Christian Hill Cemetery, Colrain, MA

My cousin Elisha Lee visited this cemetery several years ago, and wrote me this:

“In the northwest corner of Colrain – an obscure little mountainside burial ground with a beautiful view.  Levi, Joel, Salome, and Rhoda Swain are all in the southwest corner of the lot.  Joel’s stone is broken, but notes his death on July 29, 1897.  Levi’s stone indicates a death date of September  30, 1851 AE 72 years.  This is slightly different from the date on file.  Salome (not Saloma or Sally, at least on the stone) died June 12, 1854 AE 69 yrs.

Rhoda’s stone bears the inscription

“Rhoda, Consort of Levi Swain, Died Aug 13th 1822 AE 40 years.  Unveil thy bosom faithful tomb, Take this new treasure to thy trust, And give there sacred relix room, To seek a slumber in the dust.”

Levi’s grave has a veteran’s marker with a flag – he was too young, I think, for the Revolution…did he serve in the War of 1812, or were the locals simply misinformed?”

–EFL, Jr.



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West Brattleboro Cemetery, Brattleboro, VT

AKA The Mather Cemetery. This is the burial site of the Eatons, and the child, Joel Eaton Swain…

Directions to West Brattleboro Cemetery:

91 to Brattleboro to Rt 9 to  Greenleaf St. to Mather Rd.; then up hill. The old part of the cemetery is on the right. Grave of Joel is in north central portion, among the Nashes.

No address or contact info available other than a phone.

Tel: (802) 254-8113






Joel Eaton Swain

Birth:  1800

Death:  Aug. 22, 1813

Joel Eaton Swain, son of Levi & Susan Swain, died Aug 22, 1813, ae 3 yrs.

Buried in the NASH lot

Find A Grave Memorial# 85707412



“Christ feeds his flocks

He calls there [sic] names

His bosom bears 

The tender lambs”





The Swain Migration Chronology, Part IV: Research By City And a List of Current Questions

Putting together Parts I, II, and III, we get this chart, which helps it all make some sense, while laying out some clear challenges for future researchers.


Research organized by city:


Births Marriages Deaths Burial Census
Hampton Falls, NH John Swain?

11/12 or 14/1777 Levi Swain

John Swain and Judeth Page.

John Swain and Eunice Rogers Swett*** Parents on these?

Keene, NH 4/22/1785 Salome/ Sarah Hall Levi and Salome bef 1827
Poultney, VT 1779 Levi Swain?
Gilmanton, NH

(Smith meeting House Burial Ground)

?Levi Swain (per Joel’s death cert.)? John Swain bef. 10/4/1798;

Eunice Rogers Swett Swain?

Theophilus Swain 2/5/1818/9

Also son Stephen, & wife Eliz.

John and Eunice Swain? A John Swain, and John Jr. , 1800
Castleton, VT A John Swain, and a John Jr., 1820
Brattleboro, VT 1810 Joel Eaton Swain (possibly named after a maternal uncle who had just died in 1805)

Julia Ann Swain?

1814 Emily Swain?


7/20/1808 Levi Swain to Rhoda Eaton 8/22/1813 Joel Eaton Swain


02/1814 Simeon Eaton writes his will

? Joel Eaton Swain Levi (and Rhoda?), 1810
Colrain, MA 4/9/1827 William Dexter Swain

1829 Joel Swain

1831 Samuel H. Swain

Levi and Salome bef 1827? -8/13/1822 Rhoda Eaton

-6/12/1854 Salome/ Sarah Hall [parents?]

10/10 1851 Levi Swain (black jaundice) Note: Levi and Salome died intestate.

Rhoda Eaton

Salome/ Sarah Hall

Levi w/ 3 daus and a wife, 1820; again 1840
Rowe, MA 10/3/1834 Ellen Dodge

7/27/1855 Marion Salome Swain

1/26/1858 Frances A. Swain

3/2/1815 Joseph Dodge to Sarah Angel

7/4/1853 Samuel H. Swain to Laura Hicks

9/5/1854 Wm. D. Swain to Ellen Dodge

Joseph Dodge and Sarah Angel Dodge c. 7/20/1862 Ellen Dodge

“Our Mother awaits us”

William D. Swain “farmer”


Albany, NY 1862 Albany NY 7/20/1862 Ellen Dodge? [Death 2nd childbirth?]
Bath on Hudson, NY 5/16/1868 Howard T Swain
Copake, NY

