The Will of Samuel Swann, St. Mary’s County, Maryland – 20 Nov 1807

Amanuensis[i] Monday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

Wills and probate records are generally a gold mine of information. The will of Samuel Swann is no exception. It provides key information, particularly that he had five children living and four children, who had issue, that had died before he created his will in 1807. One of the five children required being cared for.

From the Maryland Register of Wills, Saint Mary’s County, comes the following:


Samuel Swann’s last will and testament}

In the name of God, Amen. I Samuel Swann of St. Mary’s County in the state of Maryland being sick & weak in body, buts of sound and disposing mind, memory & understanding, considering the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the time thereof, and being desirous to settle my worldly affairs, and thereby be the better prepared to leave this world when it shall please God to call me hence, do therefore make and publish this my last will & testament in manner & form following, that is to say.— First & Principally, I commit my soul into the hands of Almighty God, and my body to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executor herein after named, and after my debts & funeral charges are paid, I devise and bequeath as follows —

Item. I give & bequeath unto my grandchildren (Children of my deceased son Samuel Hatch Swan (towit) Henry Swan, Philip Swan, Anna

Swann, Catharine Dent Swan, & Margaret Compton Swann, all that parcel of land, being part of a Tract of Land called Eagleton (except one half acre where the Graveyard is) laying & being in Charles County to them and their Heirs forever also to my grandchildren above mentioned I give and bequeath one Negro man by the name of Ben, and one-eighth part of my personal estate not specifically bequeathed.

Item. I give & bequeath unto my son Thomas Mercer Swann & his Heirs forever, all my land in St. Mary’s county being part of five Tracts of land (to wit) Quaintan, Swann’s Forrest, Swan’s Venture, Hopewell & Thorn’s Venture, provided my said son Thomas Mercer Swann pays unto the children of my deceased son Edward Burch Swan[i], the sum of six hundred dollars when they come to legal age, to be equally divided among them or the surviving part of them, also to my said grandchildren above mentioned, representatives of my deceased son Edward Burch Swann, to wit, to John Samuel Swann, I give and bequeath a Negro Boy by the name of Charles, to Elkanah Swann, I give & bequeath a Negro Boy by the name of Elich, to Eli Dent Swann I give & Bequeath a Negro Boy by the name of Jeremiah, in case wither of said John Samuel Swann, Elkanah Swan or Eli Dent Swann should die before they come to age, my will & desire is that the survivors or survivor of them shall inherit the property left the whole of them, but in case the whole of them should die before they come to age my will & desire is that the property left them by this my will, shall go to my children or to their Representatives, also to my Grand Children Representatives of my deceases son Edward B Swann I give & bequeath one eighth part of my property that is unrevised.

Item. I give & bequeath unto my son John Swan one Negro woman by the name of Rose one Negro boy by the name of Vincent and a negro girl by the name of Jennet with the future increase of the said Negro Women Rose, a horse colt & one bed & furniture, to him & his heirs forever, but under this restriction, that the said John Swann shall not sell or dispose of any part of the property left by me, without the license or consent of his brother Thomas Mercer Swann, under whose care I leave the said John Swann, and his

property, and in case of the death of the said Thomas Mercer Swann the person whom he may appoint to take care of him. And I further will & desire that after the death of the said John Swann that the property left him by this my will shall go to my son Thomas Mercer Swann or his heirs forever.

Item. I give & bequeath unto my Daughter Anna Garner or her legal representatives one eighth part of my unrevised estate.

Item. I give & bequeath unto my daughter Margaret Walter or her representatives one eight part of my property unrevised.

Item. I give & bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Barber one eighth part of my undevised property –

Item. I give & bequeath to my granddaughter Lydia Dyson Swann, one negro girl named Mary and her increase, to there and her heirs forever but in case she should die without issue, my will & desire is that the aforesaid bequest shall devolve to her brother, John Dyson Swann and her sister Anna Maddose or their issue.

Item. I give & bequeath to my grandchildren Anna Maddox & John Dyson Swann one eighth part of my unrevised property, to them or their heirs.

Item. I give & bequeath to my granddaughter Catharine Dent Swann (alias) Reynold, as it is said she is married to a man of that name) Daughter of my deceased son Philip Swann, one negro girl by the name of Charity to her and her heirs lawfully begotten.

