An Enthusiastic Welcome to All Problem Solvers

The people and information on this site were, in the beginning, selected because they were identified as our family's most significant Genealogy Brick Walls. When we first published the site in 2008, only two of our problem families were represented. We also introduced five, and then six, additional puzzle families we plan to discuss in the future. After seven years of additional research our site is growing to include family groups we hadn't originally identified as Brick Wall surnames. These families do, however, include many descendants of our Brick Wall people. We've also discovered these new family groups have their own collection of puzzling questions needing to be answered. It is our hope that by making our research available in this way, we may find cousins and other genealogists who are researching these same individuals and share, compare and discuss our findings. Even as we progress, we continue to ask...

Who were these people...

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

Brick Wall: William Gerrard's Two "Natural" Sons, William and Thomas, of County Meath, Ireland

William Gerrard (  ->1789) of Dormstown, County Meath made his will in 1788. He named, according to a brief abstract we found a few years ago, his two married daughters, Rebecca Hinds and Sarah Hinds who had married brothers John Hinds and Matthew Hinds, respectively. He named his three unmarried daughters, Elizabeth, Catherine and Anne, who we would learn later married William Foster, John Small and Michael Gibney, respectively. The will abstract also named his two "natural" (illegitimate) sons, William and Thomas -- who were a complete surprise to us.

Who were William Gerrard's two "natural" sons?

A Brick Wall, to be sure! To feed our curiosity, we went first to Ireland's wonderful transcripts of memorial deeds, conveyances and wills which had proved so helpful in our research of the Hinds family. We were able to find enough information about William's two "natural" sons to feel certain that, although they were acknowledged in their father's 1788 will, they were never considered brothers, or even family or friends, by their father's five daughters. And, although that was good information to have, our primary questions about these two "natural" sons, remained unanswered.

  • Who was their mother -- or mothers?
  • Where did they grow up?
  • Did they marry?
  • Did they have children?
  • Where did they live?
  • When and where did they die? 

What became of William Gerrard of Dormstown's two "natural" sons, William and Thomas? We thought if we learned more about the extended Gerrard family of County Meath, we might find some answers. Again, we turned to Ireland's transcripts of memorial deeds, conveyances and wills, expanding our research to include Gerrards throughout County Meath, primarily during the 17th and 18th centuries.

We learned that the Gerrards were an aristocratic, influential and wealthy family with large holdings in County Meath and beyond. Through several generations, sons succeeded to ancestral lands and acquired more. They married well and had children who are included in this project.

Most of the Gerrards in this work, including William Gerrard ( ->1789) of Dormstown, descend from Thomas Gerrard (1643-1719) of Gibbstown, County Meath, whose second son, was Thomas Gerrard ( -1763) of Liscartan, County Meath. He had married Catherine Cooper in 1713, and in February of 1729 purchased, by lease and deed, the castle, land and farm of Liscartan, in all, 430 acres. Thomas and Catherine had eight children, four sons and four daughters. William Gerrard (  ->1789) of Dormstown, the primary subject of our Gerrard Project, was Thomas and Catherine's fifth child and third son.

Our Gerrard research, although not complete, has been extensive. The link below will take you to additional information about the Gerrards of Gibbstown and the Gerrards of Liscartan, and some history of the times they lived in. We welcome your visit...

Then... Two Amazing Things Happened...

First… a researcher, who lives in Ireland and is descended from one of the five Dormstown Gerrard sisters, discovered our website. She sent us additional information she had accumulated through her own research, and gave us permission to include it with ours. She also had puzzled over William Gerrard ( ->1789) of Dormstown's two “natural” sons, William and Thomas, had not been able to learn much about them, and also considered them a serious Brick Wall. How wonderful it was to have someone to talk with about the Gerrards of County Meath!

