The City of Swanville

Home of the Mid-Summer Carnival




John Baptist Blais and family came to Swanville in 1866 from the District of Quebec, Canada. They came by way of Little Falls and were detained several days at Lee's Ferry, 3 miles below Little Falls. Many families were waiting to be ferried across the river. While at the Ferry, they met the William Bain family who were also en route to the Swanville community. It was a wild, heavy timbered country between Little Falls and Swanville with few settlers. He believed there were only two families, one by the name Fornier and the other the Dan Campbell family. Shortly after the Blais family moved to this locality, a couple of families by the name of Albert and William Rhoda moved to Swanville from Chaska. In the year of 1880, the railroad was started and in fall the rails were laid. By spring the settlers had their first train service this side of Little Falls.  Also in 1880, a man named Williams buillt a supply store and a few other buildings. Five of the Blais brothers were employed by Williams.



Building the supply store was the start of the town, but it had no name. It was just a store in the middle of the wild woods. Williams owning the store, was anxious to find a name for the town and asked for suggestion from his employees. He held a dance for all the near by settlers at his store. He told everyone to bring a name in a sealed envelope and at midnight the majority would name the town. The Blais family thought of the name Swanville taken from the Township of Swan River, Swan River, and Swan Lake. Mr. Blais believed they were named after the white swans which were quite plentiful at that time. When the drawing was counted, there were five votes for Swanville and the town was named.



In 1869, the family of Maxime Pepin moved to Swanville from Michigan. A school house was built on Mr. Pepin's land which he donated on the corner above the former Glazier farm and it was the first public school. Miss Burgess of Sauk Center and Isabel Cox were the first teachers. Among the first pupils in this school were Krouseys, Pepins, Blais, Rhodas, Ehrenbergs, Longs, Stiths, Sullivans, Connollys, McRaes, Muskes and Pedlows.


Alex McRae built the second store in town on the later site of the Conoco Station.  Alex McRae was elected president of the Village Council and was the first Mayor in 1893. Alex McRae moved from Pillsbury to Swanville. Pillsbury was only a thickly wooded district with only a few settlers. The parents of Alex and John McRae lived between Pillsbury and Swanville. One day Grandma McRae was out in the dense forest and became lost. She was deaf and it was feared she would never be found. Large numbers of settlers came on horseback and scoured the woods throughout the day and night.  They shot rounds of shells to notify others where they were in the woods.  Toward night, she noticed the sparks from the shots and found her way out of the woods.


On February 25th of 1893 a petition to incorporate Swanville as a village was signed by 32 residents and sent to the county commissioner of Morrison County. Fifteen copies of the petition with Notice of election were posted in conspicuous places in the village on March 25. The election was moved to the railroad depot and a vote was taken there on May 6th with 25 votes cast.  The results were 25 votes yes and zero votes no. Swanville was officially incorporated as a village with the recording of the above documents on May 24th, 1893 at 3 pm.  In Book A-9 of incorporations in Morrison County Courthouse. The first Swanville village council meeting was held June 16th and 17th of 1893. Alexander McRae was the first Mayor. Bennett Cox, Recorder. W.J. Sullivan, Treasurer. Trustees were A. G. Hedtke, W. H. Lynch, and J. D. Stith.

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