Sunday, April 18, 2010

GGGGGGGG GF Garrett Van Swearingen, Part II

There are portraits of Garrett Van Swearingen and of Barbara DeBarrette Swearingen, available online and picture here. Since Barbara DeBarette died when she was 34, probably in childbirth, then both Garrett and Barbara were 34 years of age of younger in those portraits.

Garrett looks a li-i-i-i-ittle bit older than 34 in his portrait.

But Barbara's portrait is another story. Let me be PERFECTLY frank: She look's like somebody's aging mother, in the portrait!

What happened to them, after their 1659 marriage in Fort Casimir, is probably the best explanation.

Perhaps because the French and Indian War was raging around them, the Dutch were extremely sensitive to the need toi treat the Algonquians tribes around them with carefully-administered justice.

So, on March 1, 1660, Garrett Van Swearingen was appointed to very carefully judge a case involving the murder of an Indian, probably by a Dutchman.

At around the same time, something else was happening in New Amstel which might or might not have been connected to the case of the dead Algonquian.

Very early in 1660, a Dutchman named Jan Gerritsen van Marcken traveled from Stuyvesant's New Amsterdam to collect a debt from one of the people living in or around New Amstel.

With the approval of d’Hinoyossa, President of New Amstel, Garrett Van Swearingen, as "Schout," or Sheriff, of New Amstel, arrested van Marcken, and charged him with an impressive list of criminal violations. Van Marcken was convicted of "just about everything in the book."

On June 7, 1660, Stuyvesant, the overall Governor, reversed the judgment, and ordered Garrett Van Swearingen to pay costs of suit and damages for False Arrest!

A chronicler of the era tells us....

"On August 30, 1660 Garrit van Sweringen and his wife sailed for Amsterdam without obtaining a passport from Stuyvesant. He took with him 31 skins, which he declared, and another 100 skins that he did not declare. He had bribed the supercargo of the ship. In Amsterdam he used the extra 100 skins to bribe the Directors of the West Indies Company."

Lo and behold, "On December 24, 1660, the directors of the Dutch West Indies Company sent Stuyvesant a letter chastising him for overruling Garrit van Sweringen’s case against Jan Gerritsen van Marcken, saying it was politically unwise for him to interfere with the affairs of the City of Amsterdam’s colony at New Amstel."

Was it just a case of "bribery"?

The French and Indian War was a political powder keg. The English, who hated the Dutch, would have loved a pretext for turning the Algonquians upon the Dutch, to accomplish their murder for them.

In light of such considerations, the words to Stuyvesant -- that "it was politically unwise for him to interfere with the affairs of the City of Amsterdam’s colony at New Amstel" -- have a special significance.

The lives of every citizen of New Amstel may have been "in the sling."

I think that, under the circumstances, we should judge Garrett Van Swearingen with special charity, here.

One genealogist says that Garrett and Barbara's first child, Elizabeth, was born to them in 1661. If she was, she was either born in Holland or on board the ship ‘Purmerlander Kerck’ which sailed for America in November, 1661, arriving on February 3, 1662.

While Barbara was pregnant with their second child Zacharia, or shortly after Zachariah's birth, in 1662, something terrible happened. Garrett Van Swearingen murdered a Dutch soldier.

"On the evening of June 20, 1662 three of Stuyvesant’s soldiers were in New Amstel enjoying drinks at Fop Johnson Outhout’s Inn. They went out for a stroll and were having a great time singing. Their path took them near Garrit van Sweringen’s home. He took exception to their singing and after a few shouts fired on the soldiers. His shot killed Hermen Hendricksen van Deventer.

"Stuyvesant’s South River (the Delaware River) deputy, Willem Beeckman, was furious and collected affidavits and interrogatories from witnesses that he forwarded to Stuyvesant. The affidavits and interrogatories were taken in the home of Johan Andersson Stalcop. Perhaps it was considered as the nearest neutral site.

"The Governor of the Colony of the City, d’Hinoyossa, did nothing about it other than temporarily suspending van Sweringen as schout. Stuyvesant felt helpless to do anything about it. He wrote to Amsterdam that he thought the burgomasters of the City of Amsterdam should hear the case.

"Van Sweringen was never tried. Instead his superiors in Amsterdam decided the killing had been done in 'self-defense.' The soldiers were completely unarmed. Garrit van Sweringen was officially pardoned."

On May 1, 1663, Garrett Van Swearingen was reinstated as Fort Sheriff.