Then… another Gerrard researcher found our website hoping to find information about the Gerrards of Ardbraccan, County Meath. Even though our site was not helpful to her, she shocked and thrilled us with an email on which she attached a more complete copy of William Gerrard ( ->1789) of Dormstown's 1788 will which she had obtained from the National Library of Ireland, Genealogical Office in Dublin, several years ago, and also a copy of the 1763 will of Thomas Gerrard ( -1763) of Liscartan, County Meath, William’s father. Both of these wills have now been transcribed and are included on our site. 

What an unexpected and very welcome gift! In William’s 1788 will we learned where his two “natural” sons were born, and additionally, the existence of his three “natural” daughters. The will even named the mother of his five illegitimate children! We're not finished, though. We still don't know if William and Thomas married, or if they had children, or when and where they died. If you know, please tell us

Brick Wall: The Gerrards of Ardbraccan, County Meath, Ireland

Our fellow Gerrard researcher and benefactor who sent us the wills is researching the families of three William Gerrards, all of Ardbraccan, County Meath: William Gerrard (1848- ), son of Samuel Gerrard (1823- ), William Gerrard (1794- ), Samuel's father, and William Gerrard (1761- ), William (1794-  )'s father. Her family’s oral history states that William (1848-  ) was a “cousin” to the descendants of William (1761- ), and that her Gerrards of Ardbraccan were related in some way to the Gerrards of Gibbstown in County Meath. If that’s the case, her Ardbraccan Gerrards connect somewhere to our Gerrards of Gibbstown, Liscartan, Tankardstown, and Dormstown, and we all want to find that connection. She has given us permission to include what she knows about her Ardbraccan Gerrards on our site, and we would love to hear from other researchers who may have additional information about her Gerrards and how they connect to ours. Please let us hear from you...


Some Links to More Information and the Individual Gerrards of County Meath, Ireland

The first link below will take you to a list of our known descendants, extended family and associates of the Gerrard family of County Meath, Ireland. A blue tree icon before a name identifies a descendant of our earliest known Gerrard ancestor, Thomas Gerrard (1643-1719) of Gibbstown, County Meath, and his two newly (2018) discovered brothers, Edward Gerrard, and another brother whose name we don't know. The second link will take you to a shorter list of the Gerrards of Ardbraccan, County Meath and their extended family as we know it. We think they connect in some way to our other Gerrards, and want to know where. We've identified the Gerrards of Ardbraccan with a red tree icon to indicate we need help! The third link connects to a list of County Meath Gerrards we can't connect yet to either the Gerrards of Gibbstown and Liscartan or to the Gerrards of Ardbraccan. Suggestions, here, would also be welcome. And the final link opens the full story, as we know it, about our Gerrards of County Meath, Ireland: The Gerrard Project.

Brick Wall: John Joseph Rorke aka O'Rorke (1852- ) of County Roscommon, Ireland

John Joseph Rorke (1852 - ) went missing from his family as a very young man and has not been heard from, or sighted, since. What happened to him?.. John was born near the end of April 1852 in Camogue, County Roscommon, Ireland. His parents were Thady Rorke (1830-1880) and Eleanor Boyd (1831-1858), and John was Thady’s eldest son and heir apparent. John’s mother died at age 27 when he was 5, leaving his father with five young children all under the age of 6. Thady married a second time to Maria Forde (1840-1890) when John was 8 years old and they added three more sons to the family. By the time John was 12 years old, he had seven younger siblings, five brothers and two sisters: Timothy (1853-1925) who would marry widow Anne (McDermott) Connor (1848-1921) in 1872, Margaret (1854-1912) who would marry Owen Farmer (1834-b1918) about 1875, Eleanor (1855-1898) who became a Nun at St. Patrick's Convent of Mercy in County Sligo, Michael (1857-1917) who would marry Mary Ellen Dillon (1858-1942) in 1881, Patrick (1862-1908) who remained a bachelor, James (1864-1920) who would marry widow Annie (White) Kelly (1859-1894) in 1884, and Joseph (1865-1895) who would marry Lizzie McDermott (1867- ) in 1885.

