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Leota (Whetzel) Swift


Sanford and Leota

Leota (Whetzel) Swift was born on May 11, 1900 in Dawson, Fayette County, PA, the daughter of Delmar and Mariah J. (Minerd) Whetzel.

When she was 14 years of age, on March 1, 1915, Leota married 18-year-old Sanford K. Swift Sr. (1897-1974), the son of Robert Jerry and Delilah (Ferguson) Swift, and a native of Pennsville, Fayette County, PA.

They went on to produce a dozen children -- Wilbur A. Swift, Evelyn Reagan, Virginia Burke, Sanford K. Swift Jr., Thelma Ware, Charles "Chuck" Swift, James Swift, Betty Herod Huss O'Brien, Kenneth Leon Swift, Robert Swift, Leonard Swift and Donald Eugene Swift. 

Sadly, afflicted with bronchial pneumonia and influenza, son Donald died at the age of seven months, 20 days on Feb. 23, 1928. The baby's tender remains were placed into rest in the Hewitts Church Cemetery in Rices Landing, Greene County.

In about 1927, the Swifts moved from Palmer to the Carmichaels area of Greene County, PA. Said the Waynesburg Republican, Sanford was a "mine foreman [and] employed by the Buckeye Coal Company. He was a member of the First Methodist Church of Carmichaels and an active member of the Nemacolin Citizens Club."

The federal census of 1930 shows the family dwelling on Roosevelt Avenue in Nemacolin, Greene County, with Sanford employed as a foreman in a coal mine. Leota's widowed mother came to live with them, and passed away in their home on April 11, 1933. 

They remained in Nemacolin for many years, and in the 1950s their address was 439 Sheridan Avenue. Leota was a member of the Nemacolin Presbyterian Church.


The Armsltrong store in Carmichaels, a local landmark

Sanford had a pet name for his wife -- "The Dutchman." The story behind the nickname is not known, but couild have been due to her Pennsylvania-German heritage.

Sadly, Leota passed away in Nemacolin on Jan. 12, 1954. She was only age 54. The exact cause of death is not known. She was laid to rest in Hewitt's Cemetery in Rices Landing, Greene County. An obituary was printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier, naming both of her parents.

Two years later, on May 19, 1956, Sanford married Goldie (Martin) Ruth (1894-1972), the widow of John L. Ruth. She had six adult children of her own -- Ralph Ruth, William Ruth, Dorothy Booze, Lottie Gwynn, Margaret Jacobs and Sarah Ruth. A native of Carmichaels, Goldie was a member of the Lady Penn Rebekah Lodge in Carmichaels and the Carmichaels Methodist Church.

Goldie passed away at home on Oct. 17, 1972, at the age of 77. Burial was in Greene County Memorial Park, and an obituary was printed in the Waynesburg Republican.

Sanford died at age 76 at home on June 11, 1974, "after a lengthy illness," said the Republican. He was buried with Leota in Hewitt's Cemetery. At the time of Sanford's death, he was survived by 31 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Circa 1974, their adult children resided as follows: Wilbur in Carmichaels, PA; Charles in Robertsonville, NC; Kenneth in Ravenna, OH; Robert in Marion, OH; Leonard in Columbus, OH; James in Port Clinton, OH; Evelyn and husband James Reagan in Rices Landing, PA; Virginia and husband Robert Burke in Chester, OH; Thelma Ware in McKeesport, PA; and Betty Huss in Port Clinton, OH.


~ Son Wilbur A. Swift ~ 

Son Wilbur A. Swift (1916-1999) was born on Feb. 22, 1916.

On July 29, 1939, when he was age 23, he married 19-year-old Alice Clark (1920-2006), daughter of John and Phoebe (Burns) Clark of Stringtown. News of their engagement was printed in the Uniontown Morning Herald.

They resided in Carmichaels and were members of the Carmichaels Christian Church. 

