Rural Farms and Communities
Before Camp Swift
Marker Text: As the United States prepared for the possibility of war in 1940, the government selected this area for establishment of what would be Camp Swift, a training and shipment facility. The federal government quickly acquired property, giving landowners 30 days to leave and move structures. The displacement resulted not only in the loss of farms but also early rural communities, some dating to 19th-century settlement. Outlying areas of larger communities, including Sayersville, Elgin, McDade, Oak Hill and Wayside, were affected, as were dispersed rural settlements within the camp area, including Duck Pond, Piney, Spring Branch and Dogwood.
Most of the displaced residents were farmers, although some worked in other occupations. Antoine Aussiloux, born in France, began operating a local winery in the late 19th century that prospered until refrigerated railroad cars began to deliver beer in the 1890s and later anti-saloon leagues and prohibition eliminated legalized alcohol production. Another area resident, Frank Dennison, constructed nearby facilities for lignite mining, part of the Sayers Mine. He built a village to house miners, and it was associated with a graveyard known as the Mexican Cemetery. Other area burial grounds located within present Camp Swift included Chandler Cemetery, New Hope Cemetery and a single gravesite.
After World War II, the War Assets Administration began to sell some of the land, but many residents were unable to repurchase their former properties. The government eventually retained about 11,500 acres of the approximately 25,000-acre Camp Swift for use by the National Guard. Today, many residents continue to live in this area, and visible reminders throughout Camp Swift chronicle the history of the settlements displaced by wartime activities. (2007)
Marker No: 13968
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Location: .6 mile northeast on Highway 95 at Gate 11, Sayersville