James Swagerty, Jr.
July 14, 1800 - February 7, 1885
Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee
by Iris Teta Eubank Wagner
Below are excerpts from letters written in testimony to the friendship and character of James Swagerty by a friend of many years, Charlie B. Mims, of Newport, Tennessee.
Charles Beauregard Mims and his father, David Alfred Mims, owned a merchandise and clothing store, and the Mims Hotel, in Newport during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The letters were written to James's granddaughter, Fanny Swagerty Eubank, who had been away from Newport for many years. Fanny was at that time writing the second of her lengthy family manuscripts, and she knew Charlie had a wealth of knowledge about Newport, and they corresponded frequently between 1936 and 1938, the year of Charlie's death. Fanny was my maternal grandmother, whose cottage, built in 1927 in Andrews, North Carolina, is now my home.
from the letters
written by Charlie :
. . . I often think of your father and your family and what a good time we used to have here. And your grandfather always made his headquarters at our place, one of our best friends, and we always enjoyed having him with us; he was a fine old gentlemen.
another letter . . . We never had a better friend. He was always our friend at all times. Grandfather McSween and my father D.A. Mims considered him their best friend, when friendship meant something. The Swagerty family were the best of friends.
another letter . . . I am going to send you a copy of a piece I wrote on your grandfather's death in 1885. I have always felt pretty proud of this because I felt he was worthy of every word I said in regard to him. My grandfather and father had no better friend than Mr. Swagerty.
_________ S __________
James Swagerty's Obituary, written by Charlie B. Mims, published in The Knoxville Tribune, February 9, 1885 . . . .
". . . On the 8th instant at 5 o'clock
p.m., James Swagerty departed this life at the ripe and venerable age of
eighty-five years. This worthy and good man was born in Cocke County,
Tennessee, in the year 1800, and for four score and five years has been one
of the leading figures in the history of the county. . . . He united his
destiny with Nancy Clark, an industrious, intelligent, and noble woman.
. . . , and at the commencement of the Civil War, they had
amassed a fortune, a great portion which was swept away . . . . yet enough
was left to hold them in affluent circumstances, and to this industry and
economy added enough to provide a large family of children with a liberal
start in life.
. . . . Too much cannot be said about the character of James Swagerty, as every man, woman and child who knew him will unhesitatingly say that he was a jewel of consistency."
"As a businessman he had few equals. Possessed of natural intellect, good judgment, and instinctive foresight, all of his business transactions were a success. In business circles his word was his word was his bond. Socially, he was refined, entertaining, genial and clever, and specially swaying a magnetic influence over all young men with whom he came in contact. In the death of James Swagerty we all realize we have lost one of our best citizens."
S. Federal Census, Cocke County, Tennessee
James Swagerty, Jr. household
In 1860, Alexander was the oldest child living at home with the family. Eldest child Susannah had married Jacob Kimberlin Johnson and moved to Monroe County, Tennessee; Algia Delilah married Dr. William Denman. They moved first to Georgia and later to Angeline County, Texas. The eldest son James C. Swagerty had moved to Texas with Ed Swagerty, later a freedman. When the Civil War began, James C. joined the Confederate forces of Texas. James C. had a daughter, Dorcas Swagerty, who had visited my great-aunts in Newport.
James Swagerty wrote his will on August 9, 1878. The witnesses were Mary C. McSween, William McSween, and D. A. Mims. Son William R. Swagerty and William Robinson, a friend of many years, were executors. He gave each of his seven surviving children $5,000, either in advance of his death or to be paid from his estate after his death. His son Alexander S. Swagerty had died during the Civil War in the battle at Fort Donelson, on February 16, 1862. Another son, George C. Swagerty, disabled, due to a chronic ailment during the war, had died recently in 1877. James requested that his estate and homestead be managed by his executors for the benefit of his wife if she should survive him. The will was admitted to probate on March 2nd, 1885.
