Throwback Thursday: The Swarts Family

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

We talked about a local hospital last week, so today we’re looking at a couple of physicians who were important to our county: the Swarts family.


Vesta Ward Swarts grew up in Auburn, the daughter of merchant, minister, and State Senator, Stephen B. Ward. She taught school in DeKalb County for several years before marrying Dr. David Swarts, a man nine years her senior, in 1862. David was the first assistant surgeon for the 100th Indiana Infantry Regiment, and while he was gone, Vesta took the position of principal of the Auburn Graded Schools.


In 1864, however, she left Auburn to join her husband in caring for the sick and wounded. She received a Nurse’s Commission from US Christian Commission, and began working at the Brown US General Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. She served the Union until her health forced her to return home with an honorable discharge. After the war, both Vesta and David ran medical practices, as well as a bathhouse and sanatorium on 6th Street. They were also initial members of the DeKalb County Medical Society, organized in 1882.


The Swarts’ had two sons, one of whom—Willard Ward Swarts—followed in their footsteps by becoming a physician. During WWII, he was the County Health Director, as part of the DeKalb County Defense Council, which was charged with preparing locals for possible enemy attacks.

Want to see more local history? Click here to search our online photo database, or read our post on Bonnell Souder, another important DeKalb County physician.


About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
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5 Responses to Throwback Thursday: The Swarts Family

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Lida Leasure Gets Elected | Charlie Chat

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