Author: John Outcalt (1925)


A name that is worthy to be enrolled among the pioneers of the Hilmar Colony in Merced County is that of A. W. Sward, an enterprising and persevering citizen of whom any community might well be proud. He owns a ranch of forty acres one-half a mile south of Irwin at the corner of Lander and Williams Avenues, all well-improved and productive. He was born in Ostrejotland, Sweden, on March 11, 1869, was educated in the schools of his native country and when he was eighteen he took passage on a White Star Line steamer for America and arrived at Castle Garden, N. Y., in December, 1886. His destination was Axtell, Nebr., where a brother had already located, and as soon as he arrived there he found employment at farm work, continuing for two years as a wage earner there. Wanting to see something of the country he traveled to Kearney and to Omaha, both in Nebraska, where he found employment to his liking, remaining in the latter place until 1902, when he had saved enough money to come to California. Soon after his arrival in the month of May, he bargained for forty acres in the Hilmar Colony, which was then a worn-out wheat field, and he set to work to make his property a good investment. How well he has succeeded is demonstrated by the well-kept and productive ranch he owns today.

In 1902 he was married at Omaha, Nebr., to Miss Anna Swenson, who had come to America from Sweden in 1894. This couple arrived in Hilmar Colony on June 10, 1903, settled on his ranch, which he had purchased through the representations of N. O. Hultberg and A. Hallner, promoters of the colony. They began making improvements and in order to have water for their use they had to carry it from the well of C. A. Lundell three quarters of a mile away. This continued until he had sunk his own well, securing water for all needs at a depth of forty-one and one half feet. He also built his home and outbuildings. This worthy couple have had eight children, viz.: Emma, who died at the age of sixteen and one half years; Albert, a graduate of the Hilmar High School, class of 1923; Hilda, a pupil in the Hilmar High School, class of 1925; Leonard, also in the high school; and Esther, Wallace, Edith and Martin, pupils of the grammar school. Mr. Sward received his citizenship papers at Omaha, Nebr., in 1903, and exercises his right of franchise by supporting men and measures he considers best for the greatest number. Mr. and Mrs. Sward helped organize the South Elim school district and are in favor of the best obtainable for the children to get their start in life.

Additional Comments:

Biographical Review
The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been
Identified with Its Growth and Development
from the Early Days to the Present


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Joy Fisher