Carl Frederick Swanson was born April 3, 1896 in Spring Creek Township, Elk County, Pennsylvania. He was the third of seven children born to Amandus and Carrie Erickson Swanson. In 1905 the family lived in Portland Mills, Elk County, Pennsylvania where Amandus worked in the tannery.
In April 1905 Amandus fell from the roof of the tannery, suffered a broken back and died shortly thereafter. As a measure of the hardships placed upon the family, the local grocer kindly provided groceries to the family free of charge for one year.
The family moved to Jamestown, New York in 1913. Carl was 17 years old and with the prospect of better employment, he went to work at one of the local furniture factories in Jamestown (possibly Tillotson’s as his brother Victor worked there). It is not known if Carl volunteered for service in the Army or was conscripted. What is known that he had walked with a stoop as a young man but when he came home on leave he walked as ‘straight as a ramrod’ according to his sister Ellen C. She was so proud to receive five Indian Head pennies he gave her that were dated 1905.
A last letter was received from Carl just prior to his death. In closing he told his mother that he would have to sign off because “My candle is going out". When word of his death was received, his mother played the hymn ‘God Will Take Care of You’ on the piano, a hymn she had never played before. When Carl’s body was returned home for burial, two of his brothers went to identify his remains. The only means of recognition was by a crooked left index finger.
Sometime after the war Sergeant Alvin York went to Jamestown and met with Carl Swanson’s mother at the Hotel Jamestown.