Item. I give & bequeath to my son Thomas Mercer Swann one eighth part of my unrevised property. Lastly, I hereby nominate, constitute, & appoint my son Thomas Mercer Swann Elecutor of this my last will & testament, hereby revoking, disallowing & annulling all & every will or wills by me heretofore made or done, and acknowledging this and only this my last will & testament.

In witness whereof – I have hereinto set my hand & affix my seal this twentieth day of November eighteen hundred & seven.

Signed, sealed, acknowledged & declared to by the last will and testament of Samuel Swann the Testator, in the presence of us Gustavis Cartwright, Robert Barber Benjamin Wood.

Sam’ll Swann {Seal}

Before signing this my will, I have thought fit to make the following addition hereto (That is to say) I will desire that my three old slaves (to wit) Hep, Philis & Jane shall remain on the land whereon I now live and be supported by the property of my son Thomas or his heirs, provided they are willing to live with him, but if they prefer going to any of my other children, and they will take them, my will & desire is that they shall be gratified. — Sam’ll Swann

On the back of the foregoing was the following, to wit, Saint Mary’s County, to wit, the 8th day of December 1807 — Then came Thomas Mercer Swann and made oath on the Holy Evangels of Almighty God, that the afore going instrument of writing is the true and whole last will and testament of Samuel Swann lat of Saint Mary’s County deceased, that had come to his hand or profession & that he doth not know of any other.

                      Certified by James Forrest – Reg-wills for Saint Mary’s County.

Saint Mary’s County the 8th day of December 1807.  Then came Gustavus Cartwright and Robert Barber, two of the three subscribing witness to the aforegoing last will and testament of Samuel Swann late of Saint Mary’s County deceased, & made oath on the Holy Evangels of Almighty God, that they did see the testator therein named sigma and seal this will and that they heard him, publish pronounce and declare the same to be his last will and testament, that at the time of his so doing he was to the best of their apprehensions of sound and disposing mind, memory & understanding and that they respectively subscribed their names as witnesses to this will in the presence and at the request of the testator in the presence of each other; also that they did see Benjamin Wood the other witness to this will subscribe his name as a witness in the presence and at the request of the said testator

                      Certified by James Forrest Reg. wills


  • Samuel Swan created a will on 20 Nov 1807.
  • Samuel Swann’s wife, Catherine, is not mentioned, so I presume she died before 20 Nov 1807.
  • The children of Samuel Swann included 5 living and 4 deceased who had issue.
  1. Thomas Mercer – Executor. Provided care to John.
  2. Philip (Deceased) Philip died before 20 Nov 1807.
    Children:  Catharine Dent Swann Reynold?
  3. Edward (died before 20 Nov 1807.)
    Children: Elkanah, Eli Dent, John Samuel
  4. Henry (died before 20 Nov 1807.)
    Children: Lydia Dyson, Anna Maddox & John Dyson Swann
  5. Elizabeth Barber (a Robert Barber was a witness)
  6. Margaret Walker
  7. Anna Garner
  8. John (was under the care of brother Thomas Merce Swan)
  9. Samuel Hatch (Samuel died before 20 Nov 1807).
    Children:  Henry, Philip, Anna, Catharine Dent, & Margaret Compton.

All the grandchildren mentioned were born before 20 Nov 1807.


“Maryland Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999,” images, FamilySearch: Accessed 20 May 2014), St. Mary’s> Wills 1777-1820 vol 1-3 > image 543 of 743; Hall of Records, Annapolis.


[i] John Newmark started the “Amanuensis Monday” category in 2009 on his Blog,  Transylvanian Dutch  and many bloggers have followed suit using the tag. Google provides the following meaning for amanuensis: “A literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts.”

Pankey – Surname Saturday

Pankey Surname Origin

“Pankey” is an Americanized form of the German surname Pahnke.[i] Similar surnames include Bankey, Hankey, Panke, and Panky.

My Direct Pankey Ancestors


Nearly 99% of all individuals with the Pankey surname live in the United States.[iii]  My Pankey’s were in Virginia when Thomas Armstrong Pankey married Martha Cannon about 1785.


