First Families of Montgomery County Ohio
A Thumbnail Biography by David C. Procuniar
Copyright 1997-1998-1999-2000-2001
All Rights Reserved Last updated: 31 Aug 2001 

Montgomery County Chapter
Of the
 Ohio Genealogical Society

                                                   FIRST FAMILIES OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO
First Families of Montgomery County Ohio was formed to identify and honor our pioneer ancestors. Any member of the Montgomery County Chapter OGS, who is a direct descendent of an individual who settled in the area once defined as Montgomery County, Ohio before December 31, 1830, may become a member of the First Families of Montgomery County, Ohio on the approval of the application with proof of such descent and the payment of a $10.00 application fee.

Montgomery County was organized in 1803 and was comprised of four townships, Washington, German, Dayton & Elizabeth.  These four townships were subdivided over the years until there were 15 in 1895.  They were Madison (1809), Jefferson (1805), Jackson (1814), Perry (1820), Clay (1825), Randolph (1804), Wayne (1810), Butler (1817), German (1803), Washington (1803), Miami (1832), Harrison (1841), Mad River (May 24, 1841), Van Buren (1804?) & Dayton (1803).  

Below: Some of the MCCOGS chapters accepted proof provided by David Charles Procuniar that his lineage was indeed the first family of Montgomery County Ohio.

Dayton Journal February 12, 1877 (section C-2 page 4)
The Thirteenth Re-Union of the Relatives of Mrs. Mary Van Cleve Swaynie
Natal Day of Dayton’s Oldest Resident.

The 10th of February is a day of some importance in the history of Dayton.  It is the birthday of the oldest resident, the solo survivor of the first family that settled on the banks of the Miami within what is now the corporate limits of the city, Mrs. Mary Van Cleve Swaynie.  For a number of years past, her birthdays have been the occasion for a general gathering of relatives, friends, and the pioneers of the city and vicinity.  On Saturday was celebrated the thirteenth of these re-unions at the residence of her stepson, Mr. John Swaynie, 247 Bainbridge Street.

As has been the custom, these gatherings are wholly informal.  No invitations are issued; but everybody is made welcome, and everybody enjoys him or herself to the utmost.  At eleven o’clock the guests began to arrive and continued to do so until two.  The first table sat down to a bountiful dinner at twelve and the last table finished at four, over eight souls altogether.  There were present twenty-five of Mrs. Swaynie’s direct descendants besides nearly an equal number of persons deriving a relationship by marriage.  Beginning with Mrs. Swaynie herself, we have compiled the following table of those present:

Family Table
Mrs. Mary Van Cleve Swaynie
Mrs. W. R. Howell, Mrs. Sarah Swaynie, Mr. John McClain (possible step-son ?)
Mrs. Margaret (Ryan) McMaster, Miss Mary Dow, Mrs. Amanda Gloyd, Miss Abbie Rhein, Miss Fannie Swaynie, Miss Ella Vaughn, John Swaynie, Joseph Swaynie.
Great Grand Children 
John McMaster, Emery G. McMaster, Nettie McMaster, Mary Brocuniar, (Procuniar) Miss Mary Dow, Eddie Gloyd, Gertie Gloyd, Clara Gloyd, Frank Gloyd.
Great Great Grand Children
Laura McMaster, aged 7 years; Grace McMaster, 6; Joseph McMaster, 3; Tommy McMaster, 20 months; Sammy Brocuniar, 17 months.  It hasn’t often that one is thus permitted to see five of her great great grandchildren.

Among the guests were a few of the respected old of the city, who have known Grandmother Swaynie in years of the past.  The oldest among them was Aunt Ann Maria Helriggle, who is in her 91st year and smart yet.  With a little assistance she does her own housework.  Before coming to the reunion Saturday, she did the morning housework and then got a baking of pies ready to put into the stove on her return.

Next, was Aunt Polly Cain, who is eighty-five, and did the baking for a large family before leaving home.  Uncle Moses Simpson, eight-three years old, who read the Bible through last month without spectacles, also paid his respects.  Uncle Joseph Bond, seventy-nine, with his lady, seventy-one and Mrs. Effie Whitley, were as youthful and lively as the youngest, stirring themselves around, seeing that everybody was properly entertained.  Among other guests, we noticed Rev. Milton Wright (of the Religious Telescope) and his lady, Mr. Joseph Bimm, Mrs. Samuel Marshall, and Mrs. James Hoglen.  Rev. Wright is a grandson of Mrs. Swaynie's sister, Mrs. Margaret Reeder.

