Title: Centenarian
Birthdate: June 9, 1873
Death Date: June 26, 1975
Plot Location: Section 203, Lot 62, northwest quarter, north line


The famine that swept Ireland in the late 1840s was the motivation for as many as a million of its citizens to come to America. Among them was Elizabeth’s parents who were just children at the time. They married in Philadelphia in 1869 and had five children, the second of whom was “Lizzie.” 

Some documents show a different birthdate but the most accurate is the record of Lizzie’s baptism on December 21, 1873 at the Church of the Mediator. It confirms she was born on June 9 of that year. 

Her father was a carpenter as row houses began springing up south of where they lived, at 927 South 18th Street. As a teenager, Lizzie began attending Harriet Hollond Memorial Presbyterian Church at Broad and Federal Streets. Although she had been baptized as an infant, she was baptized there as an adult in 1891.

She shared her faith with her family and they decided to join her by attending Tabor Presbyterian Church because it was just around the corner at 18th and Christian Street. Their faith in God sustained them a year later when their mother died in late 1893. James Monteith, the widower, named Lizzie his executrix in his will before he died in 1898.

Her brothers married in 1897, 1902, and 1906. (Her sister, Ida, never married and died in 1914.)  Lizzie became the wife of John Carroll Swisher in 1907. She was 33, he was 48. John was the subject of newspaper stories the previous year when he divorced his first wife on grounds of infidelity. He alleged that “on numerous occasions in 1900 his wife criminally disregarded her marriage vows” and that the youngest of the three children was illegitimate. A local potato farmer and a painter from Allentown were named as co-respondents. 

As a result, John’s oldest son, Edward, came to live with him and Lizzie after they married and moved to West Philly. It was Lizzie’s only exposure to parenting, and didn’t last very long since Edward was 17 at the time. He may have worked with his father in sales until the Army sent him to France in World War I and he got married in 1923.

John provided for Lizzie as a produce wholesaler until he died in 1927. By then they lived in the Wynnefield section of the city, and he was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery. 

Lizzie lived another 48 years but how and where she lived are unclear. A 1930 census report shows a woman with her name working as a cook at the Norristown State Hospital. Her name is listed in a 1950 census as a patient at Temple University Hospital. 

Only her two younger brothers were alive during those years. James and Thomas were both married with two children each. James died in 1955, and Thomas was 93 when he died just two months after Lizzie. No documents show she ever lived with them or with her stepson Edward, who died four years later in 1979. No death certificate has been found to indicate her address, and even this newspaper obituary is no help.

She shares her grave with both her parents and her sister Ida.  Section 203 is currently covered with dense vegetation, so no grave markers have been located.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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