20 October 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

My 3rd great grandparents, Robert Cresap (21 Sept 1767 - 4 Sept 1827)) and Susannah Stull Swearingen (4 Aug 1773 - 8 June 1851), first cousins who married 9 May 1795, repose 3 miles south of Cresaptown, Allegany, Maryland, Rte.200-S, Rawlings.  Near the "Wilson" farm, beside the railroad tracks and the Potomac River.

I come from the youngest of their 11 children, James William Cresap, who went south to New Orleans and married a beautiful creole woman, Martha Bauduc.

Sheriff George Swearingen, Susannah's nephew, said he and his family were on their way to visit Aunt Susannah on 8 Sept 1828 when his wife's horse stumbled and she was killed.  But their toddler, Mary, said daddy hurt mommy and officials who exhumed Mary Catherine (Scott) Swearingen's body agreed.   George fled with his mistress Rachel Cunningham who he had scandalously kept in Hagerstown, but he was recognized and apprehended on a flatboat entering New Orleans and was returned to Maryland.  After an 8 day trial he was convicted.  On 2 Oct 1829 over 6,000 came to see George on the gallows on the west side of Will's Creek.  He had been one of the most popular men in (then) Washington County, Maryland.  I'm betting our James William Cresap, 15, came to watch his 1st cousin, George, 29, hang. 

*George Swearingen's confession is printed in full in Chris H. Bailey's The Stulls of Millsborough--a Genealogical History of John Stull "The Miller" - Pioneer of Western Maryland. Publisher Chris H. Bailey, 31 Prospect St, New Hartford, CT, 06057 (Mar 6, 2000).
**On 15 June 2005 I read the original transcript of his trial dated 25 Sept 1829 at the Washington County Historical Society, 135 W. Washington St.  Hagertown, Maryland 21740 


  1. Great information and story!I think you could use this one for Black sheep Sunday too!

  2. Hi Vinnie,
    A well-told, if kind of gruesome, story. I wonder what it must have felt like to discover that about your kin....!

  3. Thanks to both of you. If you're familiar with the TV show Deadwood, you know our kin Al Swearingen was kind of a complicated guy, too. Definitely black sheep.

  4. Aren't Cresap and Swearington are pretty well known historic names? Just out of curiosity I looked in the historic deeds for George Swearington in Allegany & Washington Counties. He and his wife Mary signed deeds for the Chesapeake & Ohio canal on 5 July 1828. In retrospect it was kind of eerie knowing that Mary was going to die in the following September.

    My blog post about Maryland deeds online is: http://indeeds.blogspot.com/2009/02/maryland-deeds-online.com

    Really enjoyed your post.

    Cathy Palm

  5. Thanks, Cathy. I think Cresap and (Van) Swearingen (spelled many different ways)should be even better known! But I've come lately to the history world.
    I'm eager to see your blog, but I can't make the url work -- could you send it again? I could spend days looking at Maryland deeds.


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