Immigrant Ancestors

This page was created to share images of my immigrant ancestors from Ireland and some of their family members. If you have questions about this photos or if you have additional information to share about them, please contact me.

Molly Daniel
mjdaniel (at)

John C. Swift was my great grandfather. He was born near Ballylee in County Galway, Ireland. He was the son of Mary Connell and Thomas Swift. We believe that they had at least four children: Bridget, Martin, John C. and Mary. There may have also been a third daughter, Catherine, who did not survive to adulthood. (It is not clear if there was another child: when asked in his old age to name his siblings, John named Bridget, Martin and Mary and then added that there had been a "Kitty.")
John C Swift greenhorn

The photo at the left pictures John Connell Swift, born in County Galway, Ireland in 1831.

He emigrated to America in 1850, traveling on The Great Western, which docked 3 Sept. 1850 after a voyage of seven-and-a-half weeks (usual passage was only six weeks.)

This photo was described as a "greenhorn" photo -- ("greenhorn" being a term for a person only recently arrived in the country.) Many immigrants went to the expense of making such a photograph to share with the family they had left behind.

I estimate that this photo was made not long after John's arrival in America.

Mary Anna Swift

John's sister, Mary, accompanied him to America. Born in 1833, she was about two years younger than John.

She was fondly regarded by the family, who called her "Little Aunt Mary" because she was very small in stature.

Mary never married. She supported herself by working as a housekeeper and seamstress. Though she arrived in America with very little money, through her years of hard work she bought her own house in Washington, IA, and in her will left money to other family members and an orphan's home in Davenport, IA.

To read more about Little Aunt Mary, including her last will, click here (this will download a large file -- about 10 MB in size. This document was found in the public library of Washington, IA.)

Mary  Gavin and Martin Swift

Mary Gavin and Martin Swift. (click on the photo for a larger image)

John's older brother, Martin (b. 1828) came to America in 1848, two years earlier than John and Mary.

He married Mary Gavin, and they had eight children.

When Martin first came to America, he stayed in Albany, NY. He and Mary G. later lived in Oneida, IL and then Washington, IA.

Martin Swift family

In this photo, Martin is shown with his wife Mary Gavin and their children.

Click on the photo for a larger image.

After Mary G. died, he married Mary Boyd, and they had a son, Richard B. Swift.

Bridget Swift

Bridget Swift, born 1827, sailed to America with her brother Martin in 1848.

She married Thomas Quinn, and for a short time they lived in Oneida, IL, and later Washington, IA.

In this photo, she is wearing a brooch which bears a photo of her husband. It is the only image that we have of Thomas Quinn.

Thomas and Bridget had ten children. Some members of this branch of the family remained in Washington, IA, and others lived in St. Louis, MO.

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