- Born: 20 Nov 1778, Culpepper, Virginia 348
- Marriage: Mildred Cross on 25 Dec 1803 in Virginia 348
- Died: 7 Jan 1861, Blaine, Lawrence, Kentucky at age 82 348
Noted events in his life and other information:
• Background Information: 349
Neri Swetnam was a land owner and farmer. The first six of Neri and Mildred's eight children were born in Virginia. In 1818 or 1819, Neri moved his family and one slave from Culpeper County, Virginia to Lawrence County, Kentucky on Upper Blaine Creek, Where he took over an immense boundary of land.
This was early in the history of this land called Kentucke and most new immigrants settled in the fertile Blue Grass region of the state. Neri and his family moved to the much harsher eastern Coal region. He and his family were some of the first settlers in that part of the country.
--Walter Stafford Swetnam writes in his book, Kith and Kin
"Among the rugged hills of Lawrence County, Kentucky, there is a place where Blaine Creek Valley unexpectedly broadens out into a large area of choice farming land. At the point where Hood's Fork joins Blaine Creek is the little village of Blaine. In this place Neri Swetnam settled and acquired a large portion of this valley and of the hills surrounding it.Whether this land was purchased, or received as a grant in recognition of his father's service in the War of Independence, we do not know."
When he first arrived in the territory, he filed an affidavit, as was required by local law, stating he had removed from Virginia and brought with him one Negro woman named Villet and did not bring her with any intent to sell her.
There are stories handed down from some members of the family that say Neri's father-in-law, a wealthy Virginian, wasn't overly pleased with his daughter's choice of a mate so he gave the couple some slaves and told them to go make their living elsewhere.
They very possibly brought the first slaves to Lawrence County, Kentucky. It is suggested that Neri settled at Blaine, Kentucky, because of the abundance of bear, deer, and buffalo, which were common to the area at that time.
The home he built was just north of where the crossroads on Blaine would later be established. The house, built in 1802, was destroyed by fire about 1921, it was a two-story log dwelling that had been weather boarded.(Photo) This house was not the first he built on Blaine Creek. He built the first house too close to the creek, and when it flooded he had to recover most of the logs and use them to build his home on higher grounds.
Neri and Mildred had two other children born to them on Blaine.
On January 24, 1827, provisions were made for a road from West Liberty to Louisa and $500 appropriated in 1831. One year and then again three years later, the assembly gave $1000 in state warrants to improve the road from Louisa to the Beaver Iron Works in Bath County by way of West Liberty. The same act called for $1000 for a route from Prestonburg to the Little Sandy Salt Works, via Swetnam's. The two roads created a major junction on Blaine.
As the years passed, the Swetnam home become a stop over point due to their farm being on a cross-road between Louisa and West Liberty and from Grayson to Paintsville, Kentucky. Their home became the social hub of the area. Lawyers, politicians and other learned men would stop while traveling, and when people of the area would find out that Neri had company, they would come from miles around to listen to the travelers' speeches and learn the latest news. It is said that President Monroe was one of the notables that Neri and Mildred had entertained. Neri and his wife are written of in the book The Big Sandy Valley, by William Ely;
"Their home was the resting place of the Methodist preachers, for they were ardent Methodists. It was the stopping place for most of the great lawyers and statesmen who so frequently, in an early day, passed by the Swetnam neighborhood on the road from Louisa to West Liberty, and from the interior of the State to the Sandy country. Mr. Swetnam and wife, in their day, often entertained Judge French, Leander Cox, Richard Menifee, John M. McConnell, Watt Andrews, Judge James M. Rice, and other noted men. Although Mr. Swetnam was a strong Henry Clay Wig, he always said that he liked Judge Rice, of his own county, better than any of the great men who stopped with him. Rice was much younger than he, and his jolly, ardent nature, as well as the great talents of the judge, won the love of his heart.
"Mr. Swetnam had a servant named "Bill," who used to attend the elections with gingerbread, to sell for his own profit, and was sharp enough to cry it off as "Rice-cakes", if Rice was a candidate, knowing that Master Rice was very liberal to the blacks,..."
