Is this the David Provance who raised Jacob River Swisher?

Since I first started tracing my roots, I have always wondered who raised my Great, Great, Great, Grandfather, Jacob River Swisher. How was he orphaned, and how did he know the family that raised him. The documentation available was very little. Most of it consisted of information apparently first recorded by professional genealogist, Clifford Hoard (which I am not sure anyone has the original document he wrote). Most all Swisher researchers since, refer to his writing, and of course when something is passed on to another, multiple times, the details change somewhat, get embellished somewhat, and therefore get farther from the truth, even if the original could or could not be verified as the truth.

Below is some of the traditional facts (or supposed facts) passed on from researcher to researcher.

Jacob River Swisher, born near Winchester, Frederick County, Virginia in May 1785
His death certificate says he was born in Pennsylvania
Orphaned at a very young age Raised by a “friend” (some writings say “friend of the family”), David (some say John) ProvidenceNear Geneva or New Geneva or Providence Bottoms
His parents were John and Sarah
“At 18, Jacob was employed as a guide by the old pioneer settlers from Morgantown., WestVirginia to Winchester as they made long trips across the mountains for salt and supplies. He was a farmer and guide.” From “A Time To Laugh, A Time To Cry” by Emily Bogan Swisher

So here I am in 2014, still trying to break the wall down and find the truth. I have just found a few records that for me give a glimmer of light in the tunnel. Now I want to ask those who are reading this to chime in with their insights. I have tried over the years to pin down this David Providence in census records of Pennsylvania or Virginia, but with no success. Of course, I was never sure of the correct spelling for Providence.

I found an article on that lists names in a Bible belonging to Joseph Yard Provance. One of the names was David Provance who was born August 8, 1788. This date indicates that David and Jacob were within three years age of each other.

In another article on, I found a reference to the death of John William Provance.

“This is a speculative theory of the death of John William Provance. In June 1782 an expedition of Pennsylvania and Virginia militiamen under Col. William Crawford marched into Ohio to attackIndian villages on the Sandusky River. The attack failed and the militia fought a running battle back to the settlements in western Pennsylvania. Between 70 and 100 militiamen were killed orcaptured and executed by various tribes, including Col. Crawford….Other members of the   company include John and David Casto and George and Joseph Rankins. Provance Bottoms and the homestead of John William Provance was located in relatively close proximity to that of William Crawford….”

Notes on another tree in Ancestry  says “Joseph Yard Provance (son of Thomas Provance and Sarah Yard) was born 31 March 1764 in Frederick Co., Virginia, and died 16 May 1843 in New Geneva, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth Casto on 31 March 1784 in Masontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, daughter, daughter of David Castro Sr. and Phebe Gandy.”

I also found one more article on Ancestry and that was the will of Joseph Y. Provance, Fayette Co., PA, 1833. It states among other things, “Thirdly I will and dispose of my home farm in manner following to wit: I give and bequeath to my son David Provance seventy acres of land, on the hill where he now lives.”

According to other details in the will, it appears like Joseph had a total of 1,879 acres that he divided among his children. Those acres were in several locations.; 270 acres along the Monogahela River in Fayette County, PA; 109 acres on Dunkard Creek in Green County, PA; 500 acres in Lewis County, VA; and another 1,000 acres on Mill Creek in VA.

Also there are some orphan court documents in Pennsylvania that indicate that some of the Provance families did take in orphans, although Jacob is not mentioned in the documents I saw.

Finally from an article by Clifford HOARD, the professional genealogist mentioned at the beginning of this writing, he says:

“According to SWISHER family tradition Jacob R. SWISHER was orphaned at an early age. He wasreared by David PROVANCE who lived on Provance Bottom near New Geneva PA.

“As a young man, Jacob piloted the early settlers from Winchester VA to what is now WV. Atthat early date, around 1800 the pioneers were quite willing to pay an experienced guide to leadthem over treacherous trails through a rough mountainous region.

“There is no mystery as to how Jacob R SWISHER met Drusilla MORGAN. The old MonongahelaRiver, a stream of traffic always, was the meeting place for scores of young folks and Jacob and Drusilla met somewhere along its shore.

“In the census of 1850 Jacob R. is listed as a farmer. Farming in 1850 and for many years later was a subsistence occupation. Jacob was more than a struggling farmer. He initiated a towncalled Newport. His sale of lots for this business venture gave him an excellent monetary return.

“During the formative period of New Port there existed a boat building dock. The boatsconstructed were small in size as the steam boat was not a factor this far south on theMonongahela River. Three coopers lived in New Port between 1840 & 1880. They were: Elisha SUMMERS, and the SWISHER brothers, Morgan M, and William D. The barrels, tubs and churnsthat they fashioned were in great demand…”

To sum all of this up, I think that all of the above information indicates to me that the Provance families listed above may very well be the people who took Jacob River Swisher in as an orphan. He may very well have been raised by the David Provance listed above, in or near Provance Bottoms  near Geneva, PA.

So my question to the readers is: Have any of you come in contact with these Provance individuals in your family records or research. Can you add insights into the possibility that this information is correct.  Finally, can any of you tie Jacob River Swisher to any of these individuals? I would appreciate any comments or suggestions for further research you might have.

One thought on “Is this the David Provance who raised Jacob River Swisher?”

  1. David Provance was my great great great grandfather. I will tell you what I know about him which may be helpful to your research. David was the son of Joseph Yard Provance, who was the son of John William Provance and his wife, Sarah Yard. The Thomas Provance (Province) you mentioned was the father of John William Provance. There is very little documentary evidence on David Provance. Yes, it is David that is mentioned in Joseph Yard Provance’s family Bible. The land owned by Joseph Yard Provance was commonly known as “Provance’s Bottom”. Information gathered on David on the census records gives us very little to go by as far as names of children or other members of the household. Aside from the will of Sarah Yard Provance, Joseph Yard’s Bible and the census records, I have only found two other sources of information on David. He apparently was one of the co-executors of Sarah Yard Provance’s will, according to newspaper accounts of the times. He was also a party to a court case in Morgantown, Virginia (now West Virginia) in which his stepmother, Rachel Reed Provance (second wife of Joseph Yard Provance), complained of David attempting to interfere with her inheritance. The surname, “Provance”, had various spellings during those years. The first known member of the family to live in North America was Thomas, who spelled the name, “Province”. Most descendents spelled it “Provance”, though some adopted the spellings of “Provence”, “Province”, or “Provins”. Interestingly, one record of the marriage between John William Provance and Sarah Yard misspelled the last name as “Providence”. David’s son, David Hartley Provance (my great great grandfather), was born and raised in New Geneva, PA, as was HIS son, Ephraim Provance (my great grandfather). I hope you find this information helpful.

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