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Report of Colonel Morgan Morgan

John and Van Swearingen

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The Dutch family of Swearingen, of which is referenced here, are all descendants of one Garrett Van Swearingen, who in 1656, set sail from Textel, Holland, as a member of the Dutch West India Company, and advanced for present day New Castle, Co., Delaware, in an expedition of three ships, with hopes to colonize Fort Christiana. He was consequently appointed as supercargo of the ill-fated Prins Maurits, which became damaged at sea, and eventually wrecked along the coast of Long Island. Interestingly, this is the same ship which the father and uncle of Catherine (Garretson), wife of Col. Morgan Morgan, were supposedly aboard. The accuracy of this is yet to be concluded, but if true, would likely mark the origin of acquaintance between the Morgan and Swearingen families.

It was Garrett’s great-grandson, “Bible John” Swearingen (Van3, Thomas2, Garrett1), of whom James Morgan spoke of in 1850. He was born in Maryland around 1721, and migrated, with his son “Indian Van,” westward into southwestern Pennsylvania about 1770. As Franklin Ellis wrote in his History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, a description of John and Van is given:

                              John Swearingen and Van Swearingen, father and son, were among the
               earliest  settlers in Springhill township, Fayette County, Penna, being here as early as
               1770 and possibly in 1769, Van Swearingen being in the latter year twenty-six years
                              Thomas Swearingen Sr. and his son Thomas Swearingen came to Western
               Pennsylvania about the same time and settled west of the Monongahela. The ancestors
               of all the Swearingens in this region were Garrett Van Swearingen and Barbara De
               Barette, his wife, who came from Holland to America, settled in Maryland and were
               with their children Garrett and Barbara naturalized in that province in April, 1669, as is
               shown by the records in Baltimore. Two other children of theirs, Elizabeth and
               Zachariah, were born in the Delaware counties and so needed no naturalization. The
               prefix Van was afterwards dropped from the surname of the family, but was used as
               we see, as the Christian name of the son of John Swearingen.
                              Of this John Swearingen who settled in Springhill township very little is
               known beyond the fact of his settlement here and that he was a resident of the
               township in 1785. His son, Van Swearingen, did not remain long in Springhill but
               removed to a new location on the east side of the Monongahela near the mouth of
               Redstone, but retaining ownership of his lands in Springhill at least until 1785. Before
               that time, however, he had left his second location near Redstone and removed to
               Washington County, of which he was elected sheriff upon its organization in 1781. After
               a few years spent by him in Washington County, he removed to land which he had
               located in early 1772 in Ohio County, Virginia, and died there December 2, 1793. During
               all the period of his residence west of the Alleghenies, he was a prominent man both in
               civil and military life.

Ellis, Franklin. History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania: With Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International. 1979.