Monday, August 4, 2008

James A. Swann, Part 2

Previously [Blog August 2, 2008] I wrote what the censuses, deeds, and newspapers told us about James Swann, a free African American, that kept a tavern/restaurant in Port Tobacco in the mid-1800s. Possibly the artifacts he and his family left behind could tell more. But first we need to know where his land was. So I went back to the deeds.

The first clue is the land that James purchased in Port Tobacco in 1843/6. It consisted of a lot (Land Record JB 25/276) and an undivided half of a lot (Land Records WM 2/29, in which Swann is described as a “free man of color”). Both were described as lying in the Town of Port Tobacco on what is commonly called the "Point", and James already had possession of both in 1846. James was living on the half-lot in 1843. This half-lot was described as being marked and designated on the plat of Charles Town (Port Tobacco) as Lot #4. Too bad we cannot find a copy of that plat.

Another clue to the location is provided by deeds in April 1852 (Land Record RHM 1/386) and February 1868 (Land Record GAH 1/393) for a certain unimproved lot owned by Peregrine Davis’ Peregrine Davis’ unimproved lot was described as being bounded on the north and west by Port Tobacco Run. It adjoined the property of James Swann on the east and the property of Henry A Neale on the south. Peregrine Davis bought the lot in 1852, and he gave it to his daughter Victoria Hughes in 1868. The description of this lot was the same in both deeds except that the later deed referred to Henry A Neale Sr.

So we know the land was near Port Tobacco Run and was probably on the outskirts of the town (since it had a low lot number). And it should be north of the land belonging to Henry A Neale, Sr. Also since an oyster restaurant was located on the land, there should be lots of oyster shells.


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