Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
Gold Star Biographies
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Pvt. Roy McSwane
60th Company, 15th Training Battalion, 159th Depot Brigade
July 15, 1896 - October 17, 1918

     Roy McSwane did not seek fame but only asked for strength to
fight for liberty until "despots die and sin takes flight and all the
whole wide world is free."  He was born July 15, 1896, in Warrick
County, Indiana, near Lynnville, where he spent his childhood days.
He attended the Mt. Olive School in that community for several terms.
Later his parents moved on a farm in the vicinity of Elberfeld, Indiana,
and he attended the Hazel Ridge School. Roy McSwane was always a
bright and intelligent boy and took great interest in his books, and
often in the early days of his life told his mother of his plans when
he grew to manhood.  His mother little dreamed, as she listened to his
childish prattling and imaginative bravado of a heroic career, that
just as he budded into manhood he would be called to take up arms and
march away to war in defense of his country, never again to see his home.

     On January 11, 1911, Roy McSwane, with his parents, moved to
Evansville, where he secured employment at the Hercules Buggy
Works, and was employed there at the time he entered the service of
his country.  When the great world conflict threatened the welfare
of our nation, and our chief executive began calling for our boys, his
mother, realizing the hardships of military life and fearing because
of his poor health, hesitated in permitting him to enlist, but the

patriotic zeal of this young American may be perceived in his reply:
"Mother, our country does need me and I must go, but I'll come back,
and a better man, with full chest and strong arms.  I have no better
claim for not going than any other boy, nor have you a better claim
than any other mother.  We cannot see our country go down and our flag
trampled on.  So, cheer up, mother, we must win the victory at any cost."

     While thus he debated with his mother, the call actually came,
and on September 3, 1918, he was inducted into the service and entered
Camp Zachary Taylor on the sixth day of September. His military career
was brief.  It was just six weeks later that his body, stilled
by death, was brought home.  He had written promising letters home
and seemed to be well pleased with the military life. When the
pestilence, influenza, fell upon the camp and raged with fearful violence,
slaying our brave boys as the reaper reaps the grain, he wrote, "I
work hard and faithfully every night in trying to care for my sick

     It was not his fate to continue this self-sacrifice of ministering
to the wants of others.  He was seized in the grasp of the frightful
plague.  For two weeks he bravely fought to free himself from its clutch.
News came of his illness and his father and brother, Ray, went to
see him.  Then glad tidings came to the home that he was improving,
but, alas, in a few days a sad message came.  It read, "Roy seriously
ill."  The father and mother hastened to his bedside.  They arrived
at 9 o'clock on the evening of October 16.  After their arrival, the
grief-stricken parents did not leave his bedside until they had
witnessed his passing.  Death claimed their son at 3:30 o'clock the
following evening, October 17, 1918, at the age of twenty years and
three months.

     Before he died he appealed to his mother to remain with him and
bring him home with her.  He told them death was near and asked
them not to grieve, "for I am going to Heaven, mother," he said.
"I am dying for Old Glory.  May our country win the victory."  In
his preparation for death, in a weak, yet firm voice, he sang two
hymns, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," and "Will There Be Any
Stars in My Crown?"  His parents and those close by witnessed a
most beautiful and fitting conclusion of a soldier's life.  He saluted
the flag three times, and told his parents good-by.  Then, as if a
divine apparition suddenly revealed itself to him, he pointed to
heaven and passed away peacefully, "like one who wraps the draperies
of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

     Roy McSwane's body, clad in his uniform, was brought home, a
flag draping the casket.  He was laid to rest on October 21, 1918, in
the Mt. Olive Cemetery, on the sunny side of the hill near his old
home and the school house where he spent his happy childhood days.

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
pp. 117-118
October 25, 1998