Adena Mansion & Gardens
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Thomas Worthington & Family

Thomas Worthington
Eleanor Swearingen Worthington
Mary Tiffin Worthington
Sarah Ann Worthington
James Taylor Worthington
Albert Gallatin Worthington
Thomas Worthington, Jr.
Eleanor Strode Worthington
Margaret Worthington
Elizabeth Rachel Worthington
William Darke Astor Worthington
Francis Asbury Worthington


"Wife, mother, manager”

Eleanor Swearingen was born September 22, 1777 near Shepherdstown, (West) Virginia. The family was wealthy and Eleanor was the oldest of four children. Parents Josiah Swearingen and mother Phoebe Strode did not live long. Eleanor was without her mother by the age of nine. It was then that her aunt, Eleanor Shepherd, became an important part of her life. She was taught genteel skills that were desired in a lady of her background including the social graces of music, dancing, and needlework. Young Eleanor also studied reading, writing, and math as fundamental skills needed to manage an estate. She learned farm chores like taking care of poultry and milking cows. Nursing sick relatives and attending women at childbirth were duties expected of women in this time. Eleanor was well equipped for her future life.

Where Eleanor met Thomas Worthington from near-by Charles Town is not known, but the couple was married at the home of Abraham and Eleanor Shepherd on December 13, 1796. Thomas had returned that same year from his first trip to the Northwest Territory with ideas of moving to the frontier. It was a match that would not only produce ten children, but influence the formation of a state and the direction of democracy in this new country. Early on, these two exceptional people committed to the self-sacrifice of public lives: “higher motives than mere personal happiness must govern our actions.”

The move to the Northwest Territory came in March of 1798. It was an opportunity for the young couple who disliked slavery to free their slaves and relocate them to the settlement of Chillicothe where slavery was abolished in the territory north of the Ohio River. A large group of relatives from the Worthington, Swearingen, and Tiffin families along with freed slaves and skilled workers set out for Chillicothe. This trip would be a test of young Eleanor’s brave spirit. With new baby Mary, she traveled the 34 day trip on corduroy roads, flatboats, and horseback to reach the small settlement at dusk on April 17, 1798.

The Worthington’s first home was near the Scioto River on property of Second and Paint Streets. Because of river floods that left swampy areas, fevers were common and the Worthingtons desired to move to higher ground. In 1802, while Thomas was away on business, Eleanor relocated the family to a commodious log house called Belle View. This house was on the site where they could oversee the construction of Adena Mansion. Daughter Sarah had been born in 1800 and Eleanor gave birth to three of her sons at Belle View before moving into Adena in 1807.

As mistress of Adena, Eleanor was a gracious hostess to prominent leaders and politicians of the time. Aaron Burr sent her a yellow primrose for the beautiful gardens she designed to grace the mansion. Eleanor not only ran her household, but was an excellent business manager keeping farm accounts, supervising tenants, and dealing with the banks. Worthington wrote that a member of Congress had remarked to him, “You certainly lose money by your attendance here; but I am informed on good authority that if it were not for Mrs. Worthington you would lose more.”

Eleanor’s calm courage was reflected in her demeanor and attitudes of deep piety. She was a religious woman who held daily devotions for family and servants. Eleanor was faithful in her church attendance. An Anglican in Virginia, Eleanor joined the Presbyterian Church in Chillicothe and remained loyal to those beliefs through her many years. These supported her wise counsel when raising her ten children all of whom lived to adulthood. They marked her strong character when she suffered the deaths of husband Thomas, son Albert, and daughter Mary.

Against Eleanor’s wishes, Thomas made a business trip to New Orleans in the spring of 1827. Continuing on to New York by boat he became critically ill and when Eleanor was notified, she and son-in-law Edward King started the journey to New York. Thomas Worthington died June 20, 1827 shortly before Eleanor arrived. Returning the body to Chillicothe took four weeks by canal boats and carriage. Eleanor, though exhausted from the trip, attended the large funeral and burial.

With the help of her oldest son, James Taylor Worthington, Eleanor continued to live at Adena another 21 years. It was always a gathering place for the children and grandchildren. Eleanor Worthington died at Adena on Christmas Eve 1848 at the age of 71. Many mourned her passing, but especially her children from whom she merited and won love and devotion.

Adena Mansion and Gardens
Thomas Worthington & Family
The Old Northwest Territory
Ohio Statehood
Great Seal of the State of Ohio
Benjamin Latrobe

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