My most recent Pankey ancestor, Caroline M.A. Pankey, was born and married in Virginia. She and her husband left Virginia for North Carolina sometime between 1840 and 1850. The other twenty-four Pankey individuals I have identified in my tree all have known events in Virginia.

Ancestry indicates that 5 of 36 (14%) of Pankey families[iv] lived in Virginia during the 1840 Census. None of these were my direct ancestors; Thomas died in 1829 and Caroline married Peter M. Howell that same year. A review of Pankey families in the Virginia Census records will immensely help my understanding of this family line.

Oral History

I have no known oral history for the Pankey surname.


I have 21 known descendants of Samuel Pankey. Besides Pankey, descendants of Samual include Binford, Calhoun, Cannon, Ellis, Howell, and Scott surnames.


DNA Painter indicates that 3rd cousins should share between 0 and 234 cM of DNA with 73 cM being typical.

One individual shares about 52 cM and has a “Pankey” in their three. I’ve come to find that he is a second cousin once removed. There are another 12 individuals who share DNA with Mary-Alice and have “Pankey” in their tree. I should research them later.

Future Actions

    1. A review of Pankey families in the Virginia Census records will help my understanding this line.
    2. Ancestry DNA – Review matches that include “Pankey” in their trees and look for cousins.
    3. Research Samuel Pankey (c. 1738- c. 1807).



[i] “Pankey.” In Dictionary of American Family Names, edited by Hanks, Patrick. : Oxford University Press, 2003.

[ii] Abbreviations for the Birth, Marriage, and Death locations.

[iii] Forebears indicates there are 4,407 people in the US and 4,453 in the world.



Donna Darling Collection – Part 66

Rivoli Theatre – Portland, Oregon

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that relate to the Rivoli Theatre in Portland, Oregon.

From previous research, thanks to Genealogy Bank, I had learned that The Donna Darling Review with Sammy Clark played at the Rivoli Theatre in Portland from November 6th through the 8th. The Playbill is always great to see.

Next was a clipping “Donna Darling Revue Crest of Rivoli Bill,” which appears to be an advertising article. It reads, in part:

“Sammy Clark, the “anesthetic dancer,” with the Donna Darling Revue, is the brightest spot on the Rivoli bill this week. Sammy is one of those untamed spirits who dance for the pure joy of expression. His costume, a cloud of pink unmentionables, is peculiarly fit for his wild spirit.

“Donna Darling herself is a pretty miss with a nice voice for ballads. The rest of the company consists of an excellent pair of dancers and a whistling comedian. It is a clever act, and well staged.”


November 6-8, 1926 – The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark played at the Rivoli Theatre in Portland, Oregon.

UPDATE – “Chin-Chin” – Regina Theatre – Regina, SK – January 15-17, 1920

Donna Montran

Subsequent to my original look at Donna and the Chin Chin cast playing at the Regina Theater, in Regina, SK, Canada, (See original post.) I found a great new article about that show which included a mention of Donna. The review provides one of the best descriptions of the show I’ve seen.


Extravaganza of Nonsense, Specialties and Wardrobe
in New York Fantasy Show

Newspaper Clipping - Chin Chin Has Comedy to Burn at the Regina.
The [Regina] Leader Post, January 16, 1920 – Page 16, Column 2 (Via Newspapers.Com)
Have no fear of anything highbrow occurring in “Chin Chin.” It doesn’t. “Chin Chin” is full of burlesquerie, grotesquerie and diablerie. A suggestion of the childhood classic, “Aladdin’s Lamp,” reappearing through all the scenes provides the skeleton for an extravagance of nonsense, specialties and wardrobe. The magic lamp provides the element of plausibility for all the absurdities that happen.

Uproarious Fun

Walter Wills and Roy Binder are the comedians who provide all the uproarious scenes in their manifold characters as Chin Hop Li, Chin Hop Low, Padereweski, Mlle. Falloffski, the ventriloquist, a pair of gendarmes, a duplicate Widow Twanky, a pair of coolies, and a circus ring-master, falling of into the character of a pair of impertinent poll-parrots at any part in the proceedings, giving no notice of motion whatever.

The two hard-working fun-makers have a dozen principals and two dozen chorus-girls to help them keep the audience entertained. This is not counting the trick horse for the circus scene, nor the four animated teddy bears, nor the wonderfully clever saxophone clown sextet.

