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Adams and Swift Family Papers


George Mott Swift (ca. 1823-1883), a merchant in Yanceyville, Caswell County, was married in 1856 to Isabella Crane Lowndnes (d.1934). Their daughter, Lizzie Lowndes, married Spencer Bell Adams (1861-1943) in 1884. Adams had studied at the Dick and Dillard Law School at Greensboro, where he received his license to practice law in 1882 before establishing his practice in Yanceyville. There he held several positions, including that of elected clerk of the Superior Court of Caswell County. By 1899 Adams and his family were living in Greensboro, where he practiced law, and served as chairman of the state Republican Party, 1905-1910. Their six children included Joseph Allen Adams (1893-1939), als ... (more below)

Title

Adams and Swift Family Papers

Collection Number

PC.1764

Date(s)

1856-1928

Language

English

Physical Description
Box
1
Cubic feet
.33
Physical Description
Boxes
1.00
Cubic feet
0.33
Abstract

George Mott Swift (ca. 1823-1883), a merchant in Yanceyville, Caswell County, was married in 1856 to Isabella Crane Lowndnes (d.1934). Their daughter, Lizzie Lowndes, married Spencer Bell Adams (1861-1943) in 1884. Adams had studied at the Dick and Dillard Law School at Greensboro, where he received his license to practice law in 1882 before establishing his practice in Yanceyville. There he held several positions, including that of elected clerk of the Superior Court of Caswell County. By 1899 Adams and his family were living in Greensboro, where he practiced law, and served as chairman of the state Republican Party, 1905-1910. Their six children included Joseph Allen Adams (1893-1939), also an attorney, who enlisted for military service 27 June 1917, then trained and served until 1919 at various U.S. Army camps and forts throughout the Southeast. The younger Adams was in demand during the 1920s as a speaker at area patriotic and veterans' events.

Papers include letters, telegrams, military certificates and forms, clippings, and speeches to patriotic and veterans groups, etc., clippings, and a small quantity of correspondence and estate, land, and legal papers involving the Swift, and related families of Yanceyville, Caswell County; Greensboro, Guilford County. The earliest documents concern parcels of land that Joseph M. Swift purchased from heirs of Elijah Graves and from Virginia (Graves) McDonald, for property in Yanceyville of her mother, the late Ann (Lea) Graves, 1856-1883.

Physical Location

For current information on the location ofthese materials, please consult the Public Services Branch, North Carolina State Archives.

Creator

Adams, Spencer BellAdams, Joseph AllenSwift, Joseph Mott

Repository

State Archives of North Carolina


Arranged by type of series and arranged chronologically thereunder, with a few exceptions in the last series. The four series are as follows: Land and Estate Records of Joseph Mott Swift, 1856-1883; Correspondence to Spencer Bell Adams and Isabella Swfit Regarding Estate, Property, and Other Subjects, 1885-1899; Spencer Bell Adams Personal and Professional Papers, 1906-1936; Joseph Allen Adams, 1917-1928.


Available for research.


Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.


Processed by Fran Tracy-Walls, March 2012

Encoded by Fran Tracy-Walls, March 2012


Spencer Bell Adams (1861-1943):

Spencer Bell Adams (S. B. Adams) was born in Surry County in 1861, to Sarah A. and John A. Adams, natives of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He studied law at the Dick and Dillard Law School at Greensboro, where he received his license to practice law in 1882. Adams soon located at Yanceyville, Caswell County, where he held several positions including elected clerk of the Superior Court of Caswell County. He was reelected every four years until 1896 when he won election as Judge of the Superior Court of the Fifth Judicial District. He resigned from that position in 1898 when he ran for Congress in that same district.

In Caswell County S.B. Adams had met his wife-to-be, Lizzie Lowndes Swift, daughter of Joseph M. and Isabella Crane (Lowndes) Swift. Lizzie and S.B. were married in 1884 and became the parents of six children. In 1899 Adams and his family moved to Greensboro. Continuing his political career, in 1900 S.B. Adams was the Republican candidate for governor and subsequently served as chairman of the Republican Party in North Carolina, 1905-1910. He died in 1943, at Charlotte.