The afternoon was spent by the old folks in recalling old times, and by the young folks listening with eager ears to their stories.  Mrs. Swaynie, whose maiden name was Mary Van Cleve was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, February 10th 1787.  The family moved to Cincinnati shortly before Mary was three years old, and there her father was killed by the Indians in 1791.  Her mother afterward married Mr. Samuel Thompson; and in 1796, in company with a family by the name of McClure, they loaded their effects upon a keel-boat, and floated down the Ohio to the mouth of the Miami, and from there “poled” up the river to Dayton, which then consisted of three log cabins, none of which, however, were as yet occupied.  The boat was hauled up some place about where the head of St. Clair Street is now.  Mrs. Swaynie’s mother was the first to land, in order as she afterward said to be the first white woman who set foot upon these shores.  And here Mrs. Swaynie has resided ever since, eighty-one years.  She can tell many an interesting and thrilling story of those early days of “hairbreadth escapes and dangers happily over.”  

She is the only survivor of her family; all her brothers and sisters are dead.  Her stepfather, Mr. Thompson, was drowned in Mad River about twenty years after they settled here.  She was married in 1813 to Mr. McClain, by whom she had seven children, Catherine, Mary, Margaret, Sarah, John, Jerome and Benjamin.  All of these are alive except Catherine (Ryan) who died about a year ago, in the 70th year of her age.  Her second daughter, Mrs. Mary Clark, is now living in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The third, Margaret, is the wife of W. R. Howell, of this city.  Sarah is the wife of Mr. John Swaynie, at whose residence the reunion was held on Saturday.  Jerome and Benjamin both live in Logansport, Indiana.  Mr. McClain died, and after several years his widow married Mr. John Swaynie whom she also survived.  By him she had no children.

Mrs. Swaynie is wonderfully well preserved for her age.  She is quite lively and communicative, and has full possession of her mental faculties.  During the last eight years she has pieced seventy-five quilts, which she has given to various relations, and is now engaged on the seventy-sixth.  It is composed of 231 blocks each of which is made of nine similar ones.  She has been at work on this about four weeks, and expects to complete it within one more; a feat that will challenge many a younger woman to beat.  And all of this Mrs. Swaynie does without spectacles, which she has not used for four years, having regained her second sight about that time.  Before we close we must mention Miss Abbey Rhein, the “charge d’affaires” at the reunion; to whose energy and management much is owing.   She is a granddaughter of Mrs. Swaynie, and is proud, she says, of being the heaviest one of the family; a fragile flower of 245 pounds avoirdupois.   One by one the guests departed after wishing Mrs. Swaynie many returns of the happy day.

Dayton Journal February 1878 

A Happy Birthday PartyNinety-one Years old, Four Score and Two Years in Dayton

The tenth day of February (Saturday 9th) was a spring day.  The Sunday News man had the honor of calling on the brightest old lady in this city, and paying the compliments due to one who had reached her ninety-first birthday.  A lady of ninety-one, who threads her needle without glasses, and who had threaded her way through the hazel bushes of Dayton ere it grew into a town in 1796 is one whom all delight to honor.  It is Mrs. Mary Van Cleve Swaynie, a widow who had the satisfaction yesterday of holding in her lap the following representatives of the fifth generation:

Samuel Procuniar,   aged fifteen months.
Thomas McMaster,     two years.
Joseph McMaster,      three years.
Laura McMaster,seven years.
Gracie McMaster,      six years.

At her residence, 274 Bainbridge Street, her granddaughter had the satisfaction of welcoming over seventy descendants, who had come from far and wide to honor the first lady in Dayton the pioneeress of this city.  She wears excellently well, cheerful, bright and lovable, without glasses, and enjoying all her faculties to a wonderful degree.

