Our Journey with the Heatons -- and More Questions 

Our Heaton Project began with the thought that, because we didn't have any "real" Brick Walls to solve, the research might not be as much fun as we've enjoyed with our other Brick Wall projects. We were wrong. The 500 year journey we made with the Heatons was delightful.

Before we began our research, we identified the questions we wanted to answer. We thought we had only three.

  • Why didn't Isaac Heaton know the name of his mother?
  • Who was Rachel Heaton's husband, Thomas Colver?
  • Who was the father of Lucinda and Jane Willis?

We began our actual research, not at the chronological beginning in England, but with what we thought we knew about our immigrant ancestor, Nathaniel Heaton, who arrived in Boston in 1634. We worked forward and backward with the multiple generations, then backward and forward, until the various families of ancestors and descendants came together and we could understand the chronological journey and development of our Heaton family in both England and America.

 

 In Lincolnshire, England

To take their journey chronologically, as our ancestors did, we would have begun with John Heaton (s1490-1552) of Fotherby, Lincolnshire, England, who we've now identified as our family's earliest known Heaton. In the 1560s, there appeared to be two separate Heaton families living not far from one another in Lincolnshire. One in Great Coates, Lincolnshire, and the other in Habrough, Lincolnshire. As a result, we developed more questions as we worked to sort them out.

 

In Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Those questions answered, we left England with our immigrant Nathaniel and his family, arriving at Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts in 1634. We remained for a time in Boston and in other parts of Suffolk County with Nathaniel's children and grandchildren where we ran into our next puzzling situation.

We next joined immigrant Nathaniel's grandson, Samuel Heaton (1682-c1756), who had married Sarah Hawes (1686-c1769) in Dedham, Suffolk County.  Their marriage led to our research of the Hawes family, and then to our discovery and interest in the Ellice family.

In the probate settlement agreement for the estate of Sarah's father, Ebenezer Ellis (1701-1776), also of Dedham, a wheelwright, participated with the heirs in the discussion to prepare and finalize the agreement between the heirs and assigns of John Hawes (1656-b1742 ), late of Dedham. Ebenezer was acting both on this own behalf and also on behalf of Samuel Everett (1711-1754), a grandson of the deceased John Hawes. Samuel was described as an heir, and Ebenezer as his assignee, and each received a share in the land in the division of the Hawes' estate. So, we added more new questions.

Ebenezer Ellis was the son of John Ellice (1657-1732) of Dedham. The family's surname had been spelled Ellice in England and America until Ebenezer's generation when it became Ellis, primarily as a result of how others spelled it. Our research of Ebenezer's family led us to Richard Ellice (c1621-1694) and his brother Joseph Ellice (c1630-1672) both of Dedham. Also living in Dedham, at the same time, we found John Ellice (b1616-1697) and his brother Thomas Ellice (1692-1690). This second set of brothers later moved the short distance from Dedham to Medfield. We remained in Suffolk County with the extended Ellice family for a while, determined to identify the relationship between these two sets of Ellice brothers. We believe they shared a common ancestor, and think that identifying the first husband of the Widow Ellice (  -b1658), mother of Richard Ellice (c1621-1694) and his brother Joseph Ellice (c1630-1672), may help us determine the connection. We've presented our questionable results on the Ellice person pages, and are hoping to find additional Ellice/Ellis researchers who know more than we do.

If you know anything that may help us learn more about these people and their lives, please contact us! Corrections of all kinds are also welcome.

 

In Windham County, Connecticut

Our research for the Heaton Project continued with Samuel Heaton (1682-c1756) and his wife Sarah Hawes (1686-c1769) shortly after their Dedham, Suffolk County marriage in 1706. They settled first in Wrentham, Suffolk County, and then we followed them to Windham County, Connecticut, where we found the answer to a generations-long puzzling question.

Why wouldn't Isaac have known the name of his mother? This worrisome question puzzled me as a child and, as we began this Heaton family research project, we still had no answer. A handwritten pedigree chart, with names and dates of our Heaton family descending from our immigrant Nathaniel Heaton, had been prepared for distribution within the family in 1941 by Roy Henry Heaton (1876-1956) of Miles City, Montana, a 2nd great-grandson of Isaac Heaton, and a 5th great-grandson of the immigrant Nathaniel Heaton. It had been our understanding, when we received a copy of the handwritten chart in the late 1960s, that the information had been culled and copied from notes made by Isaac Heaton, himself, from information that had been kept by his ancestors and expanded upon by later generations. The handwritten chart incorrectly recorded a duplicate entry, and generation, for Isaac's father, Samuel Heaton, son of Nathaniel and grandson of the immigrant Nathaniel, with Samuel's wife recorded as "Susanna Howe". The second entry for Isaac's father, Samuel Heaton, identified him as Samuel Jr., son of Samuel, grandson of Nathaniel and great-grandson of the immigrant Nathaniel, with Samuel's wife recorded as "Sarah Hancock".

