Given the history of any representative county or community, the careful observer can not fail to find manifold instances of men who have made judicious use of their every opportunity, beginning life with a good head and a strong pair of hands as their chief assets, and who have in middle age attained to that place in life where they are independent beings in the largest meaning of the phrase, all as a result of their own well directed, honest and whole-hearted endeavors. John Sweitzer is the specific illustration of the truth of the above statement. His life in Cobden has been a model of industry, and his attainments worthy of emulation. As an orchardist and general farmer he ranks high among the producers of his locality, and has done much to establish this particular section of Union county in popular esteem as a fruit producing community.
John Sweitzer was born July 17, 1844, in Baden, Germany. He was the son of John and Theresa (Witz) Sweitzer. When he was but four years of age his father died, and the mother had the full care of her little brood of five children, of which John Sweitzer was the youngest. The others were named Barbara, Mamie, Sebastian and Frank. John Sweitzer was educated in Germany. His schooling was limited, owing to the circumstances, and when he was twenty years of age he and his brother Frank emigrated to America. They came direct to Cincinnati and located there, where they lived for some little time. Frank Sweitzer had paid a previous visit to America, being here at the breaking out of the Civil war, and he enlisted and served during the war. Following that he lived for a time in Cobden, Illinois, and then returned to Germany, being accompanied by his brother John on his return trip, as mentioned above. Leaving Cincinnati, they came direct to Cobden, where Frank Sweitzer had established a home and family. For some time John Sweitzer worked at Anna, Illinois, in the lime-kilns. Then he entered the employ of James Bell, an extensive fruit grower of Cobden, and, the work appealing to him, he remained in that berth for sixteen and a half years.
In 1882, at the close of his period of service with James Bell, he was able to purchase with his savings ninety acres of fertile land in Cobden vicinity. His long and faithful labors with Mr. Bell had thoroughly trained him in the mysteries of fruit growing, and when he entered business on his own responsibility he was relieved of the necessity of undergoing the experimental stage, and from the inception of the business his affairs prospered. He has added to his original holdings until now he is the owner of one hundred and seventy-eight acres of valuable fruit land, has a handsome residence and good, commodious farm buildings. In 1911 he shipped from a twelve acre apple orchard seven hundred bushels of apples. From his six acres of peaches the crop was light, netting only about two hundred bushels. He also shipped about the same quantity of pears. From a seven acre field of sweet potatoes he shipped one thousand bushels. His six acre field of asparagus yielded eighteen hundred boxes, and he sold about five hundred bushels of
rhubarb. In addition to his fruit growing Mr. Sweitzer has delved into general farming, and is a producer of considerable hay and wheat. He has on his place seventeen head of cattle, eight horses and thirty-five fine hogs, and is also the owner of two business blocks in Cobden, one the post office building and a store building.
Mr. Sweitzer has been twice married. In 1870 he married Miss Mamie E. Caising, who passed away in 1874, leaving him three sons; Edward, Harry and Fred. His second marriage occurred in 1879, when he was united with Annie Bigler, a daughter of Joseph Bigler, a native of Switzerland. She has borne him eight sturdy children, all of whom are graduates of the Cobden high school. They are named as follows: Joseph, Annie, John, Mary, Josie, Charles, Frances and Emma. Mr. Sweitzer is the grandfather of eighteen children.