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Catalog Number 3389
Title Cane, Staff, English, 17th. Cent.; Of the Swain Family
Object Name Cane
Description Of the Swain Family; Metal Tip, Ivory Handle
Culture English
Material Wood (yew or orange), ivory
Length (in) 39.875
Diameter (in) 1.75
History John Farrar Swain, a native of Reading, VT, who, about 1857, located on a homestead 5 miles south of Papillion, Sarpy County, Nebraska, and resided in that vicinity until his death on April 1, 1891. Following his death, the cane passed to his son, Elmer P., following whose death in 1913 it passed to his eldest son, Lloyd E., now (in 1942) a resident of San Diego, Calif. The latter, having no son, placed the cane in the custody of Robert E. Swain, a nephew, now enlisted for U.S. Army service during WWII. Undoubtedly the cane, more properly know as a quarterstaff, is more than 400 years old. It was brought to America by Swains who came from England or Scotland about 1638 and settled at Reading, Mass. For unknown generations preceding that period, and subsequently, the cane has been held by a male member of the Swain family in each succeeding generation, usually descending from father to eldest son. Dangers attendant with the participation of present descendants of John Farrar Swain in WWII, which may disturb the traditional line of descension, prompt this means of custodianship. The quarterstaff was carried by early landowners of England and Scotland as a combined walking stick and weapon, or cudgel.
John Farrar Swain descended from Jeremiah Swain, who came from England or Scotland in 1638-39 and settled at Reading, Mass. His father, Nathaniel Swain II (1769 - 1850), was one of the founders of Reading, VT. As a young man, in harmony with traditions of the family during Colonial and Revolutionary days, John Farrar Swain enlisted for military service. In 1839 he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 24th regiment, 2nd brigade, 3rd division, of the Vermont State Militia. In 1851, with his wife and four children then living, he joined other Vermonters in moving to Grand Detour, Ill., where John Deere had established a factory for the manufacture of his invention, the plough moulding board. His first wife Lydia (Davis) Swain, died in 1854. Two years later, he married Marcia Saphronia Kingsley, a widow with two children. One year later, the family moved to Nebraska, crossing the Missouri River by ferry at Omaha or Bellevue, and finally located on a homestead in Sec. 15, Twp. 13, R. 12 E., 5 miles south of Papillion. Indian scares and crises growing out of the possible extension of slave-holding territory, led to the organization of a local militia in Sarpy County, and in view of his military experience, John F. Swain was chosen drill master. At the outbreak of the Civil War this company became the nucleus of the Nebraska regiment which followed Gen. John M. Thayer's command under General Grant. Later it became know as Company B, First Nebraska regiment. In his advanced years, John Farrar Swain retired and moved to Papillion. While on a visit to Springfield, Nebraska, he was stricken with a stroke of paralysis which resulted in his death April 1, 1891. The children of John F. and Lydia (Davis) Swain were: Frances M. Married Payson A. Pierce, and resided in Vermont and New Hampshire until her death at Claremont, NH in 1930; Elvira. Died in infancy.; Elmer P. Resided in Sarpy and Otoe counties, Nebraska. Died at Omaha in 1913.; Lucia R. Married James E. Campbell, and resided in Sarpy and Douglas counties. Died at Omaha in 1909.; Lewis. Twin brother of Lucia. Died in Sarpy County in 1863. The children of John F. and Marica (Kingsley) Swain were: Ellen. Married James E. Pike, and resided in Sarpy and Cedar counties. Died in Cedar County in 1910.; Mary V. Married George J. TImberlake, and now (in 1942) resides at Omaha, NE.; Albert K. Now (in 1942) resides near Reserve, Kansas.; Oliver C. Resided in Sarpy and Cedar counties. Died in Cedar County in 1917.
Credit line Swain, N/R, N/R