In 1873, 21-year-old Brick Wall John Joseph Rorke disappeared. The descendants of his siblings have wondered about him in each generation, and speculated about the many roads his life may have taken. A confusing side-note is that, until recently, these descendants believed their ancestors’ surname had always been “O’Rorke”. Current research, however, indicates the family’s surname was consistently “Rorke” until about 1910 when the branch of one of John's brothers began spelling it “O’Rorke”. Family stories about the missing John Joseph included the belief that he had studied medicine in Galway at what was then Queen’s College Galway and is now the National University of Ireland, Galway. While there he was alleged to have met a young girl named Birmingham Lynch or Lynch Birmingham with whom he eloped and disappeared. 

Patrick Hume, a descendant of John Joseph's brother Michael, decided to try to answer his family's many questions and end the speculation. He gathered the family stories about the three events reported in John's life he found most bothersome and set out to find some answers.

  1. Did John become a doctor?
  2. Did he marry while still in college?
  3. Where did he go when he disappeared; where did he live and what did he do? 

“Among the family”, Patrick recalled, “John's rumored marriage was always spoken of as a type of concealed, hurried, romantic, clandestine affair of a young student and a schoolgirl.” All believe that John and his young wife separated soon after they married. Speculations about John’s marriage have now traveled down through four generations of Rorkes. “Perhaps the Lynch Birmingham family disapproved of the marriage and/or the Rorke family found John's abandonment of his studies, at minimum, unacceptable.” 

All their speculation over the years, however, did not help them find their missing family member. Perhaps he died. He might have joined the Army. He may have emigrated from Ireland to just about any English-speaking country. He may have gone to Scotland, Australia, South Africa, Canada or America. He might have worked as a medic, or falsely as a doctor, or in another position in the medical field. And he could have changed his name and “hid” in Ireland or anywhere else. 

Patrick’s research first confirmed that John did in fact study medicine in County Galway, but he has not been able to determine if he actually became a doctor or worked in the medical field in another capacity. 

Next, he considered the “hush-hush” family story about the young John, still in college, meeting a young girl named Birmingham Lynch or Lynch Birmingham with whom John eloped and disappeared. He wasn’t sure he should believe the story until he found a newspaper announcement of the marriage.

Patrick was excited to find the name of John J. O'Rorke in an announcement of his marriage in The Galway Express newspaper of 10 May 1873. John was reported in the newspaper to have married Matilda Mary Birmingham (1855- ), daughter of Edmund Lynch Birmingham (c1815-1879) and Jane Hinds (1833- ), on 2 May 1873 in the Carmelite Church of St. Theresa, Clarendon Street, Dublin. John, who was 21 years of age, was described as a bachelor and a medical student living in Galway, the son of Thady O'Rorke. Matilda was 17 years, 8 months of age and described as a spinster daughter of E. L. Birmingham of Galway. John and Matilda were reported to have been married by Martin L. Murphy, O.D.C., a member of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. This is believed to be the first instance of anyone in the Rorke family changing the spelling of their surname from Rorke to O'Rorke.

A newspaper announcement, however, is not an official document. Patrick has still not found any actual proof of the marriage in a church record, or at the General Registrar's Office in Dublin, and can’t help wondering, “Was there really a marriage?” He is searching for the facts, and has other questions. Why would they marry in Dublin when both John and Matilda were living in County Galway? (Her parents were in County Galway and his were in County Roscommon.) Did they elope without their parents’ knowledge? Whom did they tell? Why would they marry so young and while they were still in school? Was it a rushed marriage? Were their parents involved? Who signed approval for the underage Matilda to marry? Was there a child?

It was at this stage in his research that Patrick found Jane Hinds, mother of Matilda Birmingham, on our website. He contacted us, hoping we might know something about Matilda’s missing husband, John Joseph Rorke. Unfortunately, we didn’t. His research project, though, is such a disturbingly perfect Brick Wall, complete with an actual missing person, we were “hooked” and wanted to help.

