February may be known as the month of love, but my recent explorations of newspaper archives shows that the path to happiness is not always smooth. In the case of one young woman from Connecticut, USA, love ended in tragedy.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, a “young woman of prepossessing appearance” called Annie Dillon had the misfortune to fall in love with Thomas Heenan, a ” well known liquor dealer of New Haven, Connecticut.”
According to the Echo report after paying “attention” to Annie, Thomas ditched her for another girl, and in fact went as far as to marry her. The distraught Annie threatened to take her own life but fortunately her friends intervened and prevented her from going through with the threat.
In October 1879 Thomas Heenan, regretting his hasty decision to marry, once more began courting Annie’s affection. He proposed they elope. She would have none of that initially but eventually agreed and they set a time and place for their next rendezvous.
She went to the appointed place for their meeting but of Thomas Heenan there was no sign. Twice disappointed in love, the poor girl went home.
Sick heart and tired of waiting, she returned home, and her desperation swallowed a small cupful strong solution of corrosive sublimate, from the effects which she died great agony.Liverpool Echo, England, Tuesday 28 October 1879, page 3
Why the Liverpool Echo choose to report this sad story I don’t really understand since there’s no evident connection between Liverpool and either Thomas Heenan or Annie Dillon. Maybe they just it would be something to titillate their readers? I’m assuming they found this story in a Connecticut newspaper though I can’t be sure since digital editions of the Morning Journal-Courier of New Haven don’t begin until 1880.
Was Thomas Heenan suitably contrite when he heard about the consequences of his caddish behaviour? Did he just return to his wife and carry on as if nothing had happened?
I was hoping to find out some details but have drawn a blank. I haven’t found the record of his marriage and without any inkling about his age at the time of the events in 1879 I can’t look for him in any birth or death records. He doesn’t appear in the federal census returns for Connecticut in 1880 though there is a Thomas Heenan in New Haven in 1881 who seems to be connected to the liquor trade.
The Morning Journal-Courier mentions a Thomas Heenan as one of three men arrested for theft of butter from a steamboat company. The butter was “traced to Heenan’s saloon” and one of his co-defendants was said to be working as a “bar tender” for Heenan at the time.
Did Thomas Heenan decide it was best to keep a low profile just after his former girlfriend’s death – and then return to New Haven when he thought the coast was clear? Or did he stay in New Haven and brazen it out?
I’d love to know so if anyone can cast any light on this individual or the story of the doomed love affair, do let me know.