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Re: william walter healis: barbados/philadelphia
Posted by: Susan Cromwell (ID *****1150) Date: January 27, 2003 at 14:18:04
In Reply to: Re: william walter healis: barbados/philadelphia by john mcnamee of 69

Isn't it amazing how many Healises there actually are out there? Not so amazing I suppose when you consider William and Eleanor had ten children, and Aunt Sadie (Lillian) had so many, etc.

I, too, knew Aunt Emily, although not so well as you, for as children, we had to sit in the kitchen and have ginger ale and vanilla wafers while the adults conversed. My stepfather didn't like my mother's family, so I don't imagine there was a lot family history discussed anyway. I do remember Aunt Emily would punctuate almost every sentence with "don't you know," and was very refined. Aunt Sadie, on the other hand, seemed to me her opposite. While Aunt Emily was short and round, Aunt Sadie was tall and angular and was not immune to using a very mild swear word occasionally. Once when we were to take them on a ride to Valley Forge, Aunt Emily cut her hand and she and Aunt Sadie had an argument over whether "Mom" had always used Iodine or Mercurochrome. I silently agreed with Aunt Sadie that Mercurochrome probably hadn't been around when they were children. Anyway, we ended up with my mother sandwiched in between two weeping ladies all the way to Valley Forge and back to New Jersey. (If I've told this story before on this site, please forgive me; I'm not about to go back and read all my messages!) Anyway, does this sound familiar to you? Incidentally, Aunt Emily used to call my stepfather "Jim" (which used to drive him nuts, I think, but amused us). She was thinking of your father and mother, who lived close by and were extremely helpful to her. But your father's name was John, wasn't it? My recollection is that she always said Jim and Dorothy. So now I'm totally confused.

My mother was the first girl grandchild and quite a lot was made of her, I think. (There were two boys older, Francis and George, sons of William Albert Healis, who drowned at age 31.) Eleanor was a confectioner and dressmaker and made a lot of my mother's clothing when she was small. Aunt Emily was very, very good to my mother's family and I suspect all of her sibling's children. I tend to think of her as a grandmother, since I didn't know my real ones.

When you go to Barbados, you should go to St. Michael's Parish. There are Healises recorded in St. Lucy's Parish, but I have a feeling that they may be related to the New England Healises. I've researched some on the LDS website (Church of the Latter Day Saints), and it's just a hunch but some of the names like Horatio, seem to be that branch. I found a William Richard Thomas Healis of St. Michael's Parish (not William Walter) with a date of 10/11/1853 vs. his birthdate (from the bible? and others) of 10/3/1855. Now I think 53 and 55 may be confused in transposing (consider the handwriting of the period). 10/11 may have been his baptismal date, and the Richard Thomas would be baptismal names. If I'm right, I can trace his father, Richard Thomas Healis, and his father's father, Richard Thomas Healis, plus some siblings. (Also, just for your research, Eleanor Bearcroft Healis is also Helen Lavina Bearcroft and Ellen (from an old census.)

I bring this up for two reasons: (1) there's always room for error, both written and oral and (2) if there are older sons (as my research suggests), that might explain the reason why the Healises left Barbados. I once read an essay about living in Barbados by Evelyn Waugh which was written in the 1920s or so, which states that most younger sons left the island for England. In other words, if you weren't going to inherit, and pretty much everything went to the oldest son, there wasn't much for you there other than the scenery. Anyway, barring any credible information to the contrary, this is my working assumption, although I like your comment about being run off the island. It shows you share my view of the roguish quality some Healises may have possessed.

By the way, your cousin John, did write to my mother once, but she had just slipped into dementia (she's 93 now!), so she couldn't respond. He sent copies of pages from the family bible and copies of business cards. I did finally respond, but didn't hear back.

Congratulations on your anniversary. Hope you have a wonderful trip. Bring back more info!

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