Working with Patrick, we learned that two events occurred after John disappeared and we wonder, in the case of the first, if John received his £5 and under what circumstances. Did he ever see his father again after his marriage to Matilda Birmingham? Regarding the second event, we wonder if John knew or cared that Matilda emigrated from Ireland.

  • John’s father died in 1880 leaving a will which mentioned his eldest son, John Joseph Rorke, and bequeathed to him £5. This is significant, we believe, because to each of his other five sons he bequeathed land holdings and considerably more money. We wonder about the law of primogeniture as it applies here. Shouldn’t John, as the eldest son, have been a major, if not the major, beneficiary?
  • Matilda, we learned, did not disappear forever. In 1882, using her maiden name, she immigrated to Australia with her widowed mother and sister. We wonder if she had been living with her parents again in County Galway – and, if so, for how long.

In preparing our Rorke project, we’ve added a small group of 174 people we believe John Joseph and his family members may have been associated with. Because his wife Matilda is a Hinds descendant, the Rorke project branches off from our larger Hinds Project.

We don’t like it that John Joseph Rorke went missing from his family in 1873 – or that he’s stayed missing all these years. Someone, somewhere, must know what happened to him… If you know anything that might help us find John, please let us hear from you...

The link below will take you to the list of our known descendants, extended family and associates of the Rorke family of County Roscommon, Ireland. A red tree icon before a name identifies a descendant of our earliest known Rorke ancestor, Timothy Rorke, father of Thady Rorke (1830-1880) of Camogue, County Roscommon, and grandfather of our Brick Wall, John Joseph Rorke (1852- ). Some descendants of our Hinds family of County Cavan, Ireland, who were connected to the Rorke family, also appear on the list and are identified with a green tree icon... 

Brick Wall Solved: John Heaton (1799 -1844) and Valentine Heaton (1801-1845) of Madison County, Illinois

John Heaton (1799-1844) had been a frustrating Brick Wall for his descendants for several generations -- and especially for researcher Dave Benne. Who was John? Where did he come from? Who were his parents? Dave knew from early Heaton research that John had been born in Pennsylvania, married Rocceana Kensler (1811-1886) in December 1830 in Madison County, Illinois, had seven children, and died in Madison County in January 1844. Early Heaton research reported that John had relocated to Madison County with his brother "Benjamin".

Valentine Heaton (1801-1845) was John Shelton's Brick Wall. John knew Valentine was born around 1800 in Pennsylvania, married widow Nancy (Berry) Gordon (1803-1876) in 1843 in Morgan County, Illinois, had one son, and died in Scott County, Illinois in 1845. John had been focusing his research efforts in Washington County, Pennsylvania because he had heard from family stories that Valentine had grown up near his future wife, and that Nancy's parents had lived for a time in Pike Run, Washington County.

Dave and John, both Heaton researchers, connected with each other through the wonders of the internet. Dave told John he had genetic evidence that his John Heaton and John Shelton’s Valentine Heaton may have been brothers. Dave had broadened his research to include additional DNA studies and contacted us because one of his reports indicated a possible connection to Isaac Heaton (1731-1814) and/or his wife Hannah Bowen (1742-1827), both of whom he found on our website. Isaac and Hannah had relocated with most of their 12 children in 1785 from Berkeley County, Virginia to that part of Washington County, Pennsylvania that would become Greene County in 1796. Dave hoped, because of our thorough study of Isaac Heaton and his extended family, we might know something that could lead him to identify his John Heaton's parents. We agreed to help, and rather quickly determined we couldn't connect his John to any of Isaac's or Hannah's extended families.

A relationship note: Dave Benne is a descendant of Brick Wall John Heaton, John Shelton's wife, Amanda, is a descendant of Valentine Heaton and this researcher is a descendant of Isaac Heaton.

