The Swaim Family of Indiana and Oklahoma

Laura Jane Adams (b 1868)

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Laura Jane Adams (b 1868)

Alice Belle Swaim, my father’s mother, was the daughter of Laura Jane Adams who married Nathan Hawkins on May 8, 1886. Belle was born in 1886 based on the Swaim Family Record which is validated by censuses and other sources. The Clarence A. Hawkins listed in the William W. Adams bible record, born in 1888, appears to have been a younger brother of Belle’s.

Laura then re-married John Champion in 1893 which is supported by the marriage certificate and 1900 census information that states that they had been married for seven years. The fact that Belle’s mother was married twice is alluded to by Belle’s listing as Alice Belle Hawkins Champion in the Swaim Family Record. John Champion, her listed father in the 1900 census, was actually Belle’s step-father and married Laura Hawkins in 1893.

The following is an extract from the 1900 Census, Indiana (Wells County) that lists John and Laura Champion with two children, Alice Belle and Albert B.



Birth Date


Yrs Mar-ried

Moth-er of how many Child-ren?

How many child-ren living?


Birth State

Father Birth State

Mother Birth State

Champion, John


July 1850






“ “ , Laura


Oct 1867








“ “ , Alice B


Oct 1885?





“ “ , Albert B


May 1883





Table 7: 1900 Census, Indiana, Jackson Township, Wells County – John and Laura Champion
In the 1900 Census Alice B. Champion is listed as a daughter and Albert B. Champion is listed as a Step-son. Normally these relationships are stated in relation to the Head of Household. In this case, the relationships appear to be listed in relation to the mother, Laura. I finally deduced this based on several independent pieces of information. But the compelling piece of information that convinced me was a photo I acquired from Don Swaim’s collection. It included a photo labeled “Uncle Bert Champion and Laura (Champion). Her Step-son”.

But for the sake of thoroughness let us review different possibilities for the father/mother of the two children. If Albert is indeed a step-son of John as the census-taker had stated, then Albert’s real mother would have been Laura Hawkins. This is virtually impossible since Albert was born in 1883 and Laura did not marry Nathan Hawkins until 1886. We also know that 1886 was the year she was first married based on the 1930 census. This would also imply that Belle was John’s child from a previous marriage. We know this would have been from a previous marriage since John and Laura had only been married 7 years and Belle was 14.

If Albert was actually a step-son of Laura, then Albert would be John’s natural son from a previous marriage. This would also imply that Belle was Laura’s natural daughter. Looking at the children’s ages and the marriage dates of 1886 for Laura Adams / Nathan Hawkins, and 1893 for Laura Hawkins / John Champion, the timing suggests it’s much more likely that Belle was the natural daughter of Laura Hawkins. This matches the Swaim Family Record account which lists her as Alice Belle Hawkins Champion.

It should be noted that there are several puzzling or incorrect listings in the 1900 census which I would suggest, for the most part, are errors by the census-taker:

  1. Based on the birth state listed for these children’s father (PA) it would appear on the surface that they are both children of John Champion to two different previous wives, i.e. note that Alice and Albert’s mothers were born in Indiana and Missouri, respectively. I do not worry too much about this as I have seen many errors in the birth state columns in censuses.

  2. Alice B. Champion’s birth date is listed incorrectly in 1900 Census as October, 1885 (at least that’s what appears to have been written; the handwriting is hard to read) when her real birth date was November 5, 1886 based on the Social Security Death Index and family records. Laura Champion’s birth date is also incorrectly listed as October 1867 when it was actually December 17, 1868. John Champion’s birth date of July, 1850 is listed correctly.

  3. It is also puzzling that Laura would be listed as having 4 children, three still living, yet Albert and Belle appear to be listed as John’s children, not Laura’s. (I think Alice Belle was Laura’s child, not Albert). Then what happened to the other two children? Why wasn’t Clarence Hawkins living with them? He would have been 12 years old. It would appear that the census taker may not have accurately captured these relationships or the individuals did not recall or provide accurate information. As evidence of these types of discrepancies, Belle’s father’s birth state is listed as Pennsylvania in the 1900 census and Indiana in the 1910 and 1930 censuses.

    It should be noted, however, that the 1930 census lists 45 as the age at which John Champion was first married. Based on the other evidence we have, John would have been 42 going on 43 when he was married to Laura, not 45. This is puzzling on two accounts. First it seems to imply that his first wife was Laura. Then, even if one accepts that Laura was his first wife, it doesn’t match the 1893 marriage date. When the 1930 census was taken, John was 79. Perhaps he misunderstood the census taker, got confused and couldn’t recall correctly the age when first married. But even if we accept that he was off by a few years, it still implies that his first wife was Laura and he had not been married before. It then raises a question as to whether he was the father of Albert, born in May, 1883. In 1882, John Champion would have been 32 years old. Since the listed age for John’s first being married is incorrect, irregardless of which marriage John was basing it on, I have to believe that this represents an error and that I cannot rule out that John was married before Laura (and perhaps fathered Albert by another wife) based on just this ambiguous information in the 1930 census when he was 79 years old.

