Don Edwin Swenson

Male 1904 - 1946  (42 years)


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  • Name Don Edwin Swenson 
    Born 16 Mar 1904  Tetonia, Teton, Idaho, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 5 Sep 1946  Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried 9 Sep 1946  Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I314  Petersen-de Lanskoy
    Last Modified 21 Jan 2014 

    Family Mary Lucile Burnhope,   b. 1 Apr 1904, Ogden, Weber, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Apr 2003, Salt Lake City, Utah, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 99 years) 
    Married 28 Jun 1929  Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 22 Oct 2015 
    Family ID F182  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • BIOGRAPHY:
      1. Lucile wrote a very detailed and descriptive biography Don Edwin Swenson of four pages in July 1988. I have a copy on file of which some details of genealogical interest I here relate. Don was born March 16, 1904 in Tetonia, Idaho. He was ninth of eleven children born to Peter and Mary Ann Mack Swenson. He grew up in Tetonia and spent time in Twin Falls for his grade school and high school. Don's parents were religious. His father was born May 8, 1859 in Sweden where he joined the LDS church Jan. 2, 1880. He emigrated to Utah in 1882 and married Mary Ann Mack on May 17, 1883. Mary Ann's parents were born in Denmark where they joined the LDS church and emigrated to Utah in 1862. Mary Ann was born in Smithfield, Utah, Aug. 15, 1868. She was 15 when she married Peter. By 1893 they had five children, one of whom died at birth. Peter went to Sweden on his first mission 24 Dec 1893. In 1913, Peter went on a second mission to Sweden where he continued to serve until Jan. 1916 in spite of World War I. The family had to manage as best they could and were not well off. Don's mother did washing that the children gathered around the neighborhood. Don was the ninth child. The tenth child died at birth. The family moved to Salt Lake City in July 1920. Don was baptized when age eight. He served a mission from the Salt Lake City 18th ward at age 19 to Holland from Oct. 20, 1923 through March 1926. Don was active in scouting and the LDS young men's organization. He was a Seventy at the time of his death. Don had many business interests including dry cleaning, sales of dry cleaning equipment, life insurance, and part owner of some Wyoming oil wells. He enjoyed art and singing. They were married 28 Jun 1929 in the Salt Lake Temple by David O. McKay. Don died Sep. 5, 1946.

      MARRIAGE:
      1. See biographical sketch cited above; On 28 Jun 1929 they were married in the Salt Lake Temple by David O. McKay.

      DEATH:
      1. Per obituary.

      2. Utah State Historical Society Burials Database online: Don Edward Swenson, b. 1903 at Tetonia, ID, d. 5 Sep 1946 at Salt Lake City, Utah, bur. 9 Sep 1946 at Salt Lake City Cemetery West-3-130-1-East. [Birthdate and middle name appear to be erroneous when compared to his wife's biography.]

      3. Per autobiography of Mary Lucile Burnhope; her husband, Don Edwin, died Sep. 5, 1946 in Salt Lake City and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery Sep. 9, 1946.

