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Santa Clara Resident Looks into Ancestry, Finds Surprise

Ted Swift’s life-long love of history has taken him around the world and back in time.

“In order to see history, you have to travel,” said Swift, who has loved history since studying it at school as a kid growing up in Oakland and Richmond.

A trip his wife, Lois, and their sons — Rob then nine and Paul seven — will always remember, is their five-month, Bi-centennial road trip in 1976.

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Swift took a sabbatical from his job as a high school history teacher in Sunnyvale to celebrate the country’s 200th anniversary. They visited Revolutionary War sites, including Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the U.S. Declaration of Independence from England was signed in 1776.

“I wanted to be in front of Independence Hall on July 4,” said Swift at his home in Santa Clara, where he and Lois, born in Riverside, CA, have lived since they married in 1964.

“I was very moved that in spite of the Vietnam War, there was a sense of oneness by everyone who was there,” said Swift. “All of us were singing patriotic songs as fireworks exploded overhead.”

History and travel have been a part of the Swifts’ lives ever since they met in Sunnyvale in 1962. In the summer of 1963, they traveled separately to Europe, meeting up in Paris.

Swift was studying European history on a Fulbright scholarship. Lois was playing violin in an international orchestra visiting Iron Curtain countries.

In 1979, Swift, then teaching Asian history, went to Japan and China on an American Scholars study visit. The family hosted international exchange students from Germany and France.

Retirement after 35 years of teaching gave Swift more time to travel — and to look over Lois’s shoulder as she uncovered exciting news about his ancestry.

Theodore Franklin “Ted” Swift is a fifth-generation Californian on two sides of his family. He is descended through his two great grandmothers from two of the 12 founding families of San Jose.

The founding families’ names are written on a plaque in San Pedro Square in San Jose: Joaquin Ysidro de Castro and wife Maria Martina Botiller; Josef Manuel Higuera and wife Maria Ignacio Antonia Limon Redondo.

Higuera’s parents traveled from Mexico to California in 1771 with the Rivera Expedition.

The Castros traveled to California with Spanish commander Juan Bautista de Anza. He established the Presidio of San Francisco on June 29, 1776, just days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

“You study history so you can learn from your mistakes and so you can appreciate where you came from and how your country became what it is,” said Swift, who is thrilled that their oldest grandson, Benjamin Swift, loves history as much as he does.

Benjamin is a seventh-generation Californian on the side of his dad, Rob Swift. He is a first-born Vietnamese American on the side of his mother, Anh Dao, who immigrated to California from Vietnam.

But that’s another story.

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1 Comment
  1. Harbir 3 months ago
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I appreciate such stories and enjoy history! It made me smile and want to meet them to give them a hug. We got to touch our history through their story and this article! T

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