The Blackwooders

February 2002                                                Detroit, Michigan                                            Sixth Edition 
The Arrival of Tomys Swartwout and Family

What we are Celebrating in 2002

Tomys Swartwout, the son of Rolef and Catryna Swartwout, was born in Groningen, Holland, in 1607. On June 3, 1631, he was married to Hendrickjen, daughter of Barent and Jacomijntje Otsen. They had four children Roeloff, abt May 1634, Barent, about July 1638, Tryntje (Catryna), born December 15, 1639, and Jacomijntje, born February 10, 1646.

Tomys Swartwout was associated with his brothers at Amsterdam as a tobacco dealer, during the tulip craze that sent Holland in the 1630s. At the beginning of March of 1652, the family took a brave and courageous step and sailed for the new world. They sorrowfully parted with their kindred and acquaintances gathered on the wharf overlooking the Ij, and embarked, and were borne away from the seat of their first connubial home and early domestic joys. The events of their voyage to New Amsterdam were specialized by no remarkable incidents. On landing at "Manhattans Island," they were cordially greeted by Director-General Stuyvesant, who graciously expressed a desire to assist them in such ways as would enable them to settle speedily and comfortably upon a bouwerij or farm, which they might select under his direction and approval.

It is this bravery that we, connected by generations of descendants to these individuals, celebrate this year. For 350 years, this family has lived, worked and died on this continent, contributing to the history and greatness of this country. May we do so for many centuries to come!

Reunion Information 2002

The 350th Anniversary of the Arrival!

From John Swartwout, one of the organizers for this year's celebration:

Just wanted to let you know that our reunion is confirmed for August 30 to Sept. 2 in Kingston, NY. We have 20 rooms reserved at the Super 8 Motel in Kingston. They will allow those who may wish to stay in a camper to park in the lot there. For those who want water and electric hook-ups there is a KOA campground several miles north in Saugerties.

The motel is very near the old Dutch stockade district in Kingston which contains stone homes built by the Dutch settlers and the Old Dutch Church. It was here that the settlement's first communion was administered by Domine Hermannus Blum on December 26, 1660 to 17 members of the congregation including Roelof Swartwout and his wife Eva. The church contains a Heritage museum. In it are old Dutch artifacts and a place set aside for genealogical research. New York's first governor, George Clinton, is buried in the church yard. A "government on the run," being chased north from New York City by the British Army, the state government moved to Kingston in February 1777.

The old stone home of Abraham VanGaasbeck (built in 1676) housed the first meeting of the New York State Senate. The Senate House has been restored and finished to depict the building as it would have looked in 1777. The Constitutional Convention which ratified the US Constitution on behalf of New York (in which Cornelius Swartwout took part, as is depicted in the mural at the Post Office in Poughkeepsie, NY) was held at the Ulster County Courthouse in the stockade district in April 1777. The courthouse was burned down (along with much of the City) by the British Army in October 1777. It was rebuilt in 1789 and is still in use. A house built prior to 1695, the Henry Sleight House, has been restored by the Wiltwych Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and offers tours and genealogical research resources. Another house built prior to 1679, the Henry Hoffman House, has been restored and is now a restaurant. We hope to include all of these attractions in our itinerary!

I am also looking into including a cruise on the Hudson River on the 300 passenger "Rip Van Winkle" which operates out of Kingston and cruises to West Point and back. And we hope to get to the Post Office in nearby Poughkeepsie to see that famous mural in person! I'll be working on the details and figuring out the costs over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for further details!


Lots of other fun things are being worked on! Spread the word and try to join us in this celebration of our heritage and contributions to the founding of the United States and Canada. Our ancestor definitely made our name known over the years.


Mark Swarthout is coordinating this one in the Detroit Metropolitan area. The current list of possible activities include:

a day at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village. This double adventure has many wonderful exhibits and historically significant items. Included are Admiral Byrd's plane, the theatre chair Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot and a complete replica of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratories. The Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum and many of the other attractions, such as the GM World Headquarters, the Fischer Building and the Fox Theatre are all possible stops. Comerica Park home of the Detroit Tigers may be worth a visit if the team is in town!

Come a day or two early, or stay and extra day or two, and take advantage of the Burton Collection of the Detroit Public Library. This is rated as one of the top five places in the United States to do genealogical research in the New York Library's Reference Manual! (Unfortunately, they are not open over the Labor Day weekend.)

Taking Strength From the Past

Much of this article was first published at Suite101 on September 12, 2001.
In the days following the shocking occurrences, over 1,000 people visited the topic and read this article.