The Liberal Money Lender
James Swagerty was generous in lending money to members of his family and to his friends. His estate file at probate contained sixteen invoice notes. Most of the notes showed credit given toward payments on the loan. Active invoice notes in the probate file were on William Jack, Sr. and A.W. Rhea for $4,000.00 ; John Smith and J. A. Rorex for $2,380.75 ; W. W. Langhorne for $1,375.00 ; Geo. W. Susong for $600.00 ; W. R. Smith for $500.00 ; Geo. W. Susong for $450.00 ; W. R. Swagerty for $300.00 ; W. R. Swagerty for $300.00 ; W. R. Swagerty for $200.00 ; Wm. and W. J. McSween for $650.00 ; W. McSween for $14.13 ; J. F. Gray, M. P. Clift, and Willis Gray for $50.00 ; Robert Miller and M. McNabb for $100.00 ; Florance Holston for $191.00 ; Abraham Rader for $557.54.
Nancy Clark Swagerty did not survive her husband. She died at her home in Newport on November 18, 1882, after a lengthy and painful illness. She died at the Bridge House, the home in which she and James had lived since 1866. The railroad survey had taken their old home, built on the bluff above the Big Pigeon River in Newport in 1826, the year of their marriage. Their children had been born and grew up there.
The following excerpt from Nancy Swagerty's obituary was published in a Newport newspaper :
". . . Her health had declined for more than two
years, but through all her sickness, she bore up with wonderful fortitude. .
. She was often heard to say she had no fear of death and could meet it in
the same spirit that she had borne her affliction.
. . . She spoke the names of her children around the bedside until within a few minutes of her death.
The loss to her children and the community, as a mother, as a neighbor and a friend will be severely felt. Her place cannot be filled.
She was born in this county July 25, 1810, and was married to him, who is now the bereaved husband, on March 9, 1826. Long and faithfully had this devoted pair shared together life's joys and sorrows, its gains and losses, ministering to each other's wants and ever mindful of the happiness of those around them."
were laid to rest Sunday evening, the 19th, at the family burying ground in
the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends.
Peace to her ashes, and words of cheer and consolation to all the bereaved."
Clark was the daughter of Thomas and Susannah Gooch Clark. She was born and
grew up at the Clark
farm along the French Broad River two miles from the mouth of the Nolichucky
River, five miles north of Newport. The Clark and Gooch families were early and prominent
settlers in the French Broad Valley near Newport.
In the Springtime of their Lives . . .
On Thursday, May 18, 1837, James Swagerty and his good friend, William Robinson, walked into the mercantile establishment of Rankin and Pulliam in Newport, and purchased several items. James' wife Nancy, likely was with him. It was spring, and I can imagine a sunny day, perfect to be out in the buggy and meeting up with good friends, enjoying the warmth, and theirl excursion among the nice goods to be considered in the store.
James and Nancy Swagerty had been married for eleven years in 1837. Nancy, at age twenty-seven, was expecting her fifth child in October, who they would name George C. Swagerty - the "C" likely for a Revolutionary War ancestor named George Clark, though no specific document has been found to connect a Revolutionary War soldier to the Clark family. Their next born child would be William Robinson Swagerty (W. R. Swagerty), who would be born on August 3, 1841. William would be named for William Robinson, who shared with his friend James Swagerty their meeting on this warm Spring day at the Rankin and Pulliam Mercantile.
Democrat Andrew Jackson had been President of the United States for the past four years, and the new president, Martin VanBuren, had been inaugurated several months before. The two friends, both Democrats, likely cast their votes for Jackson and VanBuren.
James Swagerty may have selected by
choice those items he purchased. Or, Nancy may have joined him
on this excursion on a warm day in May, or, given him
a list of items to look for. Either way, James Swagerty purchased ten
yards of pink gingham and two pairs cotton hose totaling $3.96 ; one yard of
calico for 25 cents ; one pair of shell side-combs for 75 cents, and
one seal-skin cap. William Robinson bought a silk pocket handkerchief.
