There are men in Kansas surrounded by all evidences of comfort and competency, men who can stand on the porches of their own houses and contemplate many broad acres that are their own, who can look back through a comparatively brief period to the days of small things. Those Doniphan county farmers whose lives there date back to "war times" are on the list of old settlers, and are respected as pioneers who have much valuable local history in their mental storehouses. Of this class is John Swartz, who came into the county almost forty years ago and has had a part in bringing about its development and has profited materially thereby. An account of his early settlementand experiences and of his later successful life will be found interesting by any one who has thought much of what the people of Kansas owe to those who were pioneers within her borders.
John Swartz, one of the leading farmers of Union township, Doniphan county, was born May 27, 1837, in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, a son of Christian Swartz, a native of Germany, who came to the United States early in life and was a laborer at such work as his hands found to do. For a time he pounded up rock on the national pike during its construction from Baltimore west. He finally located in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. where he succeeded so admirably as a farmer that it would seem that he must have been exceptionally adapted to that vocation. Later he was one of the well-to-do men of Fayette county in the same state. He married Elizabeth Zeitlinger and both are buried in the county last named. The children of Christian and Elizabeth Swartz were: Susan, the wife of Hugh Laughlin, of Fayette county, Pennsylvania; John; Christian, now dead, who was a soldier in the Union army during the civil war; Elizabeth. who lives on the old Pennsylvania homestead; Joseph, who also lives at the old home; and James, of Wewoka, Indian Territory.
In 1860 John Swartz came west to Kansas, taking boat at Pittsburg. Pennsylvania, and making the trips to Kansas entirely by water and located in Doniphan county. Later he moved to Atchison county, where he remained eighteen months, and then returned to Doniphan. where he has since resided. While a resident of Atchison county he made a few trips across the plains, freighting from Atchison to Denver. He belonged to the poorer class of settlers and his cash was exceedingly limited. He managed to get enough money together to make the proper payments on his first real estate purchase and at the same time "keep the wolf away from the door" of his household. During the first few years of their life in Kansas his family had few luxuries. At times it was considered that a family who had an abundance of the necessaries of life was exceedingly fortunate, yet, now that the pioneer days and their experiences have passed into history, the old settlers make many cheerful, even amusing, references to them. As Mr. Swartz prospered in the years following the early settlements he enlarged his undertakings, adding to farming the feeding and handing of stock. This he is still engaged in, and with his four hundred and forty acres of land to look after and cultivate he is a busy man.
Mr. Swartz belonged to Colonel Treat's regiment of state militia and was at Kansas City during the civil war, when General Price made his sortie in that direction, and is a living witness of the shameful behavior of that "dress-parade" officer on that occasion, when he refused to put the regiment under federal authority by crossing the state line in the direction of the enemy. Mr. Swartz is a Republican and takes an active part in county politics, attending conventions as a delegate, in which capacity he aided in the nomination of Governor Stanley at Hutchinson in 1898. He served Union township as its first treasurer and has been for twenty-five years a member of the school board. He is enthusiastic in his support of the new idea of national expansion and has no patience with those who he claims seek to put stumbling blocks in the way of our progress as a people and retard the advancement of freedom and civilization. He gives some of his time to political work, because he believes he owes such labor to his fellow men, but has never sought office for himself and has accepted it only at the urgent solicitation of his townsmen. As a man of affairs he has demonstrated that he possesses ability of a high order. He has had much to do with many matters of importance and was called to the vice-presidency of the Bank of Huron, a position which he has filled with great credit and to the satisfaction of all concerned.
Mr. Swartz was first married, in February, 1860, to Margaret Blair, a daughter of Alec Blair, whose son, John L. Blair was one of the early and successful farmers of Doniphan county. Mrs. Swartz died in 1875 and in 1877 Mr. Swartz went to Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and married Mary Krepps. Mr. Swartz's children are: Christian, of Brown county, Kansas, who married Jennie Eylar and has two children, named John and James; Alexander B., who married Polly Denton and has a daughter Lucy, and lives on the homestead; James; Lizzie; and Ida, the wife of John Steele, of De KaIb, Missouri, whose children are Oliver and an infant.