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.”

Ancestor Sketch – James Walter

By Don Taylor

Image by Kate Honish from Pixabay

It is always difficult to follow a person’s records when their name is recorded differently over the years.  James’ surname was recorded as “Waters,” “Walter,” and “Walters” over the many years. I have settled on Walter because it appears to be the surname he was buried with. James was a Patriot, serving in a Virginia artillery detachment during the Revolutionary War.

Howell/Darling – Ancestor #102

List of Grandparents

James Walter (aka Walters, aka Water) (1752-1838)

James Walter was born on either 16 or 17 Feb 1752.[i]in the Province of Maryland (now state of Maryland). He was the first child of John Walter and Ann Parker. He had five siblings, namely: William, Rebecca Conyers, Richard, Lawrence, and James.

Military service

Image courtesy of the Kentucky Secretary of State.

James was a Sergeant in the Revolutionary War. It appears that he joined up about 1777 in Virginia. On 02 Apr 1782 he was assigned to an Artillery detachment commanded by Capt-Lt Lewis Booker. He was known as the “Forage Master.” After the war, he received a warrant for 400 acres of Bounty Land, in what would become Kentucky, for his Revolutionary War Service to Virginia.

In 1793, when he was 40, he married Margaret Ann Swan of Virginia.

James and Margaret Ann (Swan) Walter had six (known) children.

    1. Nancy Anne Walter was born in 1788.
    2. Elkina Walter was born in 1789. she died in 1852.
    3. Catherine Ann Dent Walter was born on 15 Jun 1794 in. She married David Swayze on 30 Jan 1817 in Fairfield County, Ohio. She died on 16 Apr 1868 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the residence of her daughter, Elizabeth.
    4. James C Walter was born in 1800; he died in 1874.
    5. Elizabeth Walter was born before 05 Jan 1804[ii].
    6. John Walter was also born before 05 Jan 1804ii.

In 1804, James Walter executed a Deed of Trust transferring his property in Kentucky to Elijah Pollard of Frederick, Virginia, USA

James Walter died on 10 May 18381 in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio, USA. He was buried at the Old Methodist Cemetery. Later, he was reinterred at the City Burial Plot, Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio.

Continue reading “Ancestor Sketch – James Walter”

James Walter – Buried in Ohio

James Walter (1752-1838) – Revolutionary War Soldier was buried in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio

By Don Taylor

In my searches for information on my wife’s 4th great-grandfather, James Walker (1752-1838), I kept running into a source that seemed to be the source used in many other people’s trees but was not cited. Eventually, I determined the mystery source. It was, The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio. It was compiled under the Direction of Frank D. Henderson, The Adjutant General.  A copy of the book is available online at one of my favorite sites, Archive.Org.

Document Image

Roster of Revolutionary War Soldiers buried in Ohio – Page 385 – James Walter


On page 385 is an entry for Walter, James, (Fairfield Co.). It reads:

WALTER, JAMES, (Fairfield Co.)

Sgt “Forage Master.” Br Maryland, 1759. Mar Margaret Ann Levan, of Maryland, after the Revolutionary war, date not known. Children : Nancy, mar Leevir ; Elkanah, mar Rachel Decker ; Catherine Ann Dent, mar David Levayzee , Eliz, mar Chas Stockard 1, James Gurley 2; James, mar Polly ___  John, mar Belinda Reese. D May 10, 1838, Lancaster, O. Bur Old Methodist Cem and City Burial Plot Lancaster, O. Cem converted into park, bodies moved to new Cem in Lancaster, marking on head stone obliterated and identification impossible. MI: “James Walter, died May 10, 1838, aged 80 years, 2 mo, 23 da.”_ Jan 4, 1804 received transfer of 400 acres in Ky for serv in Rev War. Deeded in Frederick Co, Va. His name appears on a muster roll of a detachment of artillery commanded by Capt Lt Booker, belonging to the 1st Regt, dated Camp near Bacon Bridge, Apr 2, 1782, covering the months of Jan, Feb and Mch, 1782, which shows that he enlisted for the war. Ref: Natl No 12581 James Lincoln (Capt) Mass. Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly Vol 3, p 74. Letter fr War Dept signed “Lutz Wahl,, Brigadier Gen, Acting the Adj Gen, by E. W. M.” Fur infor War Dept The Adj Gen Office Washington.


I know there are a few errors. Certainly “Margaret Ann Levan” is Margaret Ann Swan and “David Levayzee” is David Swayzee. I’ve seen handwriting where a capital “S” could look like an “Le,” so, I understand the possibility for errors of this type. Also, the birthdate is not consistent with other sources.


Although I know there are minor errors in the entry, I’m tentatively accepting the following as facts:

James Walter

  • Born:   1759 in Maryland [Inconsistent – Alternate]
  • AKA:    “Forage Master”
  • Military Service:          Was a Sergeant in the Revolutionary War.
  • Military Service:          Assigned to an Artillery detachment commanded by Capt Lt Booker, belonging to the 1st Regt, dated Camp near Bacon Bridge, Apr 2, 1782, covering the months of Jan, Feb and Mch, 1782.
  • Marriage:        Margaret Ann Levan [Swan] after April 19, 1783.
  • Children:
    • Nancy, married Leevir [possibly Sevir];
    • Elkanah, married Rachel Decker ;
    • Catherine Ann Dent, married David Levayzee [Swayzee],
    • Eliz, married Chas Stockard 1, James Gurley 2;
    • James, married Polly ___
    • John, married Belinda Reese.
  • Property: 1804 received transfer of 400 acres in Ky for serv in Rev War. Deed in Frederick Co, Va.
  • Died: May 10, 1838, Lancaster, O.
  • Buried: Old Methodist Cemetery – reinterred: City Burial Plot Lancaster, Ohio. Cemetery
  • Headstone obliterated.
  • Note: Margaret Ann Levan [Swan] was “of Maryland”

Future Actions

This record embodies my experiences that finding one record leads to a dozen other things to research. In this case, I want to do the following future actions:

  1. Assess the birth records for James Walter.
  2. Learn more about Captain Lt. Booker and the 1st
  3. Learn more about the Camp near Bacon Bridge.
  4. Research further his marriage date to Margaret Swan.
  5. Research his land in Kentucky.
  6. Review DAR Natl No 12581 James Lincoln (Capt) Mass. and determine how that record fits with James Walter.
  7. Review Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly Vol 3, p 74. Letter fr War Dept signed “Lutz Wahl, Brigadier Gen, Acting the Adj Gen, by E. W. M.”

Letter of Elizabeth Jane (Swayze) Darling – Kalamazoo First Methodist Church

Transcribed by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Another article discovered on Genealogy Bank
that provides insight into the lives of the Darling family of Kalamazoo during the mid-1800s. The Darling’s and the Swayze’s were involved with the First Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, MI) – August 14, 1916, Page 6

Pioneer’s Letter Tells History of Kalamazoo first Methodist Church


Kalamazoo Gazette 14 August 1916, Page 6.

In looking through some treasures in her desk the other day Miss Emma Darling*[1] came across, a paper in the handwriting of her mother, who had jotted down a few incidents in the history of the First Methodist church that are of moment and are certainly not known by many today though familiar facts In pioneer days.

Miss Darling’s parents and grandparents were pioneers and did much to make history for this section of Michigan. And today Miis Darling resides on a portion of the land purchased by her father Rufus H. Darling*[2] when he came to Michigan in (hose days when hardships were aplenty and luxuries a. thing unknown.

Of the Methodist church Mrs. Darling*[3] writes:

“My father’s family came here in the spring of 1840 and united with this church by letter. This Methodist people were then holding- service in a little old schoolhouse on ‘ South Rose street where the Jewish synagogue now stands. Mr., Richards came here as pastor the next, fail after we did and.the church then began plans for building a church.

Gen’l Burdick Gives Lot

“Their means were limited for their number was small and they met with many discouragements. The sister churches thought we never could build and pay for as large a church as we planned to have. But these things only made us more persevering.

General Burdick gave the church the lot where the Dutch Reformed church now stands and, Mr. Wiseman*[4] drew the plan for the church hut he died before the church was completed. But he made a request that they would use hie Bible at the dedication.

“Mr. Richards stayed hero two years in all and Rev. Range followed and the church was completed during this time, for the church was dedicated in the year 1842. If was not entirely free from debt until 1850.

“Mr. Watson preached the sermon at the dedication.’ There was only one class at this time, led by my father, David Swayze*[5], and father and sister, Emily*[6] led the singing.”

The late. George Torrey in his history of Kalamazoo says in regard to the Methodist church: “The first sermon preached in the town, was by Rev. James Robe, who was appointed to the Kalamazoo mission by the Indiana Conference, in “1822; and who is, now, a resident of the place. (This history was published to 1867).

Service in Titus Bronson home

The service was held in the house of Mr. Titus Bronson after whom tho place was named. The first-class was organized in the Year 1832 and was composed of eight members of whom Harrison Coleman was leader.

“The first board of trustees was organized at the house of Mr. C. Walters, on February 8th, 1841, and consisted of, David Swayze, C. Walters, Luke Olmsted. Isaac Tewkesbury, Amos P, Bush, Isaac Wiseman, William E. White, and David J. Davidson.

The 1842 Methodist Church on Academy St. – Photo Courtesy of the Kalamazoo Public Library

“The first church edifice was dedicated in 1842 on the church square, Church and Academy streets, and was occupied until the spring of 1866 when it was sold to the Dutch Reformed church.

“The society are now erecting what is intended to be one of the largest and most costly churches In the state, which will be completed during the year. They have flourishing Sunday school of about 250 scholars under the superintendency of Mr. Geo. H. Lyman, and a membership of nearly three hundred communicants, under the pastoral, care of Rev. Charles Shelling. The Kalamazoo District is In charge of Rev. R. Sapp, presiding elder.”