In 1664, the world turned upside-down for the Dutch and for Garrett and Barbara Van Swearingen and their family. Relationships with the local Indians finally exploded, and Van Swearingen was dispatched to patrol the vicinity and kill Indians. One chronicler wrote, "He had fought the Mohegan Indians in the forest beyond Beverwych, driving the war bands before him, consuming their villages until the savages begged for mercy. His days went by with battle and nights with watchfullness. Van Sweringen and his company came down from the hills through the forest of Beverwych, to find the city of New Amsterdam had been taken by the English."

Thje English, it turned out, had invested New Amstel and simply stolen it from the Dutch while Van Swearingen was off fighting Indians in the French and Indian War. Here is the Chronicler's full account, including Lord Baltimore's miraculous offer to Garrett and his wife and children...

"Colonel Nicols of England, sent by His Majesty, Charles II, and his deputy Sir Robert Carr were to take over the Dutch colony at New Amstel

"Van Sweringen said wearily, 'Without a blow they took Amsterdam, as if there were no one near.' Then drawing his sword from the scabbard, he kissed its long, straight, splendid blade, and, with sudden of anguish, broke it across his knee, and standing as high as he could in his stirrups he threw the pieces over the wall into the dusty meadow grass. 'Farewell good blade, forever more!, he said, 'forged in honor, honorably brave, shall never be drawn in dishonor. Thou wast wrought to strike for the Netherlands, and thou mayst not strike for the Netherlands. Thy steel was for the Netherlands, my hands are for van Sweringen.' Then he stretched his hands out before him, saying in a piteous, chocking voice, "They are all that is left, I am ruined!' For at first he was thinking of himself, but now he thought of his wife and daughter. He rode through the gate to the house where his wife and daughter were staying, he went quickly. His wife was sitting at the window. 'Barbarah,' he said, 'I am ruined!' and there he stopped, he was chocking. She looked up quietly, 'Yes Garrett,' she said, 'I heard of it. They can not say that I married thee for thy money anymore,' and with that she laughed very softly. Garrett said , 'I have not a guilder to my name, I am brought to beggary.' Barbarah said, 'I am just as rich as thee, dear heart, as ever I was. To be ruined without fault is no disgrace.' She said, 'it matters not to me for I gave up home and everything to go with thee.' His wife was sitting on one side, Elizabeth, his daughter, on the other, sitting upon a foot stool and leaning against his knee. 'Father,' said Elizabeth, 'We don't mind it terrible for us. We shall take a little house, and mother shall do the weaving, and I shall do darning and spin, oh how I can spin, and I shall gather wild hops for the brew, and nuts and berries in the woods. We woman will cook, and thee shall work by the day, and we shall save stuiner by stuirer untill the stockings are full again.'

"About this time there was knock at the door, it was Lord Calvert. Needless to say Garrett van was in no mood for English humor, which he misunderstood. The governor actually came to offer Garrett a position of sheriff in Maryland. 'There are pretty posies hanging their heads in rows for the lass to come and pick. Carr is a dirty scoundrel, I have just told him so to his thieving face.' said Master Calvert. 'Let me make good the wrongs he has done. Then ye shall need no more to curse the English for a pack of thieves and perjurers. Come down to Maryland, van Sweringen, you and all that be yours. Man it will be a happy day! Mistress van Sweringen,' he said, with a laugh and half a choke, 'Prevail with me against this dear, honest fool of thine. He is the most obstinate , argumentative person that I ever stood against. Lord Bal timore had told him you can take up 1,000 acres, at twenty shelling a year. Ye may believe as you please and say what you will, so you be Christian and speak no treasons, and if you will teach us to keep our own lawns as you have kept of the Dutch, you will confer a precious favor on the next Lord Baltimore.' As his long speech ended, he silently bowed, and stood there quietly. Meinheir van Sweringen got up from his seat turning said simply, 'My friend, my good and true friend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, you have put a new light in the world for me.'

"Van Swearingen later testified, ‘Sir Robert Carr did often protest to me, that he did not come as an enemy, but as a friend; demanding, only in friendship, what was the King's own, in that country. There was taken from the City and the inhabitants thereabout, to the value, so near as I can now remember, of four thousand pound sterling, likewise arms, powder and shot in great quantity. Four and twenty guns were, the greatest part, transported to New York.

"The Dutch soldiers were taken prisoners, and given to the merchantmen that were there, in recompense of their services; and into Virginia, they were transported to be sold, as was credibly reported by Sir Robert Carr's officers, and other persons there living in the town.

