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254    SWAIN FAMILY CEMETERY (1840, removed Dec 1869)

      Location - In Chapel Hill Township on the campus of the University of North Carolina. Original burial place of former North Carolina Governor and UNC President David L. Swain, Sr.

      Coordinates: 35d 54m 55.0s N; 79d 02m 53.5s W Click here for Google maps

      Survey - Steve Rankin identified this location and documented the cemetery for the survey in 2010 based on historical records. Milton Forsyth contributed additional research while preparing this summary. The coordinates indicating the cemetery location are estimated.

      Comments - The Swain family cemetery was located roughly in between what is known as the "President's House" built in 1906, located at 402 East Franklin Street and the "Love House" built in 1887, located at 410 East Franklin Street. It was in the garden behind what was known as the "Second President's House" built circa 1812 on Chapel Hill Town lot 19, and which burned in 1886 [Boudreaux, pp. 12-24].

      In late 1835 David Lowry Swain, Sr., the 26th Governor of North Carolina who served from 1832-1835, was elected the fourth president of the university. In January 1836 he assumed his duties and the Swain family soon moved to Chapel Hill into a house on Franklin Street east of the Chapel of the Cross. In 1849 they moved to the "Second President's House" and resided there until after his death in the home in 1868 [Battle, I: 425-426; II: 346]. President Swain died from injuries suffered in a buggy accident weeks after having been removed from office by a new Board of Education established by the Reconstruction government. Mrs. Swain left the residence for Raleigh by December 1868 and had the family burials removed to the new Raleigh Oakwood Cemetery in December 1869 [Barile, pp. 119, 192].

      Who was buried here depends on when the Swains moved into the house (i. e., 1836 or 1849). Those definitely buried here "in the garden under the cedar trees" were Anne Caroline Swain (1830-1867) and David Lowry Swain, Sr. (1801-1868), as well as Susan E. Burt Swain (1839-1862), 1st wife of Richard Caswell Swain [Barile, pp. 94, 118-119, 192-193]. Also buried here may have been David Lowry Swain, Jr. (1834-1840) and the Swain's infant daughter, Eleanor (the first of that given name, b-d 1842) [Ref David: memorial stone, Oakwood Cemetery; Ref Eleanor: birth - Barile, p. 128; death - Shirley Jones Mallard, "Hillsborough Recorder Notices," p. 98]. All these burials are now listed on CemeteryCensus.com in the Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh (Wake Co. Cem #073). The actual Oakwood Cemetery records are incorrect or insufficient.

      The Swain's daughter Eleanor Hope (Ella, 1842-1881) became locally famous for having married in August 1865 the Union Army General Smith D. Atkins (1835-1913). Following the marriage they made their home in Freeport, Stephenson Co., Illinois. Ella's brother, Richard Caswell Swain (1837-1872), a physician, also removed to Illinois near the Atkins family. He was killed in an accident and buried in Freeport. Ella died of influenza while visiting Raleigh in 1881 and is buried in the Swain plot in Raleigh's Oakwood Cemetery; her husband is buried in Freeport [see Barile].

      Major References - A useful source for locating the cemetery area and understanding the history of the houses in this area is Chapter 2 of the report by Edmond A. Boudreaux, R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr., and Brett H. Riggs, "Archaeological Investigations at the James Lee Love House on the University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, North Carolina," (Research Report No. 23. Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, 2004). Available online in 2010.

      A major history source regarding the Swain period at the university is Kemp P. Battle, "History of the University of North Carolina. Volume I (1789-1868) and Vol II (1868-1912)," (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1907 & 1912). Battle was an 1849 graduate of UNC and served as president and its major historian in later years. He was a student of William Mercer Green, who he says occupied the "Second President's House" until 1849 when he left to become the Episcopal Bishop of Mississippi. Available online.

      The definitive source for the David Swain family history is the excellent book by Suzy Barile, "Undaunted Heart: The True Story of A Southern Belle & a Yankee General," (Hillsborough, NC: Eno Publishers, 2009). Ms. Barile, a 1975 UNC graduate of the School of Journalism, is a descendant of Ella Swain Atkins and had access to extensive family papers as well as other material that was not available 100 years ago to Battle.




Web page updated 13 May 2017


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