While the Revolutionary War was fought hundreds of miles from Southwestern Pennsylvania, historians point out that more than 1,000 veterans of our nation's fight for independence are buried in Washington County.
Revolutionary War researchers Gary Timmons of Wheeling and Ron Eisert of Washington are compiling a booklet that indexes the names and, in many cases, grave sites of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Washington County.
"We started five or six years ago with lists previously compiled by other researchers," said Mr. Timmons, a member of the George Washington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. "It's an ongoing process."
Already the compilation titled "Revolutionary War Patriots Buried in Washington County" is 70 pages with 60 copies sold or donated to libraries, historical societies and individuals.
One of the most prominent names in the compilation is that of Capt. Andrew Swearingen, Washington County treasurer, contractor for the county's first courthouse and elder of the Presbyterian Church. During the Revolutionary War, he and his scouts served in Gen. Lachlan McIntosh's 1778 expedition to the "Ohio Country" when Fort McIntosh (Beaver County) and Fort Laurens (Tuscarawas County, Ohio) were built.
From March until November 1781, Swearingen commanded a 28-man company of Rangers on the Frontier in the newly created Washington County. The following year, he commanded a company of 65 men in the Third Battalion of the county militia and participated in the Crawford Campaign in Ohio.
While Swearingen was treasurer of Washington County from 1783 until 1786, he and John Hoge served as contractors for the first courthouse of Washington County, which was started in 1783 and finished in 1787. His brother Van Swearingen, was the county's first sheriff.
The son of Thomas and Sarah (Morgan) Swearingen, Andrew Swearingen was born Feb.17, 1747, at Swearingen Ferry, in what is now Jefferson County, W.Va. According to ninth-generation descendant, Toni Osegueda of Apex, N.C., Swearingen's father operated the ferry service and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. George Washington ran against Hugh West and Thomas Swearingen for a seat in that house; Washington lost by a substantial margin.
About 1770, his son, Andrew, married Elizabeth Chaplin, with whom he had three children, Joseph, Sarah and Thomas. In 1772, he and his family moved to a farm along Chartiers Creek in present day South Strabane. Swearingen died on June 26, 1824, on his farm and is buried with family members in the Cooke Cemetery, located near the present Washington Golf Club.
"About 20 people are buried in the cemetery, named for the Cooke family, whose son, John Lytleton Cooke, married Swearingen's daughter, Sarah," said Patricia Stavovy of Washington, member of the National Pike Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and organizer of a dedication ceremony of a metal plaque at Swearingen's grave site held in August.
Swearingen descendants, Mrs. Osegueda of North Carolina, Lola Weber of Longview, Wash., and Anita McElwee of McKeesport and her two children, Christina and Patrick, attended the dedication along with members of the Washington County Historical Society. Pennsylvania Daughters of the American Revolution; George Washington Chapter and the Ebenezer Zane Chapter (Ohio) of Sons of the American Revolution.
Mrs. Osegueda said research found the Swearingen family traces its beginnings in the United States to Garrit Van Sweringen, who left his native Holland in 1656 at age 21 onboard the ship Prince Maurice where he served was an employee of the Dutch West Indies Company.
The ship foundered off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., on March 9, 1657, after which he made his way on the ship Beaver to New Amstel (now New Castle), Del., where he was appointed commissary general. When the British took the colony from the Dutch in 1664, Van Sweringen and his family fled to St. Mary's, Md.
Andrew Swearingen was Van Sweringen's great-great-great grandson, and the Washington County Historical Society holds his journal in its historic collections. While on a visit to Pittsburgh, Mrs. Osegueda and a cousin discovered a paper encased in a plastic sheath in an antique store that instructed Andrew Swearingen, Washington County treasurer, to pay a certain party for wolf scalps he had collected. Mrs. Osegueda purchased and kept the document.
Photos of Swearingen's gravestone and plaque as well as those of other Revolutionary War veterans buried in Washington County can be viewed online at GeorgeWashingtonChapter.com. To access the photos, click on the Historical Records link.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer; firstname.lastname@example.org.