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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mysteries of genealogy.

Ruth Woodward Swasey was born on this day in 1788 in the recently formed state of Massachusetts.
The next record that has been found shows she married at 18 to Alexander G. Swasey, a mariner, in Newport, Rhode Island, July 7, 1807.

At this point I don't know a thing about her parents.  Perhaps she wasn't actually born in Mass, but in RI?  No way to know...as I don't actually have a birth record.  I'm just passing along family tree information from Ancestry.  And the "source" is a Find A Grave entry, which has changed and now lists her birth as just 1789, without the month or day.  So I don't really know where her birth information came from.

Mysteries of genealogy.  This is one I don't particularly like...not having a source document.

Her wedding was given, as July 2, 1807 in Newport, RI, but has no source at all. (Note, I think it came from a book written in 1910, more later about that!)

She and her husband are listed as residents of Rhode Island on June 4, 1820.  I think this "Rhode Island, Vital Extracts, 1636-1899" is considered a census.

Ancestry says she gave birth to 12 children (2 of whom were in the same year). Another mystery, which means I when I look further into information about each child, I might find more about how these two were twins or maybe weren't.  But most of her children don't have actual birth days...so it is probably based on census records.

Census takers went about their business on different months of the year, thus many people would have already had their birthdays that year, and would report their ages as being a year older than those who had not yet had their birthdays.  So when the census reports then changed back that age to the birth year, often it is a year off from actual facts.  That's a fact!

I also could find out more about where she lived, by looking at each child.  Their birth place would necessarily include that the mother was there then!  Not that she definitely lived in that town or county, but the records were written about that child being born there.  However, most of her children's birth places aren't listed, and the one that is, I doubt was born where it says he was, because there's no connection to Newburyport, MA.  It matters to me, because this is the ancestor of mine that was Ruth's son, namely Alexander G. Swasey (Jr.)

I also have a fun document in which she and her husband are named as parents of two sons who married 2 daughters named Stearns, from Watertown, MA.  So when the History of Watertown MA spoke of the Stearns family, it included these Swasey brothers.

Genealogy of the Families and descendents of the early settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts


On lines 380 and 381, Georgiana and her sister Harriet Elizabeth Stearns, married respectively to William Pitt Swasey (a mariner) and Jerathmel Bowers Swasey, in 1843 and 44, sons of Alexander G. Swasey  and Ruth Woodward Swasey. These weddings both occurred after Ruth had died on March 4, 1842.

These were younger brothers of my ancestor, Alexander G. Swasey, Jr.  He was the second son born, but named after his father, which is interesting.  My father was the third son born and named after his father...many years later.

 In 1830 Census for Newport, RI, Alexander G. Swasey has this reported
Home in 1830 (City, County, State): Newport, Newport, Rhode Island
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 40 thru 49: 1
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5: 2
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 40 thru 49: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 70 thru 79: 1
Free White Persons - Under 20: 9
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 13
Total - All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 13

Ruth would have been 42 at this census, and have given birth to all 12 children, and I only know of the death of one before 1830.  Several children do not have death dates on Ancestry at this time,

Who was the female age 70-79?  Alexander's mother lived until 1836, but died and is buried in Somerset, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA.  So perhaps Ruth Woodward's mother lived with them still.  A person that age would probably not have been a servant.

Male age 40-49 must be Alexander the father - check
Female age 40-49 would be Ruth the mother - check
There had been a first child named Sarah Lewellyn Swasey who died at one year. 1814 – 1815, and another of the same name born in 1827.
Ancestry gives us:
3 daughters (Mary Jane Swasey 1824 – 1833, Sarah Lewellen Swasey 1827 – 1853, Ruth Ann Swasey 1828 – )...while the census only gives us 2 under age 5
a daughter age 20-29 would be Delaney D. Swasey (1808 – 1833)

Now let's check the sons:
males under 5: 1
The closest Ancestry comes is 6 year old Marc Anthony, b 1824 and no other information on him. - possible check.
2 males ages 5-9 could be the 2 Ancestry says were born in 1822, James Henry and Charles A.- check
2 males between 10-14 could be William Pitt, b 1817 and Jerathmel A. b. 1820 - check
2 between 15-19 on census could thus be as Ancestry lists, Joseph Dean Swasey (1809 – 1843) and my ancestor - Alexander G. Swasey (Jr.) 1812-1866 - check.

So the problem is that there is one extra daughter according to Ancestry records which show 11 living as of 1830, while the census totals indicate 10 children...and a grandmother/auntie unknown.  (Incidentally, I know of no siblings of the Sr. Alexander G. Swasey, but it's always possible.)

Not knowing anything about Ruth Woodward Swasey's parents, it is quite likely one of them lived with them....more likely for a mother to move in with a daughter than a son, I think.

How do things look in 1840 census for Newport, RI?

A.G. Swasey (Sr.)
Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Newport, Newport, Rhode Island
Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29: 4
Free White Persons - Males - 50 thru 59: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 14: 2
Free White Persons - Females - 50 thru 59: 1
Persons Employed in Commerce: 3
Persons Employed in Navigation of the Ocean: 3
Free White Persons - Under 20: 4
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 4
Total Free White Persons: 10
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 10

By 1840 Alexander Jr. was living in St. Johns County (St. Augustine) FL.
I'm sorry, my brain can no longer ferret out who was what age.  I like finding that 3 of the household were employed in commerce (and I believe father Alex was certainly one) and 3 were employed in Navigation of the Ocean.  They might be the same people.

So I've now spent several more hours on this blog report than I hoped to.

And then there's her husband's parents.  One book of the Swasey Family says his mother was one name, and a grave stone in a cemetery indicates his father married to another named woman.  Oh my.
Quite a interesting roller-coaster ride, looking for answers to the mysteries of the facts of ancestors.

I just changed my Ancestry family tree status to private, rather than public.  When it was public anyone could add things to it...and somehow I ended up with a John Swasey listed at least 10 times, though his dates remained the same, he was his own father, grandfather and brother, not to mention married to his wife or mother a few times.  I deleted them all on my copy, and now will laboriously try to find who really did have some relationship to whom.

There is a book that google provides on line about the Swasey Genealogy, written in 1910...and some of it seems to have source documents indicated.  I have no idea how much other people's research is accurate.

It's like playing detective.  Some days I have the patience to do it, and some days I just throw up my hands and say, well, they were all alive once, and now they're not!

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