THOMAS FLINN SWEAZEA. The gentleman whose life achievements and whose family genealogy are treated in the following article is one of the substantial citizens and successful farmers of Clay county. On his advent hither in 1878 he pre-empted a tract of land five and a half miles northwest of Bellevue and, with his limited means, began its improvement and cultivation. His industry and his thrift worked marked changes in it during the twelve years he occupied it and when he deserted it to take possession of his present home it had the appearance of a Clay county farm.
In 1888 Mr. Sweazea bought three hundred and sixty-four acres of land two miles northwest of Bellevue, which has been transformed, under his magic touch, into one of the most attractive and valuable farmsteads near Bellevue. Good land was only worth four dollars an acre when he purchased his, and this tract, together with the one he entered from the state, gives him a holding of more than six hundred acres in the county.
Thomas F. Sweazea was born in Shelby county, Texas, June 13, 1848. His father, Matthais Sweazea, was a Wayne county, Missouri, settler and located in Shelby county about 1846. The latter’s birth occurred in Missouri about 1820 and his death in Shelby county, Texas, in 1865. He left brothers in Wayne county, Missouri, and had a brother, Jeff, who passed his life in California. Matthias Sweazea was a Confederate soldier, having served intermittently under several enlistments, and died in the prime of life at the close of the war. He married Hannah L. McFadden in Wayne county, Missouri, who, at the age of eighty-one, is active and is in the enjoyment of life among her several children. She was united to Mr. McFadden prior to her union with Matthias Sweazea, and had the following issue: Nancy J., who died in West Texas, as Mrs. Fernando Wheeler, leaving children; Mary Ann, Mrs. Charles Bolton, who died in Robertson county, was the youngest child and she also left heirs. Thomas F. was the first Sweazea, and the others were: James F., of Castro county, Texas; Elizabeth, wife of Nathaniel Wilson, of Indian Territory; Amanda J., who resides in Greer county, Oklahoma, as the wife of James Watson; Matthias, who died in Oklahoma, leaving a family, and Laura, wife of Rankin Clark, of Portales, New Mexico.
The school advantages of Thomas F. Sweazea were poor. He grew up during and just after the war when conditions were very unstable and when facilities for educating the young were very meager. The log schoolhouse with slab benches was the natural habitation of the children of the war period and the teacher’s occupation was, oftentimes, that of keeping school instead of teaching it.
Mr. Sweazea became acquainted with work very young in life. He began life at “cropping” about the first years of the ’60s, and his efforts had won him an eighty-acre farm before he left Shelby county. He pocketed the proceeds of its sale in 1873, when he started west, and had spent the most of it in search of the “right place” before he concluded his four years of wandering. After he finally settled down “he made up for lost time” and is today in a financially healthy condition. Grain, feed and cattle-raising has he devoted himself to and with what success the county tax rolls will positively reveal.
In Nacogdoches county, Texas, Mr. Sweazea married, in December, 1865, Candace A. Bryant, a daughter of Mrs. Clarissa A. Bryant, Texas settlers from Georgia. Mrs. Sweazea was born in Georgia in July, 1848, and is the mother of: Thomas Matthias, Modeline, a Wise county teacher who died at twenty years of age; Jeff, who married Ida Mills, has children, Loma and Edith, and farms the old family homestead; Elbert, Stella, wife of Walter Mills, of Castro county, Texas, with one child, Jay, and Odie and Bertie.
Although nearing his sixtieth year, Mr. Sweazea appears in robust health and it is evident that his years of unremitting toil have not imperiled his constitution. His efforts here have redounded to the substantial development of Clay county and he deserves credit for his success.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 184-185.