The Forgotten Artistry of Charles Swanson
All around Sargent are memories of the past that have been forgotten or overlooked. The other day I was reminded of this when someone asked me where the library’s bird bath came from and how old it was. For anyone who has ever noticed, this is a beautiful lawn ornament, and it turns out there is quite a bit of history behind it.
The bird bath was purchased for the library in 1931 by the Justamere Club. Charles Swanson was the person who created and designed the stone structure. The history behind Mr. Swanson is what makes this story so interesting.
Charles Swanson was a Swedish immigrant who homesteaded some land in the Cummings Park area (12 miles NW from Sargent). In his later years, he and his wife Maggie moved to Sargent. The couple loved to travel, and everywhere they went, Mr. Swanson would bring back rock specimens – lots of rocks. It made sense then, that he would become an artist in cement. He started building cement/rock structures for his home in Sargent. He designed the front steps, fireplace, and numerous lawn ornaments, and he was able to tell visitors exactly where each rock came from. In addition to his home, he built cement structures all around Sargent and Loup County. According to the Sargent Leader (12/20/34), “it would take volumes to describe all the things he made with his rock specimens set in cement.”
Here is the challenge. How many structures made by Charles Swanson still exist? His artistry was placed in Sargent, Loup County, and the surrounding countryside. You may have passed by one of his works every day and just didn’t know where it came from. Take a picture and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, text it to 402-316-2201, or post it to the library’s Facebook page.