Bronson H. Swanson
Child circus star, founder of Swanson Chicken Coop, millionaire
b. July 9, 1863, Corydon, Indiana
d. July 9, 1933, Porter, Indiana
The life of Bronson Swanson began and ended with a bang, and filled the in between with a glut of glorious masculinity. His innate gift for metallurgy and affinity for spitting lead led him to great successes in the business world and beyond.
Legally Bronson Hercules Swanson, he was born to a Lieutenant in the Indiana militia, Hercules J. Swanson, and his wife Kathleen Swanson (nee Norris) during the Battle of Corydon. His mother was searing amputated limbs for the company surgeon when she went into labor. Unable to rest during the battle, his mother instructed the doctor to perform an emergency proto- C-section, which she promptly seared shut. Baby Swanson was swaddled in used bandages, and spent the first hours of his life suckling severed legs. The testosterone within the limbs caused a genetic mutation in his lips, and baby Swanson grew a thick mustache within a day. The family was captured during the battle’s wane, and all three Swanson kin were imprisoned by the Confederates.
The next three years of young Bronson’s life were spent in a small cage, somewhat akin to a chicken coop, near the prison camp’s gallows. There the young Swanson studied the intricacies of his baby cage, all the while watching still-twitching prisoners (including his parents) be summarily shot. While most would think this was not-conducive to a sane and rational adult, young Swanson would prove to be a remarkable exception.
Bronson Swanson escaped captivity sometime after his third birthday during transit near the Georgia border. Apparently he slipped his cage, commandeered a pistol and killed two captors, before fleeing into the woods. Myths of the Mustached Toddler spread. Young Bronson lived off berries and small animals until the war’s end, upon when he was discovered while pillaging a deserted armory by a hopeful carpetbagger and circus owner from New York, Sullivan Beckley. The man quickly identified the child’s great shooting and prominent mustache for a four year old, connected the boy to the myths, and promoted him in his circus as “Deadeye Swanson”.
The boy operated as such until his 18th birthday, when a thankful Beckley gifted Swanson $1,000. With this money he founded his own company, Swanson Child Cages (SCC), outside Terre Haute, Indiana.
The prototypes and products of SCC were absolute works of ingenuity, featuring inescapable confines in his cage designs. However not all of America identified with Swanson’s ideas of caging babies. Initial sales struggled. Swanson quickly realized his mistake however and adapted his product to confine a more logical target… chickens. By 1885 Swanson’s SCC (now Swanson Chicken Coop) was worth an estimated 500,000 dollars, by 1915 he was a millionaire.
Swanson spent the remaining years of his life hunting in his native Indiana with a passion, all the while indulging in copious amounts of fried chicken (gifts of his gracious clientele). He single-handedly hunted to extinction three species: the Indiana Cougar, the Ohio River Valley Musk Ox, and the Tippecanoe Brown Bear. He also won Best Mustache at the State Fair a record 26 times between 1907 and 1933. His life sadly came to an end the year of that final victory, when he was shot and killed while teaching his 6 month old grandson to fire a shotgun.
Swanson’s descendents maintain their love of firearms and poultry to this day.