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M-567 Van Swearingen Correspondence About Tensions with Indigenous People

ABSTRACT: Letter discussing a retaliatory raid against indigenous peoples in Virginia, 1791.

SCOPE: This letter, dated March 17, 1791, is written by Van Swearingen to Captain Josiah Swearingen of Berkeley County, Virginia. The author describes a raid against indigenous people, led by Samuel Brady, in response to the capture and killing of settlers. He details the aftermath of the raid and the expectation of upcoming battles. The second half of the letter also discusses Van Swearingen’s financial lending practices.

EXTENT: Three pages.

HISTORY: Van Swearingen (c. 1742-1793) fought in the Revolutionary War with the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment. He was later appointed the first sheriff of Washington County, Pennsylvania, before finally settling in Wellsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). His daughter, Drusilla, married Samuel Brady around 1785.

Samuel Brady (c. 1756-1795) was an officer in the Revolutionary War and later a well-known frontier scout. The retaliatory raid he led against indigenous people on March 9, 1791 divided public opinion, and it would result in a sensational public trial in Pittsburgh two years later. Brady was ultimately acquitted and recruited by General Anthony Wayne to direct army spies in the war for the Northwest Territory, which eventually resulted in victory for the United States government.

ACCESS: Due to the fragile nature of this collection, physical access may be restricted. Please contact the library for further information. Information on conducting research with the archival collections of the Library, including current building hours and reading room policies, can be found on our Research page. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building on the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ north campus. The letter is available for remote & online viewing on the UMSL Digital Library as M-567 Van Swearingen Correspondence About Tensions with Indigenous People.

Preferred Citation note: The preferred citation for this collection is “From the Special Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis."