unc logo

Collection Number: 02827

Collection Title: Swann Family Papers, 1784-1983

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 260 items)
Abstract The Swann family of North Carolina and Florida included John Jones Swann (fl. 1758) of Bluff Plantation near Wilmington, N.C., son of Frederick (b. 1732) and Jane Swann Jones (1740-1781). For inheritance reasons, John Jones Swann took the name of his great uncle John Swann of Swann's Point on the Cape Fear River and married Sarah Moore (d. 1845) with whom he had three children, among them Frederick Jones Swann (b. 1790), who married Ann Sophia Green. Their son Samuel Ashe Swann was born at Belmont Plantation near Pittsboro, N.C., in 1832 and moved to Florida in 1855, settling in Nassau County near Fernandina. His wife's aunt Mary Martha Reid (1812-1894) helped found and served as a nurse during the Civil War at the Hospital for Florida Soldiers in Richmond, Va. The collection includes correspondence, financial and legal Papers, writings, and genealogical materials of the Swann family. Papers, 1784-1847, relate to John Jones Swann and chiefly concern business matters, such as the sale of slaves and banking, particularly his dealings with the Wilmington Branch of the State Bank of North Carolina. Papers, 1853-1865, relate primarily to Ann Sophia Green Swann and include letters documenting her activities in Revolutionary War claims, a volume in which she recorded family history and childhood experiences, and a diary/commonplace book in which she wrote many melancholy entries, mainly having to do with the deaths of several of her children. The few Civil War era items relate to conditions on the homefront in North Carolina and Florida, and, briefly, to Mary Martha Reid's hospital career. Papers, 1879-1926, relate primarily to Samuel Ashe Swann of Fernandina, Fla., and focus particularly on the genealogy of the Swann and related families. A significant correspondent during this period was William Mercer Green (1798-1887).
Creator Swann family.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Swann Family Papers #2827, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of the Records of ante-bellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Elizabeth Swann Carroll of Jacksonville, Fla., in 1952.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Samuel Swann (1653-1707), the patriarch of the Swann family in America, laid the foundations for family prosperity near Wilmington, N.C. His two sons, John and Samuel (1704-1772), owned Swann's Point and the Oaks, neighboring rice plantations on the northeast branch of the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, N.C. Samuel Swann married Jane Jones, and they had two children, Samuel (1747-178?) and Jane (1740-1781), who married her cousin, Frederick Jones (b. 1732) of Virginia, and had six children, among them, John Jones Swann (fl. 1758). According to genealogical notes in this collection (Subseries 4.1), the latter's great uncle John Swann of Swann's Point "had amassed quite a fortune but had no heir. Therefore he willed everything to his grand nephew, on condition that he take his mother's name of Swann." John Jones Swann married Sarah Moore (d. 1845), and they had three children: John Swann (1783-1856); Maria Swann, who married John Toomer; and Frederick Jones Swann (b. 1790), who married Ann Sophia Green. Frederick and Ann lived at Belmont Plantation near Pittsboro, N.C., where their son Samuel Ashe Swann was born in 1832. Samuel Ashe Swann moved to Florida in 1855, settling in Nassau County near Fernandina. He worked as an accountant for Joseph Finegan and Co., contractors for the Florida Railroad Company.

Also significant in the collection is Mary Martha Reid (1812-1894), aunt of Samuel Ashe Swann's wife. Mary Martha Reid was the third wife of Robert Raymond Reid (d. 1841), U.S. judge and territorial governor of Florida. Her first son died in infancy, and the second, Raymond Jenckes Reid, was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness. Mary Martha Reid founded, with Dr. Thomas Palmer, the Hospital for Florida Soldiers in Richmond, Va., during the Civil War. She moved to Richmond to serve as a nurse at the hospital and retreated with President Jefferson Davis's party when the city fell. After the war, she lived in Fernandina, Fla., near her niece, and opened a private school. When her niece died in 1880, Mary Martha Reid moved in with Samuel Ashe Swann to help raise his children. In 1900, the Mary Martha Reid Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy installed a window in St. Peters Church, Fernandina, dedicated to her memory.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Correspondence, financial and legal Papers, writings, and genealogical materials of the Swann family of Wilmington and Pittsboro, N.C., and Fernandina, Fla. Papers from 1784 to 1847 relate to John Jones Swann and chiefly concern business matters, such as the sale of slaves and banking, particularly his dealings with the Wilimington Branch of the State Bank of North Carolina. Papers from 1853 to 1865 relate primarily to Ann Sophia Green Swann, including letters documenting her activities in Revolutionary War claims, a volume in which she recorded family history and childhood experiences, and a diary/commonplace book in which she wrote many melancholy entries, mainly having to do with the deaths of several of her children. The few Civil War era items relate to conditions on the home front in North Carolina and Florida and, briefly, to Mary Martha Reid's hospital career. Papers from 1879 to 1926 relate primarily to Samuel Ashe Swann of Fernandina, Fla., and focus particularly on the genealogy of the Swann and related families. A significant correspondent during this period was William Mercer Green (1798-1887).