They produced three children -- Gary A. Swift, Barry L. Swift and Kathy S. Swift.

Wilbur passed away on Jan. 16, 1999.

Alice spent her final time on earth in Beverly Health Care in Monroeville, near Pittsburgh. She died there at the age of 86 on July 3, 2006. Said the Washington Observer Reporter, she was survived by 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


Climbers on Carmichaels' famed "Sand Rocks"



~ Daughter Evelyn (Swift) Reagan

Daughter Evelyn Swift (1918- ? ) was born in about 1918. 

At the age of 19, she married 27-year-old James A. Reagan (1910-1991) on July 31, 1937. He was the son of John S. and Dorothy (Campbell) Reagan and a native of Broad Ford near Connellsville.

The Reagans resided in Crucible and later in Rices Landing, Greene County. Their two daughters were Gloria Jean Dudley and Shirley Ann Sweitzer.

There, James worked as a coal miner and "also was employed in the maintenance department of Greene County Memorial Hospital," said a newspaper. He was a member of the United Mine Workers, Dilworth Local 1980. 

James died on May 23, 1991 at the age of 81. At death he was survived by seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Daughter Gloria Jean Reagan wed (?) Dudley and in 1991 made her home in Cleveland, OH.

Daughter Shirley Ann Reagan was united in matrimony with (?) Sweitzer. In 1991, she lived in Mentor, OH.


~ Daughter Virginia (Swift) Burke

Daughter Virginia Swift (1921- ? ) was born in about 1921. 

She married Robert Burke ( ? - ? ). 

In 1974, her home was in Chester, OH.


~ Son Sanford K. Swift Jr. ~

Son Sanford K. Swift Jr. (1923-1967) was born in 1923 in Briar Hill, Fayette County. As a young man, he learned the trade of machinist, and found work in Port Clinton, Ottawa County, OH.

During World War II, Sanford joined the U.S. Armed Forces and, in 1944, was stationed at the Erie Proving Grounds in LaCarne, OH. 

At age 21, on April 2, 1944, he was united in marriage with his first wife, 31-year-old divorcee Emma M. (Smith) Scott (1913- ? ). She was a native of Cleveland and the daughter of Walter and Minnie (Kreiger) Smith. At the time of marriage, she earned a living as a laborer. The ceremony was officiated by Rev. Theodore J. Pretzlaff. Emma had been married once before, to Charles Scott, and she brought one known son to the marriage, Melvin T. Scott. Sanford later adopted young Melvin as his own son, and the boy took the "Swift" surname.

After his first marriage ended, Sanford was wed a second time. 

On July 6, 1951, in Ottawa County, the 29-year-old Sanford married 19-year-old Marian R. Nichols, daughter of Harry and Eleanor (Blair) Nichols. 

They lived in Port Clinton and had five children -- Sanford K. Swift III, Donald Swift, Deborah Wallace, Jacki Halliday and Susan K. Thistlethwaite. 

Sadly, Sanford died on Nov. 25, 1967, at the age of 44. The family apparently returned to Carmichaels after Sanford's death, as one or more of their children graduated from Carmichaels Area High School.

Son Melvin T. Scott Swift (1934- ? ) was born in about 1934 in Port Clinton, the son of Charles and Emma (Smith) Scott. At the age of 19, following the end of the Korean War, he lived in Fremont, OH and served in the U.S. Army. On June 16, 1954, he married 19-year-old waitress Kay L. Rutan, daughter of John and Gladys A. (Guettler) Rutan. Rev. J.W. Walter of Fremont officiated. They produced one known son, William Thomas Swift. Sadly, the marriage ended with a divorce in the County of Sandusky, OH, a decision handed down on Oct. 28, 1955. Melvin married again, to 19-year-old Beatrice Pasch, on Jan. 25, 1956. She was the daughter of Norbert and Pauline (Hadden) Pasch. The nuptials were led by Rev. E.E. Zimmerman of Fremont.

