A Guide to the Winifred McCraw & Patrick Henry Swearingen Papers, 1886-1915
Winifred McCraw was born to Miller Woodson McCraw and Winifred Goodwin McCraw of Bryan, Texas in August, 1868. She attended Baylor College, as had her mother, and later attended Vassar College while nursing her father, who was then living on the East Coast. Winifred was a democrat and involved in a number of causes during her life, including suffrage and lobbying the legislature of Texas on behalf of retail workers. She was a co-founder of the San Antonio Woman's Club in 1898, lady manager of the symphony society, a charter member of the Battle of Flowers Association, and a member of First Baptist Church, the Ladies Aid and Mission Society, and the Fenwick Club.
Patrick Henry Swearingen was born to Patrick Henry Swearingen and Mary Elizabeth Toland Swearingen in Brenham, Texas in 1865, and graduated from University of Texas in 1888. He was a prominent attorney in San Antonio, with business in south Texas and Mexico. He was appointed Judge of the Fourth Texas Court of Civic Appeals in 1916.
Winifred McCraw and Patrick Henry Swearingen married on April 8, 1891. The Swearingens moved to San Antonio immediately after their marriage. The house they moved into, 529 E. Guenther Street, was the one they occupied the rest of their lives. The couple had five children. Richard McCraw, born in 1892, died of spinal meningitis while attending the University of Texas in 1913, just days before his twenty-first birthday. Patrick Henry was born in 1893, followed by Dorothy in 1893, Winifred Mary in 1903 and Robert Goodwin in 1909. Many of their descendants still live in San Antonio. (See the family tree in the collection for information on Winifred McCraw and Patrick Henry Swearingen's descendants.)
Patrick Henry died of influenza complications in 1919, and Winifred died in 1938.
This collection is composed entirely of correspondence. Although the bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence between Winifred McCraw and Patrick Henry Swearingen, there are also letters from other family members and friends.
The correspondence between Winifred and Patrick Henry begins five years before they were married, and continues through 1908. The letters trace changes in their relationship over time, as well as providing glimpses of friendships, and the couple's relationships with two of their sons. Winifred's letters to Patrick Henry, reveal the evolution of their relationship in many ways, most obviously the salutations which change from "Mr. Swearingen, Dear Friend," to "Dearest Harry,". The letters in the months leading to their wedding are particularly interesting, especially when Winifred offers her views on where the couple should live, the layout of the yard, and other domestic concerns. Winifred also documents a trip taken through the West and MidWest the summer before their wedding, including a trip to Pike's Peak.
Patrick Henry's correspondence includes a number of letters from family members and friends, and many letters written to Winifred after they had been married several years. Patrick Henry spent a large amount of time traveling around Texas and in Northern Mexico attending to clients and other business affairs, and his letters home are often wistful, particularly the letter written in honor of their seventeenth wedding anniversary in 1908. Patrick Henry's relationship with his son and namesake, Patrick Henry, is illuminated in a letter offering advice on guns and the game of football.
Of note in the General Correspondence subseries of Patrick Henry's correspondence, are letters from Carrie McNelly, a family friend who had shared a room with Winifred's mother at Baylor. Carrie's letters are mainly about her son, Rebel. She wrote "I will have to suffer for him--but I will do it, hoping to save him after a while." Rebel was later hanged for murder.
Richard M. Swearingen wrote two letters to his parents from University of Texas in 1910, which offer a look at college life in the early twentieth century. The final series, Letter Fragments contains torn pages, unsigned letters and other fragments of pages from letters.
This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.
Permission to publish material from the papers must be obtained from University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
Winifred McCraw & Patrick Henry Swearingen Papers, 1886-1915, MS 20, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
Records were donated in 1996 by the Swearingen Family (Acc. 1996-11).
Processed by Tori Beckman Wilson and Jill Jackson, November 1996.
Detailed Description of the Collection