Philip Swan (1825-1897) and family

This was the oldest original photograph in my family collection, and for years it was a mystery who it was. It was taken in about 1873. Eventually I worked out that it shows my 3rd great-aunt, Mary nee Godman, her husband, my 3rd great-uncle Philip Swan (1825-1897), and their daughter Lillie.

Philip Swan (1825-1897), his wife Mary nee Godman, and their daughter Lillie., c. 1873.

Philip was born on 18th Feb 1825 in Queen Street, Hoxton, London. In 1841 he was an apprentice carpenter, living at home in Hoxton with his father, a carpenter, and his stepmother Elizabeth. His father died in 1843.

Philip and Mary married on 28th Mar 1860 at the Parish Church in Islington. Within weeks of their wedding they emigrated to Des Plaines, Cook County, Illinois. The rumour passed down through the family was that he emigrated to make his fortune in the gold rush, but Des Plaines was a growing railroad town at that time, and Philip was a carpenter. Their daughter Lillie Sophia (after her grandmother) was born in Des Plaines in 1870. I don’t believe they had any other children.

The family later moved to Oakland, California, where this photograph was taken, at William B Ingersoll’s studio on the corner of 12th Street and Broadway, in Oakland. They then moved on to Clatsop, Oregon, and finally British Columbia, Canada, where Philip died in 1897. He was buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, BC.

Lillie married John Townsend and had a daughter, Lilly Ormiston Townsend, known as Orma. I’m delighted that I have been able to send this photo to one of Orma’s direct descendants, my fourth cousin Janet, who was thrilled to become the custodian of this photograph.

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