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Swante Magnus (Swen \ Sven) "S.M." Swenson[1, 2]

Male 1816 - 1896  (80 years)


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  • Name Swante Magnus (Swen \ Sven) "S.M." Swenson 
    Born Feb 24, 1816  Laatarp, Barkeryds parish, Jonkoping, Sweden Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Census Jun 05, 1880  Brooklyn, Kings county, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Died Jun 13, 1896  Brooklyn, Kings county, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • The Texas Handbook Online gives this biography:
      http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsw14
          SWENSON, SWANTE MAGNUS (1816-1896). Swante (Svante, Sven, Swen) Magnus Swenson (Svenson), entrepreneur, founder of the SMS Ranches, and first Swedish immigrant to Texas, was born at Lättarp, Barkeryds Parish, Jönköping, Sweden, on February 24, 1816, the son of Margreta and Anders (Andrew) Swenson. After clerking in a store for a time, he migrated to America in 1836. Most accounts of his life say his ship burned upon his arrival in New York harbor, thus he came ashore with nothing more than the clothes on his back. He stayed briefly in the city, working as a store clerk and learning English, then worked as a railroad bookkeeper in Baltimore, Maryland, before arriving in Texas in 1838. There he was employed by John Adriance of Columbia, who operated a large mercantile business. Adriance supplied goods which Swenson peddled from an ambulance-type carriage bearing the sign Columbus Supply House. While making his rounds Swenson became friends with Dr. George Long, who owned a plantation near Richmond. Long was in poor health and convinced Swenson to become his overseer. After the doctor's death in 1842, the widowed Jeanette Long returned to Tennessee to visit relatives, and Swenson took charge of the plantation. In 1843 Swenson bought a neighboring plantation, and on December 12, 1843, he married Jeanette Long. Although Swenson used slave labor on the Louisiana plantations, he was basically opposed to the system and foresaw its imminent downfall. His views on the matter may have been one of the reasons behind his efforts to encourage Swedish immigration to Texas, which he began in 1847 on a trip to Sweden during which he offered to pay the fares of several immigrants in exchange for a year of their labor on his plantations. He continued this work throughout his life; after the Civil War he, his uncle Swante Palm (Swen Jaensson), and a brother in Sweden began running an informal Swedish immigration service often referred to as the "Swedish pipeline".
          By 1850 Swenson had moved to Austin and established a mercantile business with Palm. Shortly after the move, Swenson's wife died of tuberculosis in Tennessee; the couple had had no children. While running the store Swenson continued to buy land; he submitted newspaper ads announcing that he would pay top dollar for headright certificates. In 1854 he invested in the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway, which gained him 100,000 acres of land in northwestern and western Texas. He eventually became one of the largest landowners in Texas. In 1851 Swenson married Susan McReady; they had four children, including two sons, Eric Pierson and Swen Albin, who ran the SMS Ranch on the West Texas lands Swenson had acquired. While in Austin Swenson served two terms (in 1852 and 1856) as a county commissioner, and in 1853 he became the first treasurer of the State Agricultural Society. He also expanded his mercantile business beyond the city limits, using his string of freight wagons to sell supplies to outlying forts.
          During the secession crisis, Swenson, who opposed both northern and southern radicalism, agreed to help Governor Sam Houston in an attempt to prevent Texas secession; Swenson was to raise supplies for an independent Texas army and in 1861 was promised a commission as quartermaster-general on Houston's staff, a position with the rank of colonel. When the effort failed, Swenson, who by this time had sold all his slaves, remained in Texas but vowed that he would not aid the South and that he would never take up arms against the United States. Despite his Unionism, Swenson was allowed for a time to continue his business in Austin, and, acting as an agent for the Swedish government, he arranged for the exportation of Texas cotton abroad. Though Governor Francis R. Lubbock allowed Swenson to leave the state several times, his travel caused a great outcry among politically powerful secessionists. In the fall of 1863 Swenson, in fear for his life, transferred ownership of his Austin store to relatives and fled to Monterrey, Mexico, where he stayed until late in the summer of 1864, when he went to Sweden to visit his mother. According to some accounts, upon his return he met briefly with President Abraham Lincoln and spoke with him about Texas and the Union.
          By 1865 Swenson had gone to New Orleans and set up a large mercantile business in partnership with William Perkins; he also purchased a sugar plantation. Later that year he took his family to live in New York City, where he established the financial house of Swenson Perkins Company. After dissolving the Perkins partnership, Swenson established the banking house of S. M. Swenson and Sons. When this business was discontinued, he became a large depositor in the National City Bank, later the First National City Bank of New York. Though he lived the last thirty years of his life in New York, he maintained his ties to Texas, operating a clearinghouse for Texas products, continuing his work as a cotton agent, and regularly visiting his extensive land holdings. In 1891 he presented his large collection of ancient coins to the University of Texas, where they were displayed at the Texas Memorial Museum. Swenson died on June 13, 1896, in Brooklyn, New York, and was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