Joseph Allen Adams (1893-1939):

Joseph Allen Adams was one of the six children born to S.B. and Lizzie Swift Adams. He was graduated from Wake Forest College in 1915 with a LL.B. degree and later practiced law in Greensboro. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, 26 June 1917, first with Ambulance Co. 31 at Greensboro, N.C., and was honorably discharged as a Color Sergeant, Hdq. Co., 323rd Infrantry. After completion of Officers Candidate Training, he served, then honorably discharged as a second lieutenant in March 1919. All of Adams' service was in the United States at installations including Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.; Camp Jackson, S.C.; Camp Sevier, S.C.; and Camp McArthur, Waco, Texas. A member of the American Legion and other organizations, Allen Adams was well known as an orator, and was often featured as a speaker at various gatherings and events in the Greensboro area.

Swift and Lowndes (variation: Lownes) Families of Caswell County:

The parents of Lizzie Lowndes Swift were Isabella Crane Lowndes (1840-1934)and George Mott Swift (ca. 1823-1883), a merchant with a general merchandise store in Yanceyville, Caswell County (  N.C. Business Directory, 1877-1878). He and Isabella were married in 1856 in Caswell County. She was a daughter of Eliza Fowlkes and Francis Burkett (variants: Birket, Birckett) Lowndes (1813-1897). Eliza and Burkett were born in Virginia, but were living in Caswell County probably before 1840. Yanceyville, Caswell County, was the birthplace of their six or seven children.

One daughter of Eliza and Burkett, Eliza J. or Lizzie Lowndes (ca. 1859-1940), was celebrated in the town as a teacher, and principal at the Yanceyville Female Academy, and later continued her career in Danville, Virginia as an educator associated with Roanoke College. One of the sons, George Steel Lowndes (1847-1931), moved to Atlanta as a young man, and achieved a degree of prominence in business as a director of Atlanta Trust Company, and apparently served briefly as a partner in the Coca-Cola Co., before selling rights and the Coke formula to the legendary Asa G. Candler. Census records in 1900 and the contents of this collection show that Isabella C. Lowndes Swift at some point after the death of her husband went to Atlanta, where her brother had settled, as also did her son, Robert Burkett Swift. A death record shows that Belle (possibly Isabella) Swift died in Atlanta, Fulton County, August 1934.

Sources consulted in addition to the contents of the collection: North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975; North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868. United States Census: 1840; 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920. Georgia Deaths 1919-98. Additionally, Moore Publishing Co., Durham, comps.,  A History of Caswell County, North Carolina: 1777-1977 (Moore Publishing Co., Durham), 339-340, 395;  N.C. Business Directory, 1877-1878)


[Identification of item], PC.1764, Finding Aid of the Adams and Swift Family Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC, USA.


Received in 1979 as a transfer from the McDaniel Lewis Papers, PC.697, which in turn were a gift of the McDaniel Lewis Estate.


Additional information on topics found in this collection may be found in the Manuscript and Archives Reference System (MARS)  http://mars.archives.ncdcr.gov/.


These are the papers of the Swift family along with papers of Spencer Bell Adams of Caswell and Guilford County and Joseph Allen Adams of Guilford County. The earliest documents are land and estate records of Joseph Mott Swfit, 1856-1883, including indentures, plats, etc. concerning land purchased from members of the Graves family, Caswell Count. The papers of Spencer Bell Adams include a small amount of papers concerning the heirs of Joseph Swift who died without a will, 1883, including a letter from attorney J.A. Long (Long and Strudwick, Durham, N.C.) to Spencer Bell Adams, referencing Mrs. Swift (Isabelle C. Lowndes) and her sister Lizzie Lowndes and her father. Additionally there is a 1899 letter from a grandson, [Philip?] Hunter Jeter to his grandmother, Isabella C. L. Swift (then living in Atlanta), and discussing her property and some family financial concerns.


