Monday, December 29, 2014


Fellow geneablogger Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued the
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Basically, we have to post something every
week on a different ancestor, whether a story, picture, or research problem. I've
been tracing the ancestral lines of my grandmother Cora Barker. continuing with
her Swan ancestors.

5x great grandfather James Swan is one of those people who seem bigger than life. He
was a seaman until a run in with a British press gang, then he became one of the first
settlers of several towns in Maine where he both fought and befriended Native Americans;
Here's some excerpts about him from William Lapham's History of Bethel, Maine:

James Swan was the son of Joshua Swan of Methuen, and a descendent of Robert Swan of Boston and Rowley. He married Mary Smith, and moved from Fryeburg to Sudbury Canada in seventeen hundred and seventy-nine. He settled on the Ayers Mason farm, a mile from Bethel Hill, toward Middle Interval. Mr. Swan formerly followed the sea and was impressed into the English service, but he and two others seized the ship and forced the captain to pilot her into Boston. This was before the war of the revolution, and fearing prosecution, he came to the wilds of Maine and was among the first to settle in Fyreburg. He was a friend of Sabattis, the famous Piquaket Indian, who long made his home with Mr. Swan. p40


In 1779, James Swan came from Fryeburg, Me., and settled on the farm now occupied by Ayers Mason & Son. He built a house east of the road between Alder river bridge and Ayers Mason's house, on land now owned by Samuel D. Phil brook. He had three sons who were young men when he came; Joseph Greely Swan, who lived with his father; Elijah, who did not make a permanent settlement in the town; James, who settled on Swan's Hill, and Nathaniel, who settled on Sunday river, in Bethel, and died there. Their father was known as the man with whom Sabattis, a well known Fequaket Indian, lived many years in Fryeburg.p302

James Swan, the early Bethel settler, was the son of Joshua and Sarah (Ingalls) Swan, and was born in Methuen, Mass.,  March 14, 1721-2. He married Mary Smith of Haverhill, April 10, 1746. He was in Bethel at the time of the Indian raid in 1781, having moved here from Fryeburg. His last two children were born in Fryeburg; the others in Methuen. He was the fourth in descent from Robert who settled in Boston and moved to Rowley, He died in 1800, in Bethel. Children:
i Elizabeth, b Jan. 13, 1747, m. Jesse Dustin.
ii Joseph Greely, b. Oct. 4, 1748, m. Elizabeth Evans.
iii Molly, b. Aug. 8, 1751, d. young.
iv Sarah, b. Feb. 9, 1756, m. Abraham Russell.
v Abigail, b. Aug. 25, 1758, m. Jeremiah Farrington of Fryeburg.
vi James, b. Dec. 2, 1760, m. Hannah Shattuck of Andover, Mass.
vii Elijah, b. July 5, 1763, m. Eunice Barton, d. Paris.
viii Nancy, b. Sept. 22, 1765, m. Jonathan Barker of Newry .
ix Nathaniel, b. Jan. 9, 1769, m. Elizabeth Colby of  Sutton, Mass.
x Naomi, b. May 22, 1771. m. Jesse Barker, s Newry.
History of Bethel: formerly Sudbury, Canada, Oxford County, Maine, 1768-1890; with a brief sketch of Hanover and family statistics (Google eBook) Press of the Maine Farmer, Augusta, Me. 1891

Two of the Swan children married members of the Barker family. Jonathan Barker and Nancy Swan are my 4x great grandparents. The two families had been neighbors in the Methuen
area in Massachusetts and that relationship probably influenced the Barker family's move to

As mentioned by Lapham, James Swan was friendly with the Indian Sabbatus (a friendship
formed when Sabbatis failed to wring my ancestor's neck) and the the Indian woman known as
Molly Ockett to the settlers (Molly was a friend to other of my ancestors as well).But he also
was one of those living in Bethel during the last Indian attack in New England. I posted about
that six years ago, and will repost that entry next.

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