While there is conflicting and confusing information in the censuses, I believe most of these discrepancies are the result of census taker errors. I have attempted to obtain the birth certificate for Alice Belle Swaim but have been informed that Blackford County, Indiana does not have it.

My best judgment right, however, based on the information I have is that Albert was John’s son from a previous marriage and Belle was Laura’s daughter from a previous marriage to Nathan Hawkins. I think this scenario fits most of the data found but not all of it. I believe there is quite a bit of inaccurate information in the 1900 census. Unfortunately, a key census that could have possibly cleared up some of this confusion is the 1890 census which no longer exists for Indiana.

It should also be noted that Clarence A. Hawkins, 2nd child of Nathan and Laura Adams Hawkins was living with his grandfather, William W. Adams, in 1900. After Nathan passed away, Laura may have moved back home to her parents (this is my theory). Laura then remarried to John A. Champion, who had a son from a previous marriage. We know from 1900 census data that Belle was living with Laura and that Clarence was living with his grandfather. These families were of modest means. Laura’s son, Clarence, may have stayed at his grandfather Adam’s house because of financial reasons or other personal reasons we are unaware of.

In 1910 John and Laura Champion were living close to Chanute City, Kansas (Neosho County) by themselves and with no additional children. John Champion was working as an oil field manager914. In 1910 Albert Champion, then known as Burt, was living nearby. In 1917 John and Laura Champion were living in Humboldt, Kansas based on the obituary of Laura’s father William W. Adams.79 Based on the 1920 Census they were living at 181 Bridge Street in Humboldt, Kansas.915

Based on Census research I believe that Nathan Hawkins was born ~ 1864. I do not know when he died. Based on the census research Nathan Hawkins was the son of Amos Hawkins and Susannah Garrett. Amos Hawkins was born in Indiana. His father was born in Virginia and his mother was born in Indiana. Susannah Garrett was born in Indiana and her father was Samuel Garrett (b ~ 1816)916, born in Indiana, and her mother was Mahala (b ~ 1811) born in Kentucky.917 In the 1870 census, Amos Hawkins was living in Liberty, Indiana (Wabash County) and his occupation was listed simply as laborer.

Amos Hawkins (b ~ 1835918) and Susannah Garrett Hawkins (b ~1841919) were married September 30, 1857920 in Wabash County, Indiana. Amos and Susannah Hawkins had at least the following children921:

    • Riley Hawkins (b ~ 1861)

    • Orpheus Hawkins (b ~1862)

    • Nathan Hawkins (b ~ 1864)

    • J. Mary Hawkins (b ~ 1866)

    • Samuel Hawkins (b ~1869)

    • Aseneth Hawkins (b ~ 1871)

    • J. Mahala Hawkins (b ~ 1874)

    • C. Joseph Hawkins (b ~ 1877)

    • Peter Hawkins (b ~ 1879)922.

In the 1860 and 1870 censuses, Amos and Susannah Hawkins lived in Liberty Township, Indiana (Wabash County). In the 1880 Census, Nathan Hawkins was 16 and still living with his father and mother in Harrison Township, Indiana (Blackford County).

The 1930 census also lists Laura’s age at first being married as 18 which equates to a first marriage date of ~ 1886.

Laura and Nathan Hawkins were also the parents of Clarence Hawkins, born ~ 1888. This is based on a unique entry in the Adams family bible, census data and an inscription beside a family photograph of Clarence Hawkin’s children made by my father. On the Adams family bible pages listing births and deaths, there are two entries written later by a different person as follows:

Births: “Clarence A. Hawkins was born April 24, 1888. grandson”

Deaths: “Clarence A. Hawkins July 15th, 1935. San Antonio, Texas.” 923

Based on the Alice Belle Hawkins Swaim listing in the Swaim Family Record and Clarence’s listed 1888 year of birth, Clarence would have been Laura’s second child by Nathan. The 1900 census information lists Clarence A. Hawkins as a grandson of William W, Adams, Laura Adams Hawkins’ father. In this household were William A. Adams (Head of Household), Mary C. Adams (William’s wife), Clarence Hawkins (grandson) and John A. Adams (brother of William).

