Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Francis C. Swain of Monterey is a clever, enterprising inventor and successful organizer of industry, who is likely to reap a fortune quite as much through his untiring application to the solution of an interesting and important problem, as to his genius. He has lately come into new prominence as the manufacturer of a product certain to be very popular with builders, known as abolonite. Mr. Swain was born at Baritz, France, July 24, 1866, the son of J. C. and Mary Swain, his father having descended from fine old English stock. After attending the schools of France he came to the United States at the age of eighteen and soon made his way west to San Francisco, where he attended the Jesuit institute, from which he was duly graduated.

After finishing his studies Mr. Swain learned photography and established business under what seemed to be very promising circumstances in the Bay city but when he had secured a liberal patronage everything was destroyed through the great earthquake and fire of 1906. That same year, he removed to Monterey, where he opened a photograph gallery, which he conducted until 1917. He then entered an altogether different field, engaging in the fish business on the wharf, opening a first-class market, which he still conducts, to the satisfaction alike of citizens and tourists who know that in Monterey they can secure certain delicacies of this kind not to be obtained in other parts of the world.

During all this time, when Mr. Swain has been handling and vending fish, among them the abalone, he has been revolving in his mind some method of making the variegated and richly-colored abalone shell of some particular commercial value, and he has at last discovered the way of best reducing the shell to flakes, retaining all the richness of color, so that this abolonite, as it is called, is now used extensively in the building of stucco homes. He has patented his method, and has built the first unit of his plant for producing the abolonite in quantity. He also contemplates reviving a once popular and artistic industry, the manufacture of abalone jewelry.

Mr. Swain married Miss Emma Detter, of Los Angeles, and a native of this state. Mr. Swain is a professional piano player and she shares his love of music. In national politics he is a republican, finding in the platforms of that party the elements which he believes will best work for good government.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.