Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
WILLIS S. SWENSON, of Pettijohn
& Swenson, proprietors of the Ritzville Times,
has had a varied
and interesting newspaper career. Born in Iowa, September 27, 1875,
his father is Hanson Swenson, a native of Christiana, Norway, who came
to the United States in 1863, and who now lives in Dawson, Minnesota, carrying
on the boot and shoe business there. His mother, Mary (Johnson) Swenson,
also a native of Norway, died in Nebraska, August 18, 1894.
Willis S. Swenson's boyhood was spent in the
states of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, and his education acquired
in a number of different schools. The foundation of his education
was laid in the district school and was continued in the state university
at Vermillion, South Dakota, the Northwestern Business college, Sioux City,
Iowa, and the state Methodist college at Lincoln, Nebraska, he paying his
expenses from his own earnings. At the age of twelve he began to
learn the printer's trade; at sixteen he published the Randolph Reporter,
at Randolph, Nebraska, which he continued two years and sold. At
the expiration of this time he went to Colorado and published the Daily
at Florence. This endured but a short time, however, and
he returned to Nebraska and founded another paper at Randolph and one at
Emerson. At the expiration of one year he sold these, returned to
Colorado and worked on various papers in Denver and other places, as reporter
and compositor. In the fall of 1897 he enlisted in Company C, National
Guard of Colorado, at Pueblo, but being discharged on account of illness,
he came to Oregon, where he worked on papers at Baker City and Lagrande.
Two years later he came to Ritzville, 1899, where he obtained a position
with Editor Gilson both on his paper and as his deputy in the court house,
Mr. Gilson then being county clerk. In March, 1901, he entered into
his present partnership with D. W. Pettijohn who had bought out the interest
of Mr. Gibson a short time before.
Willis S. Swenson has two brothers, Harry
S., of Newport, Washington, who publishes the Miner,
E., of Minneapolis, Minnesota, publisher of the Mascot;
sisters: Dora, wife of J. F. Valleau, a Methodist minster, at Foss, Oklahoma
Territory, and Josephine, wife of R. R. Heineman, a mining man of Colorado.
Politically, Mr. Swenson is a Democrat, and
his paper is a recognized power in the Democratic cause in Adams county.