Samuel Heydon & Bessie O’Leary
Samuel Henry Heydon Samuel Haydon in about 1890 while living in Denver. was born on June 14, 1864 in Dartmouth, a port town in the English county of Devon. His parents were Samuel Tozer Heydon, a merchant sailor and Royal Navy veteran, and Anna Maria Finch, a nurse and maid. Records mention a “Saml. Haydon [sic]” who was lost at sea in about 1865; I suspect that this is Samuel’s father, who disappears from records at about this time.
The 1871 English census records Samuel and his brother living with their grandmother on Lower Street in Dartmouth and his mother serving as a nurse in a “Cadet Hospital” on Ridge Hill (probably an infirmary associated with the Royal Navy’s officer training school, which moved to Dartmouth in 1863).
In the 1881 English census, 16-year-old Samuel describes himself as an apprentice carpenter and is listed with his grandmother and his Aunt Elizabeth’s family in Dartmouth at “Bears Cove, Castle Yard.” This might be Bayard’s Cove Fort (also known as Berescove or Bearscore), the ruins of a small medieval fortification that was being used for storage at the time. According to one website, the surrounding area was an “overcrowded slum” until 1863, when the arrival of the Royal Naval College and the growth of local tourism helped curb the neighborhood’s decline.
In August 1884, Samuel participated in the Dartmouth Royal Regatta. His boat, Fly, placed first in a solo rowing event, winning a prize of £5 and defeating Alfred Coaker (who may have been his cousin).
Samuel moved to the United States on or before January 28, 1889, when records place him on board the SS Republic in New York. This voyage was the Republic’s last before the White Star Line sold the ship; just hours after the passengers disembarked, an explosion in the engine room killed at least one stoker and injured several others.
He initially settled in Denver, Colorado, where an 1889 directory places “Samuel Hayden” at 3951 Larimer Street (which no longer exists), an 1890 directory places him at 2025 Arapahoe Street, and an 1891 directory places him at 1910½ Lawrence Street. The latter two entries list his job as a carpenter for the “Brown Building and Contracting Company.” An advertisement for this company appeared in a contemporary newspaper:
G. W. Brown, Manager. Fine Bar, Store and office Fixtures in hard and soft woods. Wood mantels and specially designed furniture, turning and band sawing. Shop [at] Nos. 1413 and 1415 Lawrence Street.
Another directory from 1893 places Samuel at 514 14th Avenue West and lists his job as a carpenter.
Samuel stayed in Colorado until at least October 28, 1895, when he became a US citizen in Central City, Colorado (a town outside Denver then known for gold mining). He probably spent time in New York City before moving to Philadelphia before the end of 1900.
Elizabeth O’Leary Undated portrait of Elizabeth O’Leary. (who went by “Bessie”) was born in Ireland on June 20, 1873 (or 1874). Her origins are obscure; according to my mother, both of her daughters said their mother was an orphan. The 1900 census records Bessie at 249 West 99th Street in New York City, where she was a servant in the home of lithographer Paul Frauenfelder. This address is also listed on a Philadelphia marriage record from later the same year.
It’s hard to say whether Samuel and Bessie met in New York or Pennsylvania, but they married in a Philadelphia courthouse on December 20, 1900. Their marriage record lists Bessie’s address in New York and Samuel’s address, “D St. & Westmoreland St.,” in Philadelphia. Samuel was 36, and Bessie was 27.
Two months later, their names appeared in the real estate transaction columns of two local newspapers:
Work will be commenced to-day by Samuel Heydon on the erection of four two-story brick dwellings, 16x27 and 38 feet, on Hartville street, north of Indiana avenue, for Bessie Heydon. This work will cost $7200.
An operation of four brick and stone dwelling houses will be started at once in Hartwell [sic] street, north of Indiana avenue, by Samuel Heydon, of this city. They will be two stories high and basement each, with the usual interior appointments, and will be built for Bessie Heydon.
Despite these homes being built “for Bessie Heydon,” there is no record of her or her husband Samuel Haydon with one of his daughters in about 1908. living there, and in October 1901 The Times of Philadelphia records Samuel mortgaging an adjacent property on 3029 Rorer Street to a man named Joseph W. Ecoff. I suspect Samuel built houses on these properties and rented them out, although maybe he lived in one.
They went on to have two children:
- Florence Elizabeth Heydon was born on October 27, 1905. She was employed as a stenographer, and, according to my mother, worked for much of her life. She married Almor Gyldenlove “Elmer” Sorensen, an organ tuner and machinist, in 1928 and had one son, Elmer Heydon. She died in 2001.
- Ethel Mae “Essie” Heydon was born on March 17, 1907. She never married or had any children and lived with her sister and brother-in-law for all of her life. She died in 1994.
A 1909 city directory and the 1910 US census place the Heydons at 2418 North Natrona Street in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion section. Sometime between 1916 and 1920, the family moved to 3226 North Bailey Street. Samuel described himself as a carpenter during these years, but in the 1930 census he is listed as a railroad engineer.
Bessie died at home on April 4, 1922 at the age of 48. Her official cause of death is “asthma,” and her death certificate notes that she had been suffering from “acute myocarditis” for two weeks before she died.
Both of Samuel’s daughters Samuel with his daughter Ethel (“Essie”), ca. 1927. lived with him on Bailey Street into their adulthood, and in 1928 Florence’s husband moved into the house as well. Samuel’s only grandson, Elmer Heydon Sorensen, was born in 1929 and, according to my mother, shared a room with his grandfather for several years. In the 1940 census, Samuel describes himself as “retired.” Sometime after 1942, the entire family moved to 3216 West Allegheny Avenue.
