"Nelson R. Swingle"
-- submitted by Chris Swingle, March 1999
Nelson R. Swingle
From census records, death certificate, will, land deeds, Scranton City Directories, family recollections from Shirley Swingle Abrams, Helen Pollock and Albert Watson Jr.
Nelson R. Swingle was born in South Canaan, Wayne County, Pa on January 24,1869. He was the seventh child of Paul and Sarah Sampson Swingle. His father Paul was a well respected man in the community who held various positions of prominence at different times during his life as well as serving his country in the Civil War, twice.
One of the earliest records of Nelson as an adult was found in the Commemorative Biographical Record published in 1901. It reported that Nelson was a teacher when he married Anna Black from Scranton in 1892. He was to change occupations the following year.
Nelson was listed in the Scranton City Directory for 1893 (these directories generally indicate current occupation, residence and after the death of the husband, spouses) as a Railway Postal clerk living at 610 North Washington Avenue. That address no longer exists, there is a field and school in its place.
The City Directory for 1899 lists Nelson R. Swingle as a clerk; RY P O, H N,living on Apple Avenue, N Harper, D (the D most likely represents Dunmore). Dunmore is located north and east of Scranton.
According to a local historian in Scranton, a Railway Postal clerk was a coveted job in those days. It often required men with good memories and fast hands, there was much competition for the openings. Most of the Postal clerks sorted mail on the trains as they were moving between stops. The Scranton City Directory for 1900 listed Nelson R. Swingle as living at 214 Apple Ave in D(Dunmore), still employed as a Railway Mail Clerk.
Nelson and Anna Black Swingle had 6 children between 1893 and 1911. According to the marriage license, Anna Black required permission to marry Nelson. At age 20, it appears that Anna's grandfather or granduncle had to give Anna this permission as she was still considered a minor.
The 1900 Dunmore Boro, Lackawanna County census, recorded on June 7, 1900 indicated that Nelson and his young family were living in Dunmore, Pa on AppleStreet. The street number was not completely legible on the census but was probably #221. Nelson is listed as head of the household, born in January 1870 (this was incorrect, it was 1869), was 30 years of age, married for 8 years, born in PA, as were his parents, was currently employed as a Railway Postal clerk, went to school and could read and write. His wife was Anna, born June of 1871 (it was really 1873), was 28 years old, married for 8 years, born in PA, as were her parents, did not have a profession, had attended school and could read and write. The following children, ages and dates were also listed; Marjorie, age 6, born January, 1893, Myron, age 4 born December 1895 and Nelson, age 1, born April, 1899. All were born in PA. Marjorie, the oldest, was currently attending school.
The Scranton City Directory for 1901 lists Nelson R. Swingle living at 221 North Apple Ave in Dunmore.
It was recorded in Wayne County, deed 90/303, that on 6/7, 1902 Nelson R Swingle of Dunmore made an indenture for $205 to George V Howell and wife Velma of Dunmore, Lackawanna for a piece or parcel of land in South Canaan, Wayne County described as follows; beginning in the center of the public road leading from the South Canaan post office to the Simons post office thence along the land of Paul Swingle deceased, north 30 degrees west 4 and 6/10 rods to a post, thence along the lands of Jeanette Swingle south 56 degrees east 3and 6/10 rods to a post, thence along lands of same, south 30 east 4 6/10 rods to center of above mentioned public road, thence along center of said public road south 56 degrees west 3 6/10 rods to place of beginning. Containing 21 and 6/10 perches of land be the same more or less being part of a larger tract in the narrative name of John Brock and a part of the same land which GabrielHowell and Mary his wife, by their deed dated 4/1 1846, recorded as deed 15/147 granted to PW Lerch and heirs by deed dated 4/14 1891, recorded as deed70/451 conveyed to Paul Swingle, deceased, on the date 4/10 1901 recorded as deed 88/595 granted to George V Howell together with all woods, rights etc. The exact location of this land is unknown but the mentioning of the Post Office would indicate it is in the location of the current crossroads of 296 and the road leading to SR 3020. This was most likely a piece of the original land of Nelson's gggrandfather, Hans Ulrich Swingle the pioneer. The land had been parceled several times during each succeeding generation.
Nelson Purchased a parcel of land on Quincy Street in Scranton in 1906.