  • Grandson William Thomas Swift (1953- ? ) was born in about 1953 in or around Fremont, OH. He was age two when his father remarried.

Son Sanford K. Swift III (1961-1992) was born on Feb. 13, 1961 in Port Clinton. He returned to Nemacolin where he grew to adulthood. He was a Waynesburg College graduate with a bachelor's degree in business, and an employee of Marriott Corporation. Tragically, he died at age 31 in 1992 in Arlington, VA.

Son Donald Swift resided in Dunkirk, NY.

Daughter Deborah Swift married (?) Wallace. In 1992, her home was in Rices Landing.

Daughter Jacki Swift married James Halliday and lived in Twinsburg, OH.

Daughter Susan K. Swift wed (?) Thistlethwaite. Her residence in 1992 was in Mather, Greene County.


~ Daughter Thelma (Swift) Ware

Daughter Thelma Swift (1924- ? ) was born in about 1924. 

She married (?) Ware. In 1974, her home was in McKeesport, PA.


~ Son Charles H. "Chuck" Swift ~ 

Son Charles H. "Chuck" Swift (1925-2003) was born in about 1925. 

He married Helen Decker ( ? - ? ) and had three children: Judy McKenna, Sandra Taylor and Charles H. Swift Jr.

Chuck is believed to have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II or the Korean War, and was a member of the American Legion. He was a longtime employee of National Casket Company. The Swifts lived in Nashville, TN in 1954. By 1974, their home was in Robertsonville, NC and then by the early 2000s had returned to the Nashville suburb of Antioch, TN.

Chuck was swept away by the Grim Reaper at the age of 77 on Aug. 24, 2003. He was survived by five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Burial was in Woodlawn Memorial Park in or near Nashville An obituary was printed in The City Paper in Nashville.


~ Son James E. Swift ~ 

Son James E. Swift (1929- ? ) was born in about 1929.

In 1974, his home was in Port Clinton, OH.


~ Daughter Betty (Swift) Herod Huss O'Brien ~

Daughter Betty J. Swift (1931-2013) was born in 1935 in Nemacolin, Greene County. As a teenager she relocated to Port Clinton, Ottawa County, OH, as had several of her elder brothers and sisters. 

At the age of 19, on Aug. 8, 1950, she was married to 21-year-old Melvin L. Herod, son of Cecil and Ida (May) Herod. A native of Greensboro, PA, Melvin worked as a material handler at the time of marriage.

She married (?) Huss. In 1974, her home was in Port Clinton, Ottawa County, OH. In all, Betty had four daughters -- Linda Peterson, Gail King, Cindy Anderson and Tina Nichols.

Later, she wed George T. O'Brien ( ? - ? ) and relocated to Scottsdale, AZ. George brought two adult children to the marriage -- Kathy Benya and Jim O'Brien.

There, she died at the age of 82 on Dec. 15, 2013. The News Herald noted in an obituary that "In Betty's memory, spend a few nickels at your favorite casino." A memorial service was held at Green Acres Mortuary in Scottsdale.


~ Kenneth Leon Swift ~ 

Son Kenneth Leon Swift (1933- ? ) was born in about 1933. 

As a young boy, in August 1937, he was burned when playing with friends in Nemacolin and lighting several matches "which ignited his clothes," reported the Uniontown Morning Herald. He was rushed to the hospital where he was treated.

He served in the U.S. Air Force in 1953-1954.

In 1974, his home was in Ravenna, OH. In 2004, he and his brother Robert and their wives attended the national Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion.


~ Son Robert E. Swift ~ 

Son Robert E. Swift (1937- ? ) was born in about 1937.

In 1974, his home was in Marion, OH and in 2004 in Strasburn, OH. 


~ Son Leonard W. Swift ~ 

Son Leonard Swift (1939- ? ) was born in about 1939.

In 1974, his home was in Columbus, OH.


Copyright 2003, 2015, 2019 Mark A. Miner