"All sorts of tools for handicraftsman, and all plough gear, and other things to cultivate the ground, which were in great quantity; besides the estate of Governor Debouissa and myself; except some household stuff and a negro I got away; and some other movables, Sir Robert Carr did permit me to sell.'"

And so, in 1664, our GGGGGGGG GP Garrett Van Swearingen and and Barbara DeBarette Swearingen and their children and Barbara's father and brother moved to St. Mary's County, in southern Maryland, and began a new life there.

Who can blame Barbara DeBarrette for looking 20 to 30 years older than her husband?

More to come.


  1. Hi Peter,

    What an interesting account of Garrett Van Swearingen. Thank you! He appears to have pushed his way through society to acquire the power and money he needed to live comfortably.

    My research indicates Garrett and Barbara Van Swearingen are my 9th great grandparents, the same as your relationship to them.

    How are you related? From which child of theirs do you descend? Where did you get the information of their children's names? My research shows Eleanor, Elizabeth, Joseph and Charles Van Swearingen were their children -- but not limited to them. Go to In the search box at the top of the page, in quotes, enter Garrett Van Swearingen. Click search.

    My relationship:
    Elizabeth Van Swearingen married John Evans. Their daughter Mary Evans married John Pearce III.
    Mary and John's daughter Eleanor Pearce married Samuel DUVALL.
    Their son John Pearce DUVALL married Martha ? . John P. Duvall was a founder of this country, a senator and delegate to the Virginia Assembly, who lived in Virginia, pioneered what is now West Virginia and died in 1803 in Mason County, KY.
    Their son Notley Duvall married Jemima ? .
    Notley and Jemima Duvall's daughter Martha "Patsy" Duvall married Thomas Harrison.
    Tom and Patsy's daughter Nancy Harrison married William H. Miller in Mason County, KY.
    Will and Nancy's daughter Lauretta "Retta" F. Miller married Joseph Gasdorf.
    Retta and Joe were my great grandparents.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Jill (Gasdorf) Topper

  2. Hi, Jill.

    How I love these contacts from ballsy distant relatives.

    I checked carefully. You are my "ninth cousin once removed." "Once removed" here means that you are in the generation beneath me, in the generation of my children, though I am 57 yoa. You are my children's "tenth cousin." Here is how.

    Peter J. Dawson (me), s of
    Eleanore Anne Eitelman (m), d of
    Edward Decatur Eitelman (gf), s of
    May Katherine Pitman (g gm), d of
    Decatur Pitman (gg gf), s of
    Eleanore Amanda Williams (ggg gm), d of
    Cong. Jared Williams (gggg gf), s of
    Anne Swearingen (gggg g gm), d of
    John Swearingen (gggg gg gf), s of
    Thomas Swearingen (gggg ggg gf), s of

    GARRETT VAN SWEARINGEN AND ELIZABETH DE BARRETT (gggg gggg gp), our common ancestors, p of

    Elizabeth Van Swearingen (my gggg ggg grand aunt), m of
    Mary Evans (my 1st c, 8 tr), m of
    Eleanor Pearce (my 2nd c, 7 tr), m of
    John Pearce Duvall (my 3rd c, 6 tr), f of
    Notely Duvall (my 4th c, 5 tr), f of
    Martha "Patsy" Duvall (my 5th c, 4 tr), m of
    Nancy Harrison (my 6th c, 3 tr), m of
    Loretta("Retta") F. Miller (my 7th c, 2 tr), m of
    Your GM (my 8th c, 1 tr), m of
    Your M (my 9th c), m of
    You (my 9th c, 1 tr).

    There it is.

    I'll try to answer your other questions in subsequent posts.

  3. The web is full of information on Van Swearingen, simply because he was one of the founders of the state of Delaware. There is also a book discussing Van Swearingen in significant detail.

    The state of Maryland has turned his Maryland home into a state historical site!

  4. Hi Pete,

    A few days ago I listened to your message and saved it. Thank you for sharing your information.

    This last month I've been trying to put a dent in my list of overdue tasks. It's always something. I will get back with you asap.

    During our discretionary time our grandkids take priority over most everything. When we have the opportunity to see them we jump at the chance.

    Today your ancestral information was entered into my database. It will be posted at I would like you to review it.

    Thanks again for calling Pete. Talk to you sooner than later.