To begin at the beginning:  Mary Van Cleve was born February 10, 1787, in Washington County, Pennsylvania.  It was a year of grace, indeed that which witnessed the passage of the noble Ordinance of 1787.  How do you know this?  Because the lady tells you she landed in Dayton April 1st, 1796, and she was nine in February before that.  Her father, John Van Cleve was killed in 1791, near Cincinnati, by the Indians.  Her mother was Catherine Benham, who married the second time, and her daughter took the same name of her stepfather, Thompson.  In the spring of 1796 two families, the McClures and the Thompsons, left Cincinnati in the keelboat for Dayton, which they reached after ten days poling.  They left “North Bend” for “South Bend” at a peninsula, which the lady of our sketch well remembers from the fact that when the men folks took the boat around the bend, the ladies all walked across the bend, a mile, and rejoined the boat.  She further recalls the flight of wild geese, as an incident of this voyage, striking to a girl of nine years, and the men gathered eggs from which they made eggnog.  The boat landed at the head of St. Clair Street, where the two families stepped ashore to occupy a double log house, long since removed.  Here the McClures and Thompsons started.  In the tiny hamlet of Dayton, but a year old, the nine-year old girl began her days in Dayton, and she has seen four-score and two years.

The old lady well remembers her experience at the old time camp meeting near the mouth of the Mad River.  She was decided in her preference for the Old School Camp and didn’t like the reserved seats and reserved manners, which characterize the Latter-Day, Camp.  She was very soon a member of the “Little Old Red” M. E. Church on Main-Cross Street, which was close into the teens of this century.  The old lady spoke of her being fifty-one years in the faith.  She recalled the eccentric Lorenzo Dow preaching in the summer of 1827, in that ancient church, adding to The Sunday News’ sketch of that noted divine that he withdrew from the pulpit through the same little foursquare window by which he flanked the expectant multitude in the street from Main to Jefferson, about where the Superior Court room stands today.  

A hundred and one questions sprang to the reporter’s lips, but it was no use to begin.  The old lady had received over ninety people during the day from early morning and still looked untired at 4 o’clock.  She retires at 8 o’clock and rises early.  Now would you believe she still finds occupation for her nimble hands and renewed eyes at ninety-one?  Look at this quilt which she has cut and pieced, it is the seventy-sixth one she has made herself within a very few years, since her second eyesight.  About seven years ago her eyes began to change and for more then five years she has not used glasses at all.  In this quilt, not quite finished, are 230 nine-spot blacks, 230 white squares, and 230 colored squares.

Surrounding the old lady were many other dames crowned with gray hair.  It was no use to begin counting or naming them all, or the venerable men who had come to pay their respects.  The house was full, the tables were spread and all ate and were merry.

The widow had twice married, a McClain and a Swaynie.  While five generations call her blessed, she has only one half-brother living, no sisters.  The daughter of the house of Van Cleve will always be honored in Dayton.  For over thirteen years she celebrated this 10th day of February, at 247 Bainbridge Street the greater part of the time.  She lives her years over in these birthdays, and enjoys the unspeakable solace of the faith she embraced when Raper and Maley traveled this circuit of the lord’s vineyard.
                        Typed from the actual Dayton Journal February 12, 1877 C-2, page 4

Dayton Journal February 1879
Ninety-Second Birthday of Mrs. Mary Swaynie
Dayton’s Oldest Inhabitant

“With Long Life I will Satisfy Thee”

Yesterday was the ninety-second birthday of Mrs. Mary Swaynie, the oldest resident of Dayton, and the only survivor of the first band of pioneers who settled within its limits.  On Saturday Mrs. Swaynie gave her fourteenth reception, celebrative of her birthday, at the residence of her stepson, Mr. John Swaynie, Bainbridge Street.  Her first reception was given on her seventy-ninth birthday, and since then a year has not passed without this gathering together of her children and children’s children to do her honor.

On Saturday, though the rain beat dismally outside, and traveling was extremely disagreeable, over eighty persons braved the wind and weather to be present at the reunion, and some of them too, were old, and some came from Chicago.   Mrs. Harriet Brown, came from Piqua.  Among the guests (not speaking of her immediate blood descendants), whose names will be given in another place were Rev. Milton Wright and wife, Rev. William R. Howell, Mrs. James Hoglen, Mrs. Samuel Marshall, Mrs. H. M. Bond, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Dover, Mr. Dow, Mr. L. Vaughan, Mr. James Harries, Mrs. J. W. Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fauver, Mr. and Mrs. Eben Allen, Mrs. Harriet Brown, Mrs. Daugherty, Mrs. Mary Dover, Mr. Moses Simpson, Mrs. Helriggle, Mrs. Chamberlain, Mrs. Whitely and Mrs. Troup.  