Both researchers, Dave Benne and John Shelton, wanted us to pursue the idea that their two Brick Walls might have been brothers. They suggested that the Benjamin Heaton (1804- ) who was enumerated in Madison County, Illinois on the 1830 census might be the earlier proposed "brother Benjamin" and would be a good clue to follow. Benjamin's 1830 household included three males ages 20 thru 29 whom, they thought, "Might turn out to be Benjamin, John and Valentine." We learned that Benjamin was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, eldest son of William Heaton (1782- ) and Catherine Harford (1786- ) and that his ancestry, therefore, connected to Robert Heaton (1642-b1717), the original immigrant of the Yorkshire Heatons. Benjamin married Barthena Evans (1808-1844) in 1826 and they lived for three years in Henderson County, Kentucky before relocating to Illinois. They were in Madison County only briefly, with a daughter born there in 1830. The family moved within Illinois several times, and was found most often in Calhoun County and Macoupin County. As we researched him and his extended family, we added some new Heatons to our database. We enjoyed the process and, unfortunately, found nothing to connect him to John or Valentine, and had to conclude that Benjamin was not our John’s or Valentine's brother. 

Because we knew more about Dave's Brick Wall John Heaton than we did about John's, we next chose Valentine Heaton (1801- 1845) and his wife, Nancy (Berry) Gordon (1803-1876), as our focus. Theirs was a love story that began while they both teenagers in Pennsylvania and, even after they broke up and Nancy married and moved away, Valentine never forgot her. He would be 42 years old before they were married in Morgan County, Illinois in 1843, and he would die just two years later. Nancy’s first husband, William E. Gordon (1802-1839), had died in 1839 leaving her with six children, and together she and Valentine had one son, Samuel Washington Heaton (1845-1912), who married Margaret Campbell (1849-1939) in 1869. We researched the extended families of all the parents, children, siblings, spouses and anyone else we could find who might have known Valentine, collected lots of new families and some great stories, yet learned nothing about Valentine and his past. We also didn’t find anything to connect Valentine Heaton to our Brick Wall John Heaton. 

About this time, John Shelton mentioned he had read about a group of people who had departed from Washington County, Pennsylvania and settled in Madison County, Illinois about 1817. He suggested we all take a fresh look at the county's history. So, we regrouped and headed back to Madison County with a clean slate to learn more about the Six Mile Prairie where John Heaton had lived. We learned from The History of Madison County, Illinois that the first settlement on the Six Mile was made in 1801, and that one of the earliest, and most numerous of the families in the early history of Madison County was the Gillham family. 

We researched the Gillhams and their extended families until our brains fell out. William Campbell Gillham Sr. (1750-1825) settled briefly in Six Mile Prairie and his daughter Agness Gillham (1776-1844) married John Guy Lofton (1773-1832), one of the earliest judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Madison County. Their son Thomas G. Lofton (1797-1862) married Betsey Heaton (1797- ) in 1819. We learned that William Gillham (1791-1845) married Barbara Heaton (1805- ) in 1821, and that his brother, Isaac Gillham Jr. ( -1845), married Rebecca Hayden (1803- ) in 1823. Isaac Gillham Jr. ( -1845) was appointed administrator of our Brick Wall John Heaton’s probate in 1844 and, when Isaac died in 1845, his widow Rebecca (Hayden) Gillham and Calvin Kinder (1803-1879), son of Valentine Kinder (1759-1822), took over John’s probate as administrators. 

A quick note: In our research over the years, we have often seen the HEATON surname spelled a variety of ways. EATON, HAYDEN, HAYTON, HAIDEN, for example. So, we asked ourselves, did we now have five Heatons in and around Madison County: John, Valentine, Betsey, Barbara and Rebecca? 

Also from The History of Madison County, Illinois, we learned that Valentine Kinder (1759-1822) led quite a large company of families from Washington County, Pennsylvania to Madison County, Illinois in 1817. The colony included the families of Valentine Kinder, Isaac Braden, Philip Hawks, and others as well. The party traveled by flat boat down the Ohio from Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) to Shawneetown, Illinois. From there, their stock was driven across the country via the New Design Settlement, and they traveled from Shawneetown by keel boat to St. Louis, and then along the Six Mile route to their chosen home of Six Mile Prairie. 

