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Gustave Swan served briefly on the Supreme Court of Ohio and perhaps is better known for organizing Ohio’s banking system and serving as the first president of the State Bank of Ohio.

Swan was born in Sharon, N.H. on July 15, 1787 to John and Sarah Swan. He was educated in local schools and attended several private academies in the region, trading his bookkeeping skills for board and tuition. He worked as the general assistant in a local bank, while reading law at night. In 1810, he, along with two friends, set out for Ohio. He settled for a short while in Marietta and worked in a law office for the required year before being admitted to the Ohio bar in 1811. He then moved to Franklinton, near Columbus, with the hope it would soon become the capital. In 1814, he moved his law office to Columbus. He also served in the Fourth Brigade, Second Division of the Ohio militia during the War of 1812.

Swan was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1812 and 1817, for one-year terms. In between these terms, he conducted an active law practice, settling titles to land claims in the Virginia Military District. In 1813, he served as the clerk of the Franklin County commissioners. He served as Franklin County prosecuting attorney from 1821 to 1823.

On Oct. 1, 1823, Jeremiah Morrow appointed Swan as president judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the Sixth Circuit to fill the vacancy created by the death of John McDowell. He then was appointed for a full seven-year term on Feb. 26, 1824. Swan was president judge when the seat of Franklin County moved from Franklinton to Columbus.

Swan resigned from the Sixth Circuit Court of Common Pleas to assume position on Supreme Court on July 9, 1829. He was appointed by Gov. Allen Trimble on July 8, 1829, to serve on the Supreme Court until the next session of the legislature, filling the vacancy created by the death of Charles Sherman. He resumed his private practice upon the end of this term. He continued in private practice, hoping to be joined by his son, George, but George tragically died in a boat fire in 1840. Swan gradually withdrew from practice, retiring from the bar in 1844, after the death of his youngest son.

Swan was appointed by Gov. Wilson Shannon as a Canal Fund Commissioner on May 21, 1840, serving until the adjournment of the legislature. On April 19, 1842 Swan was reappointed to the Canal Fund to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of J.S. Lake.

From 1823 to 1842, Swan served as the president of the Franklin Bank of Columbus. His knowledge of the Columbus business community helped tremendously. On Feb. 24, 1845, Swan was appointed by the General Assembly to the Board of Control of the Bank of Ohio. After organizing the banking system, he was appointed the first president of the State Bank of Ohio, a position he held until 1859.

Swan married Amelia Aldrich in 1819 in Hillsboro, N.H. and they had four children. Swan died Feb. 6, 1860 in Columbus and is buried next to his wife. Swan did not claim membership in any particular church, but occasionally attended Presbyterian services.

William Howard Taft

b. July 15, 1787

d. Feb. 6, 1860

20th Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio

See All Justices

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