1818: Birth of Vernetta Swain (Listed in Will) (according to 1850 Census of William and Burnetta Brown in McNairy, TN) 1850 Census of William Brown in McNairy, TN

1820: Biography: Birth of R.P. Swain

1820: Census: Lincoln County, TN 1820 Census, Lincoln, TN
           Family summary: William, age 37. Rebecca, age 32. Daughter b. 1804-1810 [Lucinda 1809]; Daughter b. 1810-1820 [Patsy b1811] ; Daughter b. 1810-1820 [Sylvania??]; Daughter 1810-1820; Daughter 1810-1820 [Vernetta 1818]; Son 1810-1820 [Edwin 1816] ; Son 1810-1820 [R.P.1820].

1824: Birth of Matilda Swain

1826: Birth of William W. Swain in Lincoln, TN.

1828: Biography: Moved to Henderson, TN 1850 Census, McNairy, TN (Listed in will. Age based on census records)

1830: Census: Henderson, TN 1830 Census, Henderson, TN
         Family summary: William, age 47; Rebecca, age 42. Male b. 1800-1810; Daughter 1810-1815 [Lucinda 1809]; Daughter 1810-1815 [Patsy 1811] ; Son 1815-1820 [E C 1816] ; Daughter 1815-1820 [Vernetta 1818] ; Daughter 1815-1820 [Sylvania??]; Son 1820-1825 [R.P. 1820]; Male 1820-1825; Daughter 1820-1825 [Matilda 1824]; Son 1825-1830 [William Jr. 1828] . 

~1832: Estimation: Lucinda Swain marries Absalom Brown. Hiram and Martha are living with William 
          and Rebecca and William and Mary in 1860. They are 17.

1840: Census: McNairy, TN 1840 Census, McNairy, TN
          Family summary: William, age 57; Rebecca, age 52. Male b. 1810-1820 [Edward 1816]; Daughter 1815-1820 [Vernetta 1818] ; Son 1820-1825 [R.P. 1820] ; Son 1825-1830 [William Jr. 1828]

1842: Mortgage in McNairy, John Melton to William Swain Mortgage Transcription

1846: Biography: Son, R.P. Swain marries Melissia Merrell in McNairy

1846: Son, W W Swain marries Mary M.C. Alexander in McNairy (from information in familysearch, unsourced)

1848: Biography: Son, R.P. Swain moves to Mississippi

1850: Census: McNairy, TN 1850 Census, McNairy, TN
            Family Summary: Household 1510: William Swain Sr. 69; Rebecca 64; Martha Brown 17  Household 1511: William Swain Jr. 24; Mary 23; Rebecca 2; Caroline 1m; Hiram Brown 17. 

1858: Nettie moves to Randolph, Ark  Goodspeed biography on Ephraim Brown, son of Nettie Swain

1860: Census: McNairy, TN 1860 Census, McNairy, TN
        Family Summary: Household 1802: William Swain Sr. 78; Rebecca 74; Household 1801: William Swain 34; Martha M 35; Permetlas A. 12; Sarah P. 10; Nancy L. 5; Milus F 3.

1861: Biography: Rebecca Williamson Swain dies

1861: Biography: Son, R.P. Swain, moves back to McNairy

1861: Claim: Fall 1861, son W. W. enlists with Union Army Claim of Mary M.C. Swain p27

1861/63: Claim: son, Edwin, killed in Civil War in Arkansas. Claim of Mary M.C. Swain p33

1864: Claim: Son, W.W. killed in Mississippi. Claim of Mary M.C. Swain p27

1870: Census: McNairy, TN 1870 Census, McNairy, TN Family Summary: Household 154: William Swain 88

1871: Daughter, Nettie Swain Brown, dies in Arkansas Goodspeed biography on Ephraim Brown, son of Nettie Swain

1871: Biography: William W. Swain Sr. Dies, McNairy, TN Will of William Swain Sr.

Unlinked Sources:

