HISTORY OF SOUTHEAST MISSOURI

Biographical Appendix

  

BERNARD ZWART

Bernard Zwart, attorney-at-law and notary public at Ironton, Mo., is also United States Commissioner of the Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, having been appointed to that office at the termination of his term as Collector of Internal Revenue, in June 1869.   He was born near Amsterdam, Holland, September 9, 1827, and having received a liberal education, entered the banking house of Oppenheim Bros. As youngest clerk, and in less than two years, was step by step, promoted to cashier in 1845.  His parents, Lambert J. Zwart and Cecilia M. A. (Muller) Zwart, were both born in Holland, and his father was the first to introduce the use of steam, for manufacturing purposes, in his native country in 1834, having a large soap factory and oil mill, in connection therewith.  In the year stated Mr. Zwart, Sr. purchased two steam engines to run his said factories, and also a steam flour mill, and carried on business in partnership with his brother-in-law, quite extensively, but, belonging to the anti-administration party, as he was a stanch Democrat, he came frequently in controversy with officers of the government, causing repeated audiences with the King of Holland, on one of which occasions he felt compelled, by reason of the King’s ungentlemanly behavior toward him, to remind the King, that having the power, he might order him out of the palace, but that he should beware, for he (Mr. Zwart) would spend the last guilder of money he had to let the people of Holland know what a tyrant their king was.  After this he concluded to immigrate to America, arriving here with his family in 1848, provided with letters of recommendation from merchants in Amsterdam, to merchants in New Orleans, where he landed. Shortly after he started for Iowa, where he intended to locate; stopping a few days at St. Louis, the family reached Keokul about June 20, 1848, and from there started to Wappello County, where they arrived on July 4.  Mr. Zwart, Sr. bought a tract of land there and to some extent tried farming, but none of the family having any experience in that line, this was abandoned in December, 1849, the family returning to Keokuk, where Mr. Zwart, Sr. commenced business as a contractor and builder, and being a competent architect, he soon had plenty of work.  Amongst others, he built some of the first large brick store-buildings on the levee, also the old medical college and hospital.  Shortly after coming to Keokuk, Mr. Bernard Zwart, at the suggestion of Gen. (then Col.) Curtis, began to read law, applying his leisure hours for that purpose, but did not then continue the same, having more pressing business to attend to clerking for his father, who, shortly after began the construction of public works, and also began the business of lime burning, on a then newly patented plan.  It was at this time that Mr. Bernard Zwart invented some new and useful improvements in the matter of the construction of lime kilns, and obtained a patent therefore from the United States.  Shortly after, he removed to Carondelet, to superintend the erection of a kiln on his plan at that place, and it was here that Mr. Zwart, Sr. died April 30, 1860, form heart disease.  His widow followed him January 23, 1875.  The war commencing in April, 1861 all business in his line being suspended thereby.  Mr. Zwart again took up his law studies, and shortly after organized the Second Regiment, Enrolled Missouri Militia, at Carondelet, and was appointed captain of one of the companies, having perfected the organization of the whole regiment in ten days.  He was in active service, guarding the gunboats for a short period, when he resigned in June, 1863, to take charge of the organization of the provost-marshal’s office for the draft, at Ironton, Mo., and remained in that place until the close of the war. He then applied for admission to the bar, and having passed a satisfactory examination, he began the practice of law, in partnership with Col. James A. Greason, in 1865. In May, 1867, he was appointed Collector of Revenue for the Second Collection District of Missouri, by President Johnson, and held this office until after President Grant’s inauguration, and until June, 1869, having achieved quite a reputation in the department and an efficient and reliable officer. Having returned to the law practice in Ironton, he was April 25, 1870, admitted to practice in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Missouri, and on the 18th of May, 1871, also in the District Court of the United States, for the Districts of Missouri. Since then he has applied himself steadily to the practice of law, and acquired the reputation of a painstaking and able lawyer, who does not allow the interest of his clients to suffer, if work on his part can prevent it; and as a result he commands a good and paying practice. In December, 1850, he was married to Miss Cornelia M. H. Henriet, whose father was born in France, and after the fall of Napoleon I, came to Holland, and in 1848 to America. Mr. and Mrs. Zwart have five children living, the eldest, Dr. B. H. Zwart, practicing in Kansas City, and with whom is also the second son, Albert, now nearly twenty-one years old, who is employed as bookkeeper and cashier of the National Exposition Company, in Kansas City; the second child, Henriette Marie (wife of W. H. Reese), the third, Rena M. (wife of David F. reese, the Reese brothers being merchants at Ironton, Mo.) and Joseph J. A. E. Zwart, the youngest, still attending college. In 1868 Mr. Bernard Zwart was one of the delegates at large form the State of Missouri to the National Democratic Convention at New York, which nominated Messrs. Seymour and Blair as Democratic candidates for President and Vice-President that year. Mr. and Mrs. Zwart are both Catholics, and have been instrumental in securing the college at Arcadia for a convent for the Ursuline Nuns. They are in possession of and old family Bible which was published in 1746, and contains the family record since February 2, 1664, on which day the great-great-great-grandparents, in the seventh generation back, were married, and since which time the record has been kept up continuously, and in 1746 transferred from the old to the present Bible, each successive head of family recording the births, marriages and deaths of the several members, as they occurred, this record being in the Holland language. Mr. Bernard Zwart completed the work therein begun by his father, to draw a genealogical table of the whole family since 1664, at the proper places supplemented by genealogical trees, showing the different branches of the family; he has also translated into English the language the while of the record, except a few words at one place, referring to some public calamity, which words have, from old age, become illegible. This old Bible is prized very highly by the whole family, and deserves more than passing notice by reason of its age, and record of so many generations. Mr. Zwart has also been prosecuting attorney for Iron County, and was quite prominent in politics from 1865 to 1872, when, after the adoption of the amendments to the Drake constitution, by which the old citizens of the State were again enabled to exercise the right of franchise, he withdrew therefrom, and since has attended to his practice and duties connected therewith. His reputation is very high, and he is much esteemed and respected by all who know him, having always faithfully performed every trust committed to his care. In 1886 he received from his former fellow-citizens of Keokuk, Iowa, a formal invitation to attend the tri-State annual meeting of the old settlers of Keokuk and vicinity, but business preventing this, he was obliges to send his regrets for the kind regard thus shown him by his former fellow citizens of twenty years before. Being a man of good constitution, Mr. Zwart may live for many years yet to come.