Biography of Charles B. Swift

CHARLES B. SWIFT. It would be difficult to conceive an industry which occupies a more important standing in any country than that allied to the mercantile trade. In this business millions of dollars are invested, while the number of persons employed count up into the hundreds of thousands. One of the leading corporations in this connection is the Billings Mercantile Company, of Billings, Missouri. Mr. Charles B. Swift, who is treasurer of this company, is an excellent type of a prosperous merchant, who owes his success in life to his own industry, and who is ever ready to do all in his power to favor his customers.

He has resided in this county since 1870, and has been in business in this city since 1875; therefore the people have had every opportunity to judge of his character and standing. A product of Weakley County, Tennessee, where he was born July 31, 1851, he is a son of C. W. and Martha D. (McClain) Swift, and the grandson of Charles Swift. This family is of English origin and came to this country at an early date. Some members became noted soldiers and statesmen, and all were honorable, upright citizens.

The father of our subject was born in Hanover County, Virginia, and was one of a large old-fashioned family of eleven children. Three of his brothers were in the Mexican War, and one was in the war with Texas in 1836. C. W. Swift, father of our subject, passed his youthful days in his native State, and in early manhood moved to Tennessee, locating in Wilson County at first, but subsequently moving to Weakley County. He was married in the former county to Miss McClain, and the children born to this union were partly reared in Weakley County. In 1870 Mr. Swift moved to Christian County, Missouri, and located on a farm six miles southeast of Billings, where he followed farming and became a well-respected citizen. There his death occurred six years later. In politics he. was a Whig and a Union man, and later a Republican. He was a man universally esteemed and one whose career was without blot or blemish. His wife was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, of which her father, William H. McClain, was an early pioneer, but a native of Scotland, which country he left early in life. His eldest son was the first white child born in Wilson County, for he located there as early as 1792. Mrs. Swift, the youngest of a large family of children, was born in 1809, and died in 1857, in Tennessee. Eleven children were born to our subject’s parents; seven are now living, and of these all reside in this part of Missouri. They were named as follows: Bertha, wife of M. G. Bonnett, of Stone County; Mary, is the wife of R. D. Blades; Sally, single, resides at Aurora; Anna E., also single, resides at Aurora; William H., married, is living on a farm near Billings; Oscar, single, resides at Aurora, and our subject, Charles B., who is the youngest but one of the family. Those deceased passed away when quite young.

The original of this notice was a young man when he came to this county, his early life having been spent in his native county. After coming here, he attended the schools of Springfield, and after leaving school began teaching. Later he engaged in merchandising, first as a clerk in Springfield, but soon after came to Billings and clerked here up to 1879, when he established a business for himself. In 1881 he took Mr. E. M. Morris in as partner, and the firm was known as Morris & Swift. Their business prospered unusually well until 1888, when the store was destroyed by fire. Mr. Swift was then elected county collector of revenue by the Republican, party, and held the office in a very efficient and satisfactory manner from 1888 to 1893, two terms. For four years he was postmaster at Billings under the Garfield administration, and has held other positions. He became a member of the Billings Mercantile Company in May, 1893, a prominent stockholder, and is now holding the office of treasurer. In politics he is with the Republican party, is active in his support of the same, and is one of the leading men of the county. Socially he is a member of the Royal Arch, Chapter No. 97, and of Friend Lodge, A. F. & A. M., at Ozark.

Mr. Swift was married in this county to Mrs. Martha E. Dye, a native of Bedford County, Tennessee, born June 18, 1851, and the daughter of James Wise, who now resides about five miles east of Billings. Mr. and Mrs. Swift are members of the Christian Church, and Mr. Swift is an elder in the same. Five children have been born to this union: Maude, Warren, Aden, Bertha, and an infant yet unnamed.



A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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