October 29, 2022

William Frederick Schwind, 1865-1940 [RG2524.AM]


RG2524.AM: William Frederick Schwind, 1865-1940

Papers: 1894-1949, n.d.
Lincoln, Lancaster County, Neb. and Francitas, Texas: Lawyer; secretary to William Jennings Bryan; land developer
Size: 0.5 cu.ft.; 1 box


William F. Schwind, a native of Missouri, was born in 1865. His wife, Laura, also a Missouri-native, was a school friend of Mary (Baird) Bryan. According to family history, the Schwinds accompanied the Bryans to Nebraska in the late 1880s and both families settled in Lincoln. Upon their arrival in Lincoln, W.F. Schwind undertook the study of law in Bryan’s law office. When Bryan entered Congress in 1891, Schwind was appointed as his secretary. Schwind also assisted in Bryan’s campaign for the presidency in 1896.

During the Spanish-American War, Schwind served under Col. W.J. Bryan in the 3rd Nebraska Regiment. Commissioned as captain, Schwind served as quartermaster to the regiment. He resigned his commission on the same day that Bryan quit military service.

During the next several years, Schwind concentrated on his law practice in Lincoln. Around 1913, however, he became heavily involved in colonization efforts in Texas. With John G. Maher, he organized the Valley Fruit Farm and Garden Company (Francitas, Texas). They had hoped to resettle some 2700 Nebraskans on 60,000 acres of land at Francitas, Texas, but unfortunately, Schwind and Maher were never able to accomplish this goal.

Bryan, meanwhile, ascended to the position of Secretary of State in 1913. After three different men served as his private secretary during a two year period, Bryan appointed his old friend Schwind to that position on May 7, 1915. At the time of his appointment, Schwind had been serving as the president of the lst State Bank of Francitas.

Schwind’s tenure as Bryan’s private secretary did not last long. He was appointed as secretary on a temporary basis until the permanent appointee could accept the position a few months later. Afterwards, Schwind returned to Texas to look after his business interests. However, he and his wife, Laura, remained among the closest friends of the Bryans. The affection continued among their children as well as Helen Schwind and Grace Bryan were lifelong friends and correspondents. Perhaps the degree of the Bryans’ special esteem for the Schwinds was expressed best when Bryan wrote to W.F. Schwind in a July 3, 1925 letter, “It is not often that we find a family where Mrs. Bryan thinks as much of the wife as I do of the husband.”

Laura Schwind died in Francitas, Texas in 1939. William F. Schwind died there in 1940.


This collection consists of one box of papers relating to the William Frederick Schwind and William Jennings Bryan families. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence between the families dating from 1894 to 1949. The material relates primarily to the friendship shared between members of the Bryan and Schwind families. Reflected through the correspondence of Bryan and Schwind, their wives, Mary and Laura, and their daughters, Grace and Helen, the material in this collection provides much information on the personal lives of these individuals.

A large number of letters were written by Mary and Grace Bryan to their counterparts in the Schwind family, Laura and Helen. Grace’s letters describe her experiences at school, the Hollins (Virginia) Institute from 1906-1908, and her flirtations with several young men during her years away from the direct supervision of her parents. Mary’s letters (in which she sometimes refers to herself as “Chattie” or “Chattier”) to Laura (or “Lottie”) discuss Bryan family news. Also included are typescripts of three “bulletins” written by Mary Bryan from Dayton, Tennessee, 1925, in which she details events at the Scopes “Monkey” trail. These have been published in Paolo E. Coletta’s book, William Jennings Bryant: Political Puritan, 1915-1925.

William Jennings Bryan’s correspondence spans the years 1894-1925 and deals with political as well as personal issues. Of particular interest is a letter dated April 3, 1894 in which Bryan attempts to convince Schwind to renounce his allegiance to the Republican Party. A letter from Charles W. Bryan, 1939, is also included.

In addition to the correspondence, the collection includes newspaper clippings of W.J. Bryan’s “Weekly Bible Talks,” 1922-1925; newspaper articles about W.F. Schwind’s Texas colonization efforts; a speech and supplementary note from Bryan, published documentation on Bryan’s resignation as Secretary of State; programs and cards, and items about Ruth Bryan Owen.

Photographs and postcards have been transferred to the Photograph Department and books have been transferred to the Library.

For information about additional William Jennings Bryan materials, including photographs and audio recordings, please contact our Library Staff.


Box 1

  1. Correspondence, 1894-1907
  2. Correspondence, 1908, 1911-1922
  3. Correspondence, 1923-1928
  4. Correspondence, 1929-1949, n.d.
  5. Miscellany, including:
    Speech and note from W.J. Bryan
    Document regarding Bryan’s resignation as Secretary of State
    Programs and cards
    Ruth Bryan Owen items
    Texas settlement ephemera
  6. Newspaper clippings


Subject headings

Bryan, Charles Wayland, 1867-1945
Bryan, Grace see Hargreaves, Grace
Bryan, Mary Elizabeth (Baird), 1861-1930
Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925
Colonization — Texas
Democratic Party — Nebraska
Hargreaves, Grace (Bryan), 1891-1945
Lawyers — Nebraska
Owen, Ruth (Bryan), 1885-1954
Politics — Nebraska
Scopes trial


AIP/law 08-1989
kfk 08-07-2003
TMM 03-11-2010; 01-20-2022

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