Swift County Historical Society and Museum

Preserving and Sharing the

History of Swift County

and Its People…

Yesterday and Today

Welcome to the Swift County Historical Society and Museum Website

Welcome to the Swift County Historical Society and Museum website. We sincerely hope that the information contained herein will be of help to you. We especially want to thank you for your unwavering in-person and financial support. Without your visits to the Museum, generous financial gifts and membership fees, as well as your requests for assistance during genealogical or historical research projects, we would not be able to continue to serve you and the Swift County community. We are here to assist you in person and digitally through this website, email, phone and social media. We also publish the Historical Society newsletter, the ECHO, six times per year. If you wish to receive a digital copy of the ECHO, please email us at: swiftmuseum@embarqmail.com.

Regular Museum Hours are Tuesday-Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm

We are also open by appointment anytime. Simply call us at (320) 843-4467 for an appointment. Please leave your name and phone number if we do not answer and someone will return your call as soon as possible.

We are closed on Christmas Eve Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve Day, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Good Friday, Memorial Day, July 4, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. The Museum closes at 3:00pm on the afternoon prior to a holiday

Our historical and genealogical research library is available by appointment. We have added the popular internet site Ancestry.com to our genealogical library. Should you wish to use the Society’s Ancestry site, you may do so in person at the museum. However, you will need to schedule a date and time prior to arrival. Please call for further information.

Welcome to the Swift County Historical Society and Museum!

Current and Upcoming Exhibits and Programs at the Society and Museum


Fall Brown Bag Lunches and Other Events

October 13— Elitta Gouge, Tribal Leader—The Upper Sioux Nation (Pezihutazizi Oyate) and Sioux Women Today

November 10—Ron Laycock and Gary Mills—History of American Coinage

Brown Bag Lunch Conversations begin at 12:00noon. All are welcome!

Various Pre-1933 American Gold Coins

Two Special Presentations and Exhibits for Members Only

November 10—7:00pm— History of American Coinage. This presentation will include many numismatic examples of Early American coins as well as Type Sets and other examples from the earliest European settlements of America to the American Revolution and to the present day.

November 12—10:00am— History of American Coinage. This is the same program and exhibit as above but especially geared toward families with young people.

Both coin programs have limited space and you must pre-register by calling the Historical Society. These two programs are for Society Members only.


Woodland Period Arrowheads

Special Exhibit

Pre-1870 Native Americans in Western Minnesota

September 6-November 4

Prior to the settlement of Swift County in 1870 by North Americans and European immigrants, the territory that is now Swift County was home to the  Sioux (Dakota and Lakota) Nation.  The Upper Sioux Reservation was originally established for the Whapeton and Sisseton bands of Upper Dakota. Under the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851 with the United States, it encompassed an area about 20 miles wide and 70 miles long  along the Minnesota River, including land that is today part of southwest Swift County. Following the Dakota War of 1862, the federal government punished the Dakota by drastically reducing the sizes of two reservations along the Minnesota in an attempt to force the Dakota out of the area. Many Native Americans did move west and settled on reservation in South Dakota. There remain a handful of descendants in Yellow Medicine County.

Looking to the Future

Running of the Model Trains through the Christmas Villages: Saturday December 3, 10 and 17 from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Annual Historical Society Open House: Saturday December 10 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Details coming soon.



St Paul and Pacific Railroad Arrival

Benson, Minnesota, June 1870


Every family, like every farm, village, town and city, has a story. If yours has a connection to Swift County but you are lacking that final piece of information or would like to know more about the farm your grandfather grew up on, we may be able to help. The Swift County Historical Society is dedicated to discovering and collecting any materials that may help to establish or illustrate the history of Swift County. The Society has the largest collection of Swift County-related genealogical records, in addition to many individual family photo files, church and school records, newspapers from Appleton, Benson and Kerkhoven, Naturalization Records, US and Minnesota records and Swift County maps and Plat books, of any institution in the County. We also have access to most of the US and World files found on Ancestry. So whether you are looking for genealogical or historical information, and whether you would like us to do the research or you would like to do it yourself, call us for further information.


In preparation for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Swift County Historical Society (still a few years off but we would like to have everything ready prior to the celebration), renovations on the southside exterior of the Museum have been made. In addition to a new sidewalk, new windows and a new door there is also new siding, a wider overhang for better access, and a lower stone offset.  If you would like to contribute to the Anniversary fund, please make the notation “Anniversary Fund” on your check. There is more information about the Anniversary Fund and updates on current and upcoming Museum changes in the current issue of the ECHO.

Museum New Back (2)


July 4, 1901




We are always looking for good quality, archival photos and postcards of the business areas, railroad depots and cities of Swift County. If you have any that you would be willing to permanently donate to the Museum we would be most grateful. We are especially lacking in imagery of Fairfield and Swift Falls.


Our Facebook page is regularly updated. While the update is always ongoing, we are now available to assist you in any way possible. And of course we are always looking for comments to help us improve the website and Facebook page. Thank you.

If you would like more information on the Historical Society and Museum, or would like to become a member or volunteer, please email us at: swiftmuseum@embarqmail.com or call us at: (320) 843-4467. Thank you!

Open Hours and Location Information:

Sat-Mon: Closed

Tues-Fri: 9:00am – 4:00pm

Open other times by special appointment


2135 Minnesota Avenue

Benson, MN 56215

(320) 843-4467



Swift County Historical Society Board of Directors

BR, LR: Ron Laycock, Ed Pederson, Jan Iversen, Orvin Gronseth, Gerald Swenson and Dale Erickson

FR, LR: Diane Loen, Jan Pagel, Donna Ascheman and LoAnn Hagen

Not pictured: Toni Lindstrom, Anne Schirmer and Warren Hanson


The Rev. Gary E. Mills, Th. D., Director


Ms. Phyllis Stewart, Museum Assistant



Ms. Deb Mennis, Bookkeeper