It appears to me that Peter Swinson was a man who was constantly on the go. He finished the new house in 1908, shortly after he and Mary were married. They had five children while they lived there and remember, Mary was a widow with two children, so they had quite a family. He moved buildings in from a Russian settlement that had been abandoned and used them for granaries. Another house was moved in and used as a summer kitchen.
Still having time on his hands, Mr. Swinson joined the Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star. He also became a member of the Knights of Pythias. That’s one I’m not familiar with. He belonged to a literary club where men met to discuss issues of the day. He often told others his philosophy which was, “Don’t expect government to do anything you can do for yourself.”
In 1918 , when he was 56, Mr. Swinson decided to retire and move to Presho where he thought educational opportunities for his children would be better. He had only five years of schooling, himself, but he was a self educated man. In earlier years, he always read the Norwegian newspaper, Fremad, and always took a daily paper.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that even with all of his activities in town, a year later, he decided to buy a house with 40 acres of land and start a dairy. He built a new barn and silo and the house became the dairy house where the equipment and bottles were washed and sterilized. The cream was also separated from the milk and Mr. Swinson delivered the bottles of milk to the stores and about town in a milk wagon pulled by Pat and Charlie. He enjoyed this because he loved people and he liked to visit. He joked that with his early milk route he often saw the new babies, who were usually born at home, before their fathers did,
A thought occurred to me that my dad was born in Presho in October of 1919. I wonder if Mr. Swinson was the first to see him.
One day, as he was returning from his milk route, a truck backed into the wagon breaking his ankle. Healing was slow and he was never very active after that.
All born in the late 1800s, the three men whose stories I am telling, alternated between flourishing and enduring throughout their lives. They only had themselves and their maker to depend on when making important, life changing decisions. Taking care of their families was a responsibility they didn’t take lightly.
Mr. Swinson was a charter member of the White River United Lutheran Church. The church had a cemetery where his father was buried. He was occasionally at odds with the the Reverend, so when his daughters decided they would rather be Methodists, he didn’t object.
As we end this part of his story, Peter Swinson has made his way from Norway to Presho, South Dakota and it appears he will spend the remainder of his life in the Presho area. He has woven many colorful, but strong threads together and although his life has had a few twists and turns, everything he has learned and accomplished will have a huge impact on the lives of future Swinsons…