The latest in my occasional series of obituaries comes from the USA and the death of Michael Thomas Heenan, a Cincinnati printer.
His death was reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer on 22 Aug, 1943
It was easy to find more information about Michael Heenan given the details in this report about his relatives.
What I’ve discovered is that he was one of 10 children born to Roderick Heenan and Mary Scott. The family lived in the Carleton district of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for many years where Roderick was a farmer.
Michael Thomas Heenan was born on 14th December, 1874 and baptised a week later. In 1884, when Michael was ten years old the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. The destruction of the records for the US census in 1891 means we don’t know what occupation Roderick pursued there or where exactly they made their home.
The family can be found however in the 1900 US census which records Michael Heenan as a single man of 25 years old, living with his mother, sister Julia and brother Roderick at 725 Sixth Street, Cincinnati, in Hamilton county. He is working as a pressman. He married Alice, a girl from Ohio, the following year.
By 1910 he and his wife Alice are renting a property at 970 Hatch Street, Cincinnati, Hamilton County. Michael is occupied as a pier man in the printing industry and has become a naturalized citizen. The couple have a son John S Heenan, aged 4, (perhaps this is the Stanley Heenan referred to in the obituary).
They move homes again. The 1920 census finds them in a rented property at Isabella Avenue in Cincinnati. Michael Heenan, is still working in the printing industry, as a pressman. The World War 1 military draft for Hamilton county records that in 1917-18, he was working for the Williams Directory Company – this was a firm that specialised in producing local directories of businesses and services.
The obituary indicates that he and his wife moved to Jackson, Michigan in 1942. Did they do so because they wanted to be closer to relatives? Or was Michael looking for work?
Whatever the case, they didn’t have long to enjoy their new home. Michael died of acute heart failure on 8 November, 1943. According to the registration documents he was working as a pressman for R. L Polk & Co. This firm had headquarters in Southfield, Michigan from where they produced business and marketing information for the automotive industry, insurance companies, and related businesses.
Michael was buried on 21 November, 1943 at Saint Joseph New Cemetery, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio.
Michael Heenan’s family
The name of Michael’s father was recorded variously over his life. In the 1871 Canadian census he is recorded as Roderick but in the 1881 census he is known as Rody. The baptism records for at least three of his children use the name of Roderick but a burial record for his infant son William in 1877 shows the name of Rody. I’m interpreting this as an abbreviation or an informal version of Roderick rather than a different name.
The location of his birth is similarly uncertain.
In the 1920 US Census, Michael Heenan states that his parents were both born in Canada but in the earlier census of 1910 he describes them as born in England.
The Canadian census returns in which Roderick provides his own information, he says he was born in England but describes himself as Irish. His wife, Mary he says was born in Canada but is also ‘Irish’
There is a census record in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England for a Rodger Heenan born around the same time as Roderick Heenan. Rodger is the son of William Heenan, a labourer and his wife Mary. Both parents say they were born in Ireland but their three children, of whom Rodger is the eldest, were born in Yorkshire.
There is a strong possibility that this is in fact the family of Roderick Heenan based on the fact that in 1913 when one of his sons, Roderick, died, the record shows that his father (ie, Roderick) was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire.
A further piece of the jigsaw comes from a declaration of intention to naturalise which was submitted by Roderick Heenan in Cincinnati in 1886 in which he said he had departed Liverpool in April 1850.
As yes however I have not found any passenger or immigration records to confirm this information. Nor do we know whether he travelled alone or with any other members of the family.
Although this story still has many loose ends I’ve been astonished at how much of the family I was able to reconstruct just from the starting point of an obituary.