From The Rankin and Pulliam Journal, store ledger, 560 pages, dates from May 15, 1837 - January 8, 1839.
__________ S __________
Andrew and Mariah Swagerty
Mariah Swagerty, about age thirty-five.
Mariah Swagerty was the wife of Andrew "Andy" Swagerty. Both Andrew and Mariah were favored by the Swagerty family, before emancipation, and long after as well. On the reverse of this picture of Mariah, my grandmother, Fanny Swagerty Eubank, had noted that Mariah was her grandfather Swagerty's nurse during his final illness in the autumn of 1884 and the winter of 1885. Fanny, age sixteen, was living at the family home "Bridge House," in 1885, and knew Mariah. Many of the freed Swagerty families stayed on the farm, or pursued their craft or trade on the farm or in nearby towns.
"Blacksmith Jim" he was called, and evidently an
Before emancipation, and before Knoxville and Chattanooga fell to the Union Army, James
offered more than three-thousand dollars for the sale of Jim. Swagerty. James
Swagerty refused the offer, saying, "I do not sell my people, and will not break up families."
My Memorable Visit in 1948
with Augusta Swagerty and her daughter Flora
Augusta Swagerty, age ninety.
The Newport Plain Talk
Andrew and Mariah Swagerty had several children - daughter Augusta was age nine at emancipation. She married Thomas Foster, and among their children was Flora.
My father, William A. Eubank, and my sister, Betty Jean, and I visited with Augusta and her daughter Flora at their home in Newport in April, 1948, at the time of the funeral of my grandmother, Fanny Swagerty Eubank. I was nine years old.
Augusta was age eighty-six at the time of our visit, and easy to talk with. She talked about her memories of the Swagerty home, my grandmother Fanny, and my great aunts, Hat and Eunice, and Nan - James Swagerty's granddaughters. She talked about the day she and her family were told they were free. "There was no ceremony or flag wavin'," she told us. "Mr. James Swagerty come by our cabins, and stood before us, and told us we were free to go. He told us 'If you want to stay on the farm, you are welcome to stay and farm, or until you can find places for yourselves."
She said further,
"Mr. Swagerty was a good master, and some of
stayed on the farm as long as we wanted to."
It is in the deed records of Cocke County that acreage was deeded to several freedmen by James Swagerty or by his son, William R. Swagerty.
Civil War & the Mission to Ringgold, Georgia
James and Nancy's son
William R. Swagerty was a member
of the CSA 26th Tennessee Volunteer Regiment, Company C.
William's first battle of the war was the attempt to take Fort Donelson, north of Nashville, near the Kentucky border. William's brother, Lt. Alexander Swagerty, died during this battle on February 16, 1862.
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
All but one CSA commander considered the battle lost and surrendered during the early morning hours of February 17, 1862. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest refused to surrender his command. Gen. Forrest led his regiment out of the fort, with any soldiers who chose to join them. They walked out of the fort through deep snow to safety in Nashville. William and several soldiers of the 26th Tennessee Regiment, joined these soldiers and escaped capture.
June 1862 Muster at Knoxville
William was present on June 30, 1862, for muster at Knoxville with the Detachment of Soldiers of the 26th Tennessee Volunteers, who had escaped from Ft. Donelson with Gen. Forrest's men.
Present for Muster prior to Murphreesboro
William was present at the muster with the 26th Tennessee prior to the Battle of Stone's River at Murphreesboro. He was wounded in the Battle at Stone's River on January 3, 1863. Recovered from his wound, and, after examination by the medical command, William was placed on detached service, hospital duty. In June, 1863, he is on a Roll of NCOs and Privates on Extra Duty at Cherokee Hospital, Ringgold, Georgia.
