By the Bridge

The Swantons of County Cork,
Boston, MA and Brooklyn, NY

by Ginni Swanton

Mary Anne Swanton
Vincent Benjamin Smithwick

Michael and Jane McCarthy Swanton's daughter, Mary Ann Swanton, immigrated to New York, where she married Vincent Benjamin Smithwick, on February 09, 1895 at St. Patrick's, Fort Hamilton, New York. Vincent was the son of Thomas Smithwick and Anna Williams, and they lived at 19th St., 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, NY.

Mary Anne Swanton Smithwick
Mary Anne Swanton Smithwick

Vincent Benhjamin Smithwick
Vincent Benjamin Smithwick
and his son Joseph

Mary Ann Swanton Smithwick died on September 29, 1939. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Flatbush, New York. Vincent Benjamin Smithwick, died on September 09, 1929 in King's County Hospital, Brooklyn.

Information provided by Ann Smithwick Ferro

My father was Marinus Smithwick, son of Benjamin and Mary. His Aunt Gen took care of his Uncle Jim's son William, or as we called him, Willie. I am just beginning my ancestry search and I have some records from the two ships that Benjamin's father served on in the Civil War. I named my son, Benjamin after his greatgrandfather.

I have information from the ships manifest that Thomas was born in Tipperary and was 6 ' 1' tall with brown eyes. He joined the US Navy in NYC He was 22 in 1863.

This is the information that I have from my Aunt Lucy...Benjamin's and Mary's daughter:

Ann Collins married Jeremiah McCarthy. Their first child was taken by Jeremiah's parents to Australia. Her name was Sally. Their second child was Jane who married Jeremiah Swanton.

They had seven children:

One of the descendants of the Galvins lives in Cazenovia NY. Lizzie's daughter Marian married Jim McDowell and their son and his family live in Caz.

Marian died over 15 years ago but I had the privilege of getting to know her well. She spent a part of her childhood living with Lucille (Aunt Lucy) Smithwick Caffrey. Aunt Gen was a truly remarkable woman who lived across the driveway from our Aunt Mina (Philomena Smithwick Lowery)

She had a dog named Flashy, a snowglobe which I lusted after and always a pot of tea and Dugans coffeecake for visitors. I have a tiny dresser that she gave me when I was in college. Uncle Jim lived up the street on 55th street in Brooklyn. He always wore tweed suits and smoked a cigar. We didn't see him very much. I never met Uncle George, Uncle John or Uncle Mike.

My Aunt Mina took me to the graduation of Lizzie Galvins grandsons in New Jersey when I was about 10 years old.

I remember Willie Swanton as one of the most handsome men my young mind had experienced. He was a big tease when I was a child. He thought of his Aunt Gen as his mother. I can only vaguely remember his beautiful wife and his daughter Carolyn or Carol ann. I am sorry about this name because there are several variations of this name in the Smithwick line. I know that Willie was cursed with diabetes and suffered loss of vision quite young. He escaped another Swanton genetic inheritance...allergies and asthma..which claimed two lives in Aunt Lucy's son James and Uncle Chris's daughter Carol Ann.

Michael Swanton and Mary V. Murphy

Michael Swanton was born in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland on October 27,1876. He was baptized in the Roman Catholic church of St. Patrick. He left Ireland sometime after 1884, settling in Brooklyn NY, where he married Mary (Mamie) V. Murphy.

They had six children:

Edward T. Swanton, the grandson of Michael and Mary (Mamie) Swanton, sent me the following information about his family. It provides a wonderful glimpse into the lives of these people.

“I believe all of my Grandparent's children were born and raised on NYC's Lower East Side in the period of, say, between 1900 and the beginning of WWII. They all attended and were either baptized or married, or both, at Saint Mary's RC Church on Grand Street in Manhattan. As you are well aware, Irish-Catholic families are closely knit, and even when they married, say between 1923 and 1943, tended to live in close proximity to each other in the boroughs of either Brooklyn or Queens.

I myself was born in Brooklyn in 1937, the 3rd of 4, and have very vivid memories, as do my siblings and cousins, of spending weekends at Gram's, as we lovingly called our Grandmother. Of course on almost every Sunday the whole family gathered at her home on at No. 3 Pilling Street, between Broadway and Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn to enjoy the Sunday dinner she prepared. Afterwards, the menfolk, and some of the ladies, always played poker until it was time to go home.

My Grandmother, whose name was Mamie (Mary V. Murphy Swanton), was believed by all to have been a "sainted" woman, who from the day her Mike passed away in 1923 until the day of her death, attired herself only in black, except for her housecoat, and prayed the Rosary every waking hour of her day, even when cooking or talking to you. We all remember watching her lips move as she incessantly fingered her beads, no matter what she was doing. And when we said, "Gram, whom are you talking to", she'd say, "I'm saying a decade for you". And you knew she was.

The saddest time in the family's history that I remember was when in April 1945, the youngest brother, George, only 28 years old and recently married, was killed in action on an island named Okinawa in the far-flung Pacific during World War II. Georgie, as they called him, was greatly loved by all, maybe because he was the youngest, or maybe because he was just a wonderful young man who made it impossible for you not to love him. It just broke everybody's heart when they brought his body home and buried him with all attendant honors at the National Cemetery in Cypress Hills, NY. I go there now and again, just because I feel I have to be there.

Of the eight sons and daughters of Mike and Mamie Swanton, as well as their spouses, only one survives as of this day, Aunt Anna, now 86 and living in California. Many of their grandchildren, including me, now have grandchildren of their own and are scattered widely about the United States. But I think it's wonderful to occasionally look back, as I'm doing now, on those magical days of yore and to contemplate with joy that this bough of the Swanton family tree took root many years ago in a little town called Skibbereen.” Aunt Anna passed away in 2001.

On June 7,1900, according to the Massachusetts census, a Michael Swanton who was a carpenter lived at 6 Prescott Place in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. His year of birth was given as 1867.

He was not a naturalized citizen of the United States. He lived in a boarding house run by James and Catherine Jenkins, who were both originally from Ireland. James Jenkins was a day laborer and had been in the United States for 37 years. Besides Michael Swanton, there were two other boarders: William J. Bryan, a 62 year old driver from Massachusetts and John O’Brien, a 52 year old driver from Ireland

The following information was provided by Lynn Urban, the granddaughter of Vincent and Mary Ann Swanton Smithwick.

When looking at the wonderful family tree you have put together I noticed that my grandpa Vincent and Mary's youngest child was not listed. His name was Christopher Gerard, 1908-1983. His wife was Agnes Moller. I can also add some info. Lowey's first name was Michael. Caffrey's first name was James.

My grandpa's sister, great Aunt Lucy Caffrey told me a little about Jane McCarthy Swanton. Aunt Lucy said the following: Michael came to the states first, then sent for Jane and their children. They settled in Brooklyn. Michael then left for Boston. Family was already settled there and would find him a job. Jane never saw or heard from him again.

Aunt Lucy told me that her grandmother Jane stood 4'11" and had jet black hair down past her waist. Aunt Lucy would stand behind her grandmother, and brush her hair. She said that Jane would often speak of her husband Michael, and believed that the indians must have gotten him. Jane was said to take in laundry and sewing to care for her children. Aunt Lucy told me that Grandma Jane prayed for her husband Michael until the day she died.

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