      4. Online newspaper clipping from the Salt Lake Tribune 5 Sep 1946 (article includes photos of Mr. Swenson, Mr. Startup, and of an reenactment of the shooting scene); Kirkman's name in photo shows as Kirkham):
      "S.L. Business Argument Ends in Fatal Shooting.
      Ralph startup, 39, 2237 Hollywood ave., Thursday was booked "hold for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon" at police headquarters as detectives investigated the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting Wednesday evening of Don E. Swenson, 42, 324 A. st.
      An asserted misunderstanding over a pending partnership between the victim and Mr. Startup led to the fatal shooting, which occurred at 6:17 p. m. at Ralph's Drive-in Valet service, 380 E. 4th south.
      Shot in the right groin by a 30-30 caliber rifle bullet, Mr. Swenson was taken to Latter-day Saints hospital by police ambulance immediately after the shooting, but he died from loss of blood at 12:55 a.m. Thursday.
      Victim Found on Floor
      When police officers, led by Sgt. W.T. Young, arrived at the shooting scene, four minutes after the fatal shot was fired, they found Mr. Swenson lying on the floor. Mr. Startup was near the body and was covered by his own rifle held by Kirby Kirkman, 23, 723 Hawthorne ave., who witnessed the shooting.
      Other witnesses were Mrs. Startup, an expectant mother; Richard J. Stromness, 34 C. st., and William J. McPhee, 31, 335 Shelmerdine ct.
      Sgt. Young, assisting Lt. M.D. McGinness in the preliminary investigation, said the shooting apparently was preceded by a violent triage by Mr. Startup over the business policies of the firm. Mr. Startup and Mr. Swenson had been discussing the possibility of forming a partnership, he said. Mr. Swenson, owner of the Don E. Swenson Laundry Machine co., had been in charge of the financial side of the business for the past two weeks.
      Covered With Rifle
      A discussion resulted Wednesday when Mr. Swenson, in company with Mr. Kirkman and Mr. Stromness, went to the firm to remove certain machinery. Mr. Startup covered the trio with a recently purchased Winchester 30-30 rifle and told them to get out of the place.
      "We stood back while Mr. Startup talked to Mr. Swenson." Mr. Kirkman said Thursday. "After we agreed to go, Mr. Startup said, 'All right, go out the front door.' "
      Claims Accident
      After the shooting, Mr. Startup told police "Don and I had agreed to our checking things out before he removed any equipment. I turned around and the gun accidentally went off."
      Following questioning of all witnesses early Thursday morning, Lt. McGinness said facts of the case would be presented to the county attorney Thursday afternoon.
      During questioning of Mr. Startup, Lt. McGinness reported Startup as saying: "I went to the shop to stop the movement of equipment at any cost."
      Brandishes Gun
      Startup then told investigators he had covered Mr. Swenson and his helpers with his gun, saying: "I've got a gun here that says you're not going to move anything out."
      Swenson replied: "Okeh, Ralph, if that's the way you feel…"
      Then, after brushed his wife aside and while hold the rifle in his hand against his right hip, the shot was fired, startup said.
      Although only one bullet struck Mr. Swenson, two empty cartridges were found in the room.
      This was explained by MR. Startup, who said he had fired one shell accidentally while loading the gun at his home prior to the shooting of Mr. Swenson.
      Mr. Swenson was born March 16, 1904, at Tetonia, Ida., a son f Peter and Mary Ann Mack Swenson.
      When the family moved to Salt Lake City Mr. Swenson attended Latter-day Saints Business college and then fulfilled a mission to Holland for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
      He married Lucille Burnhope June 28, 1929, in the Salt lake L D S Temple.
      At the time of the death Mr. Swenson was president of the 124th quorum of seventy in the North 18th L D S ward. He had been active in Mutual Improvement Assn. work and L D S Sunday school stake board work for several years. He served as president of the 18th L D S ward M I A for many years and had been an active worker in the Boy Scouts of America.
      He is survived by his widow, two sons, Don B., 15, and Claron, 5; two daughters, Carol, 12, and Bernice, 10; two brothers, Arthur Swenson, Twin Falls, Ida., and P.F. Swenson, Los Angeles, Cal., and three sisters, Mrs. Amanda Hansen, Rupert, Ida.; Mrs. Lorinda Phillips, Provo, and Mrs. Wanda Olson, Salt Lake City.
      Funeral services for Mr. Swenson will be conducted Monday in the North 18th LDS ward chapel, with Gordon C. Young, bishop, in charge."
      Another article in the same paper, date uncertain, but probably soon after the article above:
      "S.L. Hearing Scheduled For Murder Suspect.
      With rapidly blinking eyelids his only indication of nervousness, Ralph Startup, 39, 2237 Hollywood ave., appeared for his arraignment on a charge of first degreee murder Friday; and city Judge Clifford L. Ashton set his preliminary hearing for Monday at 10 a.m.
      Startup is charged with a fatal shooting of Don E. Swenson, 42, 324 A st., Wednesday in an argument over business affairs.
      Startup appeared in court neatly dressed and shaven. He did not look haggard.
      As he left the courtroom he embraced his wife, who was weeping.
      Mr. Swenson was shot in the right groin with a 30-30 rifle Wednesday at 6:17 p.m. in Ralph's Drive-In Valet Service, 380 E. 4th south, and died from loss of blood Thursday at 12:55 a.m.
      Witnesses to the shooting told police the two had argued over removeal of laundry equipment from the establishment.
      Startup reportedly told police he had covered Swenson and his helpers with the rifle and told them: "I've got a gun here that says you're not going to move anything out.'
      He said the gun accidently dis... [article cut off].
      [A photo accompanies article with the caption.]"
      Another article in the same paper, date uncertain, but probably about a year after the article above:
      "pardon Appeal Ends in clash.
      The appeal for freedom by Elwood Ralph Startup, 38, serving a 1 to 10 year voluntary man-slaughter term in the state prison, Thursday, brought a dramatic clash between 10 persons appearing to defend and protest his application for termination of sentence.
      During a public hearing before the state board of pardons at the prison, six relatives and friends of the prisoner pleaded for Startup while four opposed termination action.
      Startup, who has served 11 months and six days, was convicted in the murder of Don Swenson, Sept. 4, 1946, following an arugment over the removal of machinery belong to Mr. Swenson from a valet shop owned by Startup at 4th East and 4th South.
      Opposing the application was the widow of Mr. Swenson,who tearfully sobbed out her story of the last day she spent with her husband before the slaying.
      The young, red-haired widow appeared accompanied by her two children, Carol, 14, and Don Jr., 16, and left the hearing weeping after finishing her statement to the board.
      Dena A. Startup, mother of the prisoner; C.P. Overfield, H.B. Taylor Jr., Carl Wiess, Ralph G. Smith and A.F. Bell, appeared as character witness to plead for the release.
      Upon reconvening at 1:30 p.m., the board was to hear appeals for 40 other cases asking termination or commutation of sentences..."


