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William Franklin Swaim

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William Franklin Swaim

Mark Mann (View posts)
Posted: 926856000000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 993311417000
From the "History of Huntington County, 1914", page 521

William Franklin Swaim

All too rapidly the ranks of those who took part in the great struggle between the North and the South are thinning. The gray-haired veterans, one after another, are going to join their comrades in that land where bloodshed and warfare are unknown. But few of the defenders of the Union flag during the sixties now remain who are able to hold their own in the keen struggle of everyday competition. Yet here and there are found exceptions, Now and then a sturdy old warrior is found whose eye is as bright and whose step is as firm as in the days of youth, and who, with intellect still unclouded finds enjoyment in a struggle in which he is pitted against the sons and grandsons of his former comrades. Although more than seventy years of age, William Franklin Swaim, of Huntington, veteran of the Civil War, and ex-official of Huntington county, continues to remain active in the management of his large affairs. He was born March 16, 1843, on the old home farm in Salamonie township, two miles east of the thriving town of Warren, Huntington county, Indiana, and is a son of the Rev. Samuel H. Swaim.

The ancestry of Mr. Swaim is traced back through many generations to the early settlement of Delaware and New Jersey by the Swedes and Finns, and later the family is found represented among the early pioneers of the historic old North State. From the most reliable information obtainable, the Swaims appear to have been descended from both the above nationalities, and the name is first found in the local annals of Delaware and New Jersey as far back as the year 1638. Samuel Hines Swaim, the father of William Franklin Swaim, was born October 25, 1820, in Randolph county, North Carolina. He was a youth of sixteen years of age when he accompanied the family to the wilds of what is now known as Salamonie township, Huntington county, Indiana. He became a man of education, a great reader and lover of books written by eminent authors and known as standard works, and part of his career was spent as a teacher, beginning in 1834 and continuing for the succeeding twenty years, during which lie gained a wide reputation in his calling. Reared a Baptist, he later joined the Methodist religion, became a widely-known minister, and was a great Bible student.

William Franklin Swaim passed his boyhood and youth in assisting his father on the home farm, his education being secured partly in the district schools, which he attended for about sixty days each winter, but principally under his father. The older man's preceptorship advanced the youth so rapidly that while still in his minority he secured a license to teach, although his work in the schoolroom w as interrupted by the war. In December, 1863, he laid aside the cap and gown to take up the musket, enlisting in Company D, One Hundred and Thirtieth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and remained at Kokomo until the ensuing March, when it was ordered to join Sherman's army in Georgia. This regiment was assigned to the, Second Brigade, First Division, Twenty-third Army Corps, under General Schofield, being the flanking corps during the celebrated Atlanta campaign, and as such participated in many of the stirring scenes which marked that eventful service during the great War of the Rebellion. On July 22, 1864, while engaged before Atlanta, Mr. Swaim was taken sick, which necessitated his removal from the front to the field hospital, and later the character of his indisposition made it imperative to remove him to Knoxville, where better treatment could be obtained. On September 20, 1864, he left the hospital upon furlough and until the December following recuperated his strength under the care of relatives and friends at home. Rejoining his regiment at Nashville, he took part in the bloody battle at that place, after which he accompanied his command in pursuit of General Hood to the Tennessee river. Later, his regiment embarked on the Tennessee and made its way down that river and up the Ohio to Cincinnati, where it took train for the, national capital. After spending a month in Washington the command proceeded by water from Alexandria to North Carolina, landing at the mouth of Cape Fear river, from whence it was ordered to Forts Anderson and Beaufort. After a short stay at the latter place, an order came to proceed to Newbern, North Carolina, from which place the regiment, with others, made a long and tiresome march across cypress swamps and badly broken country to Goldsboro, taking part in the battle of Kingston on the way. Joining Sherman, they went to Raleigh, thence to Greensboro, and there Mr. Swaim witnessed the surrender of General Johnson, an event which broke the backbone of the Confederacy in that part of the South. For some time thereafter the regiment did guard duty at Charlotte, North Carolina and in August, 1865, a part of the regiment was ordered to Lincolnton, where it remained until November following. In September, 1865, Mr. Swaim was detailed to serve as clerk to the captain of his company, who was inspector general of the District of West-North Carolina, in which capacity he continued until mustered out of the service at Charlotte, North Carolina, December 2, 1865. Eleven days later he was honorably discharged at Indianapolis, Indiana, after which he returned to his home and once more took up the peaceful pursuits of civil life.

Mr. Swaim operated his father's farm during the two years that followed his leaving the army, and then embarked upon a career of his own by the purchase of eighty acres of good land. He continued to be engaged in agricultural pursuits from 1868 to 1881, and at intervals also worked at the carpenter's trade. Upon disposing of his farming interests, he moved to Warren, and there, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Franklin Shaffer, he operated a planing mill for a period of four years. Subsequently he left this business to take up teaming and also interested himself in various other lines of endeavor. In 1889 he was elected a member of the board of trustees of Warren, and three years later had the honor of being chosen town treasurer, the duties of which position he discharged conscientiously and faithfully for two terms. In May, 1894, Mr. Swaim became the Republican nominee for county auditor, to which office he was elected after a strenuous campaign, with the handsome majority of 403 votes. As in his army life, in his official career Mr. Swaim showed himself true to every duty reposed in him, and through his courtesy won friends throughout the county. Although he retired from the activities of life upon the expiration of his official career, he has continued to look after his business interests, in the management of which he has shown keen discernment, foresight and acumen.

Mr. Swaim was married February 21, 1867, to Miss Mary Thompson, who was born in Salamonie township, Huntington county, Indiana, November 20, 1841. She is the daughter of John H., who was born November 12, 1802, and Mary (Thompson) Thompson, who was born February 14, 1807, both parents natives of Kentucky, from whence they came to Huntington county, Indiana, in the autumn of 1840. John Howard Thompson was one of the prosperous farmers and representative citizens of Huntington county, a man of unimpeachable honor and integrity and a leader in all moral and material movements for the well-being of the community. He followed farming until the year 1870, when he disposed of his property and made removal to the town of Warren, there continuing his residence until his death, October 26, 1889. Mrs. Thompson preceded him to the grave, passing away February 3, 1880. They were devout members of the Christian church and were known as kindly, charitable people. One child was born to Mr. and Mrs. Swaim: Alfred Edward, September 16, 1868. He was married September 1, 1889, to Miss Amelia M. Irwin, and they had one daughter, Edith Marie, who was born November 8, 1890. Alfred Edward Swaim was his father's deputy while he occupied the county auditor's office, and later became assistant cashier of the Citizens State Bank of Huntington.

Mr. Swaim has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church since March, 1857. He exemplifies his faith in his daily life and conversation, takes an active interest in the affairs of the local congregation with which he is identified, and is foremost in all movements having for their object the advancement of education, morality, good citizenship and the public welfare. His fraternal connection is with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he also likes to foregather with his old comrades in James R. Slack Post No. 137, Grand Army of the Republic, of which he has been Adjutant for the last six years,
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