Biography of Alva J Swarts


This biography appears on pages 189-191 in
"Soldiers' and Citizens' Album of Biographical Record containing personal
sketches of Army Men and Citizens Prominent in loyalty to the Union"
Published in 1890



Alva J Swarts, Genoa Junction, Wis., member of G. A. R. Post No. 27, was born in Newstead, Erie Co., New York, June 13, 1848. His parents, Michael and Mary Jane (Cox) Swarts, are both living and have all their lives belonged to the agricultural class. The father was born near the Susquehanna River, where his ancestors for several generations were born before him. The family is of German origin of early date in this country, as Mr. Swarts has lost all traces of the founder of his family in America. The father and mother reside on a farm about 12 miles south of Lincoln, Neb. They are aged respectively 77 and 72 years. The maternal grandsire, John Cox, was born in England and came to Darien, New York State, where he married a lady of Irish birth, who had her nativity in the city of Dublin. Mr. Swarts is one of 12 children, six of whom are living. He is the oldest survivor and the others are named in the order of birth: Oliver was born Aug. 5, 1845, and resides in Nebraska; William, born March 4, 1854, lives in the same state; Frank, born June 18, 1855, is employed on the Atchison & Nebraska railroad in the capacity of foreman; John, born June 27, 1858, lives in Nebraska; Nellie, born Sept. 14, 1868, is the wife of Laynor Sheldon of the same State in which her parents live.

The family removed to Brighton, Kenosha county, in 1860, when the son was about 12 years old, locating on a farm on which they lived three years, and removed thence to Lake Co., Illinois, to a farm on which they lived 14 years, removing thence to their present place of abode in 1872. Mr. Swarts remained with his parents until he entered the army. He passed his early days like the average farmer's son, attending a short term of school in winter and working during the remainder of the year. He enlisted when 15 years and 10 months old, enrolling from Milwaukee, Jan. 20, 1864, in Company G, 7th Wisconsin Infantry, belonging to the Iron Brigade. He joined the command at Culpeper, and, after reaching that point, the regiment was ordered to the front, where he had his first taste of rebel powder, shot and shell in the fight in the wilderness. This was a terrific experience for a boy of less than 16, associated with valiant veteran soldiers of the war, and he was under fire for seven consecutive hours. He was next in hot action at Laurel Hill, (Spottsylvania C. H.) and fought at Jericho Pass, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor and in the trenches of Petersburg, where he was exposed to rebel fire every day and worked the fortifications at night, witnessing the explosion of the mine July 30th. A piece of shell hit his right ankle and he was picked up at night; from the field hospital he was sent to city point, where he remained a week before the surgeons permitted his removal. He went thence to Whitehall to a hospital 16 miles from Philadelphia, where he remained under treatment until Jan. 1, 1865, when he was allowed to rejoin his command. He found the regiment on the march and he accompanied the command to fight at Hatcher's Run, Boydtown, Five Forks, South Side Railroad, and all the hot work in which the Iron Brigade participated until the closing scenes of the drama at Appomattox. He went with the brigade to Washington, passed in the Grand Review and after a week in camp started for Wisconsin by way of Louisville, Ky. Arriving at Madison they were feted by the citizens and July 16th were there released from military obligations to the State and country.

Mr. Swarts assisted on his father's farm until the following spring and went thence to the business of lumberman at Ludington, Mich. He returned to Wisconsin and was married Dec. 11, 1866, to Inez Z. Strong. She was born in lake Co., Ill., and is the daughter of Chauncey and Eunice J. (Lehigh) Strong. Her father was born in the state of New York of Irish descent, being in the third generation from an Irish nobleman whose sons came to America and founded the Strong family in this country. He married a lady of American descent. When Mrs. Swarts was five years old her father went to California and was never heard from; it is supposed that he was murdered for his money, of which he had a considerable amount. The mother of Mrs. Swarts was well-born and well-connected. The family included three children. Charlotte married Harry Stark, of Chicago, and Judson Irving Strong has been a resident of Colorado since 1879. Homer Ellsworth, the only of Mr. and Mrs. Swarts, was born Sept. 1, 1868. One child born to them, died in infancy.

In 1877 Mr. Swarts went to Roca, Neb., and engaged in farming two years, when he went to Marathon Co., Mich., and was interested in lumbering a year. In 1880 he located on a farm in Bloomfield, Walworth county, and in 1887 he commenced agricultural operations where he now resides. Mrs. Swarts is a member of the M. E. Church and the family ranks among the leading social elements of Genoa Junction. In character and career, Mr. Swarts belongs to the best type of citizenship. His army record is one that reflects the greatest credit on his patriotism and sense of obligation as a citizen of a Republic. He holds two valuable relics of the war, one of which is a ring cut from a piece of the root of a laurel tree under which Lee surrendered. The other is a fragment of the flag of the 7th Wisconsin which was torn from the banner at the battle of Five Forks.





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