The Swaney Family on the Old Mission Peninsula, mid-1950s
The Swaney Family on the Old Mission Peninsula, mid-1950s | Swaney Photo

I’ve had a nice email exchange with Patty Swaney this week, whose husband Bill Swaney recently passed away.

Bill’s father, James Charles Swaney, went to school at the Old Mission schoolhouse (north of the Old Mission General Store), and was part of the Swaney family that lived in the house on Swaney Road near Center Road, where Debbie Bee has lived for many years (she has the barn and a couple of horses, Stormy and Skipper, there).

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The Swaneys owned the house and farm there, along with Swaney Lake (the lake on Swaney Road), as well as a cottage near Haserot Beach.

James married Irene Kulhavy in 1942. They lived in Ann Arbor and had six kids: James Jr., Steven, William, Brian, Barbara and Mary.

James’ siblings were Laurence, Charlotte, Jean and Beth.

Patty said that James would drive Irene and their six kids up to the OMP cottage for the summer, but would then go back to Ann Arbor where he worked (a common occurrence, I believe, for families who lived downstate most of the year).

Also, I believe the Swaneys may have taken in Ted Ayers when he was a child, after his family passed away from the flu during the outbreak that took place around 1918-1920. I could be wrong on that, though – let me know in the comments below.

Below is a picture of the Swaney family that Patty sent along. She said the photo was probably taken in 1954 or 1955, as her husband, Bill, looks to be about five or six in the photo.

In the photo, the folks include:

Back row: Charlotte Swaney and Mike Richter, Betty Swaney in the light blue dress, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Grandma Swaney, Irene and James Swaney.

Five of the six Swaney children are in the photo:

Front row: William (Bill) Swaney, second from left in plaid overalls; James (Jim) Swaney in red shirt, last boy on the right.

Second row: Steve Swaney, first boy on the left, in plaid overalls; Barbara Swaney (oldest child) is holding the youngest child, Brian.

Jim and Irene had another daughter, Mary, a year or two later.

The Swaney Family on the Old Mission Peninsula, mid-1950s
The Swaney Family on the Old Mission Peninsula, mid-1950s | Swaney Photo

Patty also noted that besides Bill, siblings Barbara, Jim and Mary have all passed away.

Did you know the Swaneys? Share stories or memories in the comments section below.

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  1. Thank you for a very well put together little story about the Swaaney’s.
    I also shed a tear with the Rocko Fouch story. Bill and I were able to vacation in Florida before his death and we were disappointed that there were no Orange Orchards or even stands with Oranges anymore. The farmers family’s couldn’t continue to farm and they instead sold off their land to developers. Sad state of affairs!

  2. Wow! Very interesting. I was good friends with Brian. We went to school together and were very good freinds for many years. There are a lot of us freinds from that era who wonder what ever happened to Brian and where he is today? With social media no one seems to be able to make contact with him. Contact me with any information.
    My name is Karl Karr @


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