      Another undated article subsequent to the one above:
      "Witness Says Starup looked mean.
      Preliminary Hearing Opens for S. L. Murder Suspect.
      Eyewitness testimony that Ralph Startup, 39, 2237 Hollywood ave., accused murderer of Don E. Swenson, 42, 324 A. st, "smelled of alcohol and appeared mean and vicious prior to the shooting" featured testimony Monday as Startup's preliminary hearing on a first-degree murder charge opened before City Judge Clifford J. Ashton.
      Key witness for the state was Richard J. Stromness, 84 C. st., who was present at Ralph's Drive-in Valet service, 380 E. 4th south during the moments preceding the fatal shooting.
      "When Ralph picked up the rifle I believed he would do what he threatened," Mr. Stromness testified.
      The witness told the court he had gone in the cleaning establishment late on the afternoon of Sept., 4, on instructions from Mrs. Swenson to remove a pressing machine. As he started to work on the machine, he said, Startup told him to stop and he then asked Mr. Swenosn what he should do.
      "Mr. Swenson came to the back of the shop and told me to continue," Mr. Stromness said. "He told me he had talked it all over with Ralph and that it was all settled."
      Reached for Rifle
      At that moment, the witness said, the accused man reached for a rifle lying on a near-by table and pointed it at Mr. Swenson, saying, "Swnson, I have this gun here, and I'm not afraid to blow your guts out. You're not going to move this equipment tonight."
      Mr. Swenson then said, according to the witness, "What's the matter, Ralph?" and Startup continued: "You've had control here for two weeks and I haven't had an aaccounting... you're not going to leave me high and dry."
      Mr. Swesnon then assured Startup he could give a complete accounting of everything, Mr. Stromness said, and when Mrs. Startup, an expectant mother, tried to intercede with her husband and take the rifle from him, he was told to stand back, that he had the situation well in hand.
      "Startup had the gun in his right hand, with his finger on the trigger, and was swinging the gun back and forth covering everybody in the rooom," Mr. Stromness added. "Since picking the rifle up a few minutes before he hadn't worked the lever action."
      Apparently convinced of Startup's intentions, Mr. Swenson turned to Mr. Stromness and Kirby Kirkman, 23, 723 Hawthorne ave., both of whom were working for him, and said, "Okeh, fellows, let's go," the witness stated.
      At that moment the gun went off and Mr. Swenson was knocked backward onto the floor, bleeding profusely from a groin wound, Mr. Stromness said.
      "I kneeled down beside him and Ralph came over and said, 'I'm sorry, Don, I didn't mean to shoot you,'" Mr. Stromness testifed.
      In reviewing the events preceding the shooting, the witness said that when the accused man ordered him to stop work he noticed alcohol on Startup's breath.
      "When he picked up the gun he appeared mean and vicious... I believed he would do what he said."
      Other Witnesses
      Other witnesses included Dr. John Howard Carlquist, 1332 Laird ave., pathologist at L D S hosital; Lawrence H. Birrell, 498-11th ave., certified public accountant; L.W. Myers, 1631-14th East, city engineer's office; Joseph Burbidge, assistant superintendent of the Salt Lake police department records bureau, and Dr. B. R. Robbins, 1176 E. South Temple.
      As the hearing opened Monday morning 17 witnesses for the state were sworn in. J. Reed Tuft and Wayne L. Black, deputy county attorneys, are conducting the state's case, Startup is defended by Edward M. Morrisev."
      Another undated article:


      BURIAL:
      1. Per Burial Index cited above.

