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, Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). 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


Spring 2023 Brown Bag Lunches

May 11 Brown Bag ConversationPhilatelics with Mr. Jerry Swenson. Postage stamp collecting began around 1840 shortly after Britain issued the first postage stamp, the Penny Black which pictured a young Queen Victoria. By 1860 thousands of collectors and stamp dealers were appearing around the world as this new study and hobby spread across Europe, European colonies, the United States and other parts of the world. The rapid growth of this hobby soon produced an entire industry related to philately with the production of stamp albums, stamp related literature and retail shops selling new and used postage stamps for collectors, especially stamps from foreign countries.

All Brown Bag Programs begin at 12:00pm and All Are Welcome!


Swift County Historical Society Annual Memorial Day Event

Thursday May 25 at 7:00pm the Historical Society will hold its annual Memorial Day Program. The speaker this year will be Mr. Ken Hanson, former commander of VFW Post 1403, who served our country during the Vietnam War, especially important this year as we continue our year-long remembrance of all those who served during this period of conflict. We will also remember all the men and women who have served our country throughout its history and look forward to meeting those who will be present with us. “Friends” quartet will provide musical entertainment, and refreshments will be served. All are welcome to join us as we honor our servicemen and women.

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Special Short-term Exhibits

The Quilts of Swift County

June 6 thru July 28

The Annual June Wedding Dress Revue will be on hiatus this year as we present a short-term exhibit, Quilts of Swift County, in its place. Over the past three years we have been able to display about 95% of the wedding dresses and related attire from our collection, but in order to keep the Revue fresh and welcoming, the Dress Revue Committee decided that we would have a different exhibit this year.

The Swift County Historical Society has a small but very interesting and diverse collection of quilts, both handmade and machine sewn, and we hope that you will join us for this artistic and educational exhibit —June 6 thru July 28. 

ca. 1940 Wedding Band pattern quilt, fully hand stitched

Military Uniforms and Artifacts at the Museum

The redesign of the Museum’s exhibit space will include an enclosed area and special glass case for military uniforms and artifacts. This will allow us to exhibit more pieces from the Museum’s collection while also protecting the uniforms from dust and other elements. Other military artifacts will also be better displayed and available for educational purposes.

To accomplish this goal, we are seeking to raise $20,000, in addition to the $50,000 Anniversary Fund, so that materials for the glass and wood frame case can be purchased. Members of VFW Post 1403 will be assisting in the construction of the exhibit case as well as the purchase of some materials. We hope that other County organizations, individuals and groups will also want to be involved in this project. If you wish to make a financial contribution to the purchase of materials, please mark the memo on your check Anniversary Fund Military Exhibit. Thank you!

Reimaging Committee Update

The Reimagining Committee has been working diligently on updating and redesigning exhibit and meeting space at the Museum. Part of the redesign will include a new exhibit, “Main Street Swift County ca. 1890,” where all of the towns of the County will be represented, as well as the Swift County Fair, Country Schools and County Churches. There will also be a larger meeting space, able to accommodate our growing programming.

Another focus of the redesign will be our farm and rural exhibits, central to our life and history as Swift County residents. Like other exhibits, we hope to make the farm/rural exhibit area more accessible and educational as well as a central part of the Museum.

It is our hope that the changes and updates taking place over the next year will help all better understand the history of Swift County, be more interactive and be more welcoming to all Museum visitors.

Committee members are: Dale Erickson, LoAnn Hagen, Grant Herfindahl, Sue Hopp, Joel James, Toni Lindstrom, Gary Mills and Lyn Swenson. Please feel free to speak with any committee member, and Historical Society Board Member or the Society Director for more information. And stop in periodically to see the progress being made.




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.


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 (retired) and LoAnn Hagen

Not pictured: Toni Lindstrom, Anne Schirmer and Warren Hanson


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


Ms. Phyllis Stewart, Museum Assistant


Ms. Deb Mennis, Bookkeeper