The national equestrian community paid numerous tributes during 2012 to the late Lester Swaney, who gained prominence as the manager/trainer of Faustiana Farms, a one-time horse-breeding operation on the west edge of Maryville.
Former Maryville resident Sally Jackson's article about Swaney, who died March 25 at age 97, appeared in several publications, including "The National Horseman," "Horse World," "Saddle Horse Report," "The Bluegrass Horseman" and "Saddle & Bridle."
Most recognized for his American Saddlebred accomplishments, Swaney began working with the breed in 1927, when, at age 12, he was hired as a groom by Nodaway County trainer J.H. Tapp.
In 1938 he struck out on his own and opened a training stable in Lincoln, Neb., where he started encountering horses from Faustiana, which was owned by Ferdinand M. "Ferd" Townsend, the founder of a successful grocery store chain.
Townsend soon hired the young trainer, who returned to Nodaway County and spent the next three decades raising champions. Notable animals produced at Faustiana included Oak Hill Chief, Autumn Serenade, Supreme Moment and Dream Date.
Oak Hill Chief was one of the great horses of the World War II era and won three consecutive World Grand Championships in 1943-1945.
In addition to Saddlebreds, the farm also handled Standardbreds and Percherons, a powerful draft horse originally bred in France.
Standardbred horses are frequently used for harness racing, and in 1958 Swaney raced the pacer McPhergus to more heat wins than any harness horse in the United States.
A horse-related injury ended Swaney's career as a trainer in 1964. Forced to stop riding, he nevertheless continued to manage Faustiana until the operation was sold in 1970. He found a second career as a farm agent with Jackson Insurance, where he worked for 16 years.
After retirement, Swaney continued to live in Maryville with his wife, Leola, who died in 2010. He was long active in numerous civic organizations, including the Historical Society, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Men's Forum.
The farm was eventually split into residential lots that now comprise Maryville's Faustiana Subdivision.