          BIBLIOGRAPHY: August Anderson, Hyphenated, or The Life Story of S. M. Swenson (Austin: Steck, 1916). Mary Whatley Clarke, The Swenson Saga and the SMS Ranches (Austin: Jenkins, 1976). National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 12. Gail Swenson, S. M. Swenson and the Development of the SMS Ranches (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1960). Swen Magnus Swenson Papers and Swenson-Palm Letter Book (Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin).
      Richard Moore
      -
      1860 census, TX, Travis, Austin, M653-1306, p. 293
      S.M. Swenson, 44, M, merchant, $100,000, $176,650, Sweden
      S.M. Swenson, 30, F, wife, Tennessee
      G. Swenson, 7, F, Texas
      E. Swenson, 4, M, Texas
      not named, 1/12, M, Texas
      -
      1870 census, NY, Kings, Brooklyn, M593-948, p. 232
      SWENSON, Seventher, 54, Commission Merchant, $220,000, $220,000, Sweden
      SWENSON, Susan, 39, Keeping House, Tennessee
      SWENSON, Greta, 17, attending school, Texas
      SWENSON, Eric, 15, " ", "
      SWENSON, Albin, 10, " " , "
      SWENSON, Nora, 7, " " , "
      2 boarders, 2 servants
      -
      1880 Census, NY, Kings, Brooklyn, ed 44, June 5, 75 1st Place
      SWENSON, Swante, M, W, 64, m, banker, Sweden, Sweden, Sweden
      SWENSON, Susan M, wife, F, W, 50, m, TN, VA, VA
      SWENSON, Eric P, son, 25, single, banker, TX
      SWENSON, Swen A, son, 20, single, banker, TX
      SWENSON, Mary E, dau, 17, TX
      and two domestics
      -
      The SMS Ranch was started in the early 1880s by E. P. and S. A. Swenson.
      See also:
      http://www.swensonranch.com/gallery.html
      Frank Reeves, well-known livestock reporter, first worked at the Swenson Land and Cattle Company (SMS Ranch). He remained there for 14 years and took photographs which were reproduced in the ranch's catalog. For $50, the Stetson Hat Company bought Reeves' photo of an SMS cowboy drinking from his hat and used the caption, "Stetson hat beats sanitary drinking cup any old time."
      See Frank Reeves' collection of SMS Ranch at Texas Tech University:
      http://www.swco.ttu.edu/Digital_Collections/FrankReeves/scripts/FindImagesByCategory.ASP?IID=FR265
      http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/aps01
          SMS RANCHES. The SMS Ranches occupy considerable portions of twelve counties in the lower plains area of West Texas and comprise more than 300,000 acres. They were named the initials of the founder, Swante M. Swenson, who moved to Texas from Sweden in the 1830s. A man of many interests, Swenson introduced to the Texas Navy and thereafter to the army the Colt revolver, invented by his friend Samuel Colt of New York; began shipments of the Texas pecan to the North and East; and in 1850 established himself in the general merchandise and banking business at Austin. Swenson's thrift, sound ethics, and business acumen produced a high financial success. His greatest interest lay in the accumulation of land. He traded saddles, boots, blankets, and many of the manifold supplies carried by his large frontier trading post for Texas railroad land certificates. Under the privilege then accorded to holders and owners of such certificates to file on any untaken state land, Swenson in 1854 began acquiring some 100,000 acres of unclaimed properties in Northwest Texas. By 1860 he owned over 128,000 acres around Austin, in addition to his West Texas holdings, which had increased to nearly 500,000 acres. Swenson staunchly opposed secession, and at the outbreak of the Civil War he found himself unpopular with many of his old friends and customers. He exiled himself for a time in Mexico and, with William Perkins, established a mercantile business in New Orleans and also invested in sugar plantations. With the chaos of the Reconstruction period, however, he disposed of his Austin holdings and moved his family to New York City, where he founded a private banking house known as S. M. Swenson and Sons, a precursor to the present First National City Bank of New York. Even then, Swenson continued an active interest in Texas; before leaving he purchased the school sections, which alternated with the railroad lands in West Texas, in order to have his holdings in solid blocks. By 1882 Swenson was seeking to develop his West Texas holdings in order to produce sufficient revenue to help pay taxes. After inspecting the properties with his sons, Eric Pierson and Swen Albin Swenson, he decided to establish three ranches, which he named for each of his children. The largest of these, the Throckmorton Ranch, named for the county in which it was located, was originally dubbed Eleonora for his daughter. Mount Albin, which covered portions of Jones, Stonewall, and Haskell counties, contained a prominent, flat-topped mesa; for that reason it soon became known as Flat Top Ranch. Ericsdahl Ranch, which contained 50,000 acres, was located nine miles east of the site of future Stamford. It was among the first in that part of Texas to be fenced; the Flat Top and Throckmorton ranches were fenced during the next three years. Swenson's nephew, Alfred Dyer, was hired as the first manager of the overall operations; he stocked the virgin ranges and supervised the construction of ranch headquarters, barns, and corrals and the drilling of wells. The first cattle herd that Dyer bought consisted of 1,800 high-grade Durham shorthorns and 180 Hereford-shorthorn crosses from Indiana, along with several registered Hereford bulls. The ranches' first horse herds were of mixed Spanish and Arabian stock from Williamson County. Before returning to New York, S. M. Swenson leased his holdings to his sons, who operated them under the name of Swenson Brothers Cattle Company. The SMS brand, consisting of an extended M sandwiched between two reversed S's, was registered by the Swensons in the spring of 1882. In 1883 they bought an additional 5,700 acres in Jones and Haskell counties that became the Ellerslie Ranch.
