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The Missing Generation – Clementius Swearingen Jack

One of the large errors from Matohe is a missing generation. This is really unfortunate, because it directly impacts the author’s line. It is however an easy mistake to make, because Clem Jack was really the missing son and it took a lot of piecing things together to figure out that he existed.

Clementius Swearingen Jack was the eldest son of John Jack and Lucy Smith, his exact birth date is unknown. He married a woman named Mary Elizabeth and had two children, John and George Thomas. These two children have incorrectly been attributed to John and Lucy for many years. George Thomas is the link to Matohe author, Cathy Smoot Carson.

Clem Jack died sometime after 1844 and before 1850 and his wife Mary died soon after. Their two boys were bonded by the court to foster families in 1853. This information can be found in the Orphan books in the Bath County courthouse, though I do not have a record. A very knowledgeable volunteer gave me a lot of good information on the boys, though in the short amount of time that I had there, she could not relocate the actual bond. The court books are in date order and completely unindexed, so it takes a good deal of time to locate information.

I believe this solves two of the questions the author raised in her book. One was about the story of that her aunt told of her Grandfather “John” dying before grandmother “Lucy” because Lucy had grieved herself to death in the woods after her husband’s death. Cathy Carson alleged that the grieving widow must in fact be Gemima since Lucy had died before John. However, given that the Grandfather was not John but was in fact Clem, the story now makes sense. Clem died at a young age leaving a young widow with two small children. So it is believable that she wandered off into the woods and did not return. The circumstances of neither death are known at this time.

It also answers why the children were bonded out rather than being raised by John and his next wife Gemima. (Well it doesn’t but it asks it differently). John wasn’t refusing to care for his own child, he opted not to care for his grandchild. Why? We still don’t really know, but it’s not quite as cold hearted as if it were his child with Lucy.

Clem is largely undocumented. He and Mary both died prior to 1850, which is when the Census began listing every individual in a household. It was very likely that in 1840 he was living in another household and not his own, which means he’s only a tick mark in a category. But he is referenced in a couple of important places that finally clued me into his existence.

One is the marriage record of George Thomas Jack in Rockbridge County. It lists him as the son of Clemensa [sic] Jack. This record list George as a farmer living in Bath County and puts his age as 28 when he married Sarah Vest on March 1, 1875.

The second piece of documentation on Clem was a the will of Clementious Swearingen, filed in 1844. It leaves 125 acres of land to his beloved grandson, Clementious Swearingen Jack. Clementious Swearingen was a prominent Bath County citizen with a fair amount of wealth. His family is well documented and immigrated from the Netherlands in the late 17th century and were instrumental in the founding of St. Mary’s in Maryland. The name Swearingen is found in many Bath county deeds and bonds of this era. How exactly he’s related to the Jack’s is still a mystery.

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