After the defeat at Gettysburg in July,1863, and the loss of both Chattanooga and Knoxville in November, James Swagerty knew the demise of the Confederate States of America would likely be a matter of time. He and Nancy had lost their second eldest son, Alexander, at the Battle of Fort Donelson, eldest son James was with the CSA in Texas; they did not want to lose another son to the war, for a cause that was near probable defeat.
Mission to Georgia to Save His Son
The Union Army was in command around Newport in late November, 1863. After negotiating safe passage for two servants, as escort for his daughter, Margaret Swagerty, James Swagerty sent Andrew and Alfred Swagerty to accompany his daughter Margaret to Ringgold, Georgia. They were to learn if William had survived the attack at Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, and to learn of his condition.
As William explained in a written statement after the war, " . . . just before the fight I was ordered back up there to wait on the sick and wounded, and was left on Lookout Mountain in charge of the Medical Department. The next morning the fight began. The Confederates fell back. I followed on down after them."
Margaret found her brother at the Cherokee Hospital, where the wounded from the battle had been taken.
Privately, with a message from her father, Margaret was to deliver a message to William : "Father wants you home," Margaret told her brother. James Swagerty sent Andrew and Alfred Swagerty to accompany his daughter on this mission because he trusted them absolutely. Alfred Swagerty was another favored member of the Swagerty household, and, with his wife Susan, were the servants on which Fanny Eubank would later base an autobiographical family history of life on the Swagerty plantation.
William stayed as close as was safe to the wagon of his sister with Andrew and Alfred, and rode under cover in the wagon at times during the journey home. Once home he was hidden in the smokehouse of a co-operative neighbor and close associate, John Rorex. The ancestral Rorex and Swagerty family connections went back to the 18th century when their families lived in Pennsylvania.
After some days, William's presence in the smokehouse was discovered, and he was arrested by the Union command at Newport, and taken to the Sevierville jail to await transfer to the prison at Camp Chase, Maryland.
William Heeded the Pleas from his Father
Once again, James Swagerty came to the aid of his son and sent a trusted associate from Newport to Sevierville to "strongly encourage" William to take the Oath of Amnesty and come home.
William listened to the pleas brought to him from his father. Heeding the wise words of his father, William took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America on December 11, 1863, at Sevierville, Tennessee.
William came home and enjoyed a comfortable and prominent life with his wife Lydia Allen, who he married in 1866, and five daughters, Lora, Fanny, Nan, Hat, and Eunice. He established the Swagerty Lumber Company, later to be joined by his son-in-law, Livingston Mims Eubank. William was known among friends and associates as Squire Swagerty. However, as a result of his leaving his regiment after the Lookout Mountain battle during the war, William was denied a pension for his service in the 26th Tennessee Regiment of Volunteers, Company C, the officials claiming desertion. And so, he did desert his regiment, but he came home from the war with his life intact.
My grandmother, Fanny
Eubank, remembered her father in conversation saying, that if he had not
taken the oath of allegiance, and subsequently had been sent to the prison at Camp
Chase, he would surely have not made it back home.
PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863. James Swagerty acted swiftly to save his son, as described in the above paragraph. The astute and intelligent man that he was, James Swagerty knew what the eventual outcome of the war would be. Knoxville and Chattanooga had fallen to the Union Army. The U.S. Army was in command around Newport. It seems likely that this was the time that James Swagerty told his slaves that they were free to go, but to go where? Many freedmen and their families stayed on the farm. Confederate surrender would not happen until April, 1865. It would be more than two years before James' own Pardon of Amnesty would be granted, after the CSA surrender.
After Ratification by Congress of the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution on January 31, 1865, James Swagerty rode to Knoxville and took the Oath of Amnesty on March 2, 1865. In the initial months of Reconstruction that followed, the political upheaval within the Republican party following the assassination of Lincoln, proved some difficulty in James Swagerty obtaining the liberal pardon provided to Confederates by President Lincoln.