          The early years of the SMS Ranches were characterized by intermittent periods of drought, and in 1886 Alfred Dyer committed suicide. Joe Ericson, a Swedish immigrant, succeeded him temporarily as superintendent. Despite discouraging prospects, the elder Swenson renewed his lease in January 1890. After his death in 1896 the ranches became a family possession. Two years later the Swenson brothers purchased the old Scab 8 Ranch, which covered some 79,000 acres in Cottle, King, Motley, and Dickens counties, and renamed it the Tongue River Ranch for its location on the Tongue (South Pease) River. By that time Andrew John Swenson, a cousin from Sweden, had taken over the managerial position, with headquarters at Ellerslie. Although Eric and Albin Swenson spent most of their time in New York, they made periodic trips to Texas to check up on the ranches' welfare and took great interest in the constant improvement of the SMS cattle. Over the years feeder cattle from this herd won countless honors. In 1899 the Swensons enticed the Texas Central Railroad to build through their land and laid out the town of Stamford, which subsequently became the nucleus of their West Texas interests. Many immigrant cotton farmers moving into the area bought tracts of land from the Swensons.
          In 1902 the Swenson brothers hired Frank S. Hastings, formerly of the Armour Packing Company, as manager of their far-flung ranches. For the next two decades Hastings committed himself to the breeding and improvement of the SMS cattle; under his direction the SMS was among the first to engage in the so called "mail order" calf business. In September 1906 a significant move occurred when the Swensons bought the Spur Ranch from the Espuela Land and Cattle Company of London and began liquidating its livestock, the last of which were sold to William J. Lewis and his partners. Charles A. Jones and his son, Clifford B. Jones, served successively as land managers until 1938. By then most of the Spur lands had been parceled off. The Swenson interests continued to lease some 60,000 acres of Spur properties until 1970. At that time these were sold except for that portion belonging to Jim Barron and his wife Eleonora Swenson, a great-granddaughter of S. M. Swenson, who have continued to operate the old Spur headquarters. At one time most, if not all, foremen of the SMS Ranches were immigrant Swedes who had come through the Swensons' influence. Among them were the brothers August and Mage Holzberg, who served as foremen for the Tongue River and Flat Top ranches, respectively. A. J. Swenson's sons, Willie Gustaf (Bill) and Axel Magnus Godfrey (Swede), followed in their father's footsteps as managers. Other outstanding Swenson employees through the years have included the colorful "Scandalous" John Selmon, Jake Raines, William Hunter (Kid) Bacot, Clifford (Poss) and Davis (Windy) Murray, Ross Kincheloe, and Billy Smith. In 1926 the enterprise was reorganized as the Swenson Land and Cattle Company, with headquarters in Stamford. By then the Swensons were running 28,000 cattle on 390,000 acres. It was the Swensons who organized the annual Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford in 1930.
          After the death of his brother Albin in 1927, Eric Swenson continued as president of the Swenson Company until his death in 1945. Since 1972 Wilson Elmore, a Swenson in-law, has been president of the Swenson Land and Cattle Company in New York. Eugene Carl (Gene) and Carl Eric Swenson, vice presidents, have been in charge of the ranch operations and land development, respectively. By 1989 an average of 8,500 cattle, mostly Hereford and Angus stock, were sold annually. In addition, hundreds of acres of SMS ranch land were cultivated in hay, oats, and milo, and there were also some oil interests. The Swensons' New York offices were still housed in the First City National Bank, and Bruce B. Swenson of Dallas was another leading stockholder. Three large ranches, each with its own headquarters and section foreman, made up the bulk of the SMS operations in Texas in 1989.
          BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mary Whatley Clarke, The Swenson Saga and the SMS Ranches (Austin: Jenkins, 1976). C. L. Douglas, Cattle Kings of Texas (Dallas: Baugh, 1939; rpt., Fort Worth: Branch-Smith, 1968). Gus L. Ford, ed., Texas Cattle Brands (Dallas: Cockrell, 1936). William Curry Holden, The Espuela Land and Cattle Company: A Study of a Foreign-Owned Ranch in Texas (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1970). Andrew J. Swenson Papers, 1898-1922, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. Gail Swenson, S. M. Swenson and the Development of the SMS Ranches (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1960). Jesse Wallace Williams, The Big Ranch Country (Wichita Falls: Terry, 1954; 2d ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1971).
      H. Allen Anderson
    Person ID I56855  mykindred
    Last Modified Sep 20, 2014 