The collection is arranged as follows:

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Papers of John Jones Swann, 1784-1847 and undated.

About 50 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly correspondence and financial and legal papers of John Jones Swann (fl. 1758) of Bluff Plantation near Wilmington, son of Jane (Jean?) (1740-1781) and Frederick Jones, documenting connections between the Jones and Swann families of Wilmington, N.C. Papers in this series may also refer to John Jones Swann's son, John (1783-1856).

On 20 December 1784, Walter Jones wrote his brother Frederick of Cape Fear district, "I have been inquisitive to hear your fate during the great Revolution that has happened since we parted. The war was very near you; but I hope you escaped any particular loss." Papers suggest that Frederick's son, John Jones Swann, was a man of power and influence who successfully managed family property near Wilmington. On 4 February 1811, John D. Toomer wrote to John Swann seeking his influence to secure the position of director of the Cape Fear Bank. Scattered information throughout Series 1 documents John Swann's continued association with banking, especially his connection to the Wilmington branch of the State Bank of North Carolina.

There is significant information about family slaves. A series of letters in 1812 from James Smith of Kendal, N.C., documents the sale of several slaves to John Swann, including "An elderly wench [who was], a good field hand & good plantation Nurse & spinner," and a young man whom Smith described as "about 26 yrs. old stout & tall, an excellent field hand & good plowman." In 1814, a series of letters from Swann's cousin, Jane Jones, widow of Charles Jones, documents her attempts to settle her late husband's debts without losing the services of Jesse, a slave who was nurse to her brother's infant. Additional papers document John Swann's purchase and sale of other slaves.

Folder 1

1784-1816 #02827, Series: "1. Papers of John Jones Swann, 1784-1847 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1822-1847 #02827, Series: "1. Papers of John Jones Swann, 1784-1847 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

Undated #02827, Series: "1. Papers of John Jones Swann, 1784-1847 and undated." Folder 3

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Papers of Ann Sophia Green Swann and Others, 1829-1865.

About 25 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence, a commonplace book and diary, and reminiscences of Ann Sophia Green Swann, wife of Frederick Jones Swann (b. 1790) and daughter-in-law of John Jones Swann. On 15 February 1858, Ann wrote from Wilmington to tell her son of continuing litigation over family land claims in Tennessee. The family claim earned by her father, William Green, "who served in the 6th Regiment of No. Carolina Continental Infantry in the War of the Revolution," had apparently been usurped, and Ann was working with her son to establish their ownership.

In 1860, Ann sent her granddaughter, Rosalie Swann a Christmas greeting with disturbing news: "We have just heard at dinner of the blowing up of Fort Moultrie, what will become of us!" Four years later Ann mourned the death of her granddaughter, Rose, who died before she could see her. The event brought back memories of her own children's deaths. Although correspondence contains little information about family involvement in the Civil War, a letter from Ann to her son suggests that the conflict brought them hard times. On 27 August 1865, Ann wrote that she had been forced to rent her house to the highest bidder and complained that her servants had all left her--all of which seemed particularly unfair to her as she approached the age of 79.

Most of Ann's letters were written from Wilmington. Her journals, however, contain many entries from Belmont, the family plantation near Pittsboro, N.C. Her reminiscences, written in 1833, contain information about her family and early childhood in Wilmington. Ann recorded what she knew of her maternal grandparents, Elizabeth Sharples and Richard Bradley, who moved to Wilmington from Pennsylvania; her parents, Mary Bradley and William Green; and her personal memories of the War of 1812 in Wilmington when she was sixteen years old. Her diary/commonplace book contains scattered entries from 1829 to 1863--chiefly melancholy poems and diary-like records of momentous days (for example, her 59th and 60th birthdays; her 41st wedding anniversary; a visit from her sister, "from whom I had been separated 23 years!"; and, in 1855, "witnessed from my door the pulling down of the Old Theatre & Academy and felt as if an old Friend was gone.") On 19 August 1855, Ann acknowledged the sadness of many of her notations, "I have oftener in this Book recorded my troubles than my mercies, for at one period of my life the hand of God was laid on me in taking in three years, three of my children from me, and bowing me to the earth. During that time I have written many of the within pieces."

