Persons of Historic Importance
This page is devoted to people buried in Centre Cemetery who are deemed historically important either to the thw Town of Wareham or the United States.
The pages shall contain a picture of the persons gravestone and a small write-up about the person.
More people will be added to this page.
Major James N. Edmondston
Researched and written up by Richard W. Griffith
Major James N. Edmondston was one of the key figures in the early history of the Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wareham. He was the first layreader and warden. The Major and Mrs. Madeline (Hunter) Edmondston lived in Wareham for a brief eleven years, but without their efforts, the Church we know might never have developed.
James Nicholson Edmondston was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1831. In 1849, he traveled across the country to the West coast, where he stayed until 1860, witnessing and sharing in the Americanization of California. Although opposed to the policy of secession, he nevertheless came to the aid of his native state during the Civil War. His energy and ability led to rapid promotion, attaining for him the rank of major. He served under Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston as quartermaster general.
At the close of the war, like so many Southerners, he found himself destitute. Seeking employment in Washington D.C., he became associated with the Army Engineering Department, serving as clerk and inspector. He came to Wareham with his brother-in-law, Col. Franklin Harwood of the Corps of Engineers, who was in charge of the harbors of Southeastern Massachusetts. (Harwood, husband of Mrs. Edmondstonís sister, Julia, was a son of Rr. Adm. Andrew Allen Harwood, USN, one of the founders of St. Gabrielís Church in Marion.) Weary of a migratory life, Edmondston sought local employment, and secured a responsible position with the Tremont Nail Company.
Devout Episcopalians, the Edmondstons directed their talents toward revitalizing the Episcopal Society in Wareham. He was licensed as a Layreader by Bishop Paddock, and was placed in charge until a permanent minister could be secured. During this, and later periods when the Church was without a rector, he conducted services and performed baptisms and burials as necessary. Mrs. Edmondston was just as much a leader, being the first president of the Womenís Auxiliary. They also took an active part in the larger community, being leaders in the Masonic orders. Mrs. Edmondston was one of the ladies who founded the Wareham Free Library, and was for a time president of the Library Committee.
Although they had no children, the Edmondstons were popular with the young people of the Parish. The Major was Sunday School superintendent, and Mrs. Edmondston and her sister, Minnie Hunter, were teachers. One of these Sunday School classes, a class of young ladies, formed St. Maryís Guild, which went on to accumulate funds which would later help in the purchase of the first Rectory and in construction of the Parish Hall. Daisy Washburn Lovell wrote that the Major was the idol of the children, raising his hat in greeting to them, as he did to all.
In 1894, failing health forced him to seek employment in the milder climate of Washington D.C. He died in Washington in 1896, and his body was returned to Wareham for a Masonic burial service at the family lot in Centre Cemetery. Although they are little remembered today, the church made unbelievable strides during their ministry, going from a scattered group, meeting occasionally in a rented room, to a strong congregation, with its own church building, resident Rector, Sunday School, Womenís Guild, and choir. Their influence in Wareham lives on today.
General Ebenezer Swift
Researched and written up by David Eldridge
General Ebenezer Swift was born 8 Oct. 1817 in Wareham, and died 24 Dec. 1885 in Bermuda. He married Sarah Edwards Capers. She was born 28 Feb. 1832 and died 2 April 1880. He served in the Mexican and Civil War. Ebenezer went to New York University Medical School 1842-1847. He was acting assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army with Gen. Scott in Mexico until July 1848. He was given the rank of colonel, 18 Mar 1865, and Medical Director, 20 Jun 1869. He became a Brigadier General, and retired 8 Oct 1883. In 1880, he lived in Staten Island, NY. With him in the same household were his son Eben Swift, Eben's wife Susanne Bonaparte Palmer, a niece Estelle Crocker, and his sister, Sarah Ann Bourne Swift Robinson.
Children of Ebenezer Swift and Sarah Capers are:
- Eben Swift, b. 11 May 1854, Fort Chadbourne, Texas. Graduate of West Point.
- Legrand Capers Swift, b. 21 Mar 1856, d. 30 Sep 1861
- Lucy Howell Swift, b. 15 Dec 1860; d. 18 Jan 1862
Eben married Susanne Bonaparte Palmer 17 May 1880. She was born about 1858 in South Carolina. He lived in Washington, D. C. with wife Susan in 1920.
Children of Eben Swift and Susanne Palmer are:
- Innis Palmer Swift, graduate of West Point also. Nickname "Ippy".
- Elin Swift b. abt 1881; in 1910 he was an officer at Fort Riley, Geary, Kansas, unmarried.
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Copyright © 2006 by Andrew W. Griffith. All rights reserved.
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