Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Seeking Records for John Calvert b c1742 Chester Co PA who married the widow of Joseph Mercer - Jane Swayne

At the moment, there continues to be speculation about the wife of John Calvert, b c1742 in Chester Co, PA. This has been resolved. But more information and records are needed. If you can help, please contact us. Jane was first married to Joseph Mercer(Old Swedes Church, Newcastle Co, DE) and, after his death, married John. The date of marriage between John and Jane is given as 1764. We have records from Orphans Court that indicate John adopted the children, Amos and Hannah Mercer, the children of widow Jane Swayne.
                                              photo, courtesy of Mifflin Co, PA - Courthouse, 1846

THE EVIDENCE: Jane definitely married a John Calvert after her marriage to Joseph Mercer. She is listed as Jane Calvert in her father's will. John Calvert became the guardian of Jane's children by Joseph Mercer. Mr. James Ray has found the documents attesting to these facts in the records of the Orphan's Court of Chester County, PA and demonstrating that John adopted Amos and Hannah Mercer, children of the deceased Joseph Mercer. In those records refers to John as Jane's husband; (See Chester County PA Orphan's Court, March 21, 1769.) additionally, strong circumstantial evidence also demonstrates that John is the same person identified in records of Chester, Cumberland, Mifflin and Centre Counties PA.

Research at the Cumberland County Historical Society has revealed that a John Calvert and his wife Jane were deposed before the criminal court in 1779 (See Schaumann, Merri Lou, Indictments-1750-1800-Cumberland County, Pennsylvania).

John Calvert, according to tax records of Rye township was a resident of that township as early as 1774. John Calvert sold land in Cumberland County in 1776. One of our researchers, James Ray(now deceased), found evidence that John was a blacksmith. He probably worked in one of the forges in the area that later became Spring township of Centre County. Tax records indicate his presence up until 1796. From there, the mystery unfolds, 1896-1810. According to the Pennsylvania Archives, Amos Mercer and John Calvert , Sr., were both in the Cumberland Militia, Fourth Battalion, in 1777, under Colonel James Wilson. John is listed as John Calver. John Calvert was in Class 1 and Amos was in Class 2. (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 5, Volume VI: Muster Rolls Relating to the Associators and Militia of the County of Cumberland for 1777.) pages; 244, 245 (John is also listed on the rolls of 1778.)

Amos Mercer, Jane's son by Joseph Mercer, is shown as living in Potter Township of Mifflin County, PA, near John Calvert, Jr. (who we believe is one of Amos' half brothers) in the 1790 Federal Census. John Calvert, Jr. married to Esther (Hetty) Jones. All but one of their children were born in this area. In the same census, John Calvert, the elder, lived in Upper Bald Eagle Township of Mifflin County which was only a short distance from Amos and John, Jr.

The record was muddy in later census.  

The Mysteries: John Calvert, Sr., c 1742,  is thought to have died in 1796 but there remains a mystery. This, coupled with Census records in Mercer County, PA, the place to which John Calvert, Jr(B 1766) removed, indicate that it is possible that the two entries are actually John Calvert Jr and Sr in the 1800 Census. The ages of the Census are about right(See that Census information below. But then, we add a second part of the mystery which is what happened to John's wife Jane? If she is the widow in the US Census 1800, then John did indeed pass away before 1800. In the Federal Census of 1800 there is a "--------" (possibly Widow) Calfert shown on the census living in Upper Bald Eagle Township of Mifflin County.
                                Map of Pennsylvania, 1800. Mifflin is in the center of the map

When this area became a part of Centre County, the area became Springs Township of Centre County.
 In the 1810 Federal Census, a Jane Cabert is found living in the area that was formerly Upper Bald Eagle Township. We puzzled over the years between 1796 and 1810 for a long time. We could not find the burial information for John or Jane. We still cannot. As noted that John Calven Sr and Jr are in the 1800 Census of Mercer County, PA(Far western County, north of Greene and Washington Counties, PA. Isaac removed to Washington Co, PA in 1793(Tax list) and then was at Whitely Twp in Greene Co PA according to the Census of 1800. See below, US Census 1800 Mercer Co PA:

Colven, John             1 0 1 0 0 / 1 0 1 0 0 / 0 0
Colven, John Sen'r  0 0 1 0 1 / 0 0 0 0 1 / 0 0

As puzzling is our inability to find Amos Mercer or the sons of John Calvert during this time frame. Daphne Toomey(a fellow family researcher, also now deceased), found Job Calvert, second son of John, in Crawford County, in the 1810 Federal Census, but we were unable to locate John, Jr. or Jacob. Amos Mercer surfaced in Vernango (Armstrong) County, PA in the 1810 Federal Census--where he settled and died. This did not make sense if he was a relative of the Calvert boys. They moved to Belmont County, OH at some time before 1830. Jacob, his third half brother, was believed to have been in Belmont County as early as 1805.

