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Wayne County Pioneer and Historical Collections

Transcribed by Pat Dettloff

Orson Ross Swift

The third son of Rev. Marcus Swift, was born in Palmyra, N.Y., October 11, 1821. He was four years old when the forests of Michigan first bounded his visual horizon, and eight before he saw the inside of a schoolroom as a student. During his childhood and youth he had such school advantages as the locality furnished, limited by the customs of those times. By general consent labor at home on the farm when there was work to be done was considered necessary; the school was regarded as important at other times. It should not be understood that the pioneers looked upon education with indifference, but that under the force of necessity they were compelled to give it the second place.

Early in the year 1842, he attended school at Ypsilanti and was called home when his mother died. He also attended the Ypsilanti Academy part of the winter of 1843-4, while preaching on a circuit in the vicinity. In 1842, at the age of 21, he was licensed to preach by the Wesleyan Methodists. He became popular from the first. His manner was attractive; he was fluent and enthusiastic. He threw his whole soul into his work. His emotional nature impelled him to efforts beyond his endurance. His physical strength began to fail him, and he determined to turn his attention to the profession of medicine. In 1847 he commenced to study and practice medicine with Dr. Bailey at the Valley, near Adrian. This profession he followed quite successfully the remainder of his life. He also maintained his official position in the church and preached occasionally, but never on a charge.

In March, 1846 he married Miss Mary E., daughter of Capt. Geo. J. Barker, of Washtenaw county, an estimable lady of culture and refinement, but physically frail. She died in 1854, leaving him a son and daughter.

He subsequently married Miss Jane E. Brink of Northville. He practiced medicine in Nankin from 1848 to 1852, when he removed to Northville, and from thence to Detroit in December 1854. He became a member of the firm of Moore, Swift & Co., druggists, for a few months and then he removed to Bryan, Ohio.

His health soon broke down entirely, and he was removed to his fatherís house in Nankin, where he died April 3, 1856, aged 34 and one half years, of consumption, undoubtedly induced by his extreme efforts in public speaking.

Orson was a man of positive convictions, and never lacked the courage to express them. As a student he labored hard, but was more enthusiastic than profound. As a speaker he was impassioned to a marked degree; his thoughts flowed rapidly, and he spoke with much force; and as earnestness is always magnetic, he wielded a large influence in whatever cause he engaged.

As a business man, he was unfortunate, and he died under a cloud of financial embarrassment. He left a wife, and two children by his first wife. Of these Marcus G. B. is a lawyer of Fall River, Mass., and Camilla A. is the wife of James Dubuar of Northville.

Transcribed by Pat Dettloff

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