~ J M SWIGART, b 5 Apr 1854 ~
Related Surnames - SWIGART, CHAMBERLAIN
J. M. Swigart, of the firm of Swigart & Sons, editors and proprietors of the Jackson
Sentinel, is one of the progressive self-made young men of Maquoketa. He was born in
Bucyrus, Ohio, April 5, 1854, and is the second son of William C. and Martha P. Swigart.
He was an infant when his parents brought him to Iowa. During the latter days of the
rebellion his father met with serious reverses in business, and in 1862 or 1863 removed
onto a small farm east of Maquoketa. The family was in reduced circumstances. The elder
brother sought employment away from home, while J.M. remained with his parents upon the
farm - their support and comfort as well as that of five small children. He was a
healthy, rugged boy, and from the time he was thirteen years old would follow the plow and
the reaper, performing nearly, if not quite, the labor or a man. In the winter he was up
and off with his team to the timber, ten or twelve miles away, providing the winter and
summer's supply of fuel !
for the family. In the spring of 1868 his father leased the farm and re-established the
Sentinel, and J.M. entered the office as an apprentice. His schooling up to this time was
quite limited, the only advantages afforded him being in the old academy from the time he
was of school age until the removal to the farm. In the printing-office, as upon the
farm, he was industrious, reliable and pains taking. It was not long until he had
sufficiently mastered the art of printing to become of valuable assistance to his father.
After serving an apprenticeship of three years he then wisely concluded to travel and work
at his trade in different cities of the United States, not as a tramp-printer, but with
the praiseworthy purpose of seeing something of his native country, and acquainting
himself with the people and their life, familiarizing himself with the different methods
employed in the printing business, and by that means to better equip himself for his
chosen calling of printer and publisher. He therefore started on his contempleted tour
eastward, first joining the international typographical union in Milwaukee; working at
his trade there and in Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, Titusville, Pa.; Buffalo, and
Syracuse, N.Y.; Chester, Pa.; Springfield, Mass.; Boston and New York, returning home
after an absence of about three years.
In 1874 our subject went to Anamosa and formed a partnership with his brother Philemon,
and engaged in the publication of the Anamosa Journal for about one year, when an
advantageous opportunity was afforded him to sell, which he did. With the money thus
obtained he went to Findlay, Ohio, where he attended school for about one year, and also
one term at the Fulton, (Ill.), College. In 1877 our subject returned to Maquoketa, and
in company with his brother Willard bought the half-interest in the Sentinel, then owned
by James T. Sargent, and with which they have since been connected. The paper has been
very successful under their management, having increased from 1,600 to over 2,000 in
circulation, and enlarged in size. It is an eight-column quarto, one of the largest
weeklies in the State, and stands in the front rank with the best county papers. It is
conducted in the interest of the Democratic party, is broad and liberal in the handling of
all public questions, command!
ing the respect and patronage of all classes, irrespective of party.
In the year 1879 he and his brother founded a German paper in this city called the Jackson
Demokrat; the paper is still running, although it has changed hands and is now known as
the Jackson Journal.
Mr. Swigart was married, May 10, 1876, at Wyoming, Iowa, to Miss Philena B. Chamberlain,
and to them have been born three children - Carrie, Nettie, and Louise. Mrs. Swigart was
born in Binghampton, N.Y., and is a daughter of Park and Rebecca Chamberlain. He is a
practical, unassuming man, of keen, well-trained ideas, of wide experience and
information, keeping well posted in the current thought of the times. He is a worker in
his business, and is one of the leaders of the Democratic party in his vicinity, taking an
important part in its councils, being a member of the County and Second Congressional
Committee; has been a delegate to numerous County and State Conventions, and last year was
selected State Alternate to the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis. He is
identified with the I.O.O.F. as a member of Jackson Lodge No. 33.
("Portrait and Biographical Album of Jackson County, Iowa", originally published
in 1889, by the Chapman Brothers, of Chicago, Illinois.)