Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Traveler

George Swinburne
My great-grandfather, George Washington Swinburne (1846-1928), during his lifetime, lived in six states and traveled through many.

When George was a teenager, he lived in a Shaker community; he then fought in the Civil War; after the Civil War, he traveled to the Midwest; and later in life, he moved to Florida.

George’s father, Samuel Swinburne (1813-1848), died when George was only two years old. According to the 1850 U.S. census, George was living with his mother, Mary R. Sargent Swinburne (1812-1864), in Norwich, Vermont. However, by the time of the 1860 U.S. census, when George was 14 years old, he was living as a member of the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire; and his mother was living with the George Blaisdell family in Hartford, Vermont.

The Shaker community in Enfield consisted of three groups: The Church, the North family, and the South family. George lived with the “South family.” Each family had 30-90 people with their own set of communal buildings including dwellings and workshops.    

So, how did George end up with the Shakers?  It was a common practice that orphans and children of
Shaker Family Buildings in Enfield - Google Images
broken homes were taken to Shaker communities. George was not an orphan, as his mother was still living; and, he was not from a broken home – at least not in the traditional sense of parents being divorced. However, George’s mother is not only living in another state, but she is also listed as being “deaf.” Perhaps this condition forced her to separate from George. Her connection to the George Blaisdell family, as earlier mentioned, is unknown.

The Shakers would educate and take care of the children until they were 21 years old.  At the age of 21, the "children" would have to make a decision - stay with the Shaker community and become a Shaker or leave the community. George chose to leave in 1864 when he turned 18 years of age.

George went from living with the Shakers to enlisting in 1864 with the Vermont Volunteers, Companies F & G (part of the Army of the Potomac). During his career as a Union soldier, besides the usual battles and skirmishes, George managed to be a part of several major battles:

  • He fought in the Battle of Cold Harbor near Mechanicsville, Virginia, which lasted from May 31, 1864, through June 12, 1864. The Battle of Cold Harbor was considered to be a Confederate victory. 
  • After the Battle of Cold Harbor, George found himself involved with the Siege of Petersburg (Virginia). Though the siege lasted for nine months (June 1864-March 1865), he participated only from June 20, 1864, through June 23, 1864. This siege was ultimately a Union victory. 
  • After his participation at the Siege of Petersburg, he is next involved with the Battle of Monocacy (aka Monocacy Junction) near Frederick, Maryland, on July 9, 1864. This battle was considered to be a tactical victory for the Confederates and strategic victory for the Union.

George was mustered out of the Union Army on June 19, 1865, over one month after the end of the Civil War. It is known that George was wounded during the Civil War; however, exactly when and where is unknown.

By 1870, George had traveled to southwest Wisconsin: He lived first in Lafayette, Wisconsin, just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border and worked as a farm laborer. Then , he moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he worked as a fireman in a mill. Besides living in Wisconsin after the Civil War, he also lived in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Florida (where he was a citrus farmer). According to the History of Houston County (MN), George was also known as a carpenter and builder. 

George was married three times and had five children:   

  • Mary France Perkins (1852-1881), married October 23, 1869, Sparta, Wisconsin, with whom he had four children: Harriet, John, Richard, and George.
  • Effie Christina Clapp (1868-1921), married September 22, 1883, Augusta, Wisconsin, with whom he had two children: Victor and Ruth. They divorced in 1892. 
  •  Amelia Jane “Jennie” House (1844-1930), married August 23, 1913, Pasco County, Florida.

George certainly was well-traveled: He lived in six states, fought in many during the Civil War, and traveled through many more. George and his last wife are buried in Zephyrhills, Florida (northeast of Tampa), where they lived. George is my adoptive mother's grandfather.

No comments:

Post a Comment