      OBITUARY:
      1. Shot fatally per the following newspaper account: "S.L. Businessman Killed in Quarrel with Associate. Ralph Startup, proprietor of Ralph's Drive-In Valet Sevice, 380 East Fourth South St., was being held today in the city jail while police investigate the fatal shooting early last night of Don E. Swenson, 42, of 324 A. St. Mr. Swenson died at the L.D.S. hospital at 12:55 o'clock this morning from loss of blood. He was taken to the hospital by police at 6:17 last night and given emergency treatment for a gun wound in the right groin which had severed the main arteries and allowed hemorrhage. Gun Fired Acidentally. The shooting occurred between 6 and 6:15 p.m. in the back room of the Valet Service. Startup was taken into custody immediately. Lt. McGinness said that the facts of the shooting will be presented to the County Attorney this afternoon by Detectives J.J. Ferrin and J.S. Bardoe, investigators, and that a charge of first degree murder will be requested. Mr. Startup, questioned at the scene of the shooting, admitted to police that he had turned around during an argument with Swenson and that 'the gun accidentally went off. I shot him,' he told police, 'there is no question about that.' Police were at the scene of the shooting a few minutes after it occurred. They found Mr. Swenson on the floor. Mr. Startup was being held at bay with the gun he had used to shoot him by Kirby Kirkman, 27, of 752 Hawthorne Ave. Mrs. Startup, an expectant mother, Richard J. Stromness, 84 C St., and William J. McPhee, 31, 355 Shelmerdine Court, were standing by. Had Been Business Associates. In a statement to the police, released by Lt. M.D. McGinness in charge of the investigation, Startup said he and Swenson had been negotiating for the past two weeks for control of the business and that 'he (Swenson) said there were too many complications.' Startup said in his statement that he had brought a 30-30 lever action Winchester rifle which he had purchased some time ago to work with him last night. 'I was determined,' he said, 'not to let him (Swenson) take anyting from the establishement until it had been checked.' Gun Intended As Bluff. Startup said he took the gun to work with him 'as a bluff, with no intention of using it at all.' He explained he had come to the Valet shop accompanied by his wife and that while he was in the front office talking on the telephone she went to the rear of the building and saw Swenson taking some machinery out of the building. [Photo accompanies article with the following caption: Shooting victim - Don E. Swenson, 42, of 324 A St., died early today of gunshot wounds.]'" Deseret News, 5 Sep 1946.

      2. I only made a partial copy in error of the newspaper article; see citation to obtain a full accounting. The partial: "...324 A. st., and the holding for police investigation of Ralph Startup, 39, 1368 E. 3010 South, folowing a shooting at Ralph's Drive-In Valet Service, 380 E. 4th South. Mr Swenson was shot in the right groin, severing main arteries which casued a severe hemorrhage. He was rushed to LDS hospital by police ambulance immediately after the shooting, but died from loss of blood at 12:55 a.m. Thursday. Quick Police Action. Police officers headed by Sgt. W.T. Young were on the scene four minutes after the shot which struck Mr. Swenson was fired. They found Mr. Swenson lying on the floor and Mr. Startup being held at the point of his own rifle in the hands of Kirby Kirkman, 23, 723 Hawthorne ave. Also standing by were Mrs. Startup, an expectant mother; Richard J. Stromness, 84 C st., and Willam J. McPhee, 31, 335 Shelmerdine ct. While Lt. M.D. McGinness assumed direction of the investigation, Sgt. Youong reconstructed events leading to the tragedy. Mr. Startup, operator of Ralph's Valet Service, had agreed to accept repeated proffers of partnership from Mr. Swenson, owner of the Don E. Swenson Laundry Machine Co., and for the past three weeks Mr. Swenson had been in charge of the financial side of the business. Negotiations Dormant. Mr. Startup said Mr. Swenson had been unable to raise funds for the purchase of his share in the business and that negotiations had lain dormant for several days. Wednesday, Mr. Swenson, accompanied by Mr. Kirkman and Mr. Stromness, went to the shop to remove certain machinery. Mr. Startup told police he know of ...(see Page 4, Column 7)." Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Sep 1946.