How Many Homes Does One Man Build?

One of my desires as I research family history is to learn the “what’s and whys” of my ancestors. Why did they move in the first place. Why did they settle where they did? What were the obstacles that they faced? What made them to be the kind of people they became? In essence, I want to know their story.Jerome B Swisher

I came across my Great Grandfather, Jerome Bonaparte Swisher’s story in one of the “Swisher Notebooks” that I am working on for a special project for the Swisher Reunion. Here is his story, spelling and grammar errors included. Jasper William Swisher is my Grand Uncle.

“Taken from a handwritten account by Jasper William Swisher (Esther Swisher Mielke’s father).

“Marion County West Virginia

“Jerome B. Swisher born in March, 1840 united in marriage to Emza M. Davidson in 1860. Enlisted in the Union Army in 1865 for one year or during the war. Mustered out at close of war after about three months service.

“In 1866 he made his first attempt to establish a home–building a log house on Liek Run. He hired to a man who had a contract to get out logs for a sawmill. Contractor went broke and failed to pay. This was in Cladrige County WV.

“In 1867 he made his second attempt at building a home. He brought six acres of land on Toms Fork (a small stream in Doddrige County) and built a house. The following winter he taught the district school (my first school).

“In 1868, he sold his land and went West. Filed on a quarter of land in Marion County Kansas. Here he made his third attempt to establish a home by building a house. A short time after returning to WV he got word a prairie fire had burned his house down.

“After this he worked in the sawmill with his brothers until the spring of 1870. In April 1870, he with his family of three boys and two girls moved to Doniphan County Kansas. Here he made his forth attempt at a home building–an addition on his Uncle’s house living there two years. Then he moved to a different part of the county, rented 40 acres, bought a team, and farmed for two years. Here is where he did his first carpenter work which he followed the rest of his life. In 1874 the well remembered grasshopper year. With his family of nine, he moved with two wagons (one drawn by oxen–one by a horse and mule) to Salina County Kansas where he homesteaded 80 acres of land and here he made his fifth attempt at home building.

“In 1879 he worked in Colorado. In 1880 he did the carpenter work in a gold mine in Wyoming. After this, he Jerome B Swisher carpenter toolssold his farm and moved to Gypsum City where he built and sold several different houses. He was building homes continually. A home seemed to always be in his thoughts.”

Pictures are of Jerome Bonaparte Swisher and his carpentry tools and GAR sword.

4 thoughts on “How Many Homes Does One Man Build?”

    1. He did have a rough life, He also had a very large family, his first wife who died shortly after giving birth to the eighth child in a dugout. He remarried and had twelve more children for a total of twenty. In fact the Kansas and Oklahoma Swisher reunions are actually called the Jerome Bonaparte Swisher Reunions. But even with all of the heartaches he had, he also had a great faith in God. One of the most common pictures we have of him is of him setting in a chair reading his Bible.

      1. Is it possible for you to share more pictures of him? Do you have any pictures of him and his second wife?

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this story. I have not made it to a family reunion since I was a child and my grandma Helen took me. I would like to learn all I can about our family and am very happy that Jeremiah Lainer shared this with me. I hope to make it to the next reunion and meet you in person.

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