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Joseph Swank

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Joseph Swank

Posted: 21 Aug 2001 6:29AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Swank, Toeman, Johnson, Flaugher, Murdock, Overholt
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 613-615

Change is constant and general. Generations arise, and pass, unmarked, away; men are born, marry, live a few brief years and then disappear and are forgotten. It is a duty of the living as well as a present gratification to place upon the printed page a true record of a man's life, and thus preserve a monument to his posterity.

The late Joseph Swank, of Clear Creek township, was for many years a substantial factor in the local affairs of his neighborhood, and is remembered as one of Huntington county's most estimable and enterprising citizens. He was a native of Ohio, and was born March 26, 1821, in the county of Montgomery, the son of George Swank, a Pennsylvanian by birth. The father was one of the pioneers of Montgomery county, Ohio, settling there when the country was a wilderness and purchasing valuable lands from the government. Joseph was reared on the farm, and while still a boy became a valuable assistant to his father in clearing land and otherwise helping with the work necessary to insure success in a new and comparatively undeveloped country. He remained with his parents until reaching man's estate, and then began life for himself as a farmer, choosing on May 15, 1845, a wife in the person of Minerva Toeman, who was born February 9, 1825, and she ably assisted him in laying the foundation of his future competence. He continued to reside in the state of his nativity until 1848, when he came to Huntington county, Indiana, and entered one hundred and sixty acres of wild land in section three, Clear Creek township. Up to the time of his purchase no improvements of any kind had been made on the place, and his first work was to cut down the trees and clear away the brush from a spot sufficiently large to accommodate a cabin of small dimensions. This little building, consisting of a single room with clapboard roof and puncheon floor, stood near the site of the present dwelling and answered the purpose for which intended until replaced by a house of greater accommodations a number of years later.

Mr. Swank was a man of energy and knew not what it was to eat the bread of idleness. He worked hard, cheerfully encountered and overcome (sic) the numerous hardships incident to the period in which he lived, and by diligent application cleared and developed a fine farm and became one of the well-to-do men of his neighborhood and township. In all that constitutes true manhood he was a notable example and on (sic)one occupied a higher place in the esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens or did more for the general welfare of the community. While espousing the principles of the Republican party he was not a partisan, although firm in his convictions of what he considered right and ever ready to maintain the soundness of his opinions. His religious belief was represented by the United Brethren church with which he was for many years identified as an humble follower of the man of Nazareth.

Mr. Swank was a gentleman of noble aims and high purposes, endeavored always to do his whole duty toward God and his fellow man. To his name there attaches nothing akin to decipt (sic) or dishonesty, as his whole life, free and open, was absolutely incompatible with these or anything else not in harmony with strict integrity and true nobility of character. He was eminently successful in his business affairs, accumulating a sufficiency of this world's goods to place him in independent circumstances, besides enabling him to give to each of his children a good start in life. Personally he was a warm and true friend; and his neighbors unite in attributing to him correct motives in all of his undertakings, and in always endeavoring to exemplify the Golden Rule in his daily life and conduct. Such a man's death is a grievous loss to any community, and such his proved to be, when on the 17th day of September 1896, he gently yielded up his spirit to the God who gave it. He now quietly sleeps beneath the restful shades of the family cemetery, but his works remain to bless humanity and to make the world better by reason of his having lived therein. Mrs. Swank, who had been her husband's helpmeet and faithful companion for so many years, and who contributed so much to his success in life preceded him to the grave, dying December 28, 1887. She was the mother of seven children, the oldest being Cyrus, born February 12, 1846, who now lives in the city of Goshen; Julia A., the second in order of birth, was born October 12, 1848, and married Thomas Johnson, a farmer and stockraiser of Clear Creek township; Reuben, born June 20, 1851, is a manufacturer of buggies and carriages in Dayton, Ohio; the fourth is Harriet, born November 12, 1853, who is a resident of Whitley county, this state; Isabelle, born February 13, 1856, wife of Emery Flaugher, lives on a farm in the township of Clear Creek; Samantha, born September 13, 1858, now Mrs. James Murdock, is a resident of the county of Whitley; and the remaining member of the family, Ida, wife of Isaiah Overholt, lives on the old homestead.

Mrs. Overholt was born in Clear Creek township April 15, 1865, and thus far has passed her life within its borders. She received a good English education, and is a lady of intelligence, fine business tact, and possesses in a marked degree the esteem of her many neighbors and friends. Her marriage with Mr. Isaiah Overholt, a native of Ohio, was solemnized April 18, 1886, and she now owns the home place, consisting of a quarter section of fertile and highly improved land, being one of the most productive farms in Clear Creek. Mr. Overholt came to Huntington county in 1865, and has earned more than local repute since that time as a successful farmer and breeder of fine live stock. He ranks with the progressive men of the community where he resides and in business circles has a large and popular acquaintance throughout the county.

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