Merced County








            John F. McSwain is one of the ablest lawyers practicing at the Merced County bar, having the mental grasp which enables him to discover the salient points in a case.  A man of sound judgment, he manages his case with masterly skill and tact and is regarded as one of the best jury advocates in the county.  He is a logical reasoner and has a ready command of English.  That Mr. McSwain enjoys the confidence of his fellow townsmen as a citizen, and by reason of his professional ability, is shown by his election to the office of district attorney of Merced County, in which capacity he is now serving.

            A native of Missouri, Mr. McSwain was born in Audrain County, on the 5th of December, 1853, and traces his ancestry back to Scotch emigrants who left their native country and became settlers of North Carolina.  In that state the grandfather, Daniel McSwain, was born, while the maternal grandfather, John Fruit, was a native of South Carolina, also of Scotch lineage, both becoming honored pioneers of Kentucky, and there James McSwain, the father of our subject was born, reared and educated.

            After his removal to Missouri he was married in that state to Miss Martha Fruit, and there continued to reside throughout the residue of his days, passing away in 1861, at the age of fifty years.  His wife, with her six children, subsequently crossed the plains to California, making the journey with oxen and mule teams.  An uncle, Isaac Fruit, was of the company and Grandfather McSwain was in command.  He had previously crossed the plains in 1849, 1852 and 1854, and again made the journey in 1862.  He was a minister of the Christian Church, a man of marked ability and one of California’s brave pioneers.  On various occasions he was in command of different companies which made the long journey across the stretches of sand and through the mountain fastnesses of the west, lending them safely to the Golden state.  Four of the six children of the McSwain family that crossed the plains with the mother are still living.  They located in Merced County about forty miles north of the present city of Merced.  In 1884 the honored pioneer mother passed away.   Her son, Daniel W. McSwain is now a resident of Modena County, and one of the sisters, Mrs. Patterson, resides near him.  The other surviving sister, Mrs. J. A. Hamilton, makes her home near the Merced River.

            John F. McSwain, of this review, was but nine years of age when he arrived in California.  He was educated in the public schools and in early life engaged in raising wheat and stock, but thinking that he preferred a professional to an agricultural life he took up the study of law and was admitted to the bar in 1895, since which time he has practiced in Oakland and Merced.  He is well qualified for his chosen calling and he prepares himself for his cases with great care, studying the authorities that bear on the point in litigation.  His devotion to his clients’ interests is proverbial, and he has already gained an enviable position as a representative of the legal fraternity.

            In 1884 occurred the marriage of Mr. McSwain and Miss Sarah R. Price, a native of Merced County, and a daughter of Thomas Price, one of the valued pioneer settlers of the state.  Their union has been blessed with two children:  Thomas R. and John Floyd.  Mr. McSwain is a worthy member of the Masonic fraternity and in politics he has always been a Democrat in his belief.  He held the office of auditor and recorder in Merced County, entering upon its duties in 1881 and satisfactorily filling the position for four years.  He then filled the office of county sheriff for two years, and afterward practiced law in Oakland and San Francisco from 1890 until 1896.  He then returned to Merced and in May, 1900, was appointed district attorney so that he is the present incumbent in that office.  Almost his entire life has been passed in California and he takes a deep and commendable interest in its progress and advancement.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 740-741. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2011  Gerald Iaquinta.





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