Astonishing Dance

Walter Mills and Miss Irene Mackay have an astonishingly twinkling and acrobatic dance which quite takes the breath from the audience, though the dancers bob up serenely after madly romping through their business. As a final encore the man comes on with a dummy figure which the house mistakes for the little lady Fan Tay and after a brief breathless dance tosses the supposed human figure over an eight-foot wall into the wings.

Another big scene put on by Wills is his glorified Paderewski. There aren’t any attitudes he fails to strike while playing nor any musical paganisms he doesn’t commit on his little old piano. His mimicry there was rivalled by Binder’s impersonation of the very personable Widow Twanky. Dummies happen where they were not watch for, and then in the ventriloquist act what one thought was a very badly-jointed dummy turns out to be a human. “What’s the use?” was one’s conclusion after trying for a couple of hours to guess what was happening either then or next.

Discover you family history through historical newspapers at
Starr Dunham is a real story-book sort of Aladdin, pleasing as a picture in his fairy-tale toggery, modest of miem, well equipped as dancer and singer. Miss Ethel Lawrence as Violet, daughter of the United Son of Affluence, has a wealth of charm as to person and costume; and Donna Montram[sic], the goddess of the lamp, delighted with her solos, “Violet” and  “Grey Dove;” while Carrie Dale played the winsome Widow Twankey to queen’s taste. “Good-bye, Girls, I’m Through,” “Chinese Honeymoon,” “Chipper China Chaps,” “Love Moon,” “Bally Mooney,” and the clown’s band’s music will all be remembered with no falling of the spirit.

The settings are all quite lavish, but the red-gold and orange-brown tea-shop for the New Year’s celebration, with the chorus in harmonizing tones, was charming in the extreme.—I. M.

Three More Bragdon’s

Photo Friday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I’ve run into Bragdon photos before[i]. I had three more Bragdon’s left in my collection, so I thought I’d look into them.  All three photos are quite small, the smallest being only 1 by ¾ inch, the largest being only 2” x 3”.

Philip Bragdon

The back of this photo says, “Philip Bragdon | Cumberland Mills, Maine.” There is no photo studio or date identified.

From my previous research I learnd that Ralph Marr Bragdon and Harold Lumbard Bragdon had a brother, Philip Osgood Bragdon (1911-1993). I’m sure this is him probably about six years old.

This individual is in Family Search as ID: LYRK-RDZ.

Philip Bragdon, Everett Bragdon, & George O. Bragdon

Everett Bragdon

The back of this photo says, “Everett Bragdon | Apr 1904 | About 10 years old. Cumberland Mills, Maine.” The studio was “The Marshall Studio – Westbrook, ME.”

Ralph (and Harold and Philip) Marr Bragdon did not have a sibling named Everett, however, there was a first cousin, Everett Bragdon who also lived in Westbrook. Everett was born on 3 January 1894 and would have been 10 years old in April 1904.

There were no other Everett Bragdon’s in Cumberland County at that time, so I’m sure this is a photo of Everett Linwood Bragdon (1894-1984) the son of William Bryant and Mary Elizabeth (Hodgkins) Bragdon.

This individual is in Family Search as ID: LYBV-8GX.

George O. Bragdon

The back of this photo says, “George O. Bragdon | died Aug 1914 | Cumberland Mills, Maine.”

There is no photo studio or date identified, however, it is clear the photo is from before August 1914.

George Osgood Bragdon was born 22 December 1866 and died 13 August 1914. He lived in Westbrook during the 1900 and 1910 censuses.

There was a George D. Bragdon who lived in Cumberland County before 1914, however, he was born in 1902 and is too young for this picture.

There was a George Albert Bragdon who also lived in Cumberland County before 1914, however, he was born about 1880 and lived to 1948. Also, he appears to be too young to be the person in this photo.

As such, I’m confident this is George Osgood Bragdon (1866-1914). This individual is in Family Search as ID: KCZ3-GVV

Final Note

If you are related to any of these individuals and can help confirm the identity, I’d love to hear from you. Please use the comment form below.


[i] See: “Bridges, Starrett, Weymouth, and Six Others” – Frances Sarah Bragdon and see “Four Men & a Boy” – Ralph Marr Bragdon & Harold Bragdon.