William Prescott Swift

William Prescott Swift

Waits River, Orange County, Vermont, USA
Death 17 Feb 1899 (aged 49)
Rice Lake, Barron County, Wisconsin, USA
Burial Rice Lake, Barron County, Wisconsin, USA
Memorial ID 7333543 · View Source
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William was born April 20, 1849, at Waits River, Orange Co., Vermont, son of Henry Spencer Swift, born in Randolph, Vermont, and Diana C. Holden, born in Providence, Rhode Island. At five years of age, he moved with his parents to Edgerton, Rock Co., Wisconsin. He died Feb. 17, 1899, at Rice Lake, and was buried there in Orchard Beach Cemetery. His gravestone is inscribed "William P. Swift 1849 - 1899 of Co. A 16th U.S. Army."

In 1876, William married Diana Wiltse, at Chippewa Falls, Wis. Diana was born July 30, 1857, in New York City, daughter of C. J. Wiltse, of Chippewa Falls. She died Feb. 26, 1944, at the Douglas County Asylum, Parkland, Douglas Co., Wisconsin, aged 86 years, 6 months and 26 days, and was buried beside the remains of her husband in Orchard Beach Cemetery.

In her later years she became incapable of managing her affairs and on Sep. 14, 1937, a guardian was appointed by the County Court of Douglas County, Wisconsin. The informant listed on her death certificate was Al Wiltsey, of Duluth, Minnesota, whose last name would suggest that he was a relative. Their one child, Hector Ray Swift, was born in 1878 and died July 22, 1898.

William was a Civil War veteran having served three years as a Private in Company A of the 16th United States Infantry. William enlisted April 5, 1864, at the age of 15 years. On August 30, 1865, he was discharged having served 1 year, 4 months and 25 days.

After his discharge he returned to Wisconsin. In 1871 he moved to Chippewa Falls, Wis. where he studied law for two years in the firm of Bingham and Jenkins. In 1874, he was admitted to the bar, and in 1879, moved to Barron, Wisconsin, where he was elected county judge, an office he held for eight years. In 1882, he moved to Rice Lake, Barron County, Wisconsin, where he was subsequently elected as their first city attorney, later serving as supervisor.

In 1891, he moved to Superior, Wisconsin, and became a partner in the firm of Swift, Murphy and Bundy. In 1898, he moved back to Rice Lake, Barron County, Wisconsin, where he lived out the rest of his days.


William Prescott Swift died at his home in Rice Lake, after a long illness, on Friday morning. He died as he had wished to die, in the arms of those so near and dear to him. It is said that he never recovered from the shock which the news brought of the death of his brave boy, Lieut. Hector Smith - the first one of the Wisconsin troops to give up his young life at Charleston, on his way to the front.

William Prescott Swift was born at Waite's River, Orange county, Vt., April 20, 1849, and was the sixth of the fourteen children of Henry Spencer and Diana C. Swift. His paternal grandfather was a soldier in the war of 1812 and his paternal grandmother was the niece of the Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn, appointed by President Jefferson in 1801. Mr. Swift was five years of age when his parents came to Wisconsin and settled at Edgerton, in Rock county. At the age of fifteen he enlisted as a bugler in the Sixteenth Infantry, regular army, and was placed in service in the Army of the Cumberland, taking part in Sherman's Atlanta campaign.

Upon his return home in 1866 he took an academic course of three years at Albion Academy and Teachers' Seminary, at Albion, Dane Co., Wis., and stood high in his classes and was exceedingly popular with both his instructors and school associates. In 1869 he was a log driver on the Wisconsin river. In 1871 he went to Chippewa Falls where for a number of years he read law in the office of Bingham & Jenkins. In 1873 he was elected police justice of the city. In 1874 he was admitted to the bar and two years later was elected city attorney, serving one term. He removed to Barron, Barron county, in 1879 and engaged in the practice of law. Two years later he was elected county judge and held the office for eight years. In 1888 he was a candidate against R. D. Marshall for judge of the Eleventh circuit, and was defeated by the vote of Chippewa county. In 1891 the West Superior boom carried him to that city, where he became a member of the law firm of Swift, Murphy & Bundy.

The funeral was held Sunday afternoon at the residence of his brother, the services, by request of Mrs. Judge Swift, being conducted by Col. P. H. Swift and Mary C. Swift, brother and sister-in-law, in accordance with the rites of the church of Christ Scientists. The honorary pall bearers were six pioneer and personal friends and the active pall bearers six members of Co. A, 5th Regt. W. N. G. in uniform.

There were many floral offerings sent by friends, among which was a beautiful pillow from the Barron County Bar Association, and a Maltese cross from the Knights at West Superior.

The attendance was large, several being present from Chippewa Falls and West Superior and many from Barron and Cumberland. His remains found repose at Orchard Beach beside his son, Hector, who passed on July last. The following concerning the deceased is from the Chippewa Independent: During Mr. Swift's residence in this city, where he was married to Miss Diana Wiltse, daughter of Judge Wiltse, and where his son Hector was born, he was one of the best known and most public spirited citizens. Although a partisan in politics and a determined man in business there was so much sunshine in his point of view, so much natural cheerfuliness of temperament, that the atmosphere was charged to a greater degree than most men's with the brighter influence of life, and it was to that phase of his character that attention was naturally and affectionately drawn. He was a loyal citizen and a userful man of affairs. He will be greatly missed and not soon forgotten by a circle of friends that death seemed not to narrow. [Feb. 23, 1899, Cumberland Advocate, Cumberland, Wisconsin.]

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  • Maintained by: Sandi K
  • Originally Created by: John Christeson
  • Added: 6 Apr 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7333543
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Prescott Swift (20 Apr 1849–17 Feb 1899), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7333543, citing Orchard Beach Cemetery, Rice Lake, Barron County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Sandi K (contributor 47075729) .