Residents adding historical details to headstone find

Published on Sunday, 2 February 2014 23:19 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA




A baby’s headstone unearthed at a downtown Tyler construction site last month led several people to independently research the background of the family.

William T. Swinney was 2 months old when he died, but using the names of his parents, Charles T. and Josephine Swinney, readers learned much about his family history.

Based on Tyler resident Larry Bruce Swinney’s records, the baby’s father, Charles Thomas Swinney, was born in 1863.

Larry traces his Swinney roots back through the line of Marcus Boren Dimpse Swinney, one of Charles Thomas’ brothers.

There are some discrepancies regarding Charles’ birthdate.

Reader Rex Kirby, who cited the 1900 census, said his birth date was in September 1864.

Charles was the sixth of 11 children born to Thomas Troup and Caroline Frances Day Swinney, according to Larry’s records.

The couple married in 1850 in Chambers County, Alabama, and had three children in that state, one child in Louisiana, three children, including Charles in Arkansas, and four children, including a set of twins in Texas.

On April 3, 1882, Charles Thomas Swinney married Josephine E. “Josie” Sanders in Smith County, according to information provided by Grand Rapids, Mich., resident Deb Rooth, who found the information online while searching for her family history.

She said William T. was the couple’s first child, and she believes he is buried in the Linden Cemetery, which is in Cass County. He parents are buried there, but Ms. Booth thinks William T. has an unmarked grave.

Sam Kidd, of the Smith County Historical Society, previously said Charles and Josie listed their occupation as farmers in the 1890 census.

The couple had seven living children at the time of the 1900 census with the oldest born in 1885, reader Susan White wrote.

One of the brothers of baby William was Thomas Wiley Swinney, who was born in 1887 in Cass County, according to records provided by Larry Swinney.

Thomas worked as a carpenter and outlived two wives before dying in 1972 of a bleeding peptic ulcer. He was 85.

He was buried in Mason Cemetery in Arp, according to a copy of his death certificate.

Larry Swinney said he knew some of William T.’s uncles, who lived until the middle of the 20th century.

Larry’s grandfather, Tommy Blackman Swinney, would have been a first cousin to William T. However, he was born in 1886, after the baby died.

Larry said he thinks it’s fantastic that the construction workers found the baby’s tombstone and said it would be nice for it to be placed near other Swinney relatives or in a museum.

However, he didn’t necessarily want the tombstone for himself. He said it’s enough to know that it was found.

Business editor Casey Murphy and staff writer Kenneth Dean contributed to this report.