Otto J. Swensson
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

OTTO J. SWENSSON—As president of one of the leading manufacturing industries of Troy, New York, Otto J. Swensson holds a prominent position in the business life of Rensselaer county. A man of wide interests along many and varied lines of advance, Mr. Swensson is perhaps one of the best-known of the local industrial executives. He is a native of the State of Pennsylvania, and a son of Emil and Catherine (Jordan) Swensson. The father came to the United States when a young man from Sweden, in 1879, and settled near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; he died May 13, 1919. The mother's people lived in Pennsylvania for two generations.

Otto J. Swensson was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, in April, 1885. His early education was acquired in the common schools of the city of Pittsburgh. He then entered Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, then choosing his present line of endeavor as his life work,he came to Troy to enter the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, from which he was graduated in the class of 1909, with the degree of Civil Engineer. Thereafter going to New York City, he acted as engineer on the Catskill Aqueduct for about two years, after which he became assistant to the chief engineer of the highway department of Manhattan borough, in which connection he was engaged for three years. His next affiliation was as assistant county engineer of Bergen county. New Jersey, then he spent one year as city engineer of Summit, New Jersey, then returned to Pittsburgh, where he was employed when the United States entered the World War. During the years 1917, 1918 and 1919, Mr. Swensson was employed as technical engineer in the ship yards along the Atlantic coast for the United States Government, with headquarters at Philadelphia. When his duties in this connection were no longer required, he came to Troy and entered the employ of the present place, beginning at the bottom and learning the business in all its details. His rise was rapid, and in 1921 he bought out the owner and has since been president of the concern which is known as the Troy File Works. This enterprise was established nearly a century ago on the same site as the present, in 1831. New buildings have from time to time been built around the original structure and the enterprise stands now among the leaders in allied interests in this city. The concern was incorporated first in 1895 and its growth since that time has been more marked than in earlier years. They now occupy a triangular space of about 100x100x200, this land fully improved. They are modernly equipped with both water and electric power and employ about fifty skilled hands. They make nothing but files and file handles and ship to every State in the United States, as well as to many foreign countries. This concern is probably one of the oldest of its kind in the country andMr. Swensson holds among the most honored traditions of the plant the high standard of integrity, which he is now carrying forward as the present head.

In his profession, Mr. Swensson stands high and holds membership in the American Society of Engineers and the Rensselaer Society of Engineers. He is a member of the various organizations of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which include the Theta Nu Epsilon, the Sigma Phi and the Phalanx. He keeps in close touch with the progress of the institute, having been very active in its social and athletic organizations, and is still a writer for the Polytechnic student publication. During his undergraduate days he was a member of the football team, also the basketball and hockey teams, of which last two mentioned he was manager. He was the first manager to take any of the teams on long trips, the first having been to Pittsburgh, and he has the distinction of having taken the first relay team to Philadelphia in 1920. He is a member of the Eastern Alumni Association of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and also of the General Alumni Association of the same institution. He has three times served as president of the eastern association. Mr. Swensson is a member of the Rotary Club and is very active in its work, especially for boys. He is chairman, having in charge the scout camp now in course of construction by the Rotarians of Troy, and is further affthated with the Boy Scout movement as commissioner of the local council, in which office he has served for three years. He is a member of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, the Troy Industrial Club, and an honorary member of the Craftsman Club. He is very prominent fraternally, holding membership in King Solomon Lodge, No. 91, Free and Accepted Masons, of which he is assistant drill master; Apollo Chapter, No. 48, Royal Arch Masons; a thirty-second degree Mason, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. He is also a member of Oriental Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

Mr. Swensson married, on October 24, 191 1, Ethel Belle Leggett, of Troy, daughter of Joseph A. Leggett, now deceased, who was a man of exemplary and upright character. Mr. and Mrs. Swensson have two children: Joseph L., born in September, 1913, and Ann, born September 25, 1921.

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