Swift, Arthur (1812–1855)

By: Aragorn Storm Miller and Laurie E. Jasinski

Type: Biography

Published: October 16, 2014

Font size: A / A reset

Arthur Swift, businessman, Texas Ranger, state legislator, and a founder of Seguin, was born in Virginia (possibly in Hanover County) in 1812. As a young man, Swift apparently lived in Tennessee before immigrating to Texas shortly after the Texas Revolution. In the summer of 1838 he served in a company of Texas Rangers under the command of Mathew Caldwell, who were charged with patrolling the area near Gonzales, Texas. In August 1838 Swift was one of several rangers who purchased land to settle along the Guadalupe River in Gonzales County, and he quickly established himself as one of the region’s leading citizens.

With Mathew Caldwell and James Campbell, Swift was a co-owner of the Humphrey Branch League. Much of that land became part of Seguin (so named in 1839). He helped establish the town of Seguin, operated a general store and a ferry there, and bought and developed extensive tracts of land throughout the region. Swift also helped establish First Baptist Church in Seguin, and in 1841 he was elected tax collector, clerk, and constable for the town of Gonzales. He possibly saw additional ranger service under James Hughes Callahan in 1841 and with Mathew Caldwell at the battle of Salado Creek in 1842. Swift served as county surveyor for Gonzales County from 1840 to 1844. On July 2, 1845, he married Margaret Mackey Baker in Gonzales. This couple had four daughters.

Swift, a Democrat, served in the House of the First Texas Legislature from February 16, 1846 to December 13, 1847. During his term he introduced a bill to create Guadalupe County, and he was representative for Gonzales, DeWitt, and Lavaca counties. By the early 1850s, he was worth about a quarter million dollars in real estate and personal property and had his permanent residence in Seguin in Guadalupe County. Following the death of his wife in 1853, Swift married Philadelphia Borden, daughter of Gail Borden, on February 7, 1855, in Guadalupe County. A few weeks later, he died of a fever. James McCulloch Baker was appointed administrator of his estate by the Guadalupe County court in April 1855. Swift was buried in a small cemetery (later known as Vaughan Cemetery) east of present-day Texas Lutheran College in Seguin.

“Arthur Swift,” Find A Grave Memorial (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=59088670), accessed October 15, 2014. Roberta C. Hendrix, “Some Gail Borden Letters,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 51 (October 1947). Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Arthur Swift (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=5484&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=swift~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee= ), accessed October 15, 2014. George R. Nielsen, “Mathew Caldwell,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 64 (April 1961). “SWIFT,” Dewitt Colony Biographies, Gonzales Town Residents, Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas (http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/innerresidents3.htm#swift), accessed October 15, 2014.


  • First Legislature (1846)
  • House

Time Periods:

  • Republic of Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Aragorn Storm Miller and Laurie E. Jasinski, “Swift, Arthur,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 18, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/swift-arthur.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 16, 2014