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 4:30pm

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


July Brown Bag Lunch and Conversation

The Thursday July 14 Brown Bag Lunch will be a discussion with Jannet L. Walsh the author of Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota. Her Irish-American family is deeply rooted in the City of Murdock and in Dublin Township’s history and is prominent in our county’s archives.  Her book, published by Shanti Arts Publishing, is  the remarkable journey of one Irish Catholic family from poverty, hunger and religious discrimination to well-respected, God-fearing citizens and toilers of the soil in a new land and community. The research is remarkable, and the stories of the journey, both in the United States and in Ireland, come vividly to life through extraordinary writing and historical and cultural understanding. The Conversation begins at 12:00noon. All are welcome!


Bridal Review—Post-World War II

The Third Annual Wedding Dress Review at the Swift County Historical Museum is now open daily during regular Museum hours, Tuesday-Friday 9:00am-4:30pm, until Friday July 1. The theme this year is Post-World War II Weddings with dresses and other wedding attire, including groom’s wear and bridesmaids dresses, from the 1940s to 1980.

Please join us. All are welcome!

June 7, 2022—July 1, 2022 

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.

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 will be more information about the Anniversary Fund and how it will be used at the Museum in the May/June 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 – 4:30pm

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 and Anne Schirmer


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

Ms. Phyllis Stewart, Museum Assistant

Ms. Deb Mennis, Bookkeeper