Joseph R. Swartz was born in Perry Township, Ashland County, Ohio, in 1843. His father, Jacob Swartz, was one of Ashland county’s old pioneers, having removed, when a young man, from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Joseph R. remained on the farm until he was fourteen years old, when he left home and engaged as a clerk in the dry goods store of C.C. Coulter, of Rowsburgh. Here he remained eighteen months, then accepted a position in the same business with M.A. McHose, just across the street from Coulter’s place of business, remaining there, with the exception of a few months, until he enlisted in the Forty-second Ohio volunteer infantry in September, 1861.
He served his country for a period of three years and two months as a private soldier, engaging in more than a dozen hard fought battles, coming out of the war at the expiration of his term of enlistment, after all the hardships and privations to which a soldier is exposed, without a scar, but with the satisfaction of knowing he had served his country faithfully, and that the old flag waves over a free people.
On May 14, 1868, he married Miss Samantha Ciphers, of Vermillion Township. They had two children, one son and one daughter. In 1864 Mr. Swartz engaged in the dry goods business with J. Kinninger, at Hayesville, as clerk, and in 1867 he was surprised to find Mr. Kinninger had recognized his ability to such an extent, that without solicitation on Mr. Swartz’s part, the firm was changed to Kinninger & Swartz. In 1869, in company with T.C. Harvey, he purchased the stock, and the firm was changed to Swartz and Harvey. This partnership continued till 1872, when Mr. Swartz left Hayesville and engaged in business at Toledo, Ohio. In 1879 he returned to Hayesville, and again engaged in business with Mr. Harvey, where he is at this writing, the firm being Harvey and Swartz.