Jonas Benjamin Swab, manufacturer of wagons, Elizabethville, Pennsylvania, was born in Washington Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 18 March 1843. He is a son of Daniel Swab and Sally [Heller] Swab.
Daniel Swab, father of Jonas Swab, was a native of Washington Township, Lykens Valley, and a farmer, born 1814. He died on the homestead farm, in Washington Township, in 1871. He was a staunch Democrat and a member of the Lutheran church, and was widely and favorably known. HIs wife still survives him and resides in Elizabethville. Their children are: Catherine Swab, widow of Samuel Snyder; Thomas Swab, merchant, Valley Falls, Kansas; Mary Swab, died aged thirteen; Jonas Swab; Isaac Swab, foundryman, at Elizabethville, Pennsylvania; Sarah Swab, wife of F. L. Koppenheffer, Mifflin Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania; John Swab, on the old farm, Washington, Township; David Swab, wagon maker, Marshalltown, iowa; Daniel Swab, died at the age of fourteen; and Aaron Swab, coach maker, Elizabethville, Pennsylvania.
Jonas Swab attended the common schools of his township until he was eighteen. For several years in succession before that time he assisted his father in clearing six or seven acres of new land. He was employed and trained as farmer boys usually are. At the age of eighteen he began to learn the tannery business at Uniontown [Pillow], Pennsylvania, but finding after a short time that the business did not suit him, he abandoned it. He took up carpentry and worked at that for a year, and then for two years found employment in the factory of Riegel & Emerich, manufacturers of implements, at Uniontown [Pillow], Dauphin County.
On 8 September 1864, Mr. Swab enlisted at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Company H, Two Hundred and Tenth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers [210th Pennsylvania Infantry], Captain Miller, and went at once to the front. The regiment went out one thousand strong. When mustered out at Arlington Heights, Virginia, 7 June 1865, there were only three hundred and sixty-five men on the roll. They had been at the front but five days when they took part in the Battle of Petersburg, and were placed in the second line of the breastworks. They assisted in tearing up the Weldon Railroad. Mr. Swab, with his regiment, took part in the Battles of Hatch’s Run, Virginia, 27 October 1864; Second Battle at Hatch’s Run, 5 February 1865; Dabney’s Mills, Virginia, 6 February 1865; Gravelly Run, Virginia, 3 March 1865; Five Forks, 1 April 1865; and in the surrender of Lee at Claver Hill, Virginia, 9 April 1865. At Gravelly Run, in a charge made by the regiment in an open field upon what was supposed to be a rebel picket line, but which proved to be the full force of the enemy, many of the regiments were shot down and many made prisoners. Mr. Swab barely escaped capture.
Coming home at the close of the war, Mr. Swab was employed for five months in the implement factory at Uniontown [Pillow]. In the spring of 1867, he took a trip westward as far as Omaha, Nebraska, working for a time at several points. In the following December he returned home, and in the spring of 1868 built the works and began the manufacture of wagons and implements on his own account. After a time he found it advantageous to drop the implement branch and continue his attention to the manufacture of wagons. With money saved from his previous earnings he built and equipped a large plant, which he conducted with growing success. He is widely known as a reliable and enterprising manufacturer, and the products of his factory are sold throughout the entire State.
He manufactures extensively farm and spring wagons which are classed second to none made in the State. His factory is equipped with all the most modern machinery, and he manufactures every portion of wood work and nearly every portion of iron work used in the construction of his wagons. He employs a large number of hands and his factory has not been closed down three days in the twenty-eight years of business, which speaks well for his excellent management.
Jonas Swab was married, at Elizabethville, 4 December 1869, to Miss Ellen S. Mattis. Their children are: Bertha L. Swab, born in 1876, died when four years old; Etta M. Swab, born 5 June 1878, attended Millersville State Normal School one year, and is now at Irving College, in Mechanicburg, Pennsylvania; Ralph M. Swab, born in 1883m died when three years old.
Mr. Swab is a Democrat, but is liberal in his views. He is a member of Heilner Post, No. 232, G.A.R., at Lykens, Pennsylvania. The family are connected with the Lutheran Church.
The above information was modified/edited from Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, published in 1896 by J. M. Runk and Company of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. A free download is available from the Internet Archive.