"From all over Ione you can see Preston Castle peering from atop the hillside, seemingly watching over the town, the farms, and yes, even the cemetery. An interesting fact is that from the area where Mr. Clarence W. Swain is buried in the Ione Public Cemetery, you can literally see that majestic structure in the distance, the very castle he helped construct.
So just who was Clarence Swain, you might ask?
Mr. Swain was born on October 24, 1856 in Petaluma, California. Said to be the son of a Massachusetts Sea Captain, Clarence decided to get involved with construction as his field of trade, finding himself working as a contractor in San Francisco by the time he was a young adult. By 1882, he moved to the little town of Ione, and was made Superintendent of Construction for the Administration building at the Preston School of Industry.
During this same time period, Swain designed and constructed his own house on Church Street. He adorned his beautiful home with the bricks around the foundation, using the same exact sandstone that was used for the castle.
During the course of Clarence Swain’s life, he built many homes in Ione, as well as building the former Dry Creek bridge that once spanned over the creek in town. He also superintended the building of the original grammar school and the original county hospital, as well as the Pitt Street bridge, all located in Jackson.
Besides being a construction contractor, architect and carpenter, he also acted as the town of Ione’s undertaker for 40 years. Aside from his regular work, he spent his spare time with the youth of the area. Long before the Boy Scouts of America had even been founded, Clarence was organizing scout groups that he took on hiking trips and taught basic skills. He also spent a lot of time working with the boys at Preston, acting as the Sunday School Superintendent at the Methodist Church in Ione, and also buying out extra time in his busy schedule to coach an all-Miwok baseball team. It appears that he was never too busy to help out, teach, encourage and inspire the local youth.
Clarence married Mary Kraemer on October 22, 1901. The two adopted a daughter, Margaret, though they did not have any biological children of their own. Perhaps due to the fact he did not have a large family of children, that added to his interest in the youth of the area. Either way, his efforts to inspire the children and young adults in Amador County was remarkable.
|Grave of C.W. Swain - J. Rubio|
On April 6, 1941, at age of 85, Clarence Swain passed away. His obituary mentions that he “seemed to have had a great love for the youth in the area,” which I believe was his greatest achievement. Yes, he helped construct this magnificent piece of architecture that still stands high above Ione, but his lasting mark will live on forever in the memory of his philanthropic works. Mr. Clarence Warren Swain’s grave is located at the Ione Public Cemetery in Ione, California. "--from the book, "If These Walls Could Talk: More Preston Castle History," by J'aime Rubio ( ISBN-13: 9781548569907)
Swain House & Grave of Clarence Swain-- J'aime Rubio
Photo of Clarence Swain - courtesy of Find-a-grave