Ruth Livingston Swift

Ruth SwiftFirst Lady
July 10, 1863 - January 11, 1864

Born: September 18, 1827
in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Died: August 31, 1881
in St. Peter, Minnesota

Married September 11, 1851, to Henry Swift

Ruth Livingston was born in 1827 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the Female Seminary in Gettysburg. Her family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about 1857, where her father and brothers ran the Livingston, Copeland & Co. Novelty Iron Works.

Ruth met her future husband, Henry Swift, while he was serving as a chief clerk of the Ohio House of Representatives. Ruth and Henry were married in 1851 in Ravenna, Ohio. In the early spring of 1853 Henry, Ruth and their infant daughter moved to Minnesota, traveling by steamboat up the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, a journey that covered nearly 2,000 miles and took almost three weeks. The family lived on College Avenue in St. Paul before settling in St. Peter in 1856.

Henry Swift served as Minnesota governor from 1863-1864. He chose not to campaign for a second term as governor or to allow his name to be nominated for the position of U.S. senator, preferring instead to stay with his family. The Swifts had five children, two of whom died during Governor Swift's term in office; a third died a few years later. Henry Swift died of typhoid fever on February 25, 1869, in St. Peter at the age of 46.

After her husband's death, Ruth lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Gideon Ives, in the home she and Henry had built in St. Peter in 1857. She died there in 1881 following a stroke. Ruth was described as an estimable lady, "The noblest of God's created beings – a good and thoroughly conscientious woman."