Neri Swetnam was considered a well to do man in the area. As early as1820, the initial tax records of the county assessed him to be worth six hundred dollars. He was a Methodist, Republican and a prominent citizen of Lawrence County.
The 1852 Lawrence Co, KY Birth records list Lavina Sweatman, born April17, 1852 as owned by Neri Sweatman.
Neri and the other slave owners in the area freed their slaves before theCivil War and remained loyal to the Union. His Freed slaves, having only a first name, took the Swetnam name upon receiving their freedom.
Neri is believed to be buried in a little cemetery with other member of the family on the top of the hill above the home he built on Blaine.
Neri married Mildred Cross, daughter of James Cross and Bersheba Greenleaf, on 25 Dec 1803 in VA. Mildred was born 20 May 1778 in Culpeper, VA. She died 20 Jul 1860 in Blaine, Lawrence, Kentucky.
Bersheba was a daughter of John Greenleaf, who migrated from Massachusetts in the 1750's and settled in Frederick County, Virginia. His name is found in a list of vestrymen in Parishen in Frederick County,1764 to 1780. The father of James Cross, name not known, was kidnapped, at the age of twelve, in Liverpool, England and brought to America. Have no record that he was sold into bondage, or held for ransom. The Cross family belonged to the Landed Gentry, and one theory is, he was an only heir to an estate and some unscrupulous relatives had him kidnapped. He became a ribbon manufacturer and Virginia planter.
Dates & Events:
Neri Swetnam (Swetham) (Nov. 20, 1777 - Jan. 7, 1862) married Dec. 25, 1803, Mildred Cross (May 20, 1778 - July 20, 1860). She was a daughter James and Bersheba (Greenleaf) Cross, also of Culpeper County. Bersheba Greenleaf was a daughter of John Greenleaf, who migrated from Massachusetts in the 1750's and settled in Frederick County, Va. His name is found in a list of vestrymen in Parishen in Frederick County, 1764 to 1780. John Greenleaf (1600 - 1671) migrated from Ipswich, England to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1635.
The father of James Cross, name not known, was kidnapped, at the age of twelve, in Liverpool, England and brought to America. No record that he was sold into bondage, nor held for ransom. The Cross family belonged to the Landed Gentry, and one theory is, he was an only heir to an estate and some unscrupulous relatives had him kidnapped. He became a ribbon manufacturer and Virginia planter.
In 1819, Neri Swetnam with his family and slaves, left Culpeper County, Virginia for Kentucky, settling in Lawrence County, where he purchased an "immense boundary of land", quoted from History of the Big Sandy Valley. His home was always open to relatives and friends; among the notables that he entertained was President Monroe.
Issue of Neri and Mildred Cross Swetnam
1. Louisa Ann Eliza Swetnam Jan. 28, 1805 - 1877) m. Feb. 26, Robert WALTER, in Lawrence County, KY. It is believed by some that the town of Louisa, Kentucky is named for this ancestor.
2. Claybourn L. Swetman (Feb. 10, 1807 - Nov. 5, 1898) m. April 27, 1837, Derece "Terracee" Wellmen (Aug. 27, 1812 - Dec. 25, 1896), in Lawrence County, KY,
3. Zepeniah F. Swetnam (May 21, 1809 - ) m. April 14, 1836, Charlotte BURGESS, in Floyd County, KY, moved to Oskaloosa, Iowa,
4. John James Swetnam(June 9, 1811 - Aug. . 18, 1898), familiarly known as "Uncle John J." , was born in old Virginia removing to Kentucky with his father at the age of eight, and eventually settling in Bath County, Kentucky on the waters of White Oak Creek where he owned and operated a farm for many years. He twice married being the father of fourteen children. He and his father before him were early settlers in Bath County, Kentucky. He successfully engaged in his early days as a dry goods merchant, then as a teacher in the county schools and finally as a prosperous farmer in his community. It is said of him that he ruled his own house well and that no man ever raised fourteen more honorable and creditable children than he.