    Father Anders "Andrew" Swenson,   b. Aug 04, 1791,   d. May 10, 1871  (Age 79 years) 
    Mother Margreta Andersdotter Israelsson,   b. Feb 10, 1795, Sweden Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Mar 31, 1894  (Age 99 years) 
    Family ID F20096  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Jeanette (__),   b. Tennessee, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 1850, Tennessee, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married Dec 12, 1843 
    Family ID F20090  Group Sheet

    Family 2 Susan McReady,   b. Mar 13, 1830, Tennessee, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Oct 25, 1906  (Age 76 years) 
    Married 1851 
    Children 
     1. Sarah Margareta "Greta" Swenson,   b. Oct 23, 1852, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Nov 19, 1879  (Age 27 years)
    +2. Eric Pierson Swenson,   b. Apr 24, 1855, Austin, Travis county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aug 14, 1945  (Age 90 years)
     3. Ebba McReady Swenson,   b. 1858,   d. 1859  (Age 1 years)
     4. Swen Albin Swenson,   b. Jul 30, 1860, Austin, Travis county, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Nov 16, 1927  (Age 67 years)
     5. Mary Eleonora "Nora" Swenson,   b. Aug 24, 1862, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Feb 23, 1958  (Age 95 years)
    Family ID F20091  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Swenson, Svante/Swen Magnus
    Swenson, Svante/Swen Magnus
    SMS Ranches
    SMS Ranches
    Brand of the SMS ranches founded by Swante Swenson and his sons.

  • Sources 
    1. [S577] Handbook of Texas OnLine, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/SS/fsw14.html.

    2. [S1048] Morgan, Gretchen, http://www.immigrantjourneys.com/stories/swenson_sweden.html.

    3. [S135] 1880 US federal census, 1880 Census, NY, Kings, Brooklyn, ed 44, June 5, 75 1st Place.


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