Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Serendipity Week #2 A Civil War Hero

This past week, several interesting emails and comments have led me to make several interesting genealogical breakthroughs in my research.  Today I am focusing on the second story- # 1.) about a painting, 2.)  a Civil War Veteran,  and  3.) a letter between two teenage girl and boy in the 1840s.

Last week I received an interesting email from Michael Collins, the Commissioner of Public Services and Engineering for the City of Beverly, Massachusetts.  He had found my blog stories about my Great Great Grandfather Joseph Edwin Healey and had some information for me that was quite exciting.

I had an 1860 Federal Census from Beverly that listed Edwin Healey as a mariner, living with his wife and family.  In the 1870 census I couldn't find him alive, and his wife Matilda was listed as a widow living alone.  I couldn't find any Joseph Healey serving in the Civil War from Massachusetts, and I thought that perhaps he had died at sea, since there were no death records in Beverly or in the Massachusetts Vital Records.  I had many family members who had died at sea, and they were not found in town or state records. 

However, Mr. Collins said that Joseph Edwin Healey enlisted in the Navy in 1861, and he was killed aboard the USS Mound City at the Battle of Saint Charles, White River, Arkansas in 1862.   As the Public Services Commissioner he said "My quest is to document the veteran squares in the city of Beverly and when I came to Healey Square, I turned up the details here.  The intersection of Cabot and Judson is known as Healey Square.  This is right next to the Cabot Theater.  I hope I have the right person.  If so, you should know that he was honored as a hero.  My goal is to raise awareness of the veterans for whom we have dedicated squares.  In this case I would be replacing the existing wooden sign with a new cast sign.  I hope in the end to have a web page dedicated to each square."

Mr. Collins also sent a photo of Joseph Edwin Healey's civil war tombstone.  I never knew this existed, since I had no death record to point to a cemetery.  He was also buried next to a tombstone that read "MOTHER" (I assume this was Matilda?), and his son and daughter-in-law.  All this was nearby to Healy Square, which, another big surprise, was very close to where the family lived on 43 Bartlett Street in Beverly!  My mother knew her own grandmother, who grew up in this house, and no-one ever spoke about Healey Square being named for a family member!

Mr. Collins has a Veteran's agent, Jerry Guilebbe,  researching the archives in Worcester for the Civil War records.  The cemetery lists Joseph as "lost at sea, GAR".    I was close thinking he was lost at sea, but I never knew he was lost during the Civil War.  On a list of the casualties for the USS Mound City, he appears to have been listed as "Edward Healey", just like on his tombstone.

If this isn't enough serendipity for one story, it turns out that Mr. Collins worked in the same city department as my Uncle Don (from the story about Beverly's Lynch Park).   His efforts to research and document all the Veteran's Squares in the City of Beverly are a wonderful project.  He also told me "For the last several months I have had my staff scanning cemetery records and creating a database and that helped here.  We are back to the early 1900s.  Should make everyone's life easier when done."  I hope to find out if that database will be available to the public, since Beverly was founded in the early 1600s and there might be hundreds of thousands of descendants interested in that cemetery information!

I hope to get to Beverly soon to see the Healey family plot, visit Healey Square and perhaps see if the local library has any newspaper records of the story behind Great Great Grandpa's Veteran's Square sign.  Thanks to Mike Collins and Jerry Guilebbe, I have found a part of my genealogy that is a nice surprise to my whole family!


Generation 1: William Hele, born about 1713 in Cornwood, Devonshire, England, died 18 November 1683 in Cambridge, Massachusetts; married on 15 August 1661 to Phebe Green, daughter of Bartholomew Green and Elizabeth Unknown, born about 1629 (one of five wives!)  Four children by Phebe, thirteen children in all. 

Generation 2: Paul Healy, born about 1664 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, died 3 December 1717 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts; married about 1695 to Elizabeth Unknown.  Fourteen children.

Generation 3: Ebenezer Healy, born 21 January 1708 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, died 14 February 1777 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; married first to Grace Bullen, daughter of John Bullen and Sarah Underwood, born about 1727 in Brimfield, Massachusetts. Eight children. 

Generation 4: Comfort Haley, born 1754 in Brimfield, Massachusetts, died 15 May 1821 in Chebogue, Nova Scotia; married on 21 July 1777 to Abigail Allen, daughter of Jeremiah Allen and Eunice Gardner, born 23 July 1753 in Manchester, Massachusetts, died 16 June 1799.  Seven children. 

Generation 5: Comfort Haley, born 9 October 1787 in Chebogue, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, died 3 December 1874 in Chebogue; married on 12 August 1808 in Chebogue to Rebecca Crosby, daughter of Ebenezer Crosby and Elizabeth Robinson, born 19 December 1789 in Yarmouth.  Eleven children. 

Generation 6: Joseph Edwin Healey, born 12 August 1823 in Belfast, Maine or Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, died 19 June 1862, killed when the USS Mound City was sunk at the Battle of Saint Charles, Arkansas; married on 3 February 1848 to Matilda Weston, daughter of Zadoc Weston and Mary Clements, born October 1825 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, died 19 August 1909 in Beverly, Massachusetts.  Four children.


Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Wow, what a story. I think we all live for the day when an occasion like that happens to us all.

  2. Heather, super exciting. Mr. Collins was so nice to take the time to provide you with the information...we should all be so lucky!

  3. These connections made online amaze me. What fun you've been having!

  4. That is awesome - what a find! What a thrill it will be for you to visit Healey Square.

  5. That was amazing ...what a great read.I hope you have a great visit when you go back to see where the stone is....thanks for sharing.

  6. I love your Blog and now follow it, but I'm curious about your history of the Healy/Haley family. My records show that Grace Bullen was Ebenezer's 2nd wife his first wife being Hannah Fuller. And the Nova Scotia Immigrants to 1867 show that Ebenezer's parents were Nathaniel Healy and Rebecca Hagar and he was born in Newton. I'm so confused and frustrated by the information on this family it's making me crazy. I've been working on this line for years and can't find any records to substantiate any of it except for the marriage between Ebenezer Healy and Hannah Fuller in VR Massachusetts and the Leonard & Norma Smith documents "Nova Scotia Immigrants to 1867" Do you have any information that would be helpful?

    1. Hello! I have not yet published a "Surname Saturday" post on the HEALEY family. You can read all the posts I have written about the HEALEYs at this link: https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/search/label/Healey.

    2. Ebenezer Healey was the son of Paul Healy and Elizabeth Unknown. He was born on 21 January 1708 in Rehoboth, he went to Chebogue, Yarmouth, in 1762. There was another Ebenezer, son of Nathaniel, who died in Wrentham in 1750. His first wife was Rachel Unknown, and his second wife was Grace Bullen.

      His lineage is William Hele (1613 - 1683) and his wife Phebe Green (he had 4 wives!), through his son Paul Healey (1664 - 1717) who lived in Cambridge and Rehoboth, to Ebenezer the grandson of the immigrant William Hele. Paul is the brother of Samuel Healy who went to Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. Paul had fourteen children. See the "Yarmouth Genealogies", page 131.