Adams and Swift Family Papers, PC.1764


Adams and Swift Family Papers, PC.1764


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.

Descriptive Summary

Adams and Swift Family Papers
Call Number
Adams family
1.00 boxes, 0.33 cubic feet
State Archives of North Carolina

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

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.

Preferred Citation

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

Collection Overview

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.

Arrangement Note

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.

Biographical and Historical No

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 (). 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., (Moore Publishing Co., Durham), 339-340, 395; )

Contents of the Collection

1. Land and Estate Records of Joseph Mott Swift,1856-1883


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.

Plat with Survey and Map of Tract of Land Belonging to the Heirs of Elijah Graves, deceased,15 February 1856.
Box Folder PC.1764 1
Land Indenture between Yancey and E. P. Jones and Jospeh M. Swift, Caswell County, 25 March 1857
Folder 2
Statement of contract made for land purchase from John A. [Azariah?] Graves by Joseph M. Swift, Caswell County, 461 acres,1 April 1858
Folder 3
Deed by John A. Graves, administrator of Elijah Graves, deceased, to Jospeh M. Swift, 29 January 1859
Folder 4
Deed by James M. Jones to Joseph M. Swift for a lot in town of Yanceyville,27 December 1859
Folder 5
Indenture/Deed Between John A. Graves (Administrator of estate of Elijah Graves, deceased) and Joseph M. Swift, 11 April 1860
Folder 6
Indenture Between Virginia Y. McDonald and Joseph M. Swift for Sale of One House, Lot, Garden, Yanceyville,22 January 1873
Folder 7
Letter of Administration Naming Isabelle C. Swift as Administarix of Estate of Joseph M. Swift,6 December 1883
Folder 8
Plat with Survey and Map of land belonging to heirs of the late Joseph M. Swift, ca., 1883
Folder 9

2. Correspondence to S.B. Adams and Isabella Swift Regarding Estate, Property, and Other Subjects,1885-1899


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.

From J.A. Long of Long and Strudwick to Spencer B. Adams,13 June 1885
Folder 10
From [Philip?] Hunter Jeter to Isabella C. (Lowndes) Swift,13 October 1899
Folder 11

3. Spencer Bell Adams, 1906-1936


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.

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
Folder 12
Miscellaneous Personal and Biographical Material,1909-1936
Folder 13

4. Joseph Allen Adams, 1917-1928


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.

Correspondence, 1924-1926
Folder 14
Military Service Material, ca., 1917-1925
Folder 15
Speeches, undated and ca., 1923-1924
Folder 16
Speeches, undated and ca., 1926-1928
Folder 17
Speeches, undated
Folder 18
Speech: Our Church [Baptist]: Its Beginning, undated
Folder 19
Miscellaneous Notes, Fragments of Speeches, Correspondence, and Material Concerning the American Legion Endowment Fund, undated, 1924-1927
Folder 20
Notebook with early draft of a speech, undated
Folder 21
Printed Matter, Miscellaneous, undated and, 1924-1926
Folder 22
List of World War I Dead; and Veterans Buried in Greenhill Cemetery, Greensboro,1924-1927
Folder 23
Miscellaneous Clippings, undated and, 1926
Folder 24
Miscellaneous Clippings, undated and, 1926-1928
Folder 25

Subject Headings

  • Adams family.
  • Graves family.
  • Jeter family.
  • Lowndes family.
  • Swift family.
  • Spencer Bell Adams
  • Adams, Joseph Allen
  • Swift, Joseph Mott
  • Philip Hunter Jeter
  • Swift, Isabella Crane Lowndes
  • American Legion.
  • Republican Party (N.C.)
  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
  • 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.
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Clerk of Superor Court
  • Attorney and Client
  • Baptists
  • Estates administration
  • Women
  • Caswell County (N.C.)
  • Greensboro (N.C.)
  • Guilford County (N.C.)
  • Yanceyville (N.C.)
  • Indentures.
  • Speeches.
  • Long, J. A.
  • McDonald, Virginia Y. Graves
  • Acquisitions Information

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

    Processing Information

  • Processed and encoded by Fran Tracy-Walls, March 2012. Edited by Fran Tracy-Walls, November 2019, for publication in Discover Online Catalog (DOC).