Also during this period are scattered papers of Mary Martha Reid--including school work of her son, Jenckes Reid, at the Hudson River Institute in Claverach, N.Y., 1858-1859. There are also typed copies of some Civil War correspondence containing news from H. B. Jenckes of conditions in St. Augustine, Fla., and Mary Martha Reid's explanation to her step-son, Robert R. Reid, Jr., about her plans for going to Richmond as a nurse. The typed copy of the latter, dated 14 July 1862, also contains a will dividing her property in the event that she or Jenckes failed to return from their service.

Folder 4

Reminiscences, 1833 #02827, Series: "2. Papers of Ann Sophia Green Swann and Others, 1829-1865." Folder 4

Folder 5

Diary/Commonplace Book, 1829-1863 #02827, Series: "2. Papers of Ann Sophia Green Swann and Others, 1829-1865." Folder 5

Folder 6

Correspondence and other Papers, 1853-1865 #02827, Series: "2. Papers of Ann Sophia Green Swann and Others, 1829-1865." Folder 6

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Papers of Samuel Ashe Swann and Others, 1876-1926 and undated.

About 60 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly correspondence of Samuel Ashe Swann of Fernandina, Fla., and Sallie and James Swann of Wilmington, mostly related to genealogy. Also included are a few papers of Mary Martha Reid, including a receipt for purchase of a half lot in Fernandina; a copy of her will, probated 5 October 1894; and a family narrative she wrote around 1890, which explains how her family became established in Florida. There is very little information about her own life. A letter to Samuel Ashe Swann, dated 29 June 1894, mourns the death of Mary Martha Reid and extols her service to the Confederacy. A program from 1900 documents the dedication ceremonies for her memorial window, sponsored by the Mary Martha Reid Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at St. Peter's Church in Fernandina.

A significant correspondent during this period was William Mercer Green, first Episcopal bishop of Mississippi and chancellor of the University of the South, who wrote several family letters to his nephew, James L. Swann, from Sewanee, Tenn.

Folder 7

1876-1886 #02827, Series: "3. Papers of Samuel Ashe Swann and Others, 1876-1926 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

1890 #02827, Series: "3. Papers of Samuel Ashe Swann and Others, 1876-1926 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1893-1905 #02827, Series: "3. Papers of Samuel Ashe Swann and Others, 1876-1926 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

1906-1926 and undated #02827, Series: "3. Papers of Samuel Ashe Swann and Others, 1876-1926 and undated." Folder 10

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Biographical and Genealogical Materials.

About 125 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated.

About 100 items.

Handwritten and typed notes on Swann and related families, including typed transcriptions of materials in the collection, were apparently collected by several family members. Reid and Travers family notes were written by Mary Martha Reid, whose

Folder 11

Copies of family papers #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 11

Folder 12

English Swanns #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

Jones--Swann #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

Codd--St. Leger--Neville #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 14

Folder 15

Green--Sharpless--Bradley--Mercer #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16

Reid #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 16

Folder 17

Travers #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 17

Folder 18

Yeamans-Moore #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19-20

Folder 19

Folder 20

Miscellaneous genealogical papers #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." Folder 19-20

Extra Oversize Paper Folder X-OP-2827/1

"Genealogy of the Swann Family," 1886 #02827, Subseries: "4.1. Biographical and Genealogical Notes, 1879-1952 and undated." X-OP-2827/1

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.2. Plantation History, Undated.

About 20 items.

Notes on various plantations. Mary Martha Reid's grandfather established the Sawpit Plantation in Duval County, Fla., which descended in her mother's family, the Thorpes. Cedar Point Plantation on the Nassau River in Duval County descended in her aunt's family, the Fitzpatricks. Both plantations raised sea island cotton successfully. Also included is information about Swann family plantations, Swann's Point and the Oak, and a typescript of "Stories of the Old Plantations, Cape Fear River Region," by John Hampden Hill.

Folder 21

Plantations and Maps of Cape Fear District #02827, Subseries: "4.2. Plantation History, Undated." Folder 21

Folder 22

Cedar Point and Sawpit Plantation #02827, Subseries: "4.2. Plantation History, Undated." Folder 22

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.3. Printed Materials.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Lisa Tolbert, January 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, January 2010

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

Back to Top