After months of legally working toward obtaining
his Pardon of Amnesty through the lower eschelon, a Petition for James
Swagerty's Pardon was presented to President Andrew Johnson, issued from
Newport on October 12, 1865, and endorsed by several influential citizens of
The letter, copied verbatim, appears below:
October 12, 1865
To his Excellency Andrew Johnson, President of the United States :
The Petition of James Swagerty, a citizen of the County of Cocke in the State of Tennessee, respectively represents that sometime in the month of March last, he went to Knoxville for the purpose of taking the Oath of Amnesty and Pardon under the proclamation of our lamented President which a copy of the certificate given him at the time is herewith enclosed. Petitioner also states that he has obtained a certificate of loyalty from the Clerk of the County Court upon proof which entitles him to his suffrage as all other loyal citizens.
Petitioner further states that since he has taken the oath before mentioned, he has been arrested by the Marshal of East Tennessee and taken to Knoxville where he learned that a presentiment was made against him for giving aid and comfort to the rebellion. Not knowing the extent of the charge against him, he continued the case until the next term of the court, which is still now pending against him in the Circuit Court of the United States.
Petitioner is satisfied that he does not come within any of the exceptions contained in your proclamation written on the case before stated - his taxable property does not amount to twenty-thousand dollars and if anything else shall be required of him more than he has done to reinstate him, he is ready and willing at all times to perform it. Note - To be within the taxable property requirement, on June 9, 1865, James Swagerty sold much of his property in Cocke County, Districts 6 and 7, that he had not otherwise deeded to members of his family. He sold five tracts to James R. Allen, amounting, as written in the deed, to 982 acres, more or less.
Your petitioner deems it the safest course to apply to your Excellency for a Pardon - and on making this application he has no desire to conceal his conduct or to suppress the truth. He voted for separation in 1861 under the belief that the slave property of the south was endangered by the sweep of the Republican Party. He never belonged to any branch of the Rebel Army, or had any concern in the arrest, imprisonment, banishment, or murder of Union men and was never engaged in scouting or concerned in bushwhacking or any lawless violence - on the contrary, he used his influence as far as possible to mitigate the horrors of war and assist his Union neighbors and friends. Petitioner is by occupation a farmer and has been all of his life. For these and other causes he respectfully prays your Excellency to grant him a pardon for all that he has committed against the government. Petitioner may add that he has lost about fifty negroes and a large number of horses and mules, beside other personal property, and as is, duty bound and will ever pray.
Signed : James Swagerty
Recommended to President Johnson clemency for
Signed : William Cureton, P. T. Hill, H. H. Bain, M. A. Roadman, A. McNabb,
October 12, 1865
Research, Original Narrative & Website © Copyright Iris Teta Eubank Wagner 2011-2018
Sources for this story
of James Swagerty. Jr.
and Sources for the Swagerty Narratives
Letters from Charlie B. Mims, written to Fanny Swagerty Eubank, 1936 - 1938
Obituary written by Charlie B. Mims, published in The Knoxville Tribune, February 9, 1885.
1860 U. S Federal Census, U. S. National Archives, Washington, DC, Published on ancestry.com
The Will of James Swagerty, Jr., in Probate March 2, 1885, Tennessee State Library, Nashville, Tennessee
Swagerty Family Cemetery, east of Edwina Road, near the Bridge House, Newport, Tennessee.
James and Delilah Meek
Swagerty, The Swagerty Bible,
August 1986, Vol 2, p126-127. The Bible record was submitted for
publication by Mrs. Violet K. Wolfe of Monroe County, Tennessee.
In 1986 the
Bible was in the possession of Mrs. Grace Reid Wear Kirkpatrick of
Madisonville, Tennessee, descendant of Susannah Swagerty Johnson, daughter
of James Swagerty, Jr. and Nancy Clark Swagerty.
