Constance Ball Swanson has been known for her artistry, strong opinions and bright purple and green attire throughout her life. His legacy was celebrated during the Fur Trade Days historical cemetery tour at Greenwood Cemetery in Chadron.
Visitors will hear a variety of stories about those moving and shaking in the Chadron community on tour. Janice German imitated Ball Swanson, saying the opportunity was daunting.
“Here are some of Mrs. Swanson’s family, so I’m a little scared, but it’s really fun when people can go home and hear about their family and know that people remember them because they contributed to the community. . “
Constance was born on May 21, 1895, in Indiana. From an early age, his interest in art and his creative ability were obvious. His passion for art will be an integral part of his heritage.
“I got two scholarships to the art institute in Indianapolis,” German said as Ball Swanson. “I studied there and also went to the art institute in Chicago.”
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Some of his works have been displayed in art museums throughout Chicago.
At the age of 22, Constance achieved one of her greatest achievements when her design for a Christmas card was chosen to send to soldiers overseas.
“The idea behind them is that they can write letters, notes and Christmas greetings to their family and friends and send them home,” he said. “I felt really honored that my card was selected to be used for that.”
That opportunity arose because of Constance’s active role in Artists Aid with the American Red Cross.
“In doing so, I encountered a lot of soldiers at the train depot in Chicago,” he said.
His participation led him to be introduced to several soldiers, which led to many interactions.
“That didn’t surprise me because when I was young I read my fortune to a gypsy fortune teller and they predicted that I would get married three times, which I didn’t, but I made a commitment a few times.”
Constance met her first husband, Chester Ball, in Indianapolis. He served during World War I as first lieutenant in the dental corps. The couple married in 1919 before moving back to the town of Chester in Chadron. They lived at 203 Lake St. and adopted two children, George and MaryAnn.
A year later, Constance remarried Harry Swanson, who served two terms as Nebraska secretary of state from 1933-1941.
“When he put up his name for the nomination, he really didn’t like the job,” he said. “The only reason he wanted to run was to get to know other politicians because he wanted to help Harry Jr. get assigned to West Point or Annapolis.”
Through his connections, Harry Jr. was appointed to Annapolis and reached the rank of lieutenant commander.
The length of Harry’s political life in office was surprising for the family since he was a Democrat in a large Republican state in the 1930s.
“It’s kind of surprising that he was elected not once, but twice to state office,” he said. “Even the third time he ran, he only lost 8 votes.
“He often tells me and other people that he’s seen a lot of fighting because he’s a Democrat working with a group of Republicans.”
While in Chadron, Constance was active in her church and in the Sons of the American Revolution, but always devoted time for her art.
“Although I use a lot of mediums in my artwork, my favorite thing to do is draw with pen and ink,” he says.
Constance sold her artwork in gift shops and exhibited pieces in Nebraska in the 1960s. He will also show pieces at Harry’s Oregon state home. He is best known in the Chadron area for his drawing of the grand council cottonwood tree. The drawing has been on display in the Fort Robinson museum for many years.
At the end of his life and time at Chadron, he worked with 11 other people to form a sketch club.
“That was one of my favorite projects in the City of Chadron,” he said.
He then moved to Lincoln in 1975 with his son George, until his death in 1977.
Constance died on August 1, 1977, at the age of 82. She was buried in Chadron’s Greenwood Cemetery along with other family members, including her husband Chester and her son George.