SWINSON, THOMAS JEFFERSON (1837 ~ 1918). The following biography of Thomas Jefferson Swinson was written by a Swinson family descendent.
"Thomas Jefferson Swinson, a. k. a. Thomas Jefferson O'Neal, Confederate veteran, was born in Locust Grove, Independence County, Arkansas on January 22, 1837, to John O'Neal and Nancy Harbour. Sometime, between the ages of 11 and 16, he moved to Texas, but under dubious circumstances.
According to family lore, O'Neal and his cousin, Levi Jackson, took their fathers' best horses and took off for Mexico. Arriving in Texas, they passed themselves off as brothers and took the surname, Swinson. After a year, Jackson returned to Arkansas, without his father's horse, while O'Neal stayed in Texas.
In August 1862, still using the Swinson name, O'Neal enrolled in Company B of Davidson's Battalion, which became Daly's and later Ragsdale's Battalion, in San Antonio, where he was a captain and later a second lieutenant.
During the War, Daly's/Ragsdale's Battalion was assigned to the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona of the Trans-Mississippi Department, but, on several occasions, crossed into Louisiana to protect the area from Union invasions. On May 6, 1864, the regiment participated in the Battle of Calcasieu Pass, at the delta of the Calcasieu River, now called Monkey Island. During the fighting, two Union gunboats where captured and turned into Confederate blockade runners.
By September 1864, the unit had permanently moved into southwestern Louisiana to perform guard duty around the Calcasieu and Mermentau rivers, but eventually surrendered with General Kirby Smith on May 26, 1865.
After the War, O'Neal returned to Texas and worked as a farmer and laborer and on October 24, 1865, married Nancy Catherine Overton in Washington County. Together, they had Matilda, Nora Jeanette, Celia Ann, Robert, and Kittie. Of the five children, only Nora Jeanette and Celia Ann lived to adulthood. No information is known about the end of O'Neal's marriage to Overton. Family records are not clear if she died or if they separated.
In 1886, he married Irene 'Rena' Nelson in Bell County, Texas. They had four children: Thomas Jefferson, Jr., William Whipple 'Whip,' Ollie, and Nola Minerva 'Nolie.'
He also appears to have moved around quite a bit. In 1909, at age 72, he was living in Fort Bend County, when he applied for a Soldier's Application for Pension. On August 3, 1918, he moved from Coryell County to the Confederate Men's Home in Austin.
O'Neal's second wife, Irene, passed away prior to his moving into the Confederate Home, but he did, list two daughters, Norah Culp, of Pearl, Texas, and Nola Francis, of Mangum, Oklahoma, as his next of kin.
O'Neal only lived in the Home for two months before he died on November 2, 1918. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery two days later."
Information taken from Confederate Home Roster, Soldier's Application for Pension #15157, Death Certificate # 53063, and Daly's/Ragsdales's Battalion Volunteer Texas Cavalry at http://www.acadiansingray.com/Daly's-Ragsdale's%20Bn.%20TX%20Cav.htm.