El Dorado County
RANDOLPH W. H. SWENDT
The subject of this sketch belongs to a class of men whose ranks are each year growing thinner, namely, the Mexican War veterans. Also he is a California pioneer, having landed in the state in 1854. As such his history is of interest and briefly is as follows:
R. W. H. Swendt was born in Albany County, New York, September 29, 1829, the son and only child of German parents, John Randolph and Maria (Strew) Swendt. His mother died at the age of forty-six years and his father lived to be eighty-six. From New York state they emigrated at an early day to Georgia, where the son was reared and educated. When he was nineteen the war with Mexico was in progress, and so patriotic and ambitious was he to be of service to his country, he enlisted for the war, claiming that he was twenty years of age. He went to the front under Captain John S. Lowry, in the Second Tennessee Regiment, with which command he served twelve months, at the end of that time being honorably discharged on account of the end of his term of enlistment. Re-enlisting immediately thereafter, he became a member of Company C, Fifth Tennessee Regiment, his company being commanded by J. C. Vaughn. During his service Mr. Swendt participated in all the battles from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico, under Generals Taylor and Scott; was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and went all through the war without receiving a wound. For service in that war he is now the recipient of a pension, amounting to twelve dollars per month.
After the trouble between the United States and Mexico had been settled and Mr. Swendt had been honorably discharged, he returned to Tennessee and from there, in 1849, started for California. At that time, however, he did not continue the journey further than Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he remained until the winter of 1854. He then came on to California. The party with which he traveled had many skirmishes with the Indians, but all escaped death and landed safely in California. They also escaped the cholera, which was then prevailing in many parts of the country and which caused the death of many an overland traveler.
Arriving in California, Mr. Swendt located first at Placerville, where he was engaged in placer mining until 1862. While mining on the south fork of the American River he was one of a party of four that took out about fifty dollars a day, and on one occasion they found a single nugget valued at fifty dollars. A great portion of his time since 1862 Mr. Swendt has worked at his trade, that of carpenter, and has assisted in the erection of most of the houses in El Dorado.
Politically Mr. Swendt has been a life-long Democrat. He was at one time elected a supervisor of El Dorado County, an office which he filled faithfully and well for a period of four years.
The subject of this sketch has never married. He is a well preserved representative of the Mexican War veterans as well as of the California pioneers and early mining men.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.