Biography: "R. P. SWAIN, a well known farmer of the Fourth District, son of William and Rebecca (WILLIAMSON) SWAIN, was born In Lincoln County, Tenn., in 1820 The father was of Irish descent, born in South Carolina in 1783; when about thirteen years of age be went to Georgia, where he married at the age of twenty-six. He moved to Lincoln County in 1812, and in 1828 went to Henderson, Chester County and remained until 1840, when he settled In McNairy County, resuming his farming and so continuing up to a year previous to his death which occurred in 1871. The mother was born In Georgia about 1788; died in 1861; she and her husband were both faithful members of the Primitive Baptist Church. Our subject spent his early life at home, receiving his education from the common country schools. April, 1846, he married Miss Melissia MERRELL, of McNairy County. They became the parents of six children, all living but one: Aurelius; Martha, wife of John MCCOY; William; Mary, wife of Elihu Blasingain, and Elma. Mr. SWAIN first located in McNairy County, in 1848 moved to Mississippi, in 1861 returned to the county and in 1874 settled on the farm which he now occupies and owns, a place of seventy acres, one and a half miles east from Ramer. He is a life-long Democrat, having cast his first presidential vote for Jas. K. POLK. Mr. and Mrs. SWAIN are interested and active members of the Missionary Baptist Church and are esteemed by the community." From Goodspeed's History of McNairy, TN

Will of William Swain Sr.
This day the will of William Swain Sen. was presented in open court and sworn by the subscribing witnesses in common form of law which was examined and ordered (illegible 2 words) which was done in the words & figures following.

To wit

In the Name of God Amen

I William Swain Sen. of the county of McNairy & state of Tennessee being of sound mind and disposing memory do make & publish this my last will and testament hereby revoking & making void all other & former wills by me at any time heretofore made.

First I direct that my funeral expenses and all my just debts be paid as soon as possible out of any monies that I may be possessed of as which may first come into the hands of my executor hereinafter named.

Secondly I will & bequeath to my daughters Patsy Melton Lucinda Brown Sylvania Page & Vernetta Brown & Matilda Graves for their sole and separate use free from the debts of their husbands all the real estate of which I may be possessed of to be equally divided between them to have and to hold said lands for and during their natural lives and at their deaths to go to their children.

Thirdly I will and direct that all the personal property which I may be possessed of shall be sold and the proceeds divided as follows. To each of my said daughters named in the 2nd clause of this will I give the sum of two hundred dollars if living or if any of them are dead then the children of such as are dead to have the share to which their mother would have been entitled if living. The balance to be divided amongst all my children except that the share of my son E. C. Swain shall be chargeable with the sum of fifty dollars (which sum I have already paid as security for him) and the share of my son Wm W Swain shall be chargeable with the sum of forty dollars for a wagon which sums shall be deducted from the respective shares of said E C and W W Swain and the fifty dollars to go to Patsy Melton and the forty dollars to be divided amongst all my said daughters.

Fourthly ---- I have heretofore given to my sons W W Swain E C Swain & R P Swain in land and other property what I considered an equal share of my estate and direct that they have nothing more except as above. In the 3Rd clause of this will & considering what they have already acquired an equal share with my said daughters.


I hereby nominate and appoint my sons Wm W & R P Swain executors of this my last will & testament given under my hand & seal the 19th September 1871.


William Swain


Signed sealed & published in our presence and we have hereunto set our hands as witnesses in the presence of the Testator and at his bequest day (illegible) above written

Witnesses names __________

Transcribed by: Jeff Kemp

February 16, 2014

Marriage Record of William Swain and Rebecca Williamson

The marriage record of William Swain and Rebecca Williamson in Franklin, GA (bottom right corner). They got their marriage license on the 11th of March 1808 and were finally married on the 20th of Mar 1808. There is speculation that their marriage was recorded in 1808 but they were married earlier, but I don't think this is true. The Goodspeed History says that William married at age 26 which would make 1808 the correct year of marriage. This is another point to consider and helps solidify the argument that William Swain b 1800 and married to Rachel Anderson was not the son of this William Swain b 1782 since the latter wasn't married for another 8 years. Many genealogists also have a daughter Elizabeth Swain born before 1808 as a daughter of this union, but I think the relationship doesn't exist as she's not in the will of William W. Swain Sr. also.

"Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Jul 2014), William Swain and Rebecca Williamson, 20 Mar 1808; citing Franklin, Georgia, United States; FHL microfilm 7119.

February 14, 2014

Mary [Alexander] and William Swain

Mary M.C. [Alexander] Swain (1825-1895) and William W. Swain (1826-1864)
Today marks 150 years since the death of the man pictured above. He is William W. Swain, born around 1826. He died while scouting the land in East Port, Mississippi during the civil war, February 14, 1864*. *according to his wife's statement to the court in 1871.

Do any Swains out there know who this couple is?
These pictures come from the collection of Davine Harding's family. It's so exciting to see pictures of my Swain family.

February 9, 2014

The William W. Swains of McNairy, TN

There are three William W. Swains living in McNairy, TN in 1850.

