FITCH W. SWAN
GEORGE H. VOLGER
Fitch W. Swan, Prominent Jeweler of Muscatine, Iowa, Shoots Geo. H. Volger, Another Jeweler, and Then Commits Suicide
Muscatine, Ia., Aug. 3.–The double tragedy which occurred in this city on Monday and which resulted in the death of George H. Volger and Fitch W. Swan, has removed from the business world of Muscatine two prominent and well-known jewelers. Mr. Swan, particularly, was considered one of the oldest and most widely known members of the trade in this State, as well as a leading jeweler of Muscatine.
The facts, as determined by the inquiry that followed the deaths of both men, have shown clearly that Swan killed Volger while mentally deranged or laboring under great excitement, and then deliberately took his own life by swallowing poison. Mr. Swan was 71 years old and Mr. Volger 36. Volger was evidently shot by Swan in the back of the latter's establishment, and Swan's suicide occurred in the Rankin undertaking parlors, to which place he went following the shooting.
While the friends of Mr. Swan put the terrible deed down to the fact of a deranged mind, resulting from business reverses and from brooding over a long series of quarrels with Mr. Volger, it is clear that the deed was premeditated, carried out according to plan, and that Swan deliberately took his own life afterward.
First knowledge of the tragedy came when Swan's body was found by Undertaker Rankin, lying on a couch in his establishment, beside which were cyanide crystals, a key to Swan's jewelry store, a sealed letter to S. G. Bronner, chief of police, and an open note to the public. While the letter to the chief of police was not given out, it is known that it was a bitter attack on Volger, and indicated that Swan suffered from intense excitement and anger. The open note found near Swan's body simply said, "I have killed George Volger. His body is in the back of the store."
The chief of police, the mayor, Dr. E. B. Fulliam and D. W. Truxell, who were summoned, immediately went to Swan's store, where Mr. Volger's body was found in the room, lying face downward in a pool of blood. At first it was not known how he had died and the officers were under the impression that he had been induced to drink poison, as there were several bottles on the workbench. Closer examination later, however, disclosed a bullet hole in the back of Volger's skull, undoubtedly from the shot of a 32-calibre revolver.
Investigation also disclosed that following the shooting of Volger, Mr. Swan had evidently locked up his place of business and proceeded to the telegraph office and sent some telegrams. Several residents talked to him before he went to the undertaker's shop where he later committed suicide, but none of them noticed anything unusual in his manner, nor did he indicate in any way by word or action, what he had done or what he intended to do.
It is known that Swan and Volger had had many quarrels as a result of business rivalry, and that Mr. Swan was worked up over the actions of his competitor, but his friends claim that this was not the real cause of the tragedy, but that Swan's mind had been upset by a series of business troubles. He had been disappointed in the result of an investment in oil securities, and had recently been compelled to mortgage his home for $10,000. In his upset mental state, it is believed he attributed his business reverses to Mr. Volger.
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 10th August 1921
A LOSS TO THE TRADE
Career of Muscatine Jewelers, Victims of the Recent Double Tragedy
Muscatine, la., Aug. 10—The double tragedy which occurred here Aug. 7, when Fitch W. Swan shot and killed George H. Volger and then committed suicide (as told in full in the last issue of The Jewelers' Circular) has shocked not only the jewelers of this section but those throughout Iowa, and is still a subject of comment.
The report last week, while giving details of the tragedy, gave few facts about the lives of the two deceased jewelers.
Both victims of the dual tragedy were more than ordinarily prominent among the business men of Muscatine, and each took active part in civic affairs. Mr. Swan had operated a jewelry store here continuously for the past 45 years, and was one of the most highly respected members of the local Masonic fraternity.
Mr. Swan was probably one of the best known of the older business men in Muscatine. His jewelry store was regarded as the oldest commercial enterprise in Muscatine which had continued without a break under the same management. Throughout his mature years he had been a leader in local business circles and in civic life. He served for several years as park commissioner.
Mr. Volger had managed to cram into his 36 years more numerous and more diversified activities than many another successful business man living to a ripe old age.
Everything he touched, be it in the field of business or of sports, seemed to prosper, and prosper forthwith. He had built up an enviable trade in the jewelry business here, and in less than two weeks would have opened up one of the finest jewelry stores in Iowa, at Davenport.
Scarcely less shocking than the blow dealt to his family was that sustained by the local and Davenport Masonic bodies, in the loss of Mr. Volger. His home was visited by hundreds of members of local lodges Sunday afternoon, for these men realized that there had been taken from their midst a brother who was as much admired for his efficient services' as he was loved for his instantaneous-friend-making type of personality.
He was president of the Muscatine Shrine Club, was a member of De Molay Commandery, No. 1. Knights Templar; Webb Council, R. & S. M., Washington Chapter, No. 4, R. A. M., Iowa Lodge, No. 2, A. F. & A. M., and Muscatine Lodge No. 304 B. P. O. E.
He was also a member of the Muscatine Rotary and Muscatine Advertising clubs, a number of other civic and social organizations, and of the First Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Volger was born in Muscatine, March 19, 1885. He attended the public schools and the local high school, and finishing his schooling, commenced work for Mr. Swan. On July 14. 1909, he was united in marriage to Miss Helen Knopp, of this city.
As a boy at school, the deceased was a leader in athletic sports. In the Winters of 1907-1908 he made a tour of the United States, with the Tourists, Muscatine's well-known basketball team, which won the world championship the season they were on the road.
He also managed to snatch enough time from his business to manage the "Muskies," world basketball title claimants, in 1917, 1918 and 1919. At the time of his death, he was a member of the board of directors of the Muscatine baseball club.
In addition to the grief-stricken wife, there remain to mourn the deceased three children, George. Jr., age 7 years; Charles, 4, and Marion, 3; two sisters, Mrs. William Liebbe, and Mrs. Philip Thomson, and two brothers, Edward and William, both of this city.
Fitch William Swan was born in Milwaukee, Wis., July 8, 1850. He was brought to Muscatine in his infancy and attended the public schools here. Entering business life he was employed as a clerk in a dry goods store for a short period and then began learning the jeweler's and watchmaker's trade with which line he was associated during the entire remainder of his lifetime.
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 17th August 1921