Samuel Thomas Swinford, biography c. 1910
[Historical Review of South-East Texas]
  Source: Hardy, Dermont H. and Ingham S. Roberts, eds. Historical Review of South-East Texas. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1910. Vol. II, pp. 502-504.

SAMUEL T. SWINFORD. On December 11, 1851, at Pleasant Hill, Cass county, Missouri, was born Samuel T. Swinford, only child of Dr. Samuel Swinford and his wife, Henrietta S. (Thomas) Swinford. The father, in addition to being a doctor of medicine, was an ordained minister of the Christian church, and the mother came from the good old state of Kentucky, which takes more pride in its women than in all its other products combined. She was essentially a strong character, strong in her religious conviction and energetic in carrying out her ideas. She lived her fine Christian life until the age of seventy-two years, her demise occurring in the Swinford home, in Missouri, in the year 1897.

The year Samuel was born, Dr. Swinford moved his family to Independence, Missouri, and three years later he died at Lonejack, Missouri, of Asiatic cholera. The widow and son continued to reside at Independence until 1861, Samuel being sent to the public schools of that town, where he secured the rudimentary part of his education. In the winter of 1869, when eighteen years of age, he began teaching in a country school six miles east of Independence. He was dissatisfied with his own education and during the winter of 1871-72 attended the University of Missouri at Columbia, entering the normal class of that institution. While there he made many friends among the students, one of them being Eugene field, who was destined to become famous as a poet and humorist. After another winter at the university Mr. Swinford took a school at Lees Summit, Jackson county, Missouri, and continued teaching there and at other places in the state nearly all the time included between the years 1872 and 1878.

In February, 1878, he bade farewell to Missouri and removed to Orange, Texas. Shortly after arriving he associated himself with the firm of Moore & Swinford, which concern at that time owned a lumber mill on the Sabine river, facing the town of Orange. Later he entered the employ of F.W. Stewart St Company, adding here to his lumber experience and education. The knowledge he gained with these two institutions brought him in good interest when he shortly after became associated with the late Judge D. R. Wingate. of Orange, and, applying himself to building up the Wingate business with all the energy which has marked his every venture. he was instrumental in greatly improving its condition.

In 1890 Mr. Swinford, John H. Kirby and Henry J. Lutcher appeared before the committee on commerce at Washington and, largely through Mr. Swinford’s eloquence, succeeded in impressing the congressmen with the possibilities of Sabine Pass and the necessity for its improvement. This had much to do with the subsequent action of the government which has done so much for Western Texas, and it was said of Mr. Swinford that he laid before the congressional committee facts, figures and conditions which were self-explanatory and not to be controverted. The object was to secure an appropriation to deepen Sabine Pass and to make it a deep-water harbor, an immense aid to the commerce of that great and partially undeveloped section of country. During the twelve years he had been in Texas Mr. Swinford had not only made himself thoroughly acquainted with the conditions then prevailing in that section of the United States, but he also had made himself a master in his knowledge of the lumber business in all its details, and besides, had raised himself from the status of an unknown man and a stranger to a most enviable social and business standing. The same year he urged the Sabine Pass project before the commerce committee Mr. Swinford moved his family from Orange to Houston, Texas. He was then fairly launched in the lumber trade, and during the next nine years he conducted a lumber commission business in Houston. He did a good business and it is said that for every board he sold he made a friend, which, if true, is evidence indeed that he did a good business in more ways than one. In 1896 he was made president of the Texas Lumbermen’s Association and was continued in that office until 1899. He has always been a prime mover in the affairs of the association as they relate to the lumber industry.

In the fall of 1899 Mr. Swinford gave up his commission business and became associated with the Foster Lumber Company and the Southwestern Lumber Company, both of Houston, in the business of exploiting and operating a mill on the “Trinity Tap,” this business being later sold to the Kirby Lumber Company, of Houston. In October, 1901, he became general sales agent of the Kirby Lumber Company, and although he succeeded in these ventures, he finally embarked upon a corporation of his own. Resigning his position with the Kirby Lumber Company, September 1, 1903, he organized in October the S. T. Swinford Company, with a general office at Dallas and another at Houston. The company is a wholesale lumber concern and since its organization has done a remarkably large business. But what has done more than all else to insure the success of this concern has been the personal force back of it — the force of a man who has made his way, step by step, over every obstacle in his path, utterly refusing to recognize the possibility of failure.

Mr. Swinford has always been a prime mover in the affairs of Texas as they relate to the lumber industry. He has always made it a point closely to follow freight matters, such as rates, long and short hauls, car service and demurrage. He recognizes the fact that more can be done by co-operation than by any other means, and he has probably done more practical work in bringing about amicable relations between the lumber producers of the Lone Star State and the railways of that commonwealth than has any other one man. And in this, as in all his other undertakings, he has set the stamp of his individuality and the coercive in?uence of effort not made to fail.

At Pleasant Hill, Missouri, May 21, 1874, Mr. Swinford was married to Miss Mary E. Smith, and the union has been blessed by the birth of four children, all stalwart sons, namely1 Jerome, Samuel T., Harrie G. and Eberle. The four sons happily inherit the father's energetic temperament and all are engaged in active pursuits. Jerome is a practical lumberman and a member of the firm of Beatty & Swinford, of Houston, Texas.

Mr. Swinford is considered a good after-dinner speaker and has a convincing personal magnetism which has had much to do with his merited success. He is a Hoo-Hoo and is one of the early members of that popular organization.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.