(a/o Schodack, or Niverville)

1869 Franklin Niver Swain WDS and Millicent Niver? 11/10/1920 Wm. D. Swain

1/10/1922 Millicent Niver

Wm D Swain

Millicent Niver

(Methodist Episcopal Cem., by tree in back)


Current Swain Questions:


  1. Who was John Swain’s father? Look at actual wedding entry in Hampton/ Hampton Falls for John and Judeth/ Judith Page.
  2. Which branch of the Eaton clan did Simeon Eaton hail from?
  3. Where were Levi and Salome married? Loudon? Gilmanton? Colrain? Was it Sally Eaton? In 1827? If so, the marriage was in January, and the baby, William Dexter Swain, arrived in April. Whoops.
  4. Levi owned some property in Brattleboro, yet we can find no record of similar ownership in Colrain, nor does he appear to have left a will.  This rather suggests a reduction in circumstances.  True?
  5. What prompted Wm. Dexter Swain to go to medical school at about 40 years of age?
  6. Where were Wm. Dexter Swain and Millicent Niver married? After 1862, before 1868. Near Copake or Niverville, NY? What does that marriage entry say?
  7. Did HTS want to put some distance between himself and his roots—possibly because he had a mentally ill uncle wandering about Colrain until 1897?

The Swain Migration Chronology, Part III: Recent History

This, as you will see, is the very definition of a work in progress.

In sum, it is the best attempt on the parts of my cousin Elisha Lee and myself to reconstruct the family’s history from the point where the Transcript article leaves off to Howard T. Swain’s departure from Copake for Exeter, and from there for Boston.

Small moves…



Part II: Recent History

The Swain family continued to live in the Hampton, NH and Hampton Falls, NH area until the late 1700’s, where we pick up the current trail.

The genealogy during this period is, at this point, conjecture. Once a generation or two is forgotten, you can’t say anything for sure. Certainty only reappears, as we go back from the present.

As of this writing we can go as far back as John Swain and Eunice Rogers Swett, residents of Hampton Falls, NH… THE remaining mystery is nailing down John Swain’s father, who may be either John Swain b. Jan 11, 1685, husband of Martha Tongue, or alternately, William Swain (IV), b. 1724, husband of Judith Gove. If the former, John would have been about 58, with a 37 yo 2nd wife when he had Levi. If the latter, he would have been younger, but that man has no dates. Once this link is established, we’ll know how to connect the entire line. On the whole, the evidence best suggests the John Swain / Martha Tongue option.


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The Swain Migration Chronology, Part II: The Article in the Boston Evening Transcript

As we’ve seen, the early Swains are actually somewhat well-documented, but after branches of the family left the coast and traveled inland towards western New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, multiplying like rabbits as they went, genealogical chaos more or less set in.

With poor record keeping, and an annoying tendency of parents to all give their children the same five or six first names, it can be quite difficult to discern one early 19th century line from another.

Imposing some sort of provisional order on things was this 109 year-old article, reproduced from The Boston Evening Transcript, November 16, 1908.

At the time I obtained it, from a terrible Xerox featuring positively minute typeface, it took a good bit of work to simply put it in the readable format you see here.

Since then, the full set of Boston Evening Transcript articles have happily become available in digital format. I just haven’t accessed them yet.



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The Swain Migration Chronology, Part I: Origins

In the next few posts, I’m going to present what I know, or really, what I think I know, about our branch of the Swain family in America.

There are people out there, today, who have done really good research on this family, and they know a lot more than I’ll be able to present here.

Perhaps at the end of this series, I’ll put up links to some of their work which I have yet to sift through: titles of books I’d like to read, web pages I’d like to spend some time with; if only to point you in the right direction.

I should also add, along similar lines, that what is here is not iron clad. It’s decent research that occasionally involves some conjecture, best guesses, educated hunches, and the like. Please take it all with a pinch of salt.

But…to use an old phrase that the original Nantucket Swains might have recognized, “It’s true in the main.”


Part I: Origins

The following is excerpted from The Swains of Nantucket: Tales and Trails, by Robert H. Swain, 1990, 1994; pp.1-13.  As near as I can tell the book is now out of print, but a digital copy is available for reading, here. There is also a page for it on Amazon, here, but that says the book is unavailable.

The author begins by examining what is known about the founder of our line of Swains in America, one Richard Swayn….

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