Manuscript Group 1189, Swaim Family Papers, 1771 – 1903

Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 1189, Swaim Family

Papers, 1771 – 1903, 0.2 linear feet / 23 folders

Call Number: MG 1189



Correspondence, certificates, deeds, estate papers, and other items of the Swaim family of Newark and Springfield, New Jersey.  Contains papers of Rev. John S. Swaim (1806-1875), who undertook a pastorate in Jacksonville, Florida during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and of his son, Jacob W. Swaim (1836-1903), who ultimately became an insurance executive in Atlantic City.  Included is genealogical data on the allied Worth family and on Ezra Baldwin.

Biographical Note:

Originally of Dutch descent, the Swaim family long resided in Newark (Essex County) and Springfield (Union county), New Jersey.  The majority of the documents in this collection relate to John S. Swaim (1806-1875) and his son, Jacob W. Swaim (1836-1903).

John S. Swaim, a son of Sarah Baldwin (b. 1782) and Matthias Swaim (1770-1868), was born on May 1, 1806 and became a minister of the Methodist Church.  He served as a representative of the Newark Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and, in 1863, was selected as one of the delegates to the U. S. Christian Commission whose purpose was “to promote the spiritual and temporal welfare” of U. S. servicemen.  In 1864, he was appointed pastor of a church near Jacksonville, Florida, where he moved with his family.  He died in 1875.

John S. Swaim married Catherine T. Worth (b. 1805), with whom he had several children.  Their son, Jacob W. Swaim, was born on September 8, 1836 and lived with the family in Florida during the Civil war.  He served as treasurer of Duval County, Florida in the Reconstruction era and as an officer in the Freedman’s Savings Bank in Jacksonville.  He later moved to Lynchburg, Virginia where he worked in the insurance industry, and by the 1890s, was living and working in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  He died in 1903.

Provenance Note:

This collection was discovered in The New Jersey Historical Society’s Manuscript Group 1, Alphabetical Series in 1983.  The documents were accessioned as A 83-6 and made into Manuscript Group 1189, Swaim Family Papers.  All of the items were uncataloged, with the exception of seven documents described collectively in the card catalog as D: 5.  The original source of the collection is unknown.

Scope and Content Note:

The collection consists of 23 folders of correspondence, financial records and other materials that document family and business matters of several generations of the Swaim family.  These items record the activities of John S. Swaim as a pastor during the Civil War in Florida and document the condition of the freed black population there.  The materials also provide a record of family finances and include an extensive series of insurance policies.  Family life and relationships are explored in the correspondence between Jacob W. Swaim and his mother and siblings, which describes the family’s boarding house business and the health of family members.  The documents of the collection are organized by person and then document type.

Folder List:

Folder Title Dates
1 John S. Swaim. Correspondence 1845-1871
2 John S. Swaim. Court papers re: Swaim vs. Cranford 1875-1877
3 John S. and Catherine T. Swaim. Estate papers 1878-1886
4 John S. Swaim. Miscellaneous legal and financial documents 1863-1865
5 Jacob W. Swaim. Commission 1873
6 Jacob W. Swaim. Correspondence 1878
7 Jacob W. Swaim. Correspondence 1879
8 Jacob W. Swaim. Correspondence 1880
9 Jacob W. Swaim. Correspondence 1886-1902
10 Jacob W. Swaim. Correspondence n.d.
11 Jacob W. Swaim. Papers regarding guardianship of Gertrude Swaim 1896-97
12 Jacob W. Swaim. Insurance contracts and certificates 1896-97
13 Jacob W. Swaim. Insurance policies 1867-1901
14 Jacob W. Swaim. Loan certificates 1900-1903
15 Jacob W. Swaim. Miscellaneous financial documents 1867-1873
16 Jacob W. Swaim. Miscellaneous financial documents 1874-1902
17 Mrs. Jacob W. Swaim and Jessie Swaim. Correspondence ca. 1893
18 Matthias Swaim. Estate papers 1869
19 Julius A. Dresser. Legal documents 1868-1869
20 Swaim Family. Legal documents 1771-1878
21 Swaim Family. Unidentified correspondence n.d.
22 Swaim Family. Miscellaneous ca. 1867-1887
23 Swaim Family. Genealogy notes n.d.

Processed by Irina Peris, January 2000 as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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