Daniel Swears, III (1777 - c. 1835)

Daniel Swears, III
(1777 - c. 1838)

Daniel Swears, III was born 7 April 1777 in Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, and was baptized there at First Church on 18 May 1777.  His parents were Daniel Zwears, II (a Revolutionary War veteran who fought as a member of the Green Mountain Boys for Vermont) and Abigail Willard; he was their third child.  His siblings were: Hannah Zwears (Mrs. Thomas Betterley, Jr.) (b. 1773); Lois Zwears (Mrs. Darius Mann, Sr.) (b. 1774); Benjamin Zwears, Sr. (b. 1779); Peter Zwears (b. 1783) and Henry Zwears, Sr. (1785 - 1863).

By the time Daniel was 13 years old, his family had moved to Dummerston, Windham County, Vermont, where his mother's brother Henry Willard also resided.  Daniel married Mary [surname unknown] probably c. 1796.  They had at least three children:  Rhoda Sweers (Mrs. Jeremiah F. York, I) (1797 - 1876); Daniel Sweers, IV (1803 - 1873); and Manley Sweers (1808 - 1894).  It is possible they had a daughter named Ruth Sweers, who may have been married to Freeman Wood of New York.  Daniel and his family were living in Sandgate Township, Bennington County, Vermont when the 1800 Federal Census was taken.

It is known that Rhoda, Daniel, Jr. and Manley were all born in Vermont.  Manley's obituary states he was born in "Wooster, Vermont".  There is a Worcester (pronounced "Wooster") located in Washington County, Vermont, which is probably the correct location.  A fire in 1816 destroyed the town's records, so there is no other known documentation to show the Swears family's residence there.  In May 1809, Daniel, Sr. and Mary moved their family to what is now Chippewa, Welland County, Ontario, Canada, near the Chippewa Creek.  It is likely that the family moved at the same time as (or to be near) Daniel, Sr.'s brother Peter, who is known to have settled in Chippewa.  Family history makes mention several times of an brother of Daniel's who lived in Canada.

When the War of 1812 broke out between the United States and Great Britain, the British army in Canada was going to press (forcibly draft) Daniel into the army, so he escaped to New York State.  At this time the Battle of Chippewa (a.k.a. the Battle of Black Rock) was in progress, and Daniel's wife Mary and their children later recalled seeing the British go up to battle in the morning and returning in the afternoon, carrying the wounded in ox-carts.  Not long after, the children's uncle (probably Peter Zwears) went to a Captain Cummings and told him the situation of Daniel's family.  The captain allowed Mary Swears to go down to the [Niagara?] river to flag some boats, which came and carried the family across to the U.S. side.  There they joined Daniel and then proceeded to what is now the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York, where Daniel left them in the care of a wealthy man named Mr. Beeman.  This man was probably Colonel Beeman, a local pioneer and leader of the community.  Daniel's uncle Jacob had served in the Revolutionary War under a Captain Beeman in Massachusetts, and it is possible that this was the same man (or at least a relative).

Daniel enlisted and served as a private in the American army in Chapens' Company of the New York Militia.  When the war ended, he returned home to Canada, and soon after the family moved to Hunt's Hollow in the Town of Gorham, Ontario County, New York, where his daughter Rhoda married Jeremiah F. York, I, another War of 1812 veteran.  In 1819, Daniel and his family moved back to the Town of Clarence, where they lived for many years.  In the winter of 1835 - 1836, Daniel's sons Daniel, Jr. and Manley set out through Canada to Michigan and bought land in Section 26 of Atlas Township, Genesee County.  Daniel and Mary followed their sons the next spring and lived there until their deaths, Daniel dying between 1840 and 1850; Mary in 1860.  Both were buried in the Sweers Family Burial Ground on Manley's farm.


