The villages of the Iroquois Confederacy were located to the North (Mohawks) and West (Oneidas) of the Oneonta area. However, during the summers this area was a favorite hunting spot with hunting party camps set up along the Susquehanna River. While here they would hunt and make arrowheads from the deposit of flint found on the top of Franklin Mountain.
The English Kings and Queens gave, or sold large, tracks of land in the Colonies to their favorites. This land was largely unsettled. These land patents were then sold off in smaller lots to colonists who would then clear and settle the land, carrying the white man further and further west into the Indian lands.
Lawrence Swart (1753-1841) was one of three Swart brothers from “Schoharry” who fought in the American Revolution. The older brother, Peter Swart, went back to Schoharie and took over the family farm on the Schoharie Creek. His two brothers eventually moved “west” to the Oneonta area. David Swart purchased land on the south side of the Susquehanna River (now known as Swart Hallow).
Lawrence Swart purchased 3 sections (#174, 175 & 176) of the Wallace Patient along the Susquehanna River beginning in 1795. This land consisted of 230 acres and went from the north bank of the Susquehanna River, one mile inland, and up the hill. This land would now encompass all of the area from the river to Chestnut St, and from Main St to Scrammbling Ave.
Lawrence & his wife lived on their land until 1841, when Lawrence and his son, David Swart sold the land to Peter Collier and Jared Goodyear.
The site was honored by the DAR in 2007 , marking the bicentennial of the house which Revolutionary War Patriot, Lawrence Swart, had built.
Peter Collier and Jared Goodyear
This father-in-law and son-in-law combination of Oneonta entrepreneurs purchased the Swart land in an effort to attract the railroad to Oneonta. Large portions of the Swart farm north of River St was sold to the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad. Smaller parcels of land along River St were sold to the railroad workers.
Henry & Phoebe Wilcox
In 1867 the remaining 74 acres of the Swart farm land was sold by Jared Goodyear to Henry & Phoebe Wilcox, a newly married couple from Franklin, NY. They renovated the house in the current fashionable Victorian style. Henry farmed the land and engaged in the lumber trade, keeping a daily diary. They had three children, Fred (1867-1954), Myrtle (1870-1875), and Merton (1878-1970).
Phoebe died in 1903, and was the last female influence in the house. Henry died in 1912 at the age of 77. Fred and Mert, often refered to as “the boys”, lived in the house as bachlors until their deaths. When Mert died in 1970, it marked the 103 year of the Wilcox family living in the house.
Van B. Smith
The Wilcox property was left to a family cousin, Van B. Smith of Otego. He held an auction at the house in 1972 where Jim Lettis auctioned off much of the contents of the Wilcox house.
City of Oneonta
In 1974 the City of Oneonta bought the remaining 14.6 acres of the Swart-Wlcox farm land with “Forever Wild Funds”. They paid $130,000 for the property. It was used as the focal point for the City of Oneonta’s Bicentennial Celebration. After the Bicentennial it was boarded up.
Friends of Swart-Wilcox
In 1988 four teachers from Greater Plains Elementary School asked the City of Oneonta if they could take the abannoned structure and use it as the focus of the 4th grade local history curriculum. The City agreed, and thus began the Friends of Swart-Wilcox who have been the force behind the restoration and programing of the 200 year old property and house.