Laura Jane Adams (b 17 Dec 1868, d 22 May 1953) and Nathan Hawkins (b ~ 1864) were married in the 1885-1886 time period and had the following children:

  1. Alice Belle Hawkins (Champion) (b 5 Nov 1886, d 15 Aug 1968) married John E. Swaim (1885-1957).
    Belle and John Swaim had the following children:

    1. Ivan Swaim (1905-1970)

    2. Marion Swaim (1907-1993)

    3. Robert Swaim (1926-1997)
      [details described in following sub-chapter]

  2. Clarence A. Hawkins (b 24 Apr 1888, d 15 Jul 1935924). Clarence was the second son of Nathan and Laura Adams Hawkins.925 In 1900 Clarence was living with his grandfather, William W. Adams.926 Clarence Hawkins’ wife’s name was Laura (b ~ 1890)927. I have a photo of Laura Champion with the two children of Clarence and Laura Hawkins: “My Grandmother Champion with her two granddaughters. Marie on left – Mary Jane on right. Daughters of Clarence Hawkins, her son.”
    Clarence and Laura Hawkins had at least the following children:

    1. Marie Hawkins (b ~ 1913928) born in Kansas.

    2. Mary Jane Hawkins (b ~ 1917929) born in Oklahoma.

I have a photograph of these two children ~ 1920 with their grandmother Laura Adams Hawkins Champion when they were about 7 and 2, respectively. In 1920 Clarence and his family were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1930 they were living in San Antonio, Texas. Clarence Hawkins died in San Antonio, Texas in 1935.

  1. Garnett Merle Hawkins (b 9 Apr 1890, d 9 Sep 1959930)
    There are references in family photo albums to an “Aunt Garnett, Belle’s sister” (written by either my mother or father). This Aunt Garnett lived in California during the 1940’s and was married to Thomas G. Landis who had a nickname “Shorty”80 according to my mother. There is a photo of “Aunt Garnett” with the console piano that was later given to my mother, Olly Swaim. This piano was shipped to Texas from California in the late 1950’s or early 1960s presumably after Garnett passed away. Garnett’s first name is interesting. Her father Nathan’s mother’s (Garnett’s grandmother) maiden name was Susannah Garrett. I wonder whether the records I found regarding Susannah’s last name were inaccurate and her real surname was Garnett rather than Garrett. I found Susannah’s surname from census records and the census taker could have misspelled the surname.

    My father Bob Swaim had a note tapped to a knife that reads

    “This knife was given to me by my Aunt Garnett at Descanto, CA while I was in U.S. Navy at San Diego Calif Xmas 1944. It had belonged to her son Bob Landis who was killed in U.S. Army in Europe in Nov 1944. I subsequently carried it through remainder of my Navy service in Pacific & until discharge June 1946. Robert J. Swaim, Tyler TX 5/7/86”

    The 1900 census of John and Laura Champion’s family lists children – Albert and Alice Belle – but does not list Garnett. But then there have been cases where children were raised by grandparents and other extended family members such as the case with Clarence, Belle’s brother.

    Garnett and Thomas G. Landis had at least one adopted child. I have a family photo of the three of them that was taken when son, Robert, was very young, perhaps eight years old. “My Aunt Garnet Landis (Mother’s sister). I believe others are her husband Tom Landis and adopted son Bob Landis. Bob was killed in U.S. Army in WWII in France, Nov 1944” – Bob Swaim note.

    1. Robert J. Landis (b ~1916931, d Nov 1944932)

I am not sure what happened to Nathan Hawkins. It appears that Nathan passed away sometime between 1888 and 1893.

Laura Jane (Adams) Hawkins (b 17 Dec 1868, d 22 May 1953) was then married on April 5, 1893933 to John A. Champion (b 6 Jul 1850934, d 26 Aug 1943935).

John A. Champion was born in Pennsylvania and was the son of William W. Champion (b ~ 1813) and Mary Champion (b ~ 1823). William Champion was born in West Germany and was a shoemaker and farmer. Mary Champion was born in Pennsylvania. In the 1860 Census, John and Mary Champion were living in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. Living with them and their eight children (at that time) was a John Truby, aged 76, who may have been Mary’s father, although this is speculation.

William and Mary Champion had the following children936:

  • Henry A. Champion (b ~1844)

  • William B. Champion (b ~1847)

  • John A. Champion (b Jul 6 1850)

  • Leonard Champion (b ~1856)

  • Angelina Champion (b ~1853)

  • Mary Champion (b ~1855)

  • Sarah Emma Champion (b ~1857)

  • Joseph A. Champion (b ~1859)

  • James C. Champion (b ~1861) 937

It is not known whether any children were produced from the marriage of John Champion and Laura Hawkins. John Champion apparently brought to this marriage a son from a previous marriage, Albert B. Champion (b May 17, 1883938). I am not sure who Albert’s mother was.

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