By Barbara Emery Moseley
Here comes the bride—but is it Levina, Lovinah, Lavinia, or Levinah Swan who will glide into matrimony with Jonathan Hunt on July 14, 1779? All these versions of her name appear in various references. Lovinah is on her tombstone in Vernon’s North (Hunt) Cemetery, but, although “written in stone,” it is incorrect. However, the Vermont Historical Society has in its archives an 1831 letter written from Vernon to her son, U.S. Senator Jonathan Hunt, in Washington, DC. It closes with: “I hope I shall see you all again in good health is the daly [sic] prayer of your aff’nt Mother Levinah Hunt.”
Her great-great grandfather Thomas was the first of the Swan family to arrive in this country, about 1648. He was a doctor, born in Scotland, and educated in England. Settling in Roxbury, a section of Boston, he soon met and married Mary Lamb.
On July 11, 1681, his house was “set on fire” by Maria, a black servant, and “burned with some in it.” For this crime, Maria was sentenced to be burned at the stake. The barbaric punishment was carried out on Boston Common, September 22, 1681.
Dr. Swan himself died in 1688, about 40 years old, after siring eleven children, six of whom, including a set of boy and girl twins, died young (not in the fire). Two sons, Ebenezer and William, survived to manhood, each graduating from Harvard. The former became a surgeon, but later chose the life of master of a merchant vessel and died at sea.
He had fathered four sons, one of whom became master of a ship in the West Indies trade and was lost at sea as well. The others wisely remained on land, with William becoming a successful goldsmith at Worcester. Among his thirteen children was bride-to-be Levinah and her younger brother Timothy, the “mad hatter.” One Northfield neighbor described him as a “queer genius of a musical turn,” while another characterized him as “poor, proud and indolent.” After meeting him, what will your verdict be?