Biography of Joseph Swatosh of Central Lake Township, Michigan

One of those sturdy pioneers whose indefatigable efforts resulted in the reclaiming of the forest lands of Antrim county to cultivation is the subject of this sketch, who is one of the representative farmers of Central Lake township, where he has maintained his residence for more than two score years, which fact indicates that he was one of the first to settle in this section, now opulent in prosperity and advanced civilization.

Mr. Swatosh is a native of Austria, where he was born on the 26th of May, 1840, being a son of Joseph and Eleanor Swatosh, who immigrated to America in 1856, taking-up their residence in Wisconsin, where they passed the remainder of their lives, the father having become one of the successful farmers of Racine county, where he commanded the respect and confidence of all who knew him. In the family were five children, of whom all are yet living. The subject of this review was a lad of about eighteen years at the time of the family immigration to the United States, and his fundamental education was secured in the excellent schools of his native land, while later he prosecuted his studies, as opportunity afforded, in the pioneer schools of Wisconsin, where he was reared to manhood, assisting his father in the reclaiming and cultivation of the home farm. He continued to be thus engaged until he attained his legal majority, when he set forth to face the battle of life on his own responsibility, coming to the forest wilds of Antrim county, Michigan, in the year 1861 and taking up the tract of land which comprises his present well improved farm. No timber had been cut on the place, no roads had been established in the county and he erected his rude forest lodge or cabin and then initiated the herculean task of clearing his farm. Its appearance today indicates how well he succeeded, but the unceasing and arduous toil, the privations and vicissitudes, — these are not so clearly indicated. His farm comprises one hundred and forty acres and is most eligibly located about one and a half miles northeast of the thriving village of Eastport. About half of the land is under a high state of cultivation and devoted to diversified agriculture, horticulture and fruit-growing, his orchard being one which yields large crops of apples, pears, plums, etc., while he also raised the smaller fruits. Mr. Swatosh has made excellent improvements in the way of buildings and his present’ commodious and attractive residence is far different from the little cabin in which he took up his abode so many years ago. He has been enterprising and energetic, true to all the duties of citizenship, aiding in the various undertakings which have conserved the material and civic advancement of his township and county, and he has the while ever held a firm place in the confidence and regard of those with whom he has come in contact, being one of the well known pioneers and popular citizens of Central Lake township. For a long term of years Mr. Swatosh was arrayed as a stanch supporter of the principles of the Democratic party, but, with the courage of his convictions and after careful and appreciative consideration of the issues of the hour and the eligibility of the respective presidential candidates, he transferred his allegiance to the Republican party at the time of the first nomination of the late lamented President McKinley, and has since been a stanch advocate of the principles for which the “grand old party” stands sponsor, though he has never sought the honors or emoluments of public office. In religion Mr. Swatosh and wife are Baptists, in which society the subject has served as trustee.

On the 6th of May, 1869, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Swatosh to Miss Sophia Obersh, who aided him in the labors of the pioneer days, and who was summoned to the life eternal in 1884, being survived by five children. In 1888 Mr. Swatosh was united in marriage to Miss Mary Emory, who presides most graciously and effectively over the domestic and social affairs of their pleasant home. The subject’s children are five in number, their names, in order of birth, being as follows : Joseph, Jr., Frank, Sophia, Charles and Henry.

Source: Biographical history of northern Michigan containing biographies of prominent citizens; Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1905.

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