The recent tragedies have underscored the need to know about one's family. It is another reason that genealogists, family historians, or just storytellers, look to the past. I can take strength in knowing that there are others that have gone through things just as horrible as we are experiencing. Such things have happened before. Granted, not quite in the same way and certainly not by the devious means used in New York City. Not quite in the same scale? Oh, yes, certainly in the same scale, even larger. I have mentioned my Great Great Grandfather, John W. Swarthout in previous articles. But when I look at what he went through, I realize that there is a strength within the human being that I wasn't aware of before. Knowing family history allows one to learn more about all of history. And in the process you can discover the resilience of both body and spirit.

On June 3rd, 1863, in an area known as Cold Harbor, Union forces began an assault on Confederate positions. There is no harbor around the area, and it certainly wasn't cold, the temperature hovered in the 90's. In one thirty-minute period, the Union suffered 7,000 casualties. John was one of them. It was horrendous. Men lay dying in the sun for four days before Generals Grant and Lee were able to agree on a cease-fire. By that time the wounded were dead, and the dead were unrecognizable. I have been told that bone fragments are still being found there.

All told, the Union suffered 13,000 casualties and the Confederates another 2,500. John would most likely have been one of the walking wounded; he took a Minnie ball to the right arm. It was five days before he was admitted to the hospital, miles away from the battlefront. It was another 16 days before he was operated on. This is in the days before anesthetics and most painkillers were readily available. Even more amazing, he was able to keep his arm, despite the fact that doctors had already filled in the amputation on his medical card.

But John went on. He spent a year recuperating, traveling from his home to the hospital on a regular basis to be checked and evaluated. He married Martha, had two sons, buried his wife, remarried and had more children. He was active in his community and the GAR. And behind this all was the fact that Ulysses Grant wrote in his memoirs that the attack at Cold Harbor was one of the biggest regrets of his life.

And John's story is not unique, not even in my family. Henry W. Stephens, my 3G Grandfather, fought at Gettysburg. Not just at any place but in defense of Culp's hill under General Greene. He, too, was badly wounded, spending over a year in the hospital recovering from the shoulder wound. Americans, both as a nation and as individuals, have survived many terrible occurrences. We will continue to survive. Our ancestors all went through a great deal just to arrive in this country, some more recently than others, but they came. The expansion westward was not an easy one. But we all have within us the strength it takes to move forward. We need to share this strength with those that have suffered great loss in the recent attacks. And whether it is the loss of family, friends, or just peace of mind, we have a history behind us that urges us forward. May peace be in our hearts always.

For more information on how to find and obtain military records of your ancestors, see the related articles on The Swarthout Family Web site. You can also contact Mark! The numerous indexes available on the World Wide Web and often found in libraries are the best starting point. The National Archives and Records Administration will provide copies of any records available prior to World War I for a reasonable price, usually about $17.50. More current records may be available, but privacy law requirements must be met.

The Swarthout Family Web Site

(You're already there!)

I moved the family web site last fall for a number of reasons. The primary purpose was to have a simpler, easier address to share with others. The second was to reduce the costs associated with running the site. A hit counter was placed on the site in June of 2001. Since then there have been over 1,600 visits to the pages of the Swarthout Family Web Site! I have received emails from all over the world, appreciative of the efforts to preserve the family history. AOL is the single largest provider accessing the site, but Cornell University accounts for two percent of the hits!

A number of awards have been received from some genealogical societies that encourage the establishment of web sites with family data on them. The Gladys Swarthout section is by far the most popular. It appeals to a wide audience that is reminiscing about the glory days of radio and early movies. This section has doubled in size in the last four months, with many new pictures and more information.

If you haven't visited recently, look again! I have also begun dividing out historical information by states. So far New York, Michigan, Texas and Mississippi have pages and Wisconsin is on the way! Thanks to all who have shared pictures, articles and other information for this effort.

Shameless Advertising!

I have become an Associate in an attempt to provide some income from the site to make the site self supporting. Here's how you can help! If you are going to order a book from, click through using my links to the bookseller. They will provide a small percentage of your purchases to me, without increasing your cost!

Swarthout Family Cookbook

I hope you've already gotten yours! Beverlee Swarthout Jenkins has done a wonderful job putting this together. My family was thrilled to open the book and see recipes from my mother, grandmother and grandfather recorded in the pages of this little gem! Bev tells me there are a few left, so contact her at and obtain a copy for your family! Any left over will be for sale at the 2002 Reunion.

A Note from the Editor:

Well, I have been asked to create an edition of the family newsletter. So here it is! If you have other information you would like to contribute to future editions of the newsletter, you can send it to me and I will see that it goes to the appropriate editor.

Mark W. Swarthout, Esq.
416 Dalebrook Lane
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48501

If you would like your own copy of this newsletter, published three or four times a year, it is available for $5 annually through:

Mary Swarthout Rindfleisch
10006 Rindfleisch Road
Clyde, NY 14433

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Copyright Mark W. Swarthout, 2002
Created 2/4/2002