Swetnam Connections

March 29, 2019 Annette Crafton Corbell No comments exist

              The Swetnam family has piqued my interest.   I had a suspicion that John James Swetnam (1811-1898) of Bath County, Kentucky was the father, or at least related, to my 3rd great grandmother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Swetnam Kash.  The Swetnam family is very prevalent in northeastern Kentucky. 

            Information relative to John indicates he was born in Virginia and came to Kentucky with his father, Neri Swetnam.   A review of census, reveals a daughter of the right age named Elizabeth.  He had at least 14 children between his first wife, Rebecca Osborne and his second wife, Clarinda Elkins.  That is amazing since he didn’t have the first until he was 30, and last at the age of 64.

              One tidbit I have far for John is a newspaper article issued shortly before his passing, which states, “He is one of Bath Co.’s best and most highly honored citizens.”[1] However this article does not answer the question at hand, so I keep looking.  I scoured census, marriage, death, and obituary records for the family.  I also located his obituary and it was quite large for the times.  In part it reads:

Mr. Swetnam joined the M.E. Church when he was about 37 years old.  He lived and died in strong faith in his Master, proving all things, holding fast to that which was good. . . .  Jno. J. Swetnam was a successful man in all his undertakings: 1st, he made a success in his early days as a dry goods merchant; 2d, a success in teaching public school; 3d, a success in the occupation of farming, standing always upon principles that he believed to be right and condemning that which he believed to be wrong, esteeming no man higher than he who was an upright, honorable, truthful, honest man, though misfortune may have been his lot and poorly his condition.  He was one that ruled his own house well and set good examples before his children; and no man raised 14 more honorable and creditable children than he.  To prove his goodness he had already contributed to his 14 children $700 each, making $9,800 in all, and the fruits of his good examples are shown in many ways and places by his family, this being one case in a thousand where the father and stepmother of 14 half-sisters and brothers and all were united in peace and love, none ever hearing of any difference made or partiality shown by father or mother; always and ever being “My children” with the mother and “My mother” with the children.  The bereaved widow and children have the condolences of all in their sorrow.[2]

              The obituary does include a daughter, L. Elizabeth Kash of Wolfe County, Ky.  That’s where my Lizzie lived with her husband, Eli Pieratt Kash.  My Lizzie passed away the 29th of March, 1900, long before most of her siblings.   I researched the siblings, the aunts, the uncles, the step-mother.   Surely there is more evidence that John’s daughter might be my Lizzie.   Then there was that ah ha moment, one small notation on the 2nd page of the Owingsville Outlook, 12 Apr 1900, “Mrs. Nora Kash received a dispatch announcing the death of her sister, Mrs. Lizzie Kash.”  John J. Swetnam, had another daughter named Nora who also married a Kash, and now they are discussing her sister, Lizzie’s death at the same time as the passing of my Lizzie. 

             Now I am confident John James Swetnam and his first wife, Rebecca Osborne are the parents of my Elizabeth “Lizzie” Swetnam Kash.   As I put together the documentation accumulated on John and his descendants, I reviewed the probate records for John and found one last confirmation of this relationship.   On 27 Aug 1900, the Administrators of the Estate of J.J. Swetnam, J.N. Swetnam and R.R. Swetnam, listed the final appraisement and distribution to his heirs.   Since Lizzie was deceased, her portion of the estate was distributed to her children, Edgar T. Kash, Rebecca Richie, C.F. Kash and Rosa Lee Swango (my 2nd great grandmother).[3]   They each received $8.47. 

               I believe this information would put such a smile on grandma’s face learning that her ancestors were religious and upstanding citizens.    

               Jewell Elberta Wynn

               Daughter of, Pearl Olive Swango and Claude Elbert Wynn

               Granddaughter of Rosa Lenora Kash and Jesse Lee Swango

               Great Granddaughter of Elizabeth Louise Swetnam and Eli Pieratt Kash

               Great Great Granddaughter of John James Swetnam and Rebecca Osborne.


[1] Owingsville Outlook, Owingsville, Kentucky 23 June 1898, p.4, www.newspapers.com (accessed 27 Mar 2019).

[2] Owingsville Outlook, Owingsville, Kentucky 25 Aug 1898, p.2, www.newspapers.com (accessed 27 Mar 2019).

[3] Bath County, Kentucky Probate Records, Estate Settlements 1852-1945, Estate Settlement Book 15, pp. 544-546, www.familysearch.org (accessed 28 Mar 2019).

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