Thursday, June 2, 2011

Great Grandpa William Joshua Sweat (maternal)

Great Grandpa William Joshua Sweat was born March 1, 1859 to Alexander and Catherine Langdon Sweat. He was one of three children - William, James, and Elizabeth.

On October 26, 1886, he married Margaret Morris. They had the following children:
  • Joseph Leo
  • James Monroe
  • George Alexander
  • John Patrick
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • William Oscar (Papaw)
  • Catherine Elizabeth (Lizzie)
  • Mary Ida
  • Charles Daniel
Sometime around 1906/1907, William Joshua Sweat disappeared.

Family legend (okay, not really legend, but . . .) has it that, at the same time great grandpa went missing, so did a woman from the same town. Uh-huh, yeah, you don't need to be a genius to figure that one out.

Papaw (William Oscar) spent his entire life searching for his father. He died not knowing what happened to his father.

At some point, sometime in the 80s, Uncle Joe (Rothman) met a man at Fort Knox that bore a striking resemblance to the Sweat family, I believe to Uncle John (but could be wrong on that one). After speaking with the man, and mentioning William Joshua's disappearance, the man admitted there was a big family secret in his family that the family didn't talk about.

Long story short, the man agreed to meet with Papaw. He drove to Lebanon Junction and . . . knocked on the front door.

Well, anyone who knew papaw always came to the kitchen door. The front door was just for appearances, not to be used . . . unless you were going to sit out on the front porch and watch the many, many, many, many grandkids race around the front yard. Boy, those were the days.

So, papaw didn't answer the front door. The man thought no one was home. The man went away and . . . the mystery remains unsolved. Was he a descendant of William Joshua Sweat? Did William Joshua start another family? How long did he live?

At this point, we don't know - and maybe never will - the answers to those questions. All we know for sure is that one day, in 1906/1907, Great Grandpa went out for a pack of cigarettes (sorry, couldn't resist) and never came back.

Karen Skees - our second cousin, third cousin (her great-grandfather was James Sweat, William's brother, and her grandmother was Louisa Boone, mamaw's sister) - has found some information, but hasn't had time to research any of it . . . so far.

The information she discovered was that in 1906, after some tragedy where four children died, a lay person at St. Vincent de Paul church in New Hope, KY baptized the four children, and listed the mother as a non-Catholic, and the father as . . . William Joshua Sweat.

Dun, dun, dun . . .

At that time, there was only one William Joshua Sweat (dear old great grandpa - well, not so old at that time) in New Hope, Nelson County, Kentucky.

So, more questions . . . Was William Joshua actually their father? Did he have another family that no one knew about? Did he just believe those children couldn't go to heaven without being baptized? Did he give them his name so they could get to heaven?

Well, at this point, we just have more questions. Maybe one day we'll dig deep enough to find the truth. Maybe one day we'll know why great-grandpa disappeared.

Until then, I only have my warped imagination and the inspiration for an historical mystery loosely based on great grandpa's disappearance. Oh, the places my imagination has gone as I plot out this future novel.

Did I mention that on her death certificate, Margaret Morris Sweat is listed as a . . . widow?!?!? Uh, huh, maybe he didn't just disappear, maybe . . .


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