FRANCIS A. SWANNER, a progressive hotel man, farmer and merchant of Parker, Johnson county, was born in Logan county, Kentucky, September 7, 1854, but almost all of his life has been spent in Illinois, where since attaining his majority he has been prominent in business ventures, agriculture and public-spirited movements. His father, Richard Swanner, was born in North Carolina, February 9, 1814, a son of John Swanner, a native and farmer of Virginia, who died on his own farm in Tennessee at a ripe old age. He had nine children, five sons and four daughters, of whom Richard, who married Miss Tabitha Hunt, of Tennessee, was one of the eldest.
Richard Swanner and his wife moved from Tennessee to Kentucky about 1850, and from the latter state to Southern Illinois about ten years later, making the last journey in wagons drawn by oxen, in true pioneer style. They settled near Eldorado, Saline county, renting a farm there for two years, after which they purchased eighty acres of wild land from the Illinois Central Railroad Company, near Carbondale, upon which they built a rude log cabin in the woods, where they resided for three years. When they first came to Illinois they had eight children, five of whom were sons, and one daughter was born to them after they settled in this state, making a family of nine children. In 1867 they sold their farm near Carbondale and returned to Eldorado, and there purchased a tract of two hundred acres, which was sold in 1872. At this time they moved to a farm in Saline county, near Stonefort, but in 1875 disposed of this land and moved to Johnson county, one and one-half miles from Parker City, where they purchased one hundred and sixty acres, and lived here during the remainder of their lives, the father passing away in 1886 and the mother in 1890.
Francis A. Swanner had but few advantages in the educational line in his youth, but during later years much study and close observation has made him a well-informed man. He remained at home until twenty-four years of age, marrying Miss Malinda Choat on September 26, 1878, she being the daughter of Silas and Emily (Vaughn) Choat, of Tunnel Hill. Mr. and Mrs. Swanner followed farming in Johnson county until 1890, at which time they moved to Parker City, and here Mr. Swanner has since carried on a successful general merchandise business, and associated himself with various movements of public interest. In 1892 he was appointed postmaster, and served in that office for ten years, displaying great executive ability. He is a great friend to education, and although he has no children of his own has been prominent in movements that have tended to advance the development of the school system in his community. He is the owner of an excellent farm of one hundred and fifty-six acres in New Burnside, which he keeps well stocked, and it is supposed that the mineral on this land contains coal and a quartz that is thought to contain gold. In addition to this he has a farm of eighty acres in Tunnel Hill, which is in grass, Parker, situated between the Illinois Central and New York Central Railroads, being an excellent shipping point. Mr. Swanner has also interested himself somewhat in selling railroad ties, and all large ventures of a legitimate nature have received his consideration.
As a citizen and public official Mr. Swanner has discharged his duties in the same faithful manner that he displays in his private business. His trade is a large one, not only in Parker but in the surrounding territory for a radius of some miles, and his store is also a market for the produce of the farmers, who appreciate his liberal methods as to price and a "square deal."