SCHWAN, HEINRICH CHRISTIAN (5 April 1819-29 May 1905) presided over the growth of local Lutheranism (see LUTHERANS) as a Cleveland pastor and later as a synod official. The son of Pastor G.H.C. and Charlotte Wyneken Schwan, he was born in Horneburg, Germany, and in 1842 graduated from Jena University. Upon his ordination the following year, Schwan went to Brazil as a missionary. In 1849 he married Emma Blum, daughter of a German plantation owner. The couple emigrated to the United States in 1850, and Schwan became pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Missouri. They came to Cleveland in 1851, when Schwan was installed as pastor of ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH.
He attracted considerable local attention during his first Christmas in Cleveland by introducing a lighted Christmas tree into his church service. Though originally criticized from some quarters as an idolatrous act, the event was later celebrated as one of the country's first public Christmas tree displays. Schwan remained as Zion's pastor for 30 years, performing 2,793 baptisms and 1,034 confirmations during that tenure. Schwan also played an active role in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, becoming president of that church council in 1878. He filled that office for 21 years, resigning the pastorate of Zion when the synod presidency was made a full-time position in 1881. He maintained his residence in Cleveland, serving as an assistant preacher at Zion and 2 other local congregations while performing his synod duties.
He was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY, survived by his wife and 8 children: Paul, Manuel, Ernst, Carl, George, Frederick, Johanna, and Emma.