  • Adams family.
  • Graves family.
  • Jeter family.
  • Lownes family.
  • Lowndes family.
  • Swift family.
  • American Legion.
  • Republican Party (N.C.)
  • Baptist churches--North Carolina--History.
  • Clerks of court--North Carolina--Caswell County
  • Courts--North Carolina--History--19th century.
  • Estates (Law)--North Carolina--History--19th century.
  • Lawyers
  • Patriotism--North Carolina--Greensboro.
  • Widows--North Carolina--Caswell County
  • World War, 1914-1918--Veterans.
  • Caswell County (N.C.)
  • Greensboro (N.C.)
  • Greensboro (N.C.)
  • Guilford County (N.C.)
  • Yanceyville (N.C.)
  • Indentures.
  • Speeches.
  • Adams, Joseph Allen
  • Adams, Spencer Bell.
  • Long, J. A.
  • McDonald, Virginia Y. Graves
  • Swift, Isabella Crane Lowndes
  • Swift, Joseph Mott

Consists of a plat, 1856, identifying boundaries of property formerly belonging to Elijah Graves, deceased, and indentures/deeds and a statement of contract regarding that land; and an indenture for a house, lot, and garden within the town of Yanceyville, involving property held by Virginia Y. McDonald, and formerly owned by her mother, the late Mrs. Ann (Lea) Graves.

Box: PC.1764  
Folder: 1  
Plat with Survey and Map of Tract of Land Belonging to the Heirs of Elijah Graves, deceased
15 February 1856.

Scope and Content

Handwritten document by H.R. Hadley, C. E., Surveyor. Tract of land, 461 acres, Caswell County.

Folder: 2  
Land Indenture between Yancey and E. P. Jones and Jospeh M. Swift, Caswell County
25 March 1857

Scope and Content

Land described as being in or near the town of Yanceyville. Includes statement affirming the execution of deed, dated January Court 1860, and the testimony of Thomas W. Graves, clerk, affixed; and an endorsement on the back of the document.

Folder: 3  
Statement of contract made for land purchase from John A. [Azariah?] Graves by Joseph M. Swift, Caswell County, 461 acres
1 April 1858

Scope and Content

Adjoins the lands of James Poteet, James K. Lea, named in a recent survey. Affirms agreement to pay him ten [?] dollars per acre. Testator signature affixed by John Kerr.

Folder: 4  
Deed by John A. Graves, administrator of Elijah Graves, deceased, to Jospeh M. Swift
29 January 1859

Scope and Content

States that John A. Graves has bargained and sold to Swift the sum of forty six hundred and ten dollars and acknowledges receipt. Names various points in the tract of land, Caswell County, including Milton road. Names include Elijah Graves Jr., and boundaries with tracts of George Williamson now owned by Thomas Bigalow, along with other. Witnesses with affixed signatures included J. L. McKee, Joab Robertson, and J.[?] Graves. Includes statement affirming the execution of deed, dated 27 December 1859, and the oath of James L. McKee, signed by Thomas W. Graves, clerk of the Court of Plea and Quarter Session, signature affixed; and an endorsement on the back of the document.

Folder: 5  
Deed by James M. Jones to Joseph M. Swift for a lot in town of Yanceyville
27 December 1859

Scope and Content

Witnesses with affixed signatures included James M. Neal, T. B. Adkin. Includes statement affirming the execution of deed, dated 27 December 1859, and the oath of Thomas B. Adkin, signed by Thomas W. Graves, clerk of the Court of Plea and Quarter Session, signature affixed; and an endorsement on the back of the document.

Folder: 6  
Indenture/Deed Between John A. Graves (Administrator of estate of Elijah Graves, deceased) and Joseph M. Swift
11 April 1860

Scope and Content

Witness with affixed signature was John Kerr. Also includes the signatures and seals of Jno. A. Graves and Joseph M. Swift. Includes statement affirming the execution of deed, dated 14 April 1860, signed by Thomas W. Graves, clerk of the Court of Plea and Quarter Session, signature affixed; and an endorsement on the back of the document.

Folder: 7  
Indenture Between Virginia Y. McDonald and Joseph M. Swift for Sale of One House, Lot, Garden, Yanceyville
22 January 1873

Scope and Content

States that the location is on Main Street opposite the Presbyterian Parsonage now occupied by said Joseph M. Swift and was the home formerly of the late Mrs. Ann (Lea) Graves, mother of said Virginia McDonald. The following two phrases are taken directly from the indenture: By hand and seal (and two postage stamps) of Virginia Y. McDonald 30 May 1872. Signatures of witnesses Wm. G. Mebane and John H. Mebane. Affirmation of witness of Wm. G. Mebane, personally known, and who on oath proved the execution of said deed: by Hansdon Cary, Commissioner for North Carolina in Tennessee (at Memphis, County of Shelby). Includes statement affirming the execution of deed, dated 22 January 1873, signed by H. [Henry] F. Brandon, Probate Judge, Probate Court, Caswell County. Includes endorsement on the back of the document.