One major breakthrough on the latter came when we learned that the wife of Job Calvert was Chloe Benn. According to the history of Crawford County published in the 1800s, (Bates, Samuel P., et,al., History of Crawford County, PA; Warner Brothers, Chicago, 1885) Jonathan Benn, a renowned early Methodist preacher and brother-in-law of Job Calvert stayed temporarily on Job's farm and then moved to an adjacent township. Amos Messer (Mercer) was also in this same township with Jonathan Benn for a very short time, but moved on to Vernango County. The land Job Calvert purchased in Crawford County was sold to him by the Holland Land Company. The same company was selling tracts of land in Vernango County as well. (I am trying to see if I can find the document of sale in Vernango County to Amos Mercer.)

It would seem Amos did move with the Calvert brothers. Job would probably have remained in Crawford County for the remainder of his life. He was well established there. Instead, he pulled up roots and moved on to Belmont County, OH, where his brothers now lived. This is where he and Chloe are buried. Family tradition states that Chloe went insane over the inability to have children.

The Benn family states that Job and Chloe had two boys in Crawford County, Robert and Isaac. A disaster involving those boys would make more sense for Chloe's insanity and Job's decision to move on. Amos had no reason to join the Calvert boys in Belmont County. He was well placed in Vernango and his children bought farms nearby. Mrs. Rena Brown and Mrs. Carolyn Joy(John Calvert family researchers) informed me early in my research that John Calvert, Jr. and his wife, Esther, passed on a family tradition that they moved from Centre County, PA, to Belmont County with the Mercers.

We do not know which Mercers. There were a number of Mercer families in Belmont County during the 1830 Federal census. It is possible that the tradition referred to a movement to Crawford County. Or, a relative of Amos Mercer might have moved to Belmont County and then moved on before being enumerated in the census. Edward, Amos' son, died in Indiana according to one source. In addition, John and Esther named one of their children Hannah Mercer Calvert. Hannah Mercer was the sister of Amos, adopted children of John Calvert. We did not rely too heavily on this, early on, because it could have been a thing of a family naming a child after a close friend. Now, it seems to have much more significance.

Rena and Carolyn's information led us to seek the assistance of Mr. Justin Kirk Houser, current moderator of to establish the parentage of John, Job and Jacob Calvert. We found strong evidence that their father was a John Calvert who had resided in an area of Mifflin County even before that county was formed that was later transferred into the new Centre County, PA. But, records were few.

The advent of the Calvert Family DNA testing, coordinated by Mr. David Bell, has thrown new light on who our ancestors are. Our particular family's DNA does not match any other branch of the known Calvert lineages. It does match a particular lineage of people by the name of Calvert who came into PA from Ireland in the great Quaker migration. We have enough people of diverse segments of this lineage who can document their lineages back to this group to say that it is the same family. Our DNA matches theirs. We can, through the work of others before us, trace it back to John Calvert of Armagh, Ireland and probably into Yorkshire, England. This part is a certainty. How segments of this line relate is still a matter of conjecture and await documentation.

We are not, as so many of our relatives and ancestors believed, related to the Lords of Baltimore or any other Calvert family of whom we know. When we started the Calvert Family DNA project, I was one of the first to volunteer. Five Calvert volunteers came back as being related. I was the odd individual. Then people whose ancestors were documented as being related to mine came back with results identical to mine. We were all descendants of John of Mifflin County.

We had no certitude of a connection to the Quaker Calvert lineage until a relative of David Bell, who was a descendant of an Isaac Calvert, came back with the same DNA result. We had a letter of a granddaughter of John of Mifflin County--furnished by Mr. Charles Maple--that referred to Isaac Calvert as her Uncle (He was a great Uncle). She met Isaac while a child in Morgan County, OH. She noted that he fought at the Battle of Brandywine Creek. Isaac and his brother William fought at Brandywine Creek. They were the sons of Thomas Calvert who married Sarah Williamson and they had another brother named John.

That is our evidence. We would like to find a Will or anything else to document where the evidence points. We do not have that as yet. We are like a prosecution presenting a case without a body. It looks like. It smells like. It is up to the jury to decide--but we believe the evidence strong enough to make this assumption.  


 Records and any other "finds" is Mifflin, Mercer, Centre and Vernango Counties in PA and Belmont and possibly Morgan Counties in Ohio. Any information on John Calvert or his sons(John Jr, Job and Jacob as well as adopted son Amos Mercer and his sister Hannah). Any records or references would be greatly appreciated. We specifically would like to understand what happened to Job Calvert and his wife, Chloe Benn Calvert.

Compiled by James R Calvert, and amended for the web Query by David Bell

Contact me in regard to this, in the behalf of James R. Calvert -- David Bell -

1 comment:

Megan McDowell said...


Can you help me to know if I am from your same family line? I am descended from Ann Calvert, who married William Shepherd and who I *believe* to be a child of John Calvert, Jr.

I have so many letters and correspondence from the early 1900's regarding the "Calvert Heirs Association", that I am both glad and let down to see that my family is not descended from the Maryland Calverts- it seems a lot of them truly believed it to be true.

Anyways, any light you could shed would certainly help me!

Thank You,

Megan McDowell