Thursday, July 16, 2009

Swanson in Philadelphia and New Jersey

I did not know my Swanson grandmother, Margaretta, as she died when her children were small.What little I knew about the family was passed down orally and somewhat inaccurate.

The hole that Retta Swanson's passing left in my life was huge in my estimation.In addition to not knowing her personally was the absence of pictures and stories of her family. Some things filtered through over the years but it has only been the last few years that I have developed contacts to help me flesh out the family.One of these is another Swanson grandchild whose memories were even more scarce, so some of this is for Marge.

My research is sort of circular beginning in the middle with three Swanson men in Beverly Burlington County NJ. Edward, William and John Swanson do not interact in any way in the records but the tiny town of Beverly as home for all seemed to verify relationship.All three men indicated a father born in Sweden and possibly a mother also.

I first thought that there were also three Sweden born men in the vicinity in the prior generation but realize now there were likely only two.John Swanson who came in 1813 on later inspection had claimed he was English which left Andrew and Charles.

Charles Swanson and Andrew are both found in census documents in 1840 in Southwark Second District. Andrew is found additionally in the same area in 1830.Charles is naturalized 24 March 1827 and Andrew 6 July 1818.

Charles dies in August 1850 of Cholera after being ill only 1 day and his occupation is listed as "Boatman, pilot on river". An infant Sarah M.Swanson dies in July of the same thing, an epidemic perhaps in Southwark? Charles Swanson was married and Leticia or Lettice seems to be his widow who is found shortly afterwards in the household of her daughter Elizabeth and husband George Coffee also in Southwark.George Coffee seems to have lived nearby in the 1830 census.

Leticia lives until 1870 when she and Elizabeth Coffee are both widowed and living with another Swanson daughter Mary McDevitt. A young son/grandson George Coffee is later found living in Burlington County NJ .Letitia Swanson sometimes states she is born in Sweden and sometimes in New Jersey so perhaps she came as a child.

My circular research now takes me to Monument Cemetery in Beverly now online at after the cemetery is established in 1865 Edward Swanson buries Margaret a teenager and baby Edward.All the Swanson men have plots adjacent to one another except John Swanson who had buried his first wife at St.Stephens in 1847 and will eventually rest there himself many years later.

James Swanson now pops into view, a seaman in South Philadelphia with children Letitia, Charles,Mary, Sophia and Georgianna living in the same neighborhood as Mary Swanson McDevitt. James is surely a son of Charles and Letitia and baby Sarah who dies of Cholera shortly before Charles did was their granddaughter, I think.

Records are being searched today at New Jersey Archives and if they exist may substantiate what has been found so far

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my Grand Mother Francis Ellis Swanson Aug. 18, 1890 - Jan. 16, 1951 married John Freck... Earl Freck, Ruth Freck 1921 - 1938 and Edith Freck,,, Knoll ,,, Downes .... Robert Knoll