Saturday, June 20, 2009

George Hutton Swingle (1826-1895) - Yolo Supervisor; Rancher

[Photo of Swingle gravestone by Michael Colbruno; postcard of Davisville around the time of Swingle's death]

George Hutton Swingle was born in Frankfort, Kentucky on July 26, 1826. He lived briefly in Missouri before moving to Sacramento, California in 1853. He worked in the gold rush town of Dutch Flat, which was the largest town in Placer County at the time.

After five years in the bustling mining town where he sold goods and ran a freight operation, Swingle decided to move to Davisville in Yolo County where he purchased 1,600 acres near Putah Creek. The land turned out to be ideal for agriculture, as well as dairy farming. Swingle transformed the barren land into a highly successful ranch with grain, almonds and cattle. When the railroads came along, the successful farmer allowed them to build a stop dubbed Swingle Station. The town was later renamed Davis to avoid confusion with Danville.

The descendant of Southerners, Swingle allied himself with the Democratic Party and in 1866 ran for a seat on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. He was elected to four consecutive terms where he focused on building the infrastructure of the county.

Swingle was single until the age of 45 when he married the former Mary Etta Hall in San Francisco. One might wonder why a Yolo County rancher in buried in Oakland. The answer is that the Swingle’s believed that their son George Kirk Swingle would get a better education in the Bay Area, so they bought a home in Alameda in 1890. Kirk Swingle attended junior high school and high school in Alameda before heading off to the University of California.

Shortly after returning to Yolo County, Swingle died after a long illness on November 1, 1895. Mary Swingle and her son Kirk ran the ranch after his death.

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