Folder: 8  
Letter of Administration Naming Isabelle C. Swift as Administarix of Estate of Joseph M. Swift
6 December 1883

Scope and Content

Letter signed by Spencer B. Adams, Probate Judge of Probate Court of Caswell County. Joseph M. Swift died without a will.

Folder: 9  
Plat with Survey and Map of land belonging to heirs of the late Joseph M. Swift, ca.
1883

Scope and Content

The land document is identified on the outside as follows: Plot [Plat] of the widows dower on the Swift place. The collection has no information on the exact date of death of Joseph M. Swift.

The scant correspondence in this collection consists of a letter from attorney J.A. Long of Long and Strudwick to S.B. Adams, as probate judge, Caswell County, and son-law of the administratrix, Isabella C. (Lowndes) Swift, of the estate of the latter's deceased husband, Joseph M. Swift, 13 June 1885; and letter of grandson, Hunter Jeter to his grandmother, Mrs. Swift, living by October 1899 in Atlanta, with a son Robert B. Swift, and his family.

Folder: 10  
From J.A. Long of Long and Strudwick to Spencer B. Adams
13 June 1885

Scope and Content

Concerns the settlement of the estate of Joseph M. Swift. Apparently there was an intent to sell some of or all of the Swift property to the father of Isabella C. (Lowndes) Swift, Francis Burkett Lowndes. Reference is made to Miss Lizzie, his daughter, head at one time of the Yanceyville Female Academy, and a sister of Isabelle C. (Lowndes) Swift.

Folder: 11  
From [Philip?] Hunter Jeter to Isabella C. (Lowndes) Swift
13 October 1899

Scope and Content

Hunter Jeter (b. 1882), Yanceyville, was a grandson of Mrs. I.C. Swift, and the son of Lula Bell Swift Jeter, and possibly Philip Stratton Jeter (1854-1886). Hunter Jeter was reporting to his grandmother on various tenants on her farm property (named in the letter as her plantation), possible rentals, and references to the yield of corn and tobacco crops. He refers to Katy's schooling with Mrs. Kens; the distress of relatives, Uncle Pritch[ard] and Aunt Sue, having to leave the property, and some news of neighbors. The letter was addressed to Mrs. Swift in care of her son, Robert B. Swift, at his residence on Peachtree Road in Atlanta. The letter was mailed in an envelope with the printed return address of T. J. Florance, Dealer in Staple Dry Good, Notions and General Merchandise, Yanceyville.

The small quantity of material in this series includes two printed booklets: a speech delivered by S.B. Adams, Chairman of the State Republican Executive Committee, Asheville, August 25, 1906 and the platform of the Republican Party adopted at Greensboro, July 10, 1906; and a statement of the North Carolina Republican Party and featuring Spencer Bell Adams as a delegate to the National Convention to be held at Chicago, 16 June 1908. Additionally, there is a signed letter to Adams from John M. Morehead, U.S. House of Representives, 27 April 1909; and a one page typed biography written in the first person, apparently by Adams, detailing some of his family, personal, and professional life, dated 2 November 1936.

Folder: 12  
Printed Booklets [2] by the N.C. Republican Party: Spencer Bell Adams Speech as Chair of the State Republican Executive Party, Republican Party Platform, and Statement of Delegates, including S.B. Adams to Republican National Convention, 1908.
1906-1908

Scope and Content

Folder: 13  
Miscellaneous Personal and Biographical Material
1909-1936

Scope and Content

The three items include a typed letter from Jno. M. Morehead (John Motley Morehead), U.S. House of Representatives, 1909, referencing Mr. Robinson and Grissom; a typed carbon copy of a complaint entered in the Superior Court of Guilford County, ca. 1919 or 1920, of Spencer B. Adams vs. Southern Railway Company (re damage in October 1919 to his Buick motorcar driven by his daughter, Mrs. V.T. Bargamin and struck on railroad tracks by a Southern work-car); and a one page typed biography written in the first person, apparently by Adams, detailing some of his family, personal, and professional life, dated 2 November 1936. The biographical piece includes some perhaps little-known professional and personal information. For example, in 1901 Adams was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as Chlief Judge of the Choctaw-Chicasaw Citizenship Court in the Indains Territory; and he remained in the territory until the last day of December 1904, when the business of the court was considered and determined. Additionally, Adams stated that he held the position of chairman of the Republican State Committee until about 1910 when he declined election. In 1911, Adams wrote that he suffered a nervous breakdown and had never held or sought public office since. He did engage in the practice of law, continuing at least until 1936, the date of his writing.

