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Jersey Settlers’ descendants to gather

You may have never wondered if you are a descendant of the Jersey Settlers of Adams County, and you may not even know who they are. There are many, many descendants in the area, so let me tell you about them.

The largest land grant in the Natchez area was granted by the King of England in 1767 to Capt. Amos Ogden, who served in the French and Indian War. The grant contained many stipulations regarding settlement of the 25,000 acres, located near Second Creek in south Adams County, 21 miles southwest from the “old Natchez fort.”

These stipulations led Ogden to sell 19,000 acres, at 20 cents an acre, to his New Jersey neighbors, Richard and Samuel Swayze. An additional 1,000 acres was set aside for a town, to include “parsonages, public buildings, burying grounds and parades.” The Swayzes left England for America in 1632 in pursuit of religious freedom and as British loyalists, were becoming increasingly uncomfortable as the winds of revolution began to sweep New Jersey in the early 1770s.

In 1772, Ogden, Richard and Samuel Swayze and Caleb King surveyed the area. The King family had come to America shortly after the Swayzes and the families intermarried. In 1773, the Swayzes and Kings, along with other families (76 people total), returned to the area and planted their first crop. Capt. Ogden intended to return, but died in New York in 1774.

Kingston was named after Caleb King. Samuel Swayze, a protestant minister, organized the first protestant congregation in the Natchez Territory. The congregation had no meeting house and met secretly in private homes for fear of the Spaniards, who did not allow freedom of worship. Tradition has it that the Rev. Samuel Swayze hid his Bible in a hollow tree on the banks of a small stream still known as Sammie’s Creek. Methodism came to the Kingston community in 1799 and the Kingston Methodist Church was organized. The first meeting in the present structure on Kingston Road was held in 1855.

The organization currently known as the Descendants of the Jersey Settlers of Adams County was formed in 1940. The organization has an annual meeting every spring in Kingston. The primary goals of the organization are to maintain two cemetery properties and serve as a resource for genealogical research. Some family names in the area you may be familiar with, in addition to Swayze and King, are Coleman, Griffing, Cory, Luse, Ogden, Carter, Callendar, Farrar, Eaton, McCaleb, McCraine, Soujourner, Drane and Tarver to name just a few. There are many others which may include your family. And, you may be related to some of the famous descendants such as actors Patrick Swayze, William Holden and Tom Hulce!

The 2011 reunion is April 29 through May 1.

For more information about the organization or to attend our annual meeting, contact Karen O’Neal at 601-446-4752 or onealkaren@bellsouth.net.

Karen O’Neal is the vice-president for publicity of the Descendants of the Jersey Settlers.

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