Mrs. Swaynie, or “Aunt Polly” as she is familiarly called, sat at the head of the first table.  At her right sat Mrs. Helriggle, at her left Mrs. Daugherty, ????????????????  The combined ages of these four aggregated upwards of 350 years.  At the first table nineteen persons sat down; at the second twenty-two; at the third twenty, and at the fourth twenty, making eighty-one in all.  Thanks to the ladies who had the providing in charge, there was enough for all and of the very best too.

Of “Aunt Polly’s” descendants, those were twenty-three present, not counting sons-in-laws, step-children, step-children’s children, or any secondary connections, of which there were quite a number in attendance, including “Aunt Polly’s” five generations were represented as follows:
Family Table
Mrs. Mary Swaynie
Mrs. Sarah Swaynie and Mrs. Margaret Howell.
Grand Children
John W. Howell, Mrs. Martha Mann, Mrs. Ella Bond, Mrs. Laura Johns, Mrs. Ella Vaughan, Mrs. Mary Dow, Mrs. Amanda Gloyd, Miss Fannie Swaynie, Mrs. Margaret McMaster and Miss Abbie Rhein.
Great Grandchildren
Mrs. Mary Brocunier, Miss Gertie Gloyd, Miss Clara Gloyd, Master Eddie Gloyd, Master Frank Gloyd, Miss Mary Dow, Mr. E. G. McMaster, Mr. Joseph McMaster and Miss Nettie R. McMaster.
Great Great Grandchildren
Master Sammy Procuniar and Joseph McMaster

Aunt Polly is the parent tree of 114 persons, five children, thirty-seven grandchildren, sixty-four great grandchildren, and eight great great grandchildren.  Some of these are dead, the rest are scattered in different parts of the world, so remote that it is not possible for them all to assemble on birthday occasions.  On Saturday “Aunt Polly” looked fully as young as she did on the last reunion, and bids fair to be able to give several more, even to reach the hundredth anniversary of her birth.  She showed, yesterday, a quilt containing over twelve hundred pieces, which she had just completed.  This she did with ??????? for the past sixteen years.  The quilt shown on Saturday was the eighteenth made since she received her second eyesight.

The reunion lasted from eleven in the morning till about four o’clock in the afternoon, by which time most of the guests had departed.  “Aunt Polly” had a word for each, and seemed to enjoy the day intensely.  She responded to their good-byes and their wishes that her life might be extended to enjoy many similar occurrences with a pleasant smile that seemed to say she was resigned to go or stay, just as the High Power saw fit:
Not unhappy here, but- “Only waiting till the shadows are a little longer grown; Only waiting till the glimmer of the day’s last beam is flown.”

First family application for Montgomery County Ohio Genealogical Society

David Procuniar  (Birth Certificate) **
     John T. Procuniar (Death Certificate) **
        John H. Procuniar (Death Certificate)
 Jacob Procuniar (Death Certificate)
                  Jacob’s wife Mary C. McMaster (Death Certificate) **
Margaret Jane Ryan
       Catharine McLain
  Mary Van Cleve
       John Van Cleve 
(John was killed in Cincinnati by Indians while working on his out-lot on June 1, 1791)

David C Procuniar 3598 Harry Truman Drive, Beavercreek, Ohio 45432
The Bragonier Family by Georgiana H. Randall 1969. 
The Bragunier Family in America by Brittain Bragunier Robinson 1969. 
First Reformed Church of Hagerstown Maryland church records on LDS micro-film. 

Note:  Anything not copyrighted in this publication can be reprinted with permission from the author David C. Procuniar. (It is appreciated if a credit line be given) Certain advertisers and writers may retain copyright on material which will be clearly marked as such. You must contact them about use of their material. Information in this publication was/is obtained from correspondence, newsletters and miscellaneous sources, which, in many cases cannot be verified 100%. In cases where you need to write the author for material, please send along a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope).

© Copyright  2001 David C. Procuniar … Reprinted with permission …