Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Swartz, John Frederick and Martha Pedley

John F. Swartz and family
From left, Glenn sits on mother Martha's lap.  Twins, Roy and Loretta, are sitting on the ground.  Sister Louella stands behind father, John F.  It is believed the eldest brother, Harold, can be seen leaning up against a tree in the background.
(Source:  Original photo and caption courtesy of Robert Swartz.  Copyright February 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

John Frederick Swartz and Martha (Pedley) Swartz
John Frederick Swartz, son of John Jacob Swartz, was born October 29, 1867 in Town of Somers, Kenosha County, Wisconsin.  He died February 19, 1962 in Town of Somers, Kenosha County, Wisconsin. He married Martha Eva Pedley on May 11, 1892 in Town of Somers.  Martha was the daughter of John Pedley and Delilah Burton. She was born September 20, 1869 in Town of Somers and died February 01, 1944 in Town of Somers.

John F. and Martha Swartz
(Source: Photo courtesy of Robert Swartz. Copyright January 2012. All Rights Reserved.)

In the 1870 census of the Town of Somers, he was listed in the home of his parents. His birth and baptism were recorded in the records of the German Methodist Church of Kenosha, Wisconsin. An anonymous document, written in 1953, stated the following:

"His father was always interested in fruit growing and immediately after returning from the Civil War planted a 10 acre apple orchard which was considered unusually large at that time. He also grew cherries, grapes, currants and gooseberries and was the first to introduce red raspberries in Kenosha County. They had the first orchard sprayer in the neighborhood and were able to produce worm-free cherries, which were unusual at that time, and so became well known for the quality of their fruit. The family operated under the name of Swartz & Sons Fruit Farm, and John F. Swartz grew up with the desire to learn everything possible about this end of horticulture.
At the age of 8, John was given a few strawberry plants by a neighbor and raised a small strawberry bed, and then became interested in propagating fruit. At the age of 21, John was given an acre of land by his father which he could use for propagating fruit. He then went to the Phoenix Nursery of Bloomington, Illinois, and secured the agency as a dealer for Kenosha and Racine Counties.
He purchased young fruit trees from the Phoenix Nursery to line out the acre in young stock and use this as a sales lot, and sold trees for orchards throughout the two counties. The price of trees at that time was $.25 each or $18.00 per hundred. The trees cost him $.07 each which gave him a profit of $11.00 per hundred on the trees. He began to think that the nursery business was a good side line for fruit growing.
As a few flowering shrubs could usually be added to the fruit tree order, he began growing ornamentals, and eventually this line became the main item in the nursery. John Swartz first attended the Horticultural Society convention at Madison in the fall of 1898 and has missed very few conventions since that time. He was active in forming the first Horticultural Club in Kenosha and was a charter member in that branch. In later years, after his sons were able to take over the nursery and landscaping end of the business, John Swartz devoted his time to raising strawberries. He introduced the Thomas variety to the public and at present, at 86, is growing about 12 acres of Thomas and Robinson strawberries.
Over the course of the years, he transformed the family livelihood from a truck-farm that grew some trees, to a major nursery. In the early 1920s, the business became interstate, with a great deal of work being done in the wealthy suburbs north of Chicago. The depression hit the nursery very hard but it survived and all debts were eventually paid to all creditors."

Swartz Farm Daily Log
From February, 1908, to May, 1911, he kept a daily log. It was very brief, with only one short line per day, but it does give some idea of what his life was like, on an annual basis. His yearly cycle is summarized as follows:
Some butchering and hauling wood. He trimmed cabbage. In January, 1909, cabbage sold for $27/ton. In January, 1909, he was laid up with "lumbago" for 8 days and could only walk with canes.
Hauled coal and wood. Trimmed cabbage. In Feb., 1908, cabbage sold for $8/ton.
Trimmed cabbage, cut wood. Got nursery stock from Tennessee and Bloomington. In March, 1910, cabbage sold for $20/ton.
Trimmed raspberries. Took trees to town. In 1908, cabbage sold for $15/ton.
Planted nursery stock, dug grapes, planted strawberries and muskmelons.
Hoed strawberries and melons. Picked strawberries and hauled them to Racine and Kenosha.
Picked strawberries the first week or two. Picked raspberries in late July. Mowed prairie hay.
Picked the last raspberries. Mowed hay and prairie hay. Stacked grain and thrashed. Got honey.
Picked pears, plums, melons and tomatoes. First grapes in late September.
Picked grapes and pears. Grew celery in 1909.
Hauled coal. Cut and hauled hay. Shredded corn and dug trees. Butchered at his father's.
Trimmed cabbage and got coal. "Canvassed" in Racine and Kenosha. Once he noted taking Christmas trees to Kenosha. In 1908, cabbage sold for $23/ton. in December.
(Source:  Family information above courtesy of Robert Swartz.  January 2012.)

The Swartz Nursery sign located on Wood Road, Somers Township
(Source:  Photo courtesy of Robert Swartz.  Copyright January 2012.  All Rights Reserved)

Tree on truck in front of Swartz house
(Source: Photo courtesy of Robert Swartz. Copyright January 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

Kenosha Garden Club, photo taken at the Swartz house in Somers.
Identifications made by Mr. Swartz as shown.
Click on photo for larger view.
(Source:  Original photo courtesy of Robert Swartz.  Copyright February 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)

Tree on truck in winter
Swartz Nursery
(Source: Photo courtesy of Robert Swartz. Copyright January 2012.  All Rights Reserved.)
More About the Swartz Family

Click here to view more about Swartz on the Oakwood Cemetery website.

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