1) William W. Swain (b. 1826) m. Mary M.C. Alexander Swain
2) William W. Swain (b. 1800) m. Rachel Anderson
3) William W. Swain (b. 1781) m. Rebecca Williamson

My family had thought that the first William Swain and the third William Swain were father and son, but those studying my family had found the 2nd William in McNairy and said the three were related, but there were a few things that kept flagging my attention. For instance, the 1st and 3rd Williams were next door neighbors for several censuses and moved into McNairy, TN at the same time. One of the censuses actually indicates a Sr. and a Jr. and grandchildren of the elder William W. Swain and Rebecca Williamson were living with the first William W. Swain which I thought would be odd if there was an extra generation living between them. But, how abnormal would it be for three William W. Swain's to be living in the same county. And timing wise it looked right to have them all be a direct line . . . 20 years between each generation. There's also some names that are similar - for instance, they both have Rueben Patterson Swain. So it was easy to assume the correlation.

Today I believe I found substantial proof that all three are not related. There is a document I found on Fold3, a claim by Mary M.C. Swain petitioning for payment of some livestock that were taken during the civil war. It's a 40+ page document that includes many details about her life with William W. Swain. What this document proves is that William W. Swain (b. 1826, m. Mary M.C. Swain) is the son of William W. Swain (b. 1791 m. Rebecca Williamson) and that William W. Swain (b1800 m Rachel Anderson) is either a different family all together or some other more distant relative.

Here's what this document proves:

1) William's name is William W. Swain (not H. - another rumor from the internet which I helped
2) He joined the army in Illinois in the fall of 1861. (page 27)
3) He was in the fight at Fort Henry and Danalson (page 27)
4) He got sick and returned home October 1862 (page 27)
5) Became a scout for the Union army in McNairy, TN and surrounding areas (page 27)
6) He died 14 February 1864 as a scout for the Union Army in East Port, Mississippi (page 27)

7) William W. Swain had a brother and 5 nephews who fought for the confederate army. (page 32-33)
    They are listed in the document as:
       - Brother Edwon Swain (killed by the federal soldiers in the state of AK)
       - Nephew Leonadas Swain (died at Corrinth, MS in spring of 1862)
       - Nephew Rufus Brown (lived in A.K.) (died between war and 1871)
       - Nephew Ephraham Brown (lived in A.K.)
       - Nephew Franklin Brown (lived in A.K.)
       - Nephew Phayette Melton (lived in A.K.)
8) William W. Swain and Mary M.C. Alexander Swain had 5 children (p 35):
     They are listed in the document as:
       1) Pamilla R.H. (26) wife of Fayette Hair
       2) Sarah P.C. (23) wife of James McBride
       3) Nancy D.L. single in 1871
       4) Milas FL (16)
       5) William Harvey (12)

9) Mary's brother is James Harvey Alexander (p36)
10) James' mother was living with James' family during the war.
11) Mary was a spinster

The information this document gives us about William's brothers and nephews proves the father/son relationship between the first and third William's above. In the will of William W. Swain he bequeaths to his daughters Patsy Melton, Lucinda Brown, Sylvania Page, Vernetta Brown, and Matilda Graves.  By looking at the last names of his nephews the link becomes clear.

One question I do still have is why the will of William W. Swain Sr. would still list WW Swain as administrator when he's already dead. It would make sense that he would indicate that WW Swain would be administrator though since he was living next door to him in McNairy and the other children were in Arkansas.

Also, the 1880 census shows a William Swain living with Lafayette Swain in Rutherford, TN. It lists William Swain as the uncle of Lafayette and 54 years old (~1826). Allen Perry Swain had a son named Lafayette. Could this be the same LaFayette and the William who was living with him is Allen Perry's brother? My William Swain (b. 1826 m. to Mary M.C. Swain) had died in 1864 and would not have been alive in 1880. Honestly, I found this census on Saturday morning and I was ready to put all my doubt to rest and be at peace with the three Williams being grandson/son/father.

Other notes: Who is John Swain (born circa 1775?)? In the 1820 Census of McNairy, Tennessee a John Swain lives four households away from William Swain (b 1800; married to Rachel Anderson). This John Swain is about 20 years older than this William. By 1830 they are next door neighbors, and in 1840 John has moved to what looks like Tishomingo, Mississippi.

This document I think answers a lot of questions and brings new ones to the table. I wouldn't be surprised to find that John Swain (born circa 1775) and William W. Swain (b. 1781) are brothers and William W. Swain b 1800 is actually a son of John and a nephew of William W. Swain b.1781. John and William probably have a common ancestor named Ruben Patterson. So, as much as this might disprove a few things I don't think we are too far off course and hopefully it will bring to light answers to some of the questions we all have had about our lineage after William W. Swain who married Rebecca Williamson.