There are a few family photos of Nelson and his children which appear to show the house in Scranton on Quincy Street. His son, Myron E. Swingle is also shown with his W.W.I uniform on in one of these photos as well as a photo of him when he was younger sitting on the front steps of a house.
According to the 1910 Scranton City, Lackawanna County census recorded on April 26, 1910, Nelson and his family were living in Scranton at 927 Quincy Street. This was likely the house he built sometime after he bought the landin 1906. The land on Quincy Street was originally owned by the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company. The house was three stories and had a three car garage. A photo of this house was taken in 1998. It was in very good shape, it also appears that the garage was converted into a house. According to Albert Watson's writings (a grandson) "The house would shudder when trolleys passed by along Ash Street." The house was on a hill overlooking Scranton which made it a great place for sleigh riding according to his account. On the census, Nelson was listed as the head of the household, male, age 41 and married. He was born in PA, as was his parents and worked as a Railway Postal clerk. Lived in a house that he rented out as well. Anna was his wife, 38 years old, married for 17 years, 5 children born, 5 living, born in PA, as was her parents, did not have a profession and could read and write. The following children were also listed; Marjorie, age 16, Myron, age 15, Nelson, age 12,Mabel, age 8 and Dorothy, age 2. They were all born in PA.
In the Scranton City Directories for 1911 and 1912, Nelson R. Swingle was listed as a Railway Clerk living at 927 Quincy Avenue. His daughter, Marjorie,was listed as an Examiner, ICS, also living at 927 Quincy Avenue. He was listed as a Postal Clerk in the 1913, 1914 and 1916 Directories still living at 927 Quincy Avenue. In the Directory for 1918 and 1919, he was listed as a Farmer, living at 927 Quincy with his working sons, Nelson R. Jr and Myron. Why Nelson changed occupations prior to age 49 is unknown. He worked for at least 23 years as a Postal Clerk, it may have had to do with his pension.
From Albert Watson's writings; "Soon after the end of the first world war, Nelson closed the house on Quincy Avenue and packed up the car. He, his wife and his daughters Grace and Dorothy moved to Florida to join the land boom and grow oranges". Helen Pollock, a sister of Nelson's son Myron's wife Mae, mentioned in 1999 that Anna did not want to move to Florida when Nelson went down to work in the Orange groves that he had purchased. Nelson owned 3 lots in Deland, some land at New Smyrna Beach in a partnership arrangement and 100 acres in Volusia County in the far scrub that was referred to as "the Farm" by the family. When the family moved to Deland they initially lived in a tent on one of the three lots. The floor was made of sod and there was no plumbing. It appears that members of the family worked the land from time to time over the years. One of his sons, Myron E. Swingle, spent some time there in farming with his wife Mae, son Mike, daughter Shirley and twins, Roger and Ronald who were born in Deland in 1928. It is recorded that one of Anna's sisters, nicknamed Eva, also lived in Florida for a time after burying two husbands. Nelson's two daughters enrolled in a school 9 blocks away on West Wisconsin Avenue. "The family soon moved to an apartment over the a store with an entrance way in the back. The apartment had creaky floors and roaches, and Nelson's Model T Ford rotted away in the backyard" according to Albert Watson.
There are no Scranton directories from 1920 to 1923. It cannot be determined as to exactly what year he moved back to Scranton but he was back in 1924.
Nelson was listed as being married to Anna in the 1924 Directory, back living at 927 Quincy Avenue. He was listed as being a Painter in the 1925 - 1931 Scranton City Directories, being married to Anna still living at 927 Quincy.
Nelson was living on Quincy Street in Scranton when he died on July 8, 1932 of a problem with his prostate. He is buried in the East Canaan cemetery with his wife Anna, next to his father Paul and mother Sarah. A copy of his will is in the possession of a great grandson.
The City Directory for Scranton in 1932 listed Anna A, widow of Nelson R, living at 927 Quincy Avenue with her daughter Grace.
Daughter Dorothy got married and moved to Kew Gardens in Queens. After Nelson's death in 1932, the right side of the house on Quincy Street was again rented out after the last daughter, Grace, was married in 1934, moving out after 1936. Marjorie, Myron and Nelson having been long gone. Anna still lived in the left side of the house at least to 1938 according the Scranton City directory for that year. There is no record in the directories after that year so she most likely moved to Long Island to live with her daughter Jean until her death in 1945.