John C. Swift was born on 20 November 1831 to Thomas Swift and Mary Connell. His mother died sometime after 1833, and his father remarried to Bridget Fahy. Then Thomas died, and Bridget remarried to John Cusack.
John C. Swift and his sister Mary Anna Swift (b. 1833) emigrated to America in 1851 (family stories say 1850, but documents show it to be 1851.) His older brother, Martin (b. 1828) and sister Bridget (b. 1829) had already arrived in the U.S. two years prior in 1848. They lived for a short time in New York, near Albany, where John worked at teaming (driving horses) on the Erie Canal. By 1858, John and his siblings were living in Oneida, Illinois, where John and a business partner operated a teamster business. In 1864, he married Mary Cecily Rimmer (b. 1846 in Brewood, England), and in 1865 they moved to Washington, Iowa, where his brother Martin had already settled. John and Mary had 14 children (3 died as infants) and raised their family in Iowa. John died in 1919 and Mary in 1934. They are buried at Elm Grove Cemetery in Washington, Iowa.
Though not known to each other the time, John and Mary both crossed the Atlantic on the same vessel -- the Great Western (packet ship, not the steam ship by the same name.) John was about 18 years old, and Mary was only 3 years old, traveling with her parents, Teresa and Frederick Rimmer, and her two siblings Theresa and William. The voyage took an unusually long time (seven and a half weeks), causing severe food shortages for the steerage passengers. One infant died during the voyage and was buried at sea. When comparing stories many years later, John and Mary realized they had endured the same crossing.
In Iowa, John was a farmer and did not make a lot of money, but he remembered how difficult times were in County Galway, so whenever he could spare a few dollars, he sent money back to family members near Gort. In some cases, the money was used to pay rent. In other cases, the money paid the passage for others to come to America. Over his lifetime, John C. Swift paid the passage for seventeen other persons to come to America. Eventually, each of them found their way to Iowa to thank him personally, and they were given a great welcome.
|Date of Birth||20th Nov 1831|
|Date of Death||15th Feb 1919||VIEW SOURCE|
|Father (First Name/s and Surname)||Thomas Swift|
|Mother (First Name/s and Maiden)||Mary Connell|
|Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname)||Cecily Rimmer|
|Names of Siblings||Mary-Anna, Bridget and Martin|