    More later,

  5. Elizabeth Van Swearingen (my gggg ggg grand aunt), m of
    Mary Evans (my 1st c, 8 tr), m of
    Eleanor Pearce (my 2nd c, 7 tr), m of
    John Pearce Duvall (my 3rd c, 6 tr), f of
    Notely Duvall (my 4th c, 5 tr), f of
    Martha "Patsy" Duvall [married to Thomas Harrison] (my 5th c, 4 tr), m of
    Nancy Harrison (my 6th c, 3 tr), m of
    Loretta("Retta") F. Miller [married to Joseph Gasdorf] (my 7th c, 2 tr), m of
    Your GRFATHER Frank Christopher Gasdorf, Sr. (my 8th c, 1 tr), m of
    Your FATHER, Jack Gasdorf (my 9th c), m of
    You > Jill S. (Gasdorf) Topper (my 9th c, 1 tr).
    In 1987 I changed my surname to Topper, a family name on my mother's side. My maiden name Gasdorf was often misspelled. I couldn't cope with another Gassdorf, Gastorf, Gastdorf, Gazdorf, Gasdof, etc. I'm married to Jim Wiesner (pronounced Weez-ner).

  6. Hi my name is Jannell Swearingen and I just found out that Garrett is my 11th Great Grandfather. Here is how we're related.

    Me Jannell Swearingen
    My Dad Russell Swearingen Jr.
    Grand Father Russell Swearingen Sr.
    G-Grandfather James Edward Swearingen
    GGG Samuel Swearingen Jr.
    GGGG Samuel Swearingen Sr.
    GGGGG William Swearingen
    GGGGGG Jordan Swearingen
    GGGGGGG John Swearingen
    GGGGGGGG Thomas Swearingen
    GGGGGGGGG Garrett Swearingen

    I recently researched my family tree and before I didn't know past James Edward my Great Grandfather.

    I live in Portland Oregon.

    Jannell Swearingen

  7. No I had it wrong. It goes

    Russ Swearingen Jr.
    Grandfather Russ Swearingen Sr.
    G-Grandfather James Edward Swearingen.
    GG-Grandfather Samuel Swearingen
    GGG-Grandfather William Swearingen
    GGGG-Grandfather Van Swearingen
    GGGGG-Grandfather John Swearingen
    GGGGGG-Grandfather Thomas Van Swearingen
    GGGGGGG-Grandfather Garrett Van Swearingen

    I just found this out last week that we were related.
    Recently one day I was board and I was wondering what happened to my father's relatives, and I looked up my last name on the internet and found Garrett Van Swearingen.
    He eerily looks just like my dad. My dad has the same deep set eyes that are the same color shape and everything, the same shape face, forehead, hair and build. I also have the same eyes and hair. It was really strange.
    Then I looked up my family tree on and confirmed that I'm directly related to Garrett Van Swearingen. You could immagine my surprise. I had no idea that my family went back that far.

    Jannell Swearingen

    1. Hello, I believe I am the 1st cousin 2x removed from Russell Sr. If my research is correct Russell Sr. was killed in action in the Battle of the Bulge. Therefore, your father would not have known him well. Glen Scott Swearingen, Idaho,

  8. Daughter ... Me
    Mother ... Madeline Swearingen 1926 to present
    Grampa (G'pa) Ralph Edward Swearingen 1887-1975
    G-G'pa Charles Edward Swearingen 1852-1909
    GG-G'pa John J. Swearingen 1815-1880
    GGG-G'pa Barkley Swearingen 1790-1843
    GGGG-G'pa John Swearingen (Jr) 1752-1844
    GGGGG-G'pa John Swearingen 1721-1794
    GGGGGG-G'pa Van Swearingen 1692-1785
    GGGGGGG-G'pa Thomas Van Swearingen 1660-1710
    GGGGGGGG-G'pa Garrett Van Swearingen 1636-1698
    GGGGGGGGG-G'pa Albert Sweringen 1610 no further dates could be found. He was married to Mary, no last name.

    Just found this, this morning. It's nice to see so many "unknown" relatives. I was amazed as well when I started my journey traveling back in time. Thank you for the information you have it was nice to read! God Bless You!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Oh one more thing .. With Garrett:
    his father Albert Van Sweringen abt 1620
    his mother Mary Van Sweringen abt 1634

    Garrett's GFather David Janse Swieringh ABT 1594
    Garrett's GMother Jester Jacobs ABT 1598
    all born in Netherlands.
    the spelling for David J. Swieringh is weird but that's the way it has it on the records. That's as far back as I can go with the Swearingen side. God Bless,

  11. My research shows has taken me to the German name Von Schwerin. The counts of Schwerin where Nobels who originally had this name as a title. There is a Castle and City in Germany named Schwerin.