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St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Meet Garrett Van Sweringen

 
 
Meet Garrett Van Sweringen Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 30, 2019
1. Meet Garrett Van Sweringen Marker
Inscription.  One of the most intriguing residents of Maryland's first capital was Garrett Van Sweringen. Originally a leader of the Dutch colony of New Amstel in Delaware, he lost most of his property when the English captured that settlement in 1664. Afterward, many Dutch and Swedish settlers moved from Delaware to Maryland. In 1667, Garrett Van Sweringen, his wife Barbara, and their children began running an inn at St. Mary's City in a building called Smith's Ordinary. Later he opened a "private lodging house" at the site you are now exploring. Van Sweringen had a major role in developing Maryland's first capital. He died here in 1698 and is buried somewhere on the 1667 chapel site grounds.

Positions of Merit
Although not a major political figure, Garrett Van Sweringen held a number of important posts during his life in America:
"Schout" or chief legal officer, secretary, and president for the Dutch colony of New Amstel
Alderman, an official of the local governing body of St. Mary's City
Mayor of St. Mary's City
High sheriff of St. Mary's County

[Captions:]
This
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is a reconstruction on the original site of Smith's Ordinary where the Van Sweringens ran their inn during the 1660s and 1670s. Built in 1667, this structure burned down in 1678.

After the capture of New Amstel, the English changed its name to New Castle, Delaware, and the Van Sweringens moved to St. Mary's City.

This is the only known drawing of the fort at New Amstel. Van Sweringen was deputy commander when the British attacked this fort in 1664.


[Aside:]
A Survivor
Garrett Van Sweringen experienced and unusual number of challenges in his life:

1657 Shipwreck: "...the ship Prins Maurits, is stranded... in its graveyard" and broke up off the coast of Long Island. Van Sweringen was aboard, serving as supervisor of the cargo.

1664 Invasion: "...except some household stuffe and a Negroe I gott away with and some other moveables...," most of Van Sweringen's property was plundered by the English troops during their capture of New Amstel, Delaware.

1678 Fire: "A sudden Fire happened in the night in the Chief Dwelling house [Smith's Ordinary in St. Mary's City]... and Burnt and Consumed the same to ashes..." causing Van Sweringen to lose property worth over 60,000 lbs. of tobacco.

1689 Revolution: Most of Van Sweringen's
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elite patrons were removed from power when Lord Baltimore's government was overthrown. Van Sweringen also lost his position as sheriff of St. Mary's County.

1695 Abandonment: Royal Governor Sir Francis Nicholson decided to move the government from St. Mary's City to Annapolis, thereby eliminating the basis for Van Sweringen's main business enterprises.
 
Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
 
Location. 38° 11.13′ N, 76° 26.046′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Old State House Road west of Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 47414 Old State House Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. From Many Lands (here, next to this marker); The Van Sweringen Site (here, next to this marker); The Van Sweringen Family (here, next to this marker); An Innovative Entrepreneur (here, next to this marker); A Busy Enterprise (here, next to this marker); Tobacco... "our meat, drink, clothing and monies" (a few steps from this marker); ...Adjourn to the Arbour at Vansweringens (a few steps from this marker); The Cooling House (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
 
Categories. Colonial EraGovernment & PoliticsIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 

More. Search the internet for Meet Garrett Van Sweringen.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 25 times since then. Photo   1. submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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