A second, typewritten expansion of the handwritten chart, was prepared in 1944, again by Roy Henry Heaton, and included additional information obtained from various Heaton family members. Roy sent the original copy of his expanded document to his 1st cousin, Arthur Duane Heaton (1878-1964), in Dickinson, North Dakota who sent it to his son in California to have it typed by the secretaries in his son's office. The finished, typed copy, as distributed to members of the Heaton family, contained the same incorrect extra generation, and the confusion with Samuel identified twice, first in the Third Generation with wife "Susannah Howe" and then in the Fourth Generation with wife "Sarah Hancock." The typewritten, and expanded, version included the surprising and new information that Sarah Hancock was "probably an aunt of John Hancock". (These family stories take on a life of their own, don't they?)

Our path to learning about Isaac Heaton (1731-1814)'s mother turned out to take a surprising turn. Her name was the easy part. She was Sarah Hawes (1686-c1769), and she doesn't really qualify as a "Brick Wall" because she was not at all difficult to identify. It's the other things we learned about her along the way that make us wonder now. 

  • What was the rest of Sarah's story?
  • Why was she ignored, or forgotten, or misremembered by her Heaton family?

We're hoping that someone, somewhere knows and will share the answers to these questions. If you know anything that may help us learn more about Sarah and her choices, please contact us!

 

In Morris County, New Jersey

We left Connecticut and then followed Samuel Heaton (1682-c1756) and his sons to Morris County, New Jersey where we met the "singing sister" Sarah (Long) Colver (c1673-1756) of the Rogerenes, a small religious sect opposed to the established Puritan church. Stumbling across the Colver name was a very pleasant surprise because Thomas Colver (  -1852) had presented us with the second of our three original puzzling questions.

After spending some time with the Colvers in New Jersey for several generations, we think we may have answered that nagging question. We look forward to hearing from other Colver researchers with additional information. If you know anything that may help us learn more about the Colver family, please contact us! Corrections of all kinds are also welcome.

 

In Frederick County, Virginia

We followed Samuel's son Isaac Heaton (1731-1814) from New Jersey to Frederick County, Virginia where he married Hannah Bowen (1742-1827) in 1760. They remained in Virginia long enough for us to take a break from the Heatons and make a side trip to Chester County, Pennsylvania.

 

In Chester County, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, we had some fun with William Penn (1644-1718) and we met some new families. We spent a good amount of time with the immigrant John Sharpless (1624-1685) who settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1682, and with Isaac Weaver (1723-1816), of the same place, who married John's great-granddaughter, Sarah Dell (1731-1814). The Weavers and the Dells were Quakers and reminded us what a pleasure it is to work with the Society of Friends Monthly Meeting records. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania we ran into Robert Heaton (1642-b1717) who had emigrated from West Riding, Yorkshire, England in 1682. Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are neighboring counties in England and it is suspected that, with some serious English research, we may learn that the Lincolnshire branch of Heatons and the Yorkshire branch of Heatons have a common ancestor. The activities of Robert's great-grandson, John Heaton (1724-1788) of Loudoun County, Virginia were often confused, by earlier researchers, with Isaac Heaton's older brother, John Heaton (1719-  ), whose life remains unclear.

 

In Greene County, Pennsylvania

Isaac and Hannah (Bowen) Heaton left Virginia about 1785 and moved with a group of other families to that part of Washington County, Pennsylvania that would, in 1796, become Greene County. Isaac and Sarah (Dell) Weaver's son, Isaac Weaver Jr. (1756-1830), was among the group who moved to Pennsylvania, where he served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Treasury and in both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature, representing the district composed of Washington and Greene counties.

When Isaac and Hannah (Bowen) Heaton's son, Jacob Bowen Heaton (1786-1839), married Isaac Weaver Jr.'s daughter, Rachel Weaver (1787-1858), in 1809, we were able to make our Sharpless to Dell to Weaver to Heaton connections. And, we loved it that Jacob and Rachel named their first born child Weaver Heaton (1810-1873). We think Weaver is a great name. It was also quite a thrill to get to know Weaver's wife, Rachel Naylor Sharp (1815-1879), whose stern photograph has hung on a wall of our home for years!

 

In Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa

Our extended Heaton family continued to move in various family groups, branching out to other states, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa where we found William Naylor Heaton (1847-1916) and his younger brother, George Heaton (1851-1927), and their respective wives, Lucinda Willis (1856-1945) and Jane Willis (1855-  ). The Willis girls were on our original puzzle list because their father had not yet been identified.

We began our search for him believing that the girls' marriages were another case of sisters marrying brothers, so we set out to find, using the United States censuses, the correct Willis family. Wrong! Turned out, Lucinda and Jane were cousins who married brothers. 

 

Continuing West... Collecting Answers and Adding Questions

Our research didn't end in Iowa. New generations of our Heaton's extended family continued to move, usually west. We enjoyed following them from Lincolnshire, England to Boston, Massachusetts and all the way to California.  We resolved three significant and puzzling questions, the answer to one of them delivering a huge surprise. We also developed a list of additional questions that will need to be answered with future research. 

If you know anything that may help us learn more about these people and their lives, please contact us! Corrections of all kinds are also welcome.

The link below will take you to an index of all of the people included in our Heaton Project, and the blue tree icon indicates that person is a descendant of our earliest known ancestor, John Heaton (s1490-1552) of Fotherby, Lincolnshire, England. Traveling with our Heaton family has been a delightful trip, and we hope you enjoy it, too...