Rhoda Sweers was born 24 January 1797 in Vermont.  On 12 March 1815 in the Town of Gorham, Ontario County, New York, she married Jeremiah F. York, I, a veteran of the War of 1812.  By 1820, they had moved to what is now the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York, where they lived until at least 1860.  Rhoda and Jeremiah had at least seven, and possibly nine, children.  The names of their known children were: Eliza Ann York (Mrs. George Aylsworth) (b. c. 1820); Daniel Franklin York (c. 1820 - bef. 1880); twins John H. York (my ancestor) (1823 - 1898) and Esther York (1823 - 1893) - she was married three times, to Solomon Crull, Alfred Jacob Teachout, and Mr. Burns; Mary York (Mrs. Dr. Terry Ambrose Bates) (b. c. 1825); Ruth York (Mrs. Humphrey) (b. c. 1825); and Elenor "Ellen" M. York (b. c. 1834) - married twice, to Mr. Rhubottom and to Orsemus P. Bates.  By 1870, Rhoda and Jeremiah had moved to Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan, to be near Rhoda's brothers and their son John.  They lived there until their deaths, two weeks apart, in 1876 (Rhoda died October 23, and Jeremiah died November 5).  They were buried in the Sweers Family Burial Ground, Atlas Township, on Rhoda's brother Manley's farm.

Daniel Sweers, IV was born 19 August 1803 in Vermont.  His first marriage was supposedly to Diana Wyckoff Parkes, whom he probably married in New York.  They had three daughters, Sarah Jane Sweers (1827 - 1899) - she was married twice, to William Ford and William Crothers; Marion Sweers and Emily Sweers (dates unknown).  Diana apparently died while the girls were young.  In the winter of 1835 - 1836, Daniel set out with his brother Manley through Canada to Michigan to acquire land.  It was a harrowing journey.  Daniel settled on 80 acres of government land in Section 26 of what is now Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan, next to Manley's homestead.  In the spring, he brought his daughters from New York to their new home, which included a small log cabin that he had built.  At times he lived on only three potatoes a day.  His children boarded with a family named Hoover.  With his ox team he supplied the neighborhood with provisions, which he hauled from Pontiac (Oakland County, Michigan).  The trips took about four days.  On one of these trips he met Josh Terry who told him he had a girl at his house who would make Daniel a good wife.  Daniel soon made a visit and met Mary "Polly" Fish (other records indicate her surname might be Stevens), marrying her soon after.  They had four children: Charles Sweers (dates unknown); Harriet Sweers (Mrs. Eckler) (c. 1840 - bef. 1930); Louisa Sweers (b. c. 1842); and Chloe Sweers (Mrs. John Sharrer) (c. 1843 - bef. 1930).  Daniel was not a hunter, but being a good friend of the Indians, they kept his family supplied with venison and other wild game.  There was a deer lick near his farm where the wild deer came for their salt.  Polly died around 1869 and Daniel died 21 November 1873 in Atlas Township; they were both buried in the Sweers Family Burial Ground on Manley's farm.

