The latest of this series of obituaries found in newspaper records, relates to the son of an Irish immigrant to the USA.
Simon P Heenan Steel Employee Succumbs At 59
Simon P Heenan, 59 years old, an employee of the Illinois Steel company and resident of Joliet many years, died at his home, 116 Vine Street, yesterday after a month’s illness.
Mr Heenan is survived by his wife, Mrs Mary Smith Heenan; a son Francis Heenan; two sisters, Mrs Mathew Dolan of Antrim, Pa and Mrs Nora Cushing of Chicago.
Funeral services will be held from the Fred C Dames funeral home at 8.30 o’clock tomorrow morning to St John’s Catholic church at 9 o’clock. Burial will be in St John’s Cemetery.
Who Was Simon P Heenan?
According to the death certificate, Simon P Heenan was 66 years old when he died at Joilet, Will, Illinois which would mean he was born about 1868.
However, other records put his birth anywhere between 1864 and 1875. One version of his story says he was born in Ireland and immigrated when he was aged about 14. Another says he was 8 years old and a third gives his age at immigration as 11.
The earliest record found for him to date is the 1880 Federal Census for the USA where he is shown as a 19 year old single man living with his parents Simon Heenan and mother Eliza in Duncan Township, Tiego, Pennsylvania. Both are born in Ireland. Simon, the son, is recorded as being occupied as a coal miner and also born in Ireland. The father Simon is recorded in other documents as being named John.
By the time of the 1910 census he has married Elizabeth Crowe and is living at Ottawa Street, Joliet Ward 6, Will, Illinois. Simon Heenan is now aged 46, and is occupied as a foreman at a steel works. He and his wife have been married for 4 years and have had two children, one of whom has died. The surviving child – a son called Francis – is recorded on the census as one years old and born in Pennsylvania. Simon declares he was born in Ireland and immigrated to the USA in 1872.
Based on this census record Simon P’s year of birth would be about 1864.
Move to Illinois
He had married Elizabeth Crowe on 18 April 1906 at Brownsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania when he was said to be 44 years old, a resident of Brownsville and occupied as a merchant. According to the 1910 census they were still living in Pennsylvania in 1909 when their son Francis was born there.
The couple continued to live in Illinois until Simon’s death.
The 1920 census shows them occupying a rented house at North Hickory Street, Joliet Ward 3, Illinois. Simon, now 54 years old declares he had immigrated in 1869 and was naturalized in 1875 (neither date corresponding to their 1910 census return). Simon is still a foreman at a steel works.
There is a son in the household, Francis Heenan, who is said to be aged 2 years, eight months and born in Illinois. There is no entry for the boy Francis Heenan who was in the 1910 census. Did he die between 1910 and 1917 and the parents give their new son his dead siblings name?
Between 1920 and 1930 the couple bought a house at 116 Vine Street, Joilet, Illinois where the census records them in 1930. After decades of declaring his birth to be in Ireland, Patrick, now aged 64, states that he was born in New York with both parents born in Ireland. He is still working as a steel mill foreman. There are two other people in the house: his wife Mary, aged 60 who was born in Ireland, and son Francis aged 13.
Simon P was living at this address when he died in 1934. His wife continued to live there, along with her son, until her death sometime after 1940. Francis married in California in 1944 and served in the US Marines during World War 2. But he returned to his home town where he worked as a locomotive engineer. His obituary described him as “a lifelong son of Joilet” who was active in many local organisations.
- Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 [database on-line]. Ancestry.com
- 1880; Census Place: Duncan, Tioga, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1198; Page: 181B; Enumeration District: 151
- 1910 United States Federal Census; Ancestry.com (surname incorrectly transcribed as HUNAN by ancestry.com)
- Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania.; via ancestry.com
- 1920; Census Place: Joliet Ward 3, Will, Illinois; Roll: T625_415; Page: 21B; Enumeration District: 164; via ancestry,com
- The Herald-News on Mar. 13, 2011 accessed via https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/