Swanson, Charles A.

1854-1933 | Ship Captain and Mariner, Prince William Sound

Charles A. Swanson was the anglicized name for Charles Gustav Swanson, who was born on July 7, 1854, in Goteborg Sweden. As a teenager, he stowed away on a ship bound for Australia, and then managed to disembark in San Francisco. He was later referred to as “Captain Charles A. Swanson” in contemporary newspaper sources in Alaska.

Swanson eventually traveled to Alaska, where he settled in Nuchek, on Hinchinbrook Island. He was the captain of various craft plying the waters of Prince William Sound, and became known to nearly everyone in the region.

Swanson married Pauline Kvasnikoff [Paraskovia Petrova Kvasnikoff]  in 1889, and the couple had ten children. Pauline Kvasnikoff was born in 1871 in Kodiak. They lived in Kodiak, Nuchek, Mineral Creek, Sitka, and Valdez. In Valdez, he was the jailer at the U.S. Jail for eleven years. In July 1933, they moved from Valdez to Anchorage to join their family. Swanson was a member of the Valdez Igloo of the Pioneers of Alaska.

Charles A. Swanson died on December 28, 1933, at the age of seventy-eight at his home in Anchorage, after a sudden illness. He is buried in the Pioneer Tract of Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.[1]  In addition to his widow, Pauline Swanson, he was survived by a daughter, Anna Swanson Baker and sons Paul, Walter, Charles, and Henry, of Anchorage; two daughters, Zenia Swanson Arnetti and Mary Swanson Davidson, of Seattle, Washington; a son, George, of Fairbanks, Alaska; and a son, Emanuel, of Latouche, Alaska.[2]

John P. Bagoy, in Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 359-361, provided this summary of the Swanson family:

Emanuel Swanson (1889-1955) was born in 1889 and died in Valdez in 1955.

Anne Swanson (1891- ?) was born in Nutchek, Hinchinbrook Island, Alaska, in 1891.

Paul R. Swanson (1897-1956) was born on Nuchek on January 21, 1897, and died in Kodiak on May 6, 1956.[3] He moved to Anchorage before 1923. He and his first wife, Dorothy, were married for a short time and had no children. He then married Aileen Lowell, who was born in 1900 in Dawson City, Yukon. She already had a son named Jack Houston. Aileen and Paul Swanson had two daughters, Pauline (born in 1923), and Gloria (born in 1926). Aileen and Paul Swanson were divorced in 1931. Aileen died in 1973. In 1934, Paul married Martha Mahle, and they had one son, Paul Seivert Swanson, who was born in 1935 and died in Kodiak at the age of nine. Paul Swanson worked for Brown and Hawkins in Anchorage in its early years and then worked for the Empress Grocery from 1931 to 1939. He then moved to Kodiak and worked for the O. Kraft store until his death.

Zenia Alice Swanson (1900-abt 1999) was born in Nuchek in 1900.

George Swanson (1902-1967) was born in Valdez on January 29, 1902, and died in Fairbanks on February 14, 1967.[4]

Mary Swanson (1903-1959) was born in Nuchek in 1903 and died in 1959 in Fairbanks.

Andrei Swanson (1904-1907) was born in Mineral Creek in 1904, and died in 1907.

Charles Augustus Swanson (1907-1970) was born in Mineral Creek on December 16, 1907, and died in San Diego, California, on January 11, 1970.[5] He was a commercial fisherman and worked part-time for the Empress Grocery, in Anchorage. He was also an accomplished artist, and many of his paintings hang in homes in Anchorage.[6]  

Walter Bennett Swanson (1912-1985) was born in Mineral Creek in 1912 and died in Anchorage in 1985. He was a lifelong commercial fisherman on Cook Inlet, headquartered in Anchorage. He was an electrician by trade, and worked for the Civil Aeronautics Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration as well as for private contractors in Anchorage.[7]

Henry E. Swanson (1924-1991) was born in Valdez in 1914 and died in Escondido, California in 1991. He graduated from high school in Anchorage, worked for pharmacist Z.J. Loussac for many years and played with the Serenaders on KFQD Radio and at local dances. During World War II he joined the Navy as a pharmacist mate and remained in the service until he retired in 1969.[8]

All of the Swanson brothers were musicians. Henry played the saxophone and Walter played the trumpet and banjo with the KFQD Serenaders, one of Anchorage’s early five-part symphonic bands, which was sponsored by the radio station soon after its establishment in 1924. Paul was skilled on many instruments and became bandmaster for the community band. Charles played drums, but concentrated more on his painting than on music. The KFQD Serenaders disbanded in the late 1930s. Walter continued to perform with other groups, often at Moose Lodge and Elks Lodge functions.[9]


[1] “Noted Pioneer of Alaska is Called to Rest,” Anchorage Daily Times, December 29, 1933, 4.

[2] “Noted Pioneer of Alaska Laid to Eternal Rest,” Anchorage Daily Times, January 2, 1934, 5; and “Funeral Services Here Tomorrow,” Anchorage Daily Times, December 30, 1933, 1.

[3] See, Paul Robert Swanson, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1509, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Roll AK4, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 6, 2016); and Paul Robert Swanson, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 6, 2016).

[4] See, George Swanson, U.S. Social Security Administration, Social Security Death Index, Master File, and U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 6, 2016); and George Swanson, U.S, Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 6, 2016).

[5] See Charles A. Swanson, National Cemetery Administration, Nationwide Gravesite Locator [database on-line], http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov (accessed November 6, 2016); and Charles A. Swanson, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 6, 2016).

[6] See also, “Charles Swanson Dies in San Diego,” Anchorage Daily Times, January 28, 1970, 3.

[7] See also, “Swanson Trumpeted for KFQD Serenaders [Walter B. Swanson],” Anchorage Times, May 22, 1985, B-4.

[8] See also, Obituary, Henry E. Swanson, Anchorage Times, March 6, 1991, B-2.

[9] “Swanson Trumpeted for KFQD Serenaders [Walter B. Swanson],” Anchorage Times, May 22, 1985, B-4.


This biographical sketch of Charles A. Swanson [Charles Gustav Swanson] is based on an essay which originally appeared in John P. Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 359-361. See also the Charles A. Swanson file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 8, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note: edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, November 6, 2016.

Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, ed., “Swanson, Charles A.,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org.