Museum the New Llano Colony

Chester "Chet" Swenson

Birth: He was born in 1908 in Minnesota.  

Family Information: Son of Carl and Emily Swenson.

Brother of Clyde, James, Earl, Roy, Florence and Eugene Swenson.

He married Helen Hayes in November 1932. In fact, their wedding was "fixed up at the last minute... DeForest Sanford was the only one who had any chance to kiss the new bride -- it was reported that Chester was so badly rattled that he couldn't." They left immediately afterward for Gila in a big truck with the rest of the party, beds and bedding and a few other little things to furnish the first necessary man-power.

Description: On his WWII draft card dated 1940, he was described as being 5'4" tall, of light complexion with blue eyes and blonde hair.  

Pre-Colony History: In 1920 he was living in Minnesota with his parents and siblings. At some point before his youngest brother was born in 1923, the family moved to Newllano.  

Home in Colony: In 1932 the couple was living and working at the Gila, New Mexico location.

In 1935, he and Helen moved into the little cottage vacated by Birdie and Chauncy DuProz.  

Job in Colony: In 1930 he was listed as a machinist in the colony.

In November 1932, Chester and Helen were among the "Newllano Expeditionary Force" which was the first group going to man the Gila unit. He later he went to Premont, Texas to work with Ole Synoground there.

In 1934, he returned to the colony and was placed in charge of the garage.  

Other Info: He and Ludwig Mahler took one snuff can of Comrade Slaughter's tobacco seed and planted it in 3/4 yard of Gila River sand and a few wheel-barrow loads of barnyard manure at Gila, New Mexico.  

Post-Colony History: In 1940 he and Helen were living in New Mexico with their young daughter, while Chester worked as an automobile mechanic at an auto repair shop.  

Death: He died in 1993 at Roseburg, Oregon.  

Sources: Photo Archives; "Llano Colonist": November 19, 1932, December 10, 1932, May 20, 1933, March 31, 1934, December 14, 1935; US Census: 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940; US Draft Card: WWII; Oregon Death Index


At Gila, New Mexico - (Standing L to R) Harold Kemp (holding Carolyn Bradshaw), Bonnie (Mason) Kemp, Clyde and Hope (Shoemaker) Swenson, Chester and Helen (Hayes) Swenson and (Kneeling in front) Myrtle (Kemp) Bradshaw.

Group of young colonists on a trip to the beach -- five are marked - girl leaning forward on left Madeleine Van Buskirk, young man in front Paul Bradshaw, behind and to the right of him is Chester Swenson, Beulah Gaddis is in front and to the right of Chester, Victor Gaddis is on the right in front.

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