Capt. Thomas Swearingen of the Ferry

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About Capt. Thomas Swearingen of the Ferry

Capt. Thomas Swearingen of the Ferry

  • Birth: 8 APR 1708 in Queen Anne's Parish, Prince George's County, Maryland
  • Parents: Thomas Swearingen b 1688, Lydia Riley
  • Wife: Sarah Dossett
  • Death: 3 JUN 1760 in Frederick County, Virginia


From NCTC Cultural History - Timeline

May of 1726 marked the death of Thomas Swearingen, a slave-owning plantation owner living not far from the Potomac River near present-day Chevy Chase, Maryland (a northern suburb of Washington DC). He left behind 3 daughters – Margaret, Luranna, and Mary – and two sons including Thomas, who was 18, and Van, who was a young lad of 7. All the children were bequeathed land in the will: Margaret and Luranna each received 40 acres of “Hills Choys”, Mary received 96 acres of “Swearingens Pasture”, Thomas received 70 acres of “Forest”, and young Van received 70 acres of “Forest” and 20 acres of “Hills Choys”.

Among those possibly “trespassing” was 19-year-old Thomas Swearingen, who apparently made a claim for 115 acres of land on Little Antietam Creek, south of present-day Sharpsburg and Keedysville Maryland, dating from on or before Nov. 1727 in what is now Washington County Maryland. He patented this property on June 12, 1734.

The property, later known as part of a much larger tract called Fellfoot owned by Tobias Stansbury of Baltimore, was purchased by Stansbury from Thomas Swearingen and his wife Sarah in the 1750s (Fred.Cty Md DB E, p433). This is the first record indicating that the Swearingens from near present-day Chevy Chase were interested in a new plantation further north in Maryland on the western side of the Blue Ridge, again located only a few miles from the Potomac. ...

Thomas established a ferry across the Potomac on this property by 1755, and eventually owned plantations on both sides of the Potomac River.


21. THOMAS5 SWEARINGEN (THOMAS4, THOMAS3 VAN SWEARINGEN, GARRETT2 VAN SWERINGEN, DAVID JANSE1 SWIERINGH) was born Abt. April 08, 1708 in Queen Anne , Prince George or "Sommerset" County, Maryland or Shepherdstown, WV, and died Abt. June 03, 1760 in Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia.

He married (1) MARY MORGAN. He married (2) SARAH DOSSETT. She died December 23, 1799 in Berkley County, West Virginia.


Thomas Swearingen was born in Maryland about 1717; emigrated with his father to Virginia about 1734, and settled near Shepherdstown on the Potamic River.

Issue: Thomas; Van; Andrew; Zacheus; Joseph; Benoni; Drusilla, married Col. Wm. Morgan; Sallie, married Thomas Turner; Elanor, married Issac Israel.

Source: Swearingen microfilm Independence Geaneology dept.

Children of Thomas Swearingen and Mary Morgan:

  1. Mary Swearingen b: ABT 1746 in Prince George's County, Maryland


  1. THOMAS6 SWEARINGEN, b. December 14, 1735, Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia.
  2. DRUSILLA SWEARINGEN, b. Bet. 1682 - 1704, Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia.
  3. ANDREW SWEARINGEN, b. Bet. 1742 - 1752, Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia, or Berkley County, Virginia; d. Abt. June 21, 1824, Washington County, Pennsylvania; m. ELIZABETH CHAPLIN.
  4. VAN SWEARINGEN, b. Bet. 1742 - 1750, Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia or Berkley County, Virginia; d. December 02, 1793, Virginia.
  6. JOSEPH SWEARINGEN, b. July 10, 1754, Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia; d. 1821, Washington County, Pennsylvania or Shepardstown, Virginia.
  7. BENONI SWEARINGEN, b. Bet. 1742 - 1756, Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia.
  8. SARAH (SALLIE) SWEARINGEN, b. Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia; m. THOMAS TURNER; b. 1742, Frederick County, Virginia; d. 1806, Jefferson County, Virginia.

biographical notes

1757 - Thomas Swearingen polled 270 votes to George Washington’s 40 votes for a seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses. His successful election meant that he, along with Hugh West, would represent Frederick County in the House sessions of March 25, 1756, April 30, 1757, and March 30, 1758. His son, also named Thomas Swearingen, 22 years old and married to Mary Morgan, built a stone house next to his father’s mill just west of present-day NCTC, which is still a private residence today. They had a son named Thomas (of course) that same year.

June of 1760 marks the death of Van’s brother Thomas of the Ferry, 52-year-old patriarch of a large family (his will was signed 4 April 1760, proved 3 June 1760, suggesting an illness [Fred. Cty Courthouse, Winchester VA]). Thomas left behind a wife and 9 children, five of them 15 years old or younger; their uncle Van likely helped raise and support these children, including a boy who was later known to some as Van Swearingen Junior, though he was actually Col. Van Swearingen’s nephew.

Lands near Scrabble were willed to Thomas’ sons, mostly to Thomas, Jr. (a.k.a. Major Thomas Swearingen) who continued to operate the mill with his brother Andrew. (Major Thomas’s son Thomas (b. 1757), with his wife Margery, would eventually lay out a town they named "Hardscrabble” in the vicinity of the mill, which has been shortened to "Scrabble” - they may have been trying to develop a town like their neighbors the Shepherds). The ferry operation was left to son Benoni, along with the plantation on the Maryland side of the river.


Will, 4 April 1760. 3 June 1760. Wife: Sarah SWEARENGEN to receive one negro girl. Daughter: Drusills MORGAN, Sarah SWEARENGEN, Eleanor SWEARENGEN. Sons: Thomas SWEARENGEN – plantation: sons Andrew, Van, Zachariah, Joseph, Bernoni SWEARENGEN – all to receive land. Exrs: son Thomas SWEARENGEN. Wit: Van SWEAREHGEN, John CHAMPION, Rachel WILKINS.


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Capt. Thomas Swearingen of the Ferry's Timeline

April 8, 1708
Queen Anne Par, Prince George's, Maryland, USA
December 14, 1735
Age 27
Jefferson, West Virginia
February 2, 1737
Age 28
Jefferson , Virginia
Age 33
Jefferson, WV, USA
Age 37
Prince George's, Maryland
Age 38
Virginia, United States
Age 39
July 10, 1754
Age 46
Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia, United States
Age 46
Shepardstown, Jefferson, West Virginia