Monday, November 28, 2011

Healy Square, Beverly – Revisited

In genealogy sometimes we have to prune branches off the family tree.  When the evidence points to another person, or when other sources prove your research was wrong, you sadly have to follow the new branch to a new set of ancestors.  History is history, and you can't rewrite history.  Here is a case that is similar.  I had the correct ancestor, but the story didn’t quite match up…

On November 11th, Veteran’s Day, I was honored to attend a rededication ceremony in Beverly, Massachusetts when a new sign was erected to honor my ancestor, Joseph Edwin Healey for his Civil War Service.   He was killed in action in the battle at St. Charles, Arkansas when the USS Mound City exploded in June 1862.  I was surprised when the city contacted me, because I was born in Beverly, where my family had lived since long before Joseph Healey’s time, and some family members still live there.  No one had heard of Healey Square being named for our 3x great grandfather. 
US Naval Historical Center Photo #: NH 59057
I was grateful to the Beverly city engineer Mike Collins for researching the story.  It proved how Joseph Healey had died out of state during the war, and made him a true Civil War hero.  Jerry Guilebbe, the Beverly Veteran’s Service agent confirmed all the paperwork.   He was the only Healey from Beverly, Massachusetts killed in action.  The story ran in the Salem News at this link and here on my blog at these two links: and 

11 November 2011
This is the photo that raised the attention of the correct Healey Family
(notice that the old sign did not have a first name?)
Two weeks later Mike Collins sent me an apologetic email saying that since the Healey Square story ran in the Salem News, the family of veteran Frederick D. Healey had come forward.   Their ancestor had served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  He had been honored with the sign at Healey Square, which previously had been a sign reading “F. D. Healey Square”.  They had photographs of the ceremony in 1976 to prove that the sign originally had their ancestor’s name. 
Lois Healey, wife of Veteran Frederick D. Healey
from the 29 November 2011 Salem News Story
As I stated in my first paragraph, you have to accept primary source evidence, even if it means pruning your family tree or changing your family stories.  History is history.   This is what I’ve learned this month:


1. Healey Square will again be marked “Frederick D. Healey Square” to honor the correct Veteran
2. Thank goodness for newspapers and photographs as evidence. 
3. Beverly will be naming a NEW SQUARE for Joseph Edwin Healey to honor his heroism in the Civil War.  Yippee!  And it will be near his old house on Bartlett Street.
4.  Maybe the two Healey veterans are cousins?  I can’t wait to find out...


I can't think of any cons....

Please see this link for a new story which ran today in the Salem News about the mixup with the Healey Square signage.

Stay tuned as we wait for a second rededication ceremony in Beverly soon!

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Fascinating, Heather! Sounds like happy endings all around. And wouldn't it be amazing if the two Healeys were related!

    PS - My Healys come from County Cork...can you tell me where your guy comes from?

  2. Liesa, here is The Healey lineage:
    Gen. 1. William Hele b. 1613 Cornwood, Devonshire, England d. 18 November 1683 in Cambridge, Massachusetts m. Phebe Green dau. Of Bartholomew Green (four more wives!)
    Gen. 2. Paul Healy b. abt 1664 m. Elizabeth Unknown
    Gen. 3. Ebenezer Healey b. 21 January 1708 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts m. Grace Bullen
    Gen. 4. Comfort Haley b. 1754 in Brimfield, Massachusetts d. 1821 Nova Scotia m. Abigail Allen
    Gen. 5. Comfort Haley b. 1787 m. Rebecca Crosby
    Gen. 6. Joseph Edwin Healey b. 1823 m. Matilda Weston (our Civil War Veteran)
    Gen. 7. Mary Etta Healey m. Peter Hoogerzeil
    Gen. 8. Florence Etta Hoogerzeil m. Arthur Treadwell Hitchings
    Gen. 9. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)

  3. Wow, what a story. I'm glad the situation is being rectified - sounds like a win/win all around!

  4. That's too bad you were misinformed, but you had a good time while it lasted. However, I have a feeling you'll be in the paper again! Have you been in contact with the other family to determine if both men are related?