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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mary Bowers Swasey

She was the oldest living ancestor that I know of.

enlargement of directory

No wonder her tree had her death as "unknown" for the longest time.  And so did all the other trees over at Ancestry.

The widow Mary Swasey, Mrs. Joseph Swasey, that is, lived on High St. in a boarding house in Boston MA in 1823.

High St. is now covered by tall buildings in downtown Boston, no more boarding houses.
Did Mary really live to 104?

She was born in 1719, in Somerset, MA, married Joseph Swasey in 1744, and had their first child in 1745.

There is a history of the Swasey family published, (Link here) which says this about her husband..
 Joseph Swasey, shipwright, Bapt. in Boston, Mass. Aug. 12, 1714; died in Somerset, Suffolk County, Mass; bef. 1801; married,daughter of Jonathan & Ann Sylvester Bowers, of Swansea, Mass. She was of Spanish descent.  Feb. 20, 1790, Shewamit (or Somerset) was set off from Swansea & formed a separate town.  Joseph, removed with his family to Salem, where he lived until 1749.  He followed there the trade of hatter.  In that year he bought Swansea of John Palmer, 10 acres of land on Taunton River for which he paid ~1300 O.T.
He put up a set of buildings, including a hat shop, built a wharf & engaged in shipbuilding, floating his craft down to Fall River.  The dwelling house occupied by the family for 3 generations was taken down several years ago.  The old cellar & the broad stone step still remain to mark the site.  The "Swasey burying ground" occupied about an acre of the original lot, upon which are many tombstones that mark the resting place of his descendants.
In 1758-9, he was a private in his Majesty's service from the Province of Massachusetts, in Capt. Stephen Whipple's Co;  Col. Jonathan Bagley's Regt; for the reduction of Canada.  In 1801, his estate was divided among his heirs which included the widow, sons Jerathmel & Joseph heirs of his son Samuel, & daughter Hannah.

So we know that Mary lived at least until 1801 since she was mentioned in Joseph's will. 

The question I have (which will remain unanswered today probably) is why she didn't stay in Somerset living with her children, but instead is located down in Boston in the midst of the city at a boarding house, on her own apparently?

So now I'll have to pursue some census reports of her see where they were by 1823.

Gideon was born first, in 1745 in Salem, before they moved back to Somerset/Swansea.  There is only that one mention of his birth on Ancestry, so I don't have any other information about him.

Hannah was born next, in 1747 in Swansea MA, and her descendants are mentioned in Joseph's will.  Her first husband was Surbinas Palmer and they had 5 children.  She married Henry Bragg also, unknown date.  Her children have birth dates listed, but only one has a death date, and no other information seems available about them. Hannah had died before 1801, as it was her descendants mentioned in her father's will.

Mary and Joseph Swasey's third child was Joseph Jr. born in 1750 in Swansea MA. One source lists him as Major and taking part in the American Revolutionary War. He married and had 4 daughters. He died April 1, 1816.  In The History of Ipswich, Essex and Hamilton, he is noted as the Town Clerk in Ipswich.

The next sibling was Lt. Jerathmel Bowers Swasey (who became my ancestor) born in 1752 in Somerset.  He married Sarah Hellon and they had 3 children. He was active in the Revolutionary War.  Jerathmel lived in Somerset until 1826, with his wife and all 3 children outliving him.

Son Samuel Swasey was born in 1755, and appeared in the 1790 census of Somerset, living with 2 females (ages not indicated) and one other male.  He did marry and have one child, Stephen Simmons Swasey, according to the current information over on Ancestry.  He died in 1797.

And Peter Swasey, their youngest child, was born in 1757 and died in 1778, unmarried.

So in that will of Mary's husband, Joseph, two sons are living in 1801, Joseph and Jerathmel, and the descendants of Samuel and Hannah, who are themselves deceased.

Between 1801 and 1823, a lot happened in the state of Massachusetts.  And a lot happened in the Swasey family, I would imagine.  The War of 1812 was one historic event.  So mother Mary Swasey ended up living at least till age 104, in Boston in a boarding house.  I can see several elderly women in my line having made just that kind of choice being opinionated women, and many offspring having their own ideas about things.

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