  • The [Swayze] family came to Kalamazoo in the spring of 1840.
  • David Swayze led a class at the church (ca. 1842)
  • David Swayze and Emily [Emily Ann Swayze] lead the singing at the church (ca. 1842).
  • David Swayze was a member of the first board of trustees for the First Methodist Church in Kalamazoo in 1841.
  • Isaac Wiseman was a member of the first board of trustees for the First Methodist Church in Kalamazoo in 1841.


  • Image: The Methodists’ 1842 building on Academy. Map of Kalamazoo, Michigan. H MAP 912.77417 M6475 1858 | Source: “First Methodist Church — Kalamazoo Public Library”. 2019. Kalamazoo Public Library. Accessed December 19 2019.

*Endnotes – Relationships

[1] Emma Darling, my wife’s 2nd great aunt.
[2[ Rufus H. Darling, my wife’s 2nd great grandfather.
[3] “Mrs. Darling” refers to Emma’s mother, Elizabeth Jane (Swayze) Darling, my wife’s 2nd great grandmother.
[4] Mr. Wiseman refers to Elizabeth Jane (Swayze’s) first husband, Isaac Wiseman.
[5] David Swayze was my wife’s 3rd great grandfather.
[6] Emily Ann Swayze, my wife’s 3rd great aunt.


Surname Saturday – Beardsley

Darling Line
By Don Taylor

Name Origin

According to Forebears, the surname “Beardsley” is a derivation of “Bardsley,” which was derived from being from a place, ‘of Bardsley.’ Bardsley is a parish between Ashton and Oldham, near Manchester. The American Bardsleys, and all the North English Bardsleys, and perhaps all the Beardsleys, hail from the Lancashire parish[i].

Ancestry suggests the name may be based upon an unidentified place, possibly in Nottinghamshire, where the surname is particularly common[ii].

Of course, I need to see things in order to understand the relationships of locations in England. Using Google Maps, I learned that Forebears puts the Beardsleys up near Manchester and Ancestry suggests a location 60 miles southeast of Manchester.  Oddly enouth, my Beardsley are from Ilkeston and Stratford-upon-Avon (50 and 90 miles from Manchester).

Locations of Beardsleys based on Forebears and Ancestry are in Gray and the locations of my wife’s Beardsley ancestors births. 

It seems odd to me that William and his son were born so far apart. It makes me wonder if my data regarding their birthplaces is incorrect.  Additionally, I’m relying mostly upon the research of others for those specific locations (sources I’ve found only say they were born in England). In any event, I haven’t had a chance to research these individuals in depth yet. However, the Interregnum may explain the relocation.


Worldwide there are approximately 12,390 people who bear the Beardsley surname.

It is most prevalent in the United State where over three-quarters of the people with the Beardsley surname live. Little Montserrat (a small island in the Lesser Antilles has the highest density of Beardsleys with 1 in 1,220 people having the surname.

Earliest Beardsley Ancestors

My wife’s ninth-great-grandfather, William Beardsley was born about 1604 in Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, England. I, of course, like to imagine that young William Beardsley was named for William Shakespheare, a contemporary of the town of Stratford on Avon. Likewise, little William was about 12-years-old when Shakespeare died, so I speculate that William had seen, or at least knew of Shakespeare. William moved to Ilkeston, Darbyshire, England sometime before 1630 where he married Marie Harvie.

There, he had a son, Joseph Beardsley, who was born in Ilkeston, Darbyshire, England in 1635.

It was sometime before 1665 that William, Marie, and Joseph located to the Colonies and settled in Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Flag of the United Kingdom
Immigrant Ancestor

The Interregnum of England took place from 1649 to 1660. (The between the execution of Charles I and the arrival of Charles II and the start of the Restoration[iii]. It was the time of Oliver Cromwell. More research is needed to know if they arrived in the Colonies before during, or after the Interregnum. In any event, it was a time of great upheaval in England and that chaos might have been the cause for leaving England for the new world.

So, both William and Joseph were immigrant ancestors from England.

Joseph married Abigail Phebe Dayton in Connecticut in 1665. They had a daughter, Hannah Beardsley, who is my wife’s seventh-great-grandmother.

My wife’s direct Beardsley ancestors:

  • Grandfather: Robert Harry Darling (1905-1969)
  • Great-grandfather: Rufus Harry Darling (1857-1917)
  • 3nd Great-grandmother: Elizabeth Jane Swayze (1818-1896)
  • 3rd Great-grandfather: David Swayze (1796-1850)
  • 4rd Great-grandfather: David Swayze (1762-1838)
  • 5th Great-grandfather: Amos Swayze (1739-1813)
  • 6th Great-grandfather: Mathias Swayze (1699-1728)
  • 7th Great-Grandmother: Hannah Beardsley (1671-1742)
  • 8th Great-Grandfather: Joseph Beardsley (1634-1712)
  • 9th Great-Grandfather: William Beardsley (1602-1661)

Known relatives.

Although I only have 11 Beardsley in my data, my records have identified 271 direct-line descendants of William Beardsley.