Father Sailed Past Statue in New York Harbor as He Arrived in Land of Opportunity

Author’s maternal ancestors were already here; English immigrant probably wicked at The Lady in New York Harbor.

| Good Old Days

She arrived in America later than my maternal ancestors, but the Statue of Liberty must have meant something to my father, that handsome, debonair, troubled, gifted man who sailed past her into New York Harbor to the land of opportunity. His people were English, and he was the only one of his relatives to come to the United States. Why, I will never know.

There is no longer any record of how my mother's people came. There is only a legend about one of them. A man, whose surname was Swisher, came from Germany and took an unusual route to becoming an American. Judging by the Swishers I knew, he must have been short of stature, ready for adventure and not about to die of hunger. There were fearful shortages of food all over Europe in the late 1700s, and there were few advancement chances for young men.

When the English recruiter came to Hesse, the legend goes, this Swisher signed up to fight for the British in their colonial war against the upstart American rebels. We can only imagine his good-byes to all his relatives and his last looks at his town or family farm as he left all that he knew. We can imagine his short training, the voyage over the Atlantic and how he must have felt to be on dry land in the New World.

We can only imagine his impressions of life in this Land of Opportunity, how he first began to dream his larger dream, when he first knew battle, and how and when he prayed. We can be nearly certain that he was at Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas night, 1776, when Washington crossed the Delaware River. We also can assume that he was involved in the battle the next day, for the Hessians did the fighting there for the English; of course, they were defeated by Washington's cold and hungry forces.

We descendants know he survived the battle because we are here. He faded into the forest of this new country, and his son – or grandson – took a Conestoga wagon west to Ohio. There the family settled at Mogador, which no longer exists. My grandfather, Milton Euclydus Swisher, told me his grandfather went to visit his father at St. Johns, Indiana, which is also non-existent now, but was near Auburn, Indiana. He died there and had the dubious distinction of being the first white person to be buried in the old cemetery near present-day downtown Auburn.

The Swishers were almost all farmers – those who stayed nearby. Others drifted on to Montana and Texas. Most were great workers and owned many acres for that time.



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