James T. Swinney

The following material was originally written by Bill Bentley for submission to the Wilson Co. History published in 1988. It has been posted here with his permission.
The small picture is a link to a full size picture.

James T. Swinney Family
picture taken about 1900
John, Thaddeus, Martin
Jacob, James, Clara, Joseph
Isaiah, Rebecca, Joseph McConnell

James T. Swinney, son of Martin and Nancy (Meador) Swinney, was born at Flat Top, Mercer Cty., West Va. on 24 August 1832. He marrled Clara C. Peters, daughter of Christian and Mary (Bailey or Ferguson) Peters on 25 December 1851. He enlisted at White Sulphur, Va. on August 10, 1861 in Co. I, 60th Reg't. of Virginia Vo'l. in the Confederate Army. He was discharged on a surgeons certificate March 1, 1862 after receiving treatment in an army hospital at McPhersonville, S.C.

In 1867 or 1868 with his wife and children, Mr. Swinney moved west locating a year or two somewhere in Missouri and then on to Wilson Cty. Kansas where they apparently arrived in 1870. In part of the Osage Trust Lands, he homesteaded Lots #2, 3 & 4 plus the SE 4, NW 4, S 30, T 30 S, R 15 E containing 160 acres and located about 2 1/2 miles northeast of LaFontaine. Mr. Swinney was a farmer, minister of the Primitive Baptist Church and he officiated at many marriages of record in Wilson County. He was appointed the first postmaster of LaFontaine in March 1879 with the post office being located in his home. He became known in this area as "Uncle Jimmy".

In 1887 he owned and was operating a hotel in LaFontaine which he owned until about 1908 when it was destroyed by fire. In February 1909 James T. and Clara bought 240 acres in northern Montgomery Cty. which they deeded to their youngest son Isaiah while retaining a Life Estate, and this was located at SW 4 and S 2, NW 4, S 31, T 31 S, R 15 E. Both James and Clara lived their declining years at this location with James passing away on 13 June, 1910 and Clara on 11 December 1917. Both are buried at Koger Cemetery located northeast of LaFontaine in Wilson County.

To the marriage of James and Clara were born the following 10 children:

(1) Joseph M., born 23 Sept. 1852 (Artia M. Mahurin, 15 Feb. 1872) They farmed in Wilson Cty. till 1911 when they homesteaded near Gildford, Hill Cty., Montana and he died there on '5 Nov. 1928. Children. Levi H., W'm. T., J. Tilden, Fred Martin, Thaddeus Claude, Abel B., Clara Ann, Ruth R., Mattie Rose and Joseph Edw'd.

(2) Jacob Gaston, born 17 Sept. 1854 (Mrs. L. F. Meador, 25 March 1876) Farmed near LaFontaine till about 1900 when he homesteaded near Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada and died there 7 April 1932. Children: Edwin Luke, Clara V., Ida Lillian, Joseph Homer, Rebecca Rose, Amy, John P., and James Robert.

(3) Chesley K., born 3 Sept. 1856 and died as an infant.

(4) Martin C., born 23 March 1858 (Purline Hampton, 28 Dec. 1879) and died Osteen, Fla. 10 Sept. 1944. Children: Ethan Allen, Edith Irenee, Adlophus Turner, Purlina Alice, Paul Martin, Lois May and Claire Marion.

(5) Mary E., born 4 March 1862 and died at age 2.

(6) Erastus A., born 1 May 1860 and died at age 3.

(7) James W. Thaddeus, born 27 July, 1864 (Laura Belle Williams, 5 April 1885) Homesteaded near Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada about 1900, then Near Gildford, Hill Cty., Montana about 1910. Died at Caldwell, Idaho 10 February 1934. Children: Oscar, Mabel, Katie, Frances, Avis, Leslie, Jennings W., Allena, Martin, Walter and Clara.

(8) Rebecca H., born 3 Nov. 1866 (Dr. Weston McConnell, 23 Nov. 1888) and died 5 Feb. 1943. Buried Koger Cemetary in Wilson Cty. Children: Martha Elizabeth, Charles Justice, Emma Clara and Joseph Marsee.

(9) John Lewis Green, born 25 Dec. 1868 in Missouri, (Ellena P. Bennett 24 July, 1895) Died 29 Oct. 1959 and buried Ontario County, Cal. Children: Clara Jennie, James Bennett, Wesley, Louis Martin and William Alfred.

(10) Isaiah L., born 14 May 1875 (Melissa Beeman, 17 March 1895) Died 11 Jan. 1863 and buried Koger Cemetary in Wilson Cty. No children.

[The following is submitted by Bill Bentley as an addition/modification to the original article.]

Confederate military records reveal that James T. Swinney also served as Cap't. & Major in Co. K, 34th Battalion of Virginia Cavalry from, at least, February 1, 1864 through the end of the Civil War. He was paroled by the Union Army at Charleston, West Va. on June 3, 1865.

Of particular interest is that all four of the son's of Martin and Nancy (Meador) Swinney served in the Confederate Army and they all survived the war. Three of the brothers married Peters sisters. An older brother of James named Green Meader Swinney also served in Co. K, 34th Battalion of Virginia Cavalry. Green was on a list of prisoners of War in May 1865 and was also paroled from Charleston on May 6, 1865 with the rank of Sergeant. Green also moved to Wilson County, Kansas after the Civil War, then later to Oregon.

The two younger Swinney brothers, Martin Newton Jr. and William Johnson Swinney both enlisted, from Mercer County, Va. on July 30, 1862 in Cap't Gore's Co. D, 17th Virginia Cavalry for "three years or the war". Martin was discharged "for disability" on May 14, 1863, but William Johnson served through December 1864 and participated in several battles. They both remained in Mercer, now Summers County, after the war.

Both the 17th and 34th Virginia Cavalry were in many battles and skirmishes including: Gettysburg in July 1863, those in the Shenandoah Valley in Western Virginia including: Cloyd's Mountain in May 1864, the Lynchburg Campaign in June 1864, Monancy in July 1864, 3rd Winchester and Fisher's Hill in September 1864 and General Phil Sheridan's rout of the Confederate Forces at Cedar Creek in October 1864. General Jubal Early commanded the Confederate Army during the Valley campaign in which the 17th and 34th Cavalry troops "were poorly fed, poorly armed, seldom paid and almost always fought against overwhelming odds.

On the third and final day at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1865, the 17th and 34th Cavalry Regiments, among others, were under the command of Gen'l Albert Jenkins who was subordinate to Gen'l. J.E.B. Stuart and placed on the far left flank of Lee's army. The brigade in which they were a part fought in the open fields Northeast of Culp's Hill and North of the Hanover Road between the Rummel and Lott's farm. Gen'l Stuart's objective was to attack the rear of Gen'l. Meade's Union Army on Cemetery Ridge while Gen'l Pickett led the Confederate Infantry against the Union's front. The Union Cavalry was successful in stopping Stuart, thanks in large measure to Gen'l. G.A. Custer's repeated charges while leading the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. The monument to this fighting is located about three miles East of the main Gettysburg Battlefield.

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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Last updated 6/2/1998

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