Biography of John A. Swenson
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John A. Swenson. The clean civic and business record of Lindsborg owes not a little to the sterling integrity of John A. Swenson, a pioneer of the city and for many years its leading banker.
Mr. Swenson was born at Falun, Sweden, April 16, 1850, a son of Nels P. and Anna Swenson. His father, who was born in April, 1823, was a blacksmith by trade. In 1865 he brought his family to America, located in Chicago, where he followed his trade two years. Another year was spent in Henry County, Iowa, and in 1868 he became one of the first Swedish colonists to take up a homestead in McPherson County, Kansas. His homestead was a short distance west of the present Town of Lindsborg. In 1872 he retired from his farm and established the first blacksmith shop at Lindsborg. In the following year, in 1873, he opened the pioneer hardware and implement house of that town. He prospered in his business affairs and in 1879 was able to retire with a comfortable competence and on retiring he made an extended visit in Sweden. He was connected with all the earlier and later activities of the town and always in a public spirited fashion. He was one of the founders of the Swedish Lutheran Church of Lindsborg. His last years were spent in comfort and he died in 1899. In 1845 he married Miss Anna Anderson, who was born in Sweden in 1821. She died at Lindsborg in 1884. Besides her splendid qualities as a homemaker and mother she was distinguished by her devotion to her church. Nels P. Swenson and wife had only two children, a daughter and son. Anna, born in 1848, was married in 1866 to C. F. Norstrom. She died in 1905.
John A. Swenson was fifteen years of age when he came with his parents to America. He had acquired a practical academic training in Sweden. He lived with his parents in Chicago and in Iowa and was old enough to appreciate and to share in the struggles and hardships of early pioneering in McPherson County. He subsequently joined his father in the hardware business, under the name N. P. Swenson & Son, and continued a partner in that enterprise until 1879.
In 1882 Mr. Swenson and associates organized the Bank of Lindsborg. He became its cashier, and from the first was the potent factor in developing its business, giving the bank its solid financial standing in the community. In 1886 a national charter was secured and the bank became the First National Bank of Lindsborg. It is now the only national bank in McPherson County. Mr. Swenson continued at his post as cashier until 1905, when the directors gave him the title of president. He had always been the chief personal factor in this institution and only retired from its management in 1917, on account of failing health.
First, last and always a stanch republican, Mr. Swenson had numbered among his personal friends some of the foremost men of that party in Kansas. In his spacious and attractive home at Lindsborg he had entertained such noted persons as ex-Governor St. John, Senator John J. Ingalls and Senator Preston B. Plumb. Lindsborg had the distinction of never having had a saloon, and the steadfast opposition of Mr. Swenson to such establishments had been a factor in that record. He served at different times as mayor, having been elected on a law enforcement ticket. He and his good wife are active and regular members and supporters of the Swedish Lutheran Church.
Mr. Swenson was married at Lindsborg July 23, 1874, to Miss Christine Johnson, daughter of John and Elsie (Johnson) Johnson. Mrs. Swenson was born in Sweden December 26, 1849. To their marriage have been born seven children, three sons and four daughters. Helene C., born September 4, 1875, was graduated from Bethany College in the class of 1897, and in 1910 became the wife of A. E. Anderson. They have three sons: Andrew E., born July 20, 1911; Henry A., born February 20, 1914; and John W., born March 20, 1916. Anna C., who was born May 5, 1877, was graduated from Bethany College in 1899, and in 1906 became the wife of Dr. Edward Thorstenburg. Their marriage had given Mr. and Mrs. Swenson four grandchildren: Edward Swenson, born October 16, 1907; Bechtel, born July 15, 1911; Greta, born May 30, 1913; and Abigail, born January 8, 1917. The son John N., who was born May 31, 1879, finished his course in Bethany College in 1899, and in 1902 graduated from the law school of Yale University. Begining practice in 1904, at Kansas City, Missouri, he served as city attorney for four years, and is now practicing law in Los Angeles, California. He was married July 25, 1904, to Adele Hindburg, and their two children are Valerie K., born April 11, 1907, and John N., born March 8, 1910. Esther M., who was born January 20, 1883, is a graduate of Bethany College with the class of 1900. On August 15, 1906, she married Israel Nelson. Mr. Nelson is also a graduate of the Yale University Law School and is now practicing in Washington. They have two children: Helen Clair, born March 8, 1908, and John Marshall, born November 20, 1913. Clara I. was born April 3, 1885, graduated from Bethany in 1903, and is now acting as assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Lindsborg. Frank D., born December 5, 1890, graduated from Bethany in 1910 and is now a civil engineer in the Government service in Alaska. August E., born March 26, 1893, graduated from Bethany in 1913, and is a young merchant at Seattle, Washington.