Sweney Family Notes
Aunt Ann (I remember her well, as well as Grandmother Sweney) had a sister married to a Methodist minister named Smallen.  A secession in the dissenting line not common in the female branch of the family.  Thomas, a son of Smallen, was forced to leave Ireland on account of seditious writings; he died in New Orleans on about 1800.  William, his brother, came to America in about 1813, aged eighteen years, six feet, three inches in height, good looking, good-humored and well-educated.  I knew him well, and I fancy his friends hurried him over on account of the same cause that induced the emigration of Thomas, deeming a voluntary passage as preferable to an accelerated one.  William married and settled in Pennsylvania, but as to whether he is living now I cannot say.

In the parish father was born and baptized I cannot say; he was called after his godfather.  I think Letterkenny was probably their residency or post town.

One other circumstance I have heard the old people laugh at in their conversations about Ireland.  The war cry of their relatives at fires and "scrimmages" was, "I'm a Doe man, and fears no man!" the explanation given to me was that Doe Castle was the family residence.  Again, they boost that only a Sweney could throw a certain weight over the walls of Derry (had Derry walls in former times (?)) may be a clue in the tribal history.  Still again; a horseshoe could be wrenched in twain by the family Samsons.

But to sum up.  I believe with Burns, that "the rank (or race) is but the guinea's stamp.  A man's a man for all that."  Yet I love to trace my genealogy back and to find that, so far, dishonor has had but little to do with our family record, as far as I am informed.  Your communications leads me to believe that we are kindred, how remote I know not; it also gives me information that you are a man of intelligence and education, and I must confess that I have vanity and pride enough in my composition to feel gratified that anyone related to me, however distantly, has these important elements of character and culture, and though they are not always a family characteristic, I am glad to say that, as far as I know family history shows these requirements do not necessarily involve wealth, rank or position.

I shall inform Robert Ormsby Sweeny of St. Paul, of your communication.  If further correspondence would be agreeable to you, I should be happy to continue it, both as friendly intercourse and with a view to trace genealogy back, and as it has branched in this country.

My time is very much occupied with my profession, and I cannot go to Rock Island as I desired to do this fall.  Some arrangement might take place by which I might do so later, but it is hardly probable.  If it should be so, then I could see you, as only the river separates you son's residence from Rock Island.

The above is as I remember from conversation heard in childhood and up to thirty years ago.  The oracles since that time have passed the way of all the earth, and a retentive memory is all I have to rely on.

                                                                 Wm. W. Sweney



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