R. G. Swan is a representative of a group of citizens whose lives are conspicuous for ability, force of character,
integrity and generous aims It is impossible to be with him half an hour without recognizing his capacity and his
moral vigor. He is a financier and man of affairs, whose identification with business interests is of distinct
value to the community, his efforts being of a character that contributes to public prosperity as well as to individual
He was born at Birkenhead, England, November 4, 1860, a son of Joseph and Martha Laura (Owen) Swan, the former
a native of Liverpool, England, born in 1826, while the latter was born in Wales in 1832. In early life Joseph
Swan pursued a course of instruction that was intended to fit him for a career as an artist, but following his
marriage he and his brother became managers of the Tranmere ferries, which they conducted for about twenty years.
On the expiration of that period Joseph Swan was elected overseer of Tranmere, a position similar to that of county
treasurer in the United States. He held that office until his retirement from active life, at which time he had
been in the government service for about thirty years. He never came to the United States and passed away in his
native country in 1909. His wife, however, visited America before her marriage, coming on a sightseeing trip to
the United States -something that comparatively few in those days enjoyed, and during the trip she visited Niagara
Falls The religious faith of the family was that of the Church of England. Mr. Swan held various offices in the
R. G. Swan began his education in private schools and later attended the Armstrong Academy at Tranmere, England,
while subsequently he became a student in the Roslyn Villa Academy at Tranmere. When fifteen years of age he accepted
the position of clerk in a brewery at Tranmere and in the Queen's Brewery was advanced from one position to another
until he occupied the head clerkship and the cashiership in the office. He resigned his position in connection
therewith to come to the United States in 1880. He crossed the Atlantic merely for the purpose of visiting the
country. Having met a man from Independence, Iowa, he was induced to come to this city and here remained for ten
years. lie became associated with Thomas Coghlan & Sons in the furniture business and has since made his home
in Independence, although he has gone back to England for brief visits. He became a citizen of the United States
and is fully alive to its interests. Since 1881 he has occupied the same store in Independence and is now senior
member of the furniture firm of Swan & Leytze. Theirs is today one of the leading furniture establishments
of this section of the state. A large and carefully selected line of goods is carried and the business methods
employed by the house win for it the confidence of the public and gain for it a liberal patronage.
The recognition of Mr. Swan's business ability has led to the solicitation of his cooperation in connection with
various other business enterprises and he is now a director of the First National Bank, is a director of the State
Savings Bank at Quasqueton and president of the Iowa State Bank at Hazleton. He is likewise vice president of the
Independence Cattle & Horse Company, a corporation having over fourteen hundred head of shorthorn cattle and
twenty one hundred acres of land. They also engage in raising mules and their business is attended with substantial
results. Mr. Swan is likewise interested in several other business affairs in Independence and is justly accounted
one of its foremost citizens. He is forceful and resourceful and is ready to meet any emergency with a conscientiousness
that comes from a right conception of things and a just consideration for what is best in the exercise of human
In his political views Mr. Swan has long been a stalwart republican and has taken an active and helpful interest
in promoting party successes. He has served as a member of the school board of Independence for nine years and
he is now county coroner, which position he has filled for fifteen years. For five years he held the office of
mayor and worked diligently in that connection to further public progress and uphold the standards of civic virtue.
In 1882 Mr. Swan was united in marriage to Miss Eleanor G. Noble, a daughter of J. D. Noble, who served as captain
of a volunteer company which was raised at Independence for service in the Civil war and became known as Company
C of the Twenty seventh Infantry. He married a Miss Gillespie, who was a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mr.
and Mrs. Swan became the parents of five children, one of whom, Charles Richard, died at the age of six years.
The others are as follows: Joseph N., a resident of Oakland, California, is a graduate of the University of California
and is now a journalist, connected with the Oakland Tribune. He married Beatrice Lyons, a resident of Oakland.
Herbert G., the second son, is a graduate of the high school of Independence and of the Shattuck Military School
at Faribault, Minnesota. He married Grace Cole, who was born in Independence, where they make their home, Herbert
being now associated with his father in the furniture and undertaking business. Richard Mabie, also connected with
his father in the furniture and undertaking business, married Ethel Stocking, a daughter of L. D. Stocking, of
Independence. Agnes, a graduate of the Independence high school, is now at home
The religious faith of the family is that of the Episcopal church and in his fraternal relations Mr. Swan is a
Mason, connected with the lodge, chapter and commandery at Independence. He is also identified with the Knights
of Pythias. His name has figured prominently in connection with public affairs in Buchanan county for many years.
He is a man of resolute purpose, who carefully formulates his plans and carries them forward to successful completion,
and he has been willing to do his public work without any other reward than an occasional expression of appreciation.
His business enterprise, too, has been a factor in advancing public prosperity, and his life counts for good in
all of its various relations.
History of Bachanan County, Iowa
And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Bachanan County, IA
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