The Rankin & Pulliam Journal, Store Ledger, May 15, 1837, Newport, Tennessee.
Photos and family records and letters archived by sisters Fanny Swagerty Eubank, Harriet "Hat" Swagerty and Eunice Swagerty Fine, daughters of William and Lydia Allen Swagerty.
Personal memories of visit with Augusta Swagerty Foster, and her daughter, Flora, April, 1948
The Newport Plain Talk newspaper, Newport, Tennessee. Articles by Mrs. C. B. Mims.
Confederate States of America, Service Records - William R. Swagerty - held at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Published online by ancestry.com.
Letter to President Andrew Johnson, written from Newport, Tennessee, recommending clemency for James Swagerty, Jr. Signed by William Cureton, R. T. Hill, H. H. Bain, M. A. Roadman, and A McNabb. National Archives - online at ancestry.com.
Genealogical Helper : article by Sidney Jackson of Dallas, Texas. Published in the May-June issue, 1982, p68
Pennsylvania Department of Internal Affairs, Harrisburg, original surveys. The Pennsylvania Archives, Harrisburg. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission website. Digital Documents.
Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania State Archives,
Digital Documents, including Land Records. (EastSide Applications, Westside Applications, Warrant
Pennsylvania Genealogy website. Embedded maps in PDF format of each county in Pennsylvania.
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John Woolf Jordan, Librarian, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, A History of Juniata Valley and its people, Vol.I, illustrated, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York
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Frederick Krebs, translated and edited by Donald Yoder, "Palatine Emigrants to America from the Oppenheim Area, 1742-1749," The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Vol. XXI, p244.
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Gabriele Bohnert, City Archivist, Lahr, Germany ; Letter written to Mary Slowey concerning the Johann Jacob Schweikart (archivist pointed out also spelled Schweickhardt) family, keepers of the guest house , "The Blumen Inn," of Lahr, Schwarzwald, Germany.
FamilySearch.org, online genealogy service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Sarah Sweigert O'Haver, family information from Bible and papers given Mrs.O'Haver by her father Frederick Swagerty. (Sarah and Joseph O'Haver moved their family from Cocke County, Tennessee to Greene County, Indiana before 1820. )
Swagerty Family Bible, kept by James, Sr. and Delilah (Meek) Swagerty, published in Tennessee Ancestors, August 1986, Vol 2, p126-127. The Bible record was submitted for publication by Mrs. Violet K. Wolfe of Monroe County, Tennessee. The Bible was owned in 1986 by Mrs. Grace Reid Wear Kirkpatrick of Madisonville, Tennessee, descendant of Susannah Swagerty Johnson, daughter of James Swagerty, Jr. and Nancy Clark Swagerty.
James G. M. Ramsey, Annals of Tennesse ; Originally Printed in 1853 for J.G.M. Ramsey, MD, by Walker and Jones, Charleston, South Carolina. Reprinted 1967 with the addition of a biographical introduction, annotations and index for the East Tennessee Historical Society, Knoxville, Tennessee. Reprinted 1999 by the Overmountain Press.
Irene M.Griffey, Earliest Tennessee Land Records & Earliest Tennessee Land History, Clearfield Company, Inc., reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc, Baltimore, Maryland, 2003, pp384,385.
Thomas Perkins Abernethy, From Frontier to Plantation in Tennessee : A Study in Frontier Democracy, Chapter: Jackson, Blount, and Sevier, Southern Historical Publications No.12, University of Alabama Press, 1967, p173.
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Journal of Captain Hendricks from Carlisle to Boston, Thence to Quebec. 1775. Contributed to footnote.com by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Publication Title: Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, Vol XV, pages 21-58.
James Swagerty, Jr.
July 14, 1800 - February 7, 1885
ames Swagerty, Jr.
July 14, 1800 - February 7, 1885
James Swagerty, Jr.
July 14, 1800 - February 7, 1885
July 14, 1800 - February 7, 1885