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History of Swayzee

By C. Michial Jones

Established 1880 - Incoorporated 1890

Sims Township of which Swayzee is a part of was founded in 1845 by Jacob Pence, who named the area after his father, Joseph Sims. Sims Township was originally a part of the Indiana Reservation, but with the continuous flow of the white settlers into the area, the Indians moved further west abandoning the area.

The first election in the Township was for the position of Justice of the Peace in 1848 and Adolphus Long was elected to the position. A year later the first school was built on the Ammons farm.

The 1850s showed the continued growth of the young township with Joseph Clinger establishing the first trading post and in 1855 his brother, Henery, founded the first grain and saw mills. Charles Miller was appointed as the first Township assessor.

From 1861 to 1865, several of the men in the township went off to fight in the Civil War, after the war was over 21 of the townships men had been lost.

In 1880 the Clover Lear Railroad tracks were laid through the township. Later it was renamed the Kokomo, Marion and Wabash Traction Line and it connected Kokomo and Marion together. Later that same year, the Cincinnati, Indiana and Eastern Railroad were built running from Fairmount to Converse and intersecting with the K. M. & W. The intersection of the two lines was named Swayzee after James Swayzee, who owned the land.

The railroads brought several more settlers to Swayzee including craftsman, merchants, clergy, and professionals. In august of 1881 the first post office was established. The Swayzee Methodist Protestant Church was founded in 1883 and the Swayzee Christian Church was founded in 1884.

On June 30, 1886 the Swayzee Lodge Number 625 of The Independent Order of the Odd Fellows was founded. Eleven years later, the Swayzee Lodge Number 451 of The Knights of Pythias was founded; both lodges lasted well into the 1900s.

A milestone in the history of Swayzee came in 1887 when natural gas was found in the town. The next thirteen years bore witness to a population boom, with over 40 new businesses opening, including several factories, a creamery, and an opera house. With this continued growth, it appeared that Swayzee would rival Marion in size and prestige.

In June of 1890 it was decided to incorporate Swayzee into an official town and to hold elections for the growing metropolis. W. E. Heron was elected as the first town council president. The first high school was established in 1891, the enrollment consisted of eight freshman and five sophomores.

By the turn of the century Swayzee had reached its peak in size, population, and number of businesses. The natural gas had run out and a series of catastrophic events would almost bring the town to its knees. In 1901, the glass factory exploded, in 1906 the lumberyard burned down, along with both churches in 1918 and the flourmill in 1926. Instead of rebuilding, most of the businesses moved out of town to Marion, Gas City or Muncie, leaving Swayzee to be a peaceful little rural community.

Hometown of Dr. Aaron Wesley Dicus - Inventor of the Automobile Turn Signal, Author of three books and Song writter. Dr. Dicus most famouse song was "Our God - He is Alive", he also wrote 34 other songs in his lifetime.

Other Important Events in Swayzee History

1890 - The first town ordinance was passed limiting bicycle speed to 4 M.P.H
1918  Gaming tables were allowed in saloons.
1939  A billiard and card hall was established.
1946  The first 8 streetlights were installed.
1946  C. V. Horine became the first Swayzee Fire Chief lasting until February of 1960
1954  First speed limit and caution signs installed.
1955  First Dog Ordinance passed, allowing Dog Warden or Marshal to destroy animals if off owners property.
1960  H. A. Chapel Second Fire Chief.
1964  Henery Hinchan first dog warden.
1965  Tornado
1966  Carl Wolf becomes Chief of Swayzee Civil Defense.
1970  Carl Wolf appointed as an advisor to the Grant County Civil Defense Advisory Council.
1972  Jack Copus appointed as Street Commissioner.
1973  Civil Defense members deputized and paid $100.00 a month for services.
1978  Blizzard declared Swayzee a Federal Disaster Area.
2007 - Blizzard.
2007 - Chief Deputy Mike Jones honored by Town Council, Marshal Shaffer, Swayzee Fire Department and was the First Swayzee Officer to ever be honored by an Indiana Governor for the rescue of three small children from a house fire
2008 - Chief Deputy Jones honored by the Pacers as an Indiana Hero.

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