The following is a speech I presented at the Swallows Family Reunion in Tennessee June 2008. Hope you enjoy it!
A Word About Andrew Swallows By Bill Nash Descendent of Andrew Swallows
Andrew Swallows would have been pleased to see all us kin folks here today. He might have been amazed at how many Swallows folks there are and to where they’ve migrated too. He probably would have been pleased also to know that so many of his descendants still live in the area where he spent the last years of his life.Of course he would marvel at some of the things that we all are so familiar with and take for granted, since he died in 1843 while John Tyler was President of the United States. Think of the things Andrew didn’t know: cars, airplanes, television sets, radios, and credit cards (to name a few). I think he would be very pleased to know that the United States of America still exists in the year 2008. I also think he would be surprised that slavery doesn’t exist in the USA in 2008. He probably wouldn’t be surprised at all that “death and taxes” are still with us. One more thing: he would probably be in great wonderment as to why we think he was a great person.
He didn’t run for or hold any office. He wasn’t well known like his contemporaries Daniel Boone and David Crockett. Although it is not known, I don’t imagine he had much formal education. He didn’t invent anything that we know of. He didn’t live in a mansion and wasn’t wealthy.
So he might think “Why all the fuss about me?”
To him, I think, the things he did and the way he lived was kind of “normal”- perhaps. Maybe it was for his day. We look back on the things we do know about him and we say “wow!” Consider the following about our Andrew:
Dateline: October 1813
The United States is at war with Great Britain in what history calls the War of 1812. Andrew’s son Jacob, who had been a Commissioned Officer in 1807, volunteers to serve with Col. Stephen Copeland in a mounted force of 500 hundred men trained as “rangers” to “march against the said nation of Indians or other tribes of the savage foe and fight against them in their own savage way.” Jacob is 27 years old.His father Andrew signs himself up for service with Jacob. Andrew is 53 years old! If he did serve, we have found no record of it. He sure was willing!
Andrew is 74 years old. He’s been fighting in Overton County Circuit Court for 2 years to get a Pension approved for his military service.He is ill. He has the “palsy” which usually afflicts elderly people and is characterized by muscular tremors, a peculiar shaking, and tottering gait. We know the “palsy” today as “Parkinson’s Disease.” His memory isn’t what it was, but he recalls to the court his amazing military service:
September 11, 1777. The United States is 14 months old. Andrew Swallows is 17.
On that day Andrew is dressed in the uniform of a Private. He is a rifleman. He is also in the military as a substitute. He signed up for 2 months and now finds himself in a major battle, the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania. He actually is not far from his home. He doesn’t go AWOL. He survives the fight but the battle is lost. The American forces lose about 1200 soldiers in casualties. There are 400 who become POW’s. The city of Philadelphia falls to the British. His term of service expires. He probably went home.
1778:Andrew Swallows is 18 years old.
Sings up for another 2 month gig as a substitute. What was he thinking? What did his folks think? He serves under a Captain Lesher. Off they march to where? Philadelphia! His force joins up with Washington’s Army. The British still hold Philadelphia. His term of service expires. He probably went home.
1779:Andrew Swallows is 19 years old.
He did it again! This time he is not a substitute. He signs up for one year. Leaves his family again! He also is not a rifleman this time. Now he is an ammunition hauler. Now there’s a safe job! He hauls the ammunition wagons all over the place. He sees service in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New York State. He mentions that he saw General Washington frequently. He was serving under a Captain Archibald. His term of service ends.
1780:Andrew Swallows is 20 years old.
This time he has moved from his place of birth to Wythe County, Virginia. We don’t know if he did this alone or with his family. He is in a new place-new surroundings and all. What does he do? Signs up for the military! This time he signs up for 9 months. Andrew reports that his commander is a Captain Buchannen.
He is again an ammunition hauler. He has 76 men in his unit with him. The unit moves into North Carolina. The plan was to join General Green but for some reason not mentioned or perhaps not known to Andrew, the linking did not take place. Andrew’s unit gets into an engagement near the Yatkin River.They are fighting with Tories (Americans that were loyal to Great Britain). 18 Tories are killed. One man from Andrew’s unit is killed. Andrew now serves under a Captain Ward. We don’t know why the change in leadership. Now his unit moves on to a fort on the Clinch River. They engage in a fight with Indians. The fort holds to the Americans. After 9 months, his term of service ends.
1781:Andrew Swallows is 21 years old.
What does he do? He volunteers for his 5th term of service in the American Revolution. We don’t know if he was a rifleman or ammunition hauler. He serves under a Col. Preston. With 150 troops, his unit marched to Guilford County, North Carolina and joined General Green. He is in several engagements. At one point his whole unit is being pursued by the British. He does not reenlist again. When the British surrendered at the Battle of Yorktown, the war was pretty much over.
Andrew served in the American Revolution a total of 25 months. He was given a Pension of $26.66 a year. If he had received pay during his service (and he may not have)- it would have been about $9.00 a month. Truth is that most of the soldiers did not get paid. Many of them didn’t get food or clothes. The soldiers lived off the land.
With the war over, what does a young man turn his attention to?
He finds himself a young lady named Catherine Kinder and marries her in the Spring of 1785. We don’t know where or when they met. She was born in Delaware. Andrew is 25 years old. His bride is 30 years old- 5 years older than he! Another interesting fact is that Catherine already had a child, Reubin Finley, born out of wedlock. He was about 2 years old when they married. They lived in Virginia and began their life together. By 1811, they lived in Tennessee. Andrew was given a “land grant” of 296.5 acres on the waters of Matthews Creek in March of that year. They had 7 children together (plus Reubin). They are listed in the Family Bible (in Dutch): Reubin, born 1783 Jacob, born 1786 Mary Magdelina, born 1788 Elizabeth, born 1790 Isaac, born 1792 Catherine, born 1794 Rachel, born 1796 Jemima, born 1800
By this we know that Andrew was a Christian man because he certainly obeyed the Biblical command to “Be fruitful and multiply.”
Andrew and family made their last home in Overton County, Tennessee. He died in 1843 at the age of 83.
He lived to see his son Jacob go off to war in 1814 with General Andrew Jackson as part of the Tennessee militia and return home with the War won for the United States.
He lived to hear about Daniel Boone dying in 1820 in far off Missouri. He also lived to hear about David Crockett losing his life at the Alamo in 1836.
He saw a very popular Tennessean rise from orphanhood to become President of the United States (Andrew Jackson), 1829-1837.
He lived to see the forced relocation of 14,000 Cherokee people in 1838 resulting in 4,000 deaths along the “Trail of Tears” by that same President.
Although he never rode in a car he may have heard about the invention of rubber in 1839 by Charles Goodyear.
He may have taken a ride in a train (invented in 1804).
He lived to hear about or own the first Revolver invented by Samuel Colt in 1835.
He was alive when the stapler was patented in 1841 and the wrench in 1835.
This we do know. Andrew was born when America wasn’t the United States of America. He fought to aid in our country breaking free of Great Britain to become an independent nation. That having been done he found a wife, raised a family, worked as a farmer, went to church, enjoyed a reputation as a man of character and good morals, had friends, obeyed the law, had a long marriage, was a father to his children, and became the ancestor that we who are his kin here today have come to celebrate. We do come to celebrate his memory-and to unite our fellowship of blood together. And in doing so, we honor him.Thank you.