Peter M. Swinson was born in 1862 in Norway. He came to the United States in 1879 when he was 17. Rudolph Gustafson, was born in Sweden in 1893 and came to America in 1912 when he was 19.
E.M. (Gus) Gustafson, my 2nd father, explained that sometimes, such as in the case of his father, Rudolph, the family farm in Sweden, was not large enough to support a big family; therefore, some of men came to America. They were seeking the opportunity to establish themselves, and to raise and support their own families.
In some cases, the family was split from that point on and quite possibly never saw each other again.
The depression devastated yet another pioneer family. Grasshoppers, and drought brought about hard times with large financial losses on the farm and in the dairy business. It must have been a terrible blow. Shortly before the second world war came along, the Swinsons gave up the dairy farm and decided to try to salvage the ranch. They moved into a little house that I think was owned by a family member. Shortly after the move, which was in July of 1942, Peter M. Swinson died at home of cancer of the digestive tract. The insurance money was used to clear the ranch from the remaining debt.
Peter’s son, Parnell, described his father as being a temperate man in all things, nevertheless, one of his hobbies was making his own beer or as he called it “home brew.” It was made from water, malt, yeast, and sugar. After it had “brewed” for the right length of time, it was bottled and capped and put into crates which were stored in the basement. It was usually shared with visitors who often commented that some of the beer was rather potent. It is believed that somewhere in the basement under crates and boxes, there is some “home brew” Mr. Swinson made many decades ago.
As I have noted before, many of these pioneers I’m writing about weren’t what you would call big men. Mr. Swinson was only 5’8″ and weighted about 155 lbs. When he died at the age of 80, he had most of his teeth, and his thick black hair had not turned entirely gray.
Mr. Peter M. Swinson was mild mannered yet independent, resourceful. and determined. He believed that if a man worked hard and didn’t spend money foolishly, he would get ahead. He demonstrated this time and again in his own life.
Mr. Swinson died on December 11, 1942…a year after the United States entered the 2nd world war. His son, Parnell, enlisted in the Navy on December 8, 1941. The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Once again, I’m awed by the courage and perseverance, Mr. Swinson, Mr. McNinch, and Mr. Francis showed as they built their ranches, farms, and businesses. Later, I will be writing about Rudolph Gustafson who immigrated from Sweden.
Peter Swinson, Jack Francis, and Rudolph Gustafson all lived in and around Presho, SD at one time in their lives. The population of Presho in the forties was around 500 and if everyone is home, the count would be slightly under 500, today.
Woven threads of color,
A beauty to behold;
Each thread a chapter of a life.
The tapestry unfolds.
There within the richness,
Are tears of golden hue;
While silver threads of laughter,
Are gently woven through.
Hanging there in splendor for all the world to see;
The beauty of a life well spent, in richest tapestry.