Hon William Swan Garvin




Hon William Swan Garvin




Read another biography of William Swan Garvin

HON. WILLIAM SWAN GARVIN, the veteran editor of the Western Press for so many years, was born in Mercer, Penn., June 25, 1806, his parents being John and Agnes Garvin, who had removed from Cumberland County to Mercer, and occupied a tract of land along Garvinís Run, immediately north of Mercer, their house standing near what is now known as Griffithís Spring. John Garvin, the paternal grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was of Scotch-Irish descent, migrating from the north of Ireland to this country prior to the Revolutionary War, and taking the oath of allegiance to Pennsylvania October 14, 1777, in Cumberland County. Williamís scholastic advantages were limited to a few monthsí attendance in the village school at Mercer, and yet his life-long work was a school. Though he knew not a noun from an adjective, he wrote the most vigorous and accurate English. At the Age of fourteen he entered the Western Press office, then owned by Jacob Herrington, as an apprentice, and served faithfully nearly six years. Following this, he went to New York, and thence to New Orleans as a printer. Returning to New York he accepted the foremanship of the New York Albion, where he remained until his return to Mercer in 1830 to take charge of the Western Press, which he had meanwhile purchased from John Hogs and others. While in New York City Mr. Garvin was married to Miss Annie Hoyt Lockwood. From this union the following children were born: Annie Hoyt, afterward Mrs. James Hazelton; Agnes Swan, subsequently Mrs. Judge John Trunkey, wife of the late associate justice of the State of Pennsylvania, whose biographical sketch will be found elsewhere; Sarah Lockwood, afterward Mrs. Nesbitt, John G., Edwin Laughlin Garvin, now living near Oberlin, Ohio; Julia Olmstead, William Swan and David Wilmot. Of this number the only ones living are Mrs. Judge John Trunkey, Edwin L. and David Wilmot, of Florida. Mr. Garvinís power was shown in his career as editor of the Western Press, which he owned and managed, with brief interruptions, for more than half a century. For the particulars as to the changes through which it passed, the reader is referred to the chapter on "The Press." As a political writer he was vigorous, fearless and incisive, ever maintaining to the utmost of his ability the principles of the Democratic party, with which he was identified throughout his long life. His power was felt as a journalistic leader of his party, not only in the politics of the county but of the State. A strict adherent of the principles of Jeffersonianism, he did not hesitate to proclaim his faith everywhere and under most trying circumstances. He never retreated from his foe, but fought the battle vig≠orously until it was properly ended. He was a student of the constitution, and practically accepted and defended the political doctrine of Stateís rights as constitutional. In 1845 he was the Democratic candidate for Congress, his opponent being the Hon. John J. Pearson. Though the district was largely Whig, it was carried by Mr. Garvin by a small majority. He represented his district with ability and credit both to himself and his constituents. He was twice postmaster of Mercer, first in 1837 during the administration of Van Buren, and next during the administration of Andrew Johnson, 1865-69. He was also flour inspector of Pittsburgh under Gov. Packer. Mr. Garvin was the close and intimate friend of Gen. Simon Cameron, Hon. Benjamin H. Brewster and Judge Wilmot. Though separated politically in later years from Cameron and Brewster by reason of their affiliation with the Republican party, no interruption of personal friendship ever ensued. He was conspicuous in Pennsylvania as an opponent of James Buchananís nomination for the Presidency, and more than once was instrumental in preventing it by withholding a portion of the State delegation from Buchananís support. Personally Mr. Garvin was a kind man, though at times he appeared to some gruff and unsociable. Afflicted for years with disease that impaired his health and soured his disposition, he was most kindly and lovingly appreciated by those who best knew his natural kindness of heart and temper. As an infant he was taken into the membership of the United Presbyterian Church, or its antecedent, the Associate Reformed, but at the time of his death he was identified with the Protestant Episcopal Church. His death occurred on the 20th of February, 1883, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. His remains rest quietly in the Mercer cemetery. 

History of Mercer County, 1888, pages 665-666




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