The material in this series concerns Joseph Allen (known as Allen Adams), including aspects of his military service (enlisted in the U.S. Army, 26 June 1917, first with Ambulance Co. 31 at Greensboro, N.C., and was honorably discharged as a Color Sergeant, Hdq. Co., 323rd Infrantry; then as as a second lieutenant in March 1919); his professional career as an attorney, and his various speaking engagements. A member of the American Legion and other organizations, he was well known as an orator, and was often featured as a speaker at various gatherings and events, particularly patriotic organizations and veterans' events in the Greensboro area. There is also a speech about the history of the Baptist church in North Carolina, and particularly the Greensboro area. (Possibly that address was written by Adams's father, Spencer Bell Adams.) Included are some certificates, correspondence, speeches, clippings, and miscellaneous material.

Folder: 14  
Correspondence
1924-1926

Scope and Content

The small quantity of letters reflect the professional and civic life of Allen Adams. There is a signed letter of John J. Pershing (3 June 1924), by then retired from active duty as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, but continuing in his commission as General of the Armies. The letter graciously declines Adams's invitation that Pershing be the chief speaker at the Fourth of July Clebration of the American Legion and other patriotic organizations of Greensboro.

Folder: 15  
Military Service Material, ca.
1917-1925

Scope and Content

Includes certificates, forms, letters regarding military service, and status as a first lieutenant with the Reserve Officers after Adams's honorable discharge, 3rd of June 1918, followed by a period of service as a second lieutenant until ca. 5 March 1919. Also includes papers regarding membership in the Reserve Officers Association.

Folder: 16  
Speeches, undated and ca.
1923-1924

Scope and Content

Most of the speeches were made on Armistice Day, November the 11th. Includes references to the American Legion. Some of the speeches appear to be drafts, or the final copy [typed or carbon of typed document] with corrections inserted by hand.

Folder: 17  
Speeches, undated and ca.
1926-1928

Scope and Content

Includes address by Adams on the Greensboro Police Field Day, July 4, 1928, and a program of events other than the address by Mr. Allen Adams. According to the program, there were separate games for the white boys (such as greasy pole; pony race) and the Negro boys (greasy pig with catcher getting the pig; apple tub dive). Some speeches contains references to the American Legion.

Folder: 18  
Speeches, undated

Scope and Content

References in various speeches to the American Legion. One speech was made to the pupils and patrons of the Little School.

Folder: 19  
Speech: Our Church [Baptist]: Its Beginning, undated

Scope and Content

It is possible that this speech was written by Allen Adams's father, Spencer Bell Adams. Includes reference to the influences of several Baptist women, Mrs. Hiatt, Mrs. John W. Payne, Mrs. Jolly, Mrs. Cole, Mrs. Thomas, and Mrs. Newton, of the Greensboro area. Among the minsisters named were the Reverend John Joshua James; the Reverend John Mitchell; Elder Elias Dodson, and others.

Folder: 20  
Miscellaneous Notes, Fragments of Speeches, Correspondence, and Material Concerning the American Legion Endowment Fund, undated
1924-1927

Scope and Content

Folder: 21  
Notebook with early draft of a speech, undated

Scope and Content

Folder: 22  
Printed Matter, Miscellaneous, undated and
1924-1926

Scope and Content

Includes programs, publications, including programs of Memorial Day events, church bulletins, and the North Carolina Bar Association Convention program, 1926

Folder: 23  
List of World War I Dead; and Veterans Buried in Greenhill Cemetery, Greensboro
1924-1927

Scope and Content

Folder: 24  
Miscellaneous Clippings, undated and
1926

Scope and Content

Folder: 25  
Miscellaneous Clippings, undated and
1926-1928

Scope and Content