Samuel died on July 25, 1945 at the age of 81 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Philadelphia. His death certificate lists his causes of death as prostatitis and “senility.” He was buried with his wife at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Samuel Henry Heydon’s and Elizabeth O’Leary’s entries on my Ancestry.com tree (requires a subscription). A few additional sources (mostly Philadelphia and Denver city directories) are visible here.
Samuel Henry Heydon’s and Elizabeth O’Leary’s pages on FamilySearch (requires a free account).
FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837–1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Link
The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 2093; Folio: 58; Page: 4; GSU roll: 831785. Link (requires subscription)
The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1881 England Census; Class: RG11; Piece: 2174; Folio: 24; Page: 15; GSU roll: 1341523. Link (requires subscription)
“Dartmouth Regatta, Yesterday,” The page is viewable here. Devon Evening Express, August 29, 1884; Exeter, Devon, England.
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852–1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Link (requires subscription)
“Pennsylvania Civil Marriages, 1677–1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-67NQ-W91?cc=2466357&wc=QDNG-938%3A1588753668%2C1588753700 : 30 January 2017), Philadelphia > Marriage licenses, no 131200–131899, 1900 > image 1079 of 2220; citing the Register of Wills Offices from various counties.
Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885–1951 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Link (requires subscription)
“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSKM-PZ9 : accessed 23 September 2021), Bessie Oleary in household of Paul Frauenfelder, Borough of Manhattan, Election District 19 New York City Ward 21, New York County, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 536, sheet 13B, family 327, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,105.
“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MGHS-XVY : accessed 16 September 2020), Samuel H Heydon, Philadelphia Ward 28, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 658, sheet 4A, family 84, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1402; FHL microfilm 1,375,415. (Requires a free account.)
“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF1J-KPK : accessed 16 September 2020), Samuel Heydon, Philadelphia Ward 38, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing ED 1366, sheet 14A, line 1, family 354, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1636; FHL microfilm 1,821,636. (Requires a free account.)
“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHWP-F9M : accessed 16 September 2020), Samuel Hogden, Philadelphia (Districts 0751-1000), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 773, sheet 15A, line 33, family 242, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2125; FHL microfilm 2,341,859. (Requires a free account.)
“United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KQWT-P8S : 6 May 2020), Samuel Haydon, Ward 38, Philadelphia, Philadelphia City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 51-1414, sheet 7B, line 56, family 118, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3732. (Requires a free account.)
Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936–2007 Bessie appears in the Social Security Claims index despite dying in 1922. Perhaps she was mentioned her daughter Florence’s application. [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Link 1, Link 2 (requires subscription)
Funeral record of Elizabeth Heydon; Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Link (requires subscription)
Death Certificate of Elizabeth Heydon, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 035001–038000 and 035001A-035220A. Link (requires subscription)
Death Certificate of Samuel Heydon, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 062101–064500 Link (requires subscription)
“Find A Grave Index,” This headstone lists Bessie’s birth year as 1874 (not 1873, like it says on her death certificate) and Ethel’s middle name as J. (not Mae or May). database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVL8-PL7D : 8 August 2020), Samuel H. Heydon, ; Burial, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, United States of America, West Laurel Hill Cemetery; citing record ID 91444076, Find a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/91444076/
English Heritage, “Bayard’s Cove, History of Bayard’s Cove Fort” Link
“New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1891,” Samuel aboard the SS Republic in 1889. Unlike most passengers, he carried two bags with him. The captain on this journey, Edward John Smith, later became captain of the RMS Titanic during its only voyage in 1912. database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-RW9Q-KL?cc=1849782&wc=MX6L-P2S%3A165918401 : 26 November 2014), 529 - 1 Jan 1889–16 Feb 1889 > image 402 of 747; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
“The Brown Building and Contracting Company,” A clipping is viewable here. The Denver Exchange Journal, March 10, 1888; Denver, Colorado, USA.
“Ten Seamen Parboiled,” New-York Tribune, January 28, 1889; New York, New York, USA. Link (requires subscription)
National Archives at Denver; Samuel’s 1895 citizenship record lists “William Trebilcock” and “Christopher Trezise” as a witnesses. A “Fred. Trebilcock” traveled aboard the Republic with Samuel in 1889, when he first arrived in America. Broomfield, Colorado; Naturalization Records, Colorado, 1876–1990; ARC Title: Naturalization Cards, 1880–1906; NAI Number: 1307044; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787–2004; Record Group Number: 85. Link (requires subscription)
Marriage Licenses Issued, A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 21, 1900; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Real Estate Transactions, A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 28, 1901; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Mortgages Recorded, A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), October 1, 1901; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Real Estate Transactions, A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), February 28, 1901; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
The National Archives of the UK; Samuel took a trip back to Devon in July 1912 aboard the White Star Line ship RMS Oceanic. Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 541. Link (requires subscription)
Ancestry.com. Samuel returned to the United States in September, again aboard the Oceanic. He gave his address to customs in New York (Natrona Street in Philadelphia) as well as the place he became a US citizen (“Gelpin District Court” in Colorado). New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820–1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data:Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820–1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Link (requires subscription)
Obituary of Samuel H. Heydon; A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 27, 1945; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.