About 1833 or 1834, an Aunt of Mildred Cross Swetnam (named Cross) died in Culpeper County, Virginia; she was an extensive slave owner, and John James Swetnam and his brother Neri F. Swetnam went to Virginia to see about their mother's share of slaves; a short time before her death, The Aunt freed a large number and sent them with a boatload to Liberia; the remainder were willed to an aged sister her lifetime, then they were to have their freedom.
John James Swetnam purchased about 1,000 acres of land on Red River in Wolfe County, about two miles from Hazelgreen. In 1862 or 1863 he purchased another farm of less acreage northwest of Owingsville, on which a new home was under construction. He moved His family to Bath County during the spring or summer of 1863; John Swetnam and his two wives are buried in the Owingsville Cemetery.
John James Swetnam m. Floyd County, KY, Nov. 22, 1840, Rebecca Osborn (Sept. 11, 1820 - April 1, 1864) daughter of John Osborne (Dec. 31, 1774 - ) and Elizabeth (Flannery) Osborn (Jan. 9, 1783 - ). John Osborne migrated from Virginia to Claiborne County, Tennessee in the early 1800's. Two children John Osborne and Rebecca Osborne were born in Tennessee. The elder John Osborn migrated to Kentucky after 1820, settled near Prestonburg. John James Swetnam married second Mrs. Clarinda (Elkins) Moore (Mar. 10, 1838 - Jan. 10, 1914) she was a first cousin, once removed, of Rebecca (Osborne) Swetnam.
5. Neri F. Swetnam(Sept. 5, 1813 - ) m. Rena Patrick.
6. Elzaphen (Elzy) M. Swetnam (Feb. 3, 1816 - ) m. Jan. 31, 1839, Cynthia Prescot, in Lawrence County, KY.
7. Dr. Hamilton S. Swetnam (June 1, 1818 - ) m. Jan. 18, 1848, Mary J. Williams. He left the family farm where he was raised at the age of 21, and for two years engaged in teaching and chopping wood. The four years following he again employed himself on the farm, after which he went to Morgan County and taught school. In 1850 he began the study of medicine under Dr. Joseph Williams of Bath County, with whom he remained 3 years, before attempting to practice. In 1859 he entered Ohio Medical College from which he graduated in 1860, having however, previously practiced in Bath and Johnson Counties, and practiced until 1865, when he removed to Louisa, Lawerence County, KY. Dr. H. S. Swetnam owned 308 acres of "good" land in Lawerence County, a large tract in Johnson County, and a number of lots in Louisa, KY. He was an elder and preacher in the Methodist Protestant Church for over forty year. He was a Republican in his politics, and was a Surgeon in the 65th Kentucky Enrolled Militia of the Union Army during the Civil War.
8. Purlina Elizabeth Swetnam (Jan. 22, 1821 - Dec. 3, 1912) m. John Preston Osborne (Mar. 31, 1815 - Jan. 19, 1900), brother of Rebecca (Osborne) Swetnam. John Preston Osborne moved to Arizona, was one of the founding fathers of Phoenix, helped to lay out the township, on the first Town Council and school board. He had a son Neri Osborne, father of Sidney Preston Osborne, who became Secretary of State when Arizona became a state, and held that office till 1940, when he was elected Governor of Arizona; he was re-elected in 1942, 44, & 46, dying in May 1948, while still in office. He was proclaimed the best governor that Arizona ever had. In the Phoenix library is a school text book, used when he was twelve years old, signed, Sidney P. Osborne, Governor of Arizona It is not known when some of the Osborne lines dropped the "e" in the name.
9. name unknown (believed to be Emily Swetnam)
Found on: Osborne
Neri married Mildred Cross, daughter of James Cross and Bersheba Greenleaf, on 25 Dec 1803 in Virginia.348 (Mildred Cross was born on 20 May 1778 in Virginia 348 and died on 20 Jul 1859 in Blaine, Lawrence, Kentucky 348.)