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Rare American beaded watch chain reading EUNICE LEE BORN FEB. 16 1815 MARRIED TO CLARK C. SWIFT FEB. 9 1831 and additional date JAN 24 1834, green background with white geometric and figural designs including fish, knives, key and arrows. 64" L not including ribbon ties at end. Note: although sometimes called Native American wampum or trade belts, research indicates these thin beaded straps were more likely used as watch chains and were often woven on small bead looms by white women as hobbies and by girls at female academies in the 1830s and may not have been made by Native Americans until the 1850s. (Ref. Lynn Basset, "Guard Thy Hours: Bead Watch Chains of the 1830s" which appeared in the May/June 2000 issue of Piecework, and "Woven Bead Chains of the 1830s" in the Dec. 1995 issue of the Magazine Antiques. A watch chain similar to this one may be seen in a portrait of a woman, presumed to be Mrs. Pearce, attributed to Erastus Salisbury Field, in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg). Biography: "Major Clark Charley Swift became associated as a partner with Mr. Oliver Lee in 1828 in a mercantile business in Silver Creek, Chautauqua County (NY). The store, called Lee & Swift, under Swift's management, became a thriving business and traded with the Seneca Nation and settlers in the area. In 1831, Clark Swift married *Miss Eunice Lee, the daughter of his partner, and subsequently purchased his partners' business interest in 1834. Oliver Lee (whose wife Elizabeth A. Downer, was descended from William Brewster, who came over on the Mayflower) went on to establish the Bank of Silver Creek and the Oliver Lee & Company Bank of Buffalo. When the Bank of Silver Creek was organized by Oliver Lee, in 1839, Swift became a stockholder and then elected as one of the directors and subsequently, he was elected cashier of that institution. But his growing prominence in the village of Silver Creek did not stop there, for in 1841, Clark Swift was appointed postmaster in 1841, as well as several military commissions, earning the titled rank of Major Swift and was later a Civil War veteran. In 1846 he set out to build a brick home in the Federal Style ("The Swift Mansion" – still extant), on the edge of Silver Creek, NY, which commanded an unobstructed view of Lake Erie. There in its parlor, Major Swift indulged his lifetime passion for music; he sang well and played the flute with skill. His love of music brought the first piano in Silver Creek, to his home. Also in the year 1846, Major Swift became Indian Custodian, or Agent for the Seneca Nation. Major Swift had learned to speak the Seneca language fluently in his youth and had met Indian chiefs Cornplanter and Red Jacket. Swift had many friends on the nearby Cattaraugus Reservation and for many years kept his store stocked with goods, which catered to their needs. During their long association, the Seneca people always found Major Swift a loyal friend. They often visited him at the mansion, staying overnight and sleeping in front of the big kitchen fireplace. To him they came without hesitation when in trouble or distress. The hospitality of the Swift Mansion was always extended to them, and in turn, the Native people of the Seneca Nation paid Major Swift the honor of serenading him in his home, when they came to the village."Â Sources: The Dunkirk OBSERVER – Agnes "Pat" Pfleuger; "Once Upon A Time" by Marion Thomas, published in 1966; http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~candysfamilys/genealogy/swiftfamily/clarkswift.html We wish to thank Janet Hasson for her work in researching this family. A copy of her genealogy report will be made available to the winning bidder.
PROVENANCE: Private Holly Springs, MS collection.
CONDITION: Four segments of missing beads, two measuring 1" and two measuring 1/2" L. Many, but probably not all beads retained.