Manley Sweers was born 28 August 1808 in Worcestor, Washington County, Vermont.  After his parents settled in what is now known as the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York, Manley worked on the Erie Canal, and after it was completed, he boated on it for about a year.  When he was a young man, he visited his uncle (probably Peter Zwears) in Canada near Queenstown Heights and worked on the Wellington Canal, drawing earth from a deep cut with an ox team.  He returned to New York, and in 1833, he married Lydia Van Cleve (probably in the Town of Clarence).  They had 12 children, the first two being born in the Town of Clarence, the rest born in Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan: Spencer Sweers (c. 1834 - bef. 1930); Rachel Sweers (Mrs. George Riley VanTine) (c. 1835 - bef. 1930); Milo Sweers (1837 - 1921); Josephine Sweers (Mrs. Nelson Confer) (c. 1839 - bef. 1930); Nelson Sweers (1842 - 1864), who died in the Civil War; Ellen Sweers (Mrs. John H. Brown) (1845 - 1873); Oscar Green Sweers (c. 1845 - aft. 1920); Daniel W. Sweers (1848 - 1939); Freeman Sweers (1850 - bef. 1930); Lewis Sweers (b. c. 1852 ); and Mary Sweers (b. c. 1854), married twice, to Daniel Jennings and Corwin Skidmore.  In the winter of 1835 - 1836, Manley and his brother Daniel came with one horse from New York through Canada to Michigan, where he took up 80 acres of government land on Section 26 of what is now Atlas Township.  He hired a man to build him a log cabin and in exchange gave him the horse which he had brought with him.  He and Daniel then returned to New York, and on 15 May 1836, Manley and Lydia and their children Spencer and Rachel, came to their new home, coming by wagon from Detroit.  When they arrived at the homestead, their house was not completed.  There were neither windows or a door, and a blanket had to be substituted for a door.  It was three miles to the nearest neighbors (with the exception of brother Daniel) and Detroit was the nearest market from which he brought all their provision with an ox team.  Other records indicate his nearest neighbors were seven miles away, being the family of Ezra K. Parsells.  Manley would also drive his ox team to Ann Arbor [in present-day Washtenaw County, Michigan] for flour, taking about three days.  The first barrel of flour he bought cost him $12, and the first wheat he sold for 44 cents a bushel.  Under such conditions supporting a large family and clearing up a farm was rather a hard life.  Manley cleared his forest land and gradually added to the same until he was the owner of 140 acres.  He eventually built three houses on the farm and his last days were spent in comfort.  He was considered one of the most substantial farmers in the community.  One of his first purchases was a Seth Thomas clock with wooden works.  This clock was, in 1930, kept in the home of his son Lewis in Ortonville [Oakland County, Michigan], and was keeping excellent time after running about 100 years.  Lydia died 30 September 1891, and Manley died 13 December 1894; they were both buried in the Sweers Family Burial Ground on his farm, a small family cemetery that housed the remains of at least four generations of Sweers and related families.

Ruth Sweers is an individual of whom very little is known.  In fact, it has not been determined if she is indeed a daughter of Daniel Swears, III.  In the 1800 Federal Census of Sandgate Township, Bennington County, Vermont, the household of Daniel "Zweres" included two females, ages 0 - 9.  One of them was Rhoda, who would have been nearly 3 the other was possibly Ruth.  In 1820 in the Town of Clarence, Niagara (now Erie) County, New York, the household of Daniel Swears included a female, age 10 - 15; again, this is possibly Ruth.  It is known that a woman named Ruth married Freeman Wood and had a daughter Harriet Wood (1822 - 1893).  Harriet married first Lyman Manning, and after his death, William Lewis Crothers.  The Crothers and Sweers families had several marriages between then.  Supposedly, Harriet's death record states her mother was Ruth Sweers; and it is an assumption that if so, this Ruth Sweers must be a daughter of Daniel Swears, III.  Also, Daniel Swears' daughter Rhoda Sweers had a daughter named Ruth; it is possible that this daughter was named for Ruth Sweers, possible sister of Rhoda.  At any rate, it is believed that both Freeman Wood and his wife Ruth passed away while their daughter Harriet was a young adult, in the 1840's, when vital records were not kept in Atlas Township.

Two other possible daughters - In the 1820 Federal Census of the Town of Clarence, Niagara (now Erie) County, New York, the family of Daniel Swears included two daughters, ages 0 - 9.  In the 1830 Federal Census of the Town of Erie (now Clarence), Erie County, New York, the family of "D. Swear" included two females, ages 10 - 14.  It is very likely that these were either young daughters of Daniel and Mary, or perhaps some other female relatives...granddaughters or nieces.

More information on my ancestor Daniel Swears, III can be found in the Ancestory of his son-in-law, Jeremiah F. York, I, as well as in the web pages of The Atlas Project.

Miriam (Robbins) Midkiff
created: 21 September 2003

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