We were familiar with the name Valentine Kinder (1759-1822) from the work we had done in 2017 to establish which John Heaton (1743- ) was the father of Washington Heaton (1777-1826) of East Bethlehem, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Valentine was closely associated with Washington Heaton’s brother, James Heaton (1775-1810), who died in Washington County in 1810 leaving a widow Barbara Heaton (1781- ) and five children, two sons and three daughters. Dave told us that several people with the Kinder surname had married into his extended Heaton family in Madison County later in the 1800s, and John's interest was piqued because of the name Valentine Kinder. Maybe Valentine, being a relatively unusual name, would be a clue leading to his Valentine. We were all hopeful as we began researching the Kinder family.

Valentine’s eldest daughter’s name was Barbara – and the bells started ringing! Could James Heaton’s widow Barbara be the daughter of Valentine Kinder? Could our Brick Wall John Heaton, Valentine Heaton, Betsey Heaton, Barbara Heaton and Rebecca Hayden be the children of James and Barbara (Kinder) Heaton? 

William Gillham (1791-1845), husband of Barbara Heaton (1805- ), purchased Valentine Kinder’s Bible from his estate. James Heaton’s parents were John and Rebecca, and Barbara Kinder’s parents were Valentine and Elizabeth. If James and Barbara Heaton followed the naming rules for their children that were common at the time, their sons would have been John and Valentine, and their daughters would have been Elizabeth (Betsey), Rebecca and Barbara. 

We didn’t know if we were on the right track with that thinking or not, and the coincidences were piling up. We don't believe in coincidences, so... what were we missing?

As we were contemplating our next steps, Dave Benne, who first introduced us to his John Heaton Brick Wall, decided to take another look at the probate records in Madison County, Illinois. “Just in case”, he told us. And: Voilà! Success! Right where they had been silently waiting all these years, Dave found all the answers we needed. His Brick Wall John Heaton was solved, and in the process, John Shelton's Brick Wall Valentine Heaton was also solved.

Dave found the evidence we needed to prove that Barbara Heaton (1781-1831), widow of James Heaton (1775-1810) of Washington County, Pennsylvania, was, indeed, Barbara Kinder, daughter of Valentine Kinder (1759-1822) of Washington County, Pennsylvania and Madison County, Illinois. From the multiple probate packets Dave obtained for us, we also discovered that Barbara (Kinder) Heaton remarried, after the death of James Heaton, to Alexander Laughlin ( -1825). After their marriage, Alexander and Barbara, with her five Heaton children, relocated with the Kinder family and others to Madison County, Illinois. Barbara became a widow for the second time when Alexander died in 1825, and Barbara herself died in 1831. Barbara's probate papers proved that the Heaton children, Betsey (Heaton) Lofton (1797-b1836 ), Brick Wall John Heaton (1799-1844), Brick Wall Valentine Heaton (1801-1845), Rebecca (Hayden) Gillham (1803- )and Barbara (Heaton) Gillham (1805- ) were her children and heirs. Her probate also introduced us to three additional children she had had with her husband, Alexander. Mary (Laughlin) Lewis (1813-1863), James Laughlin (1817- ), and Sarah Laughlin were also her heirs.

We were thrilled! What began as Dave's search for the parents of his Brick Wall John Heaton, and John Shelton's search for the parents of his Brick Wall Valentine Heaton, grew to become a very worthwhile sharing of ideas, healthy skepticism and puzzle-building teamwork to find even more answers than we bargained for. Take a look at Dave Benne's website for more information about his earlier research, DNA adventures and some great photos of his Heaton and other ancestors.

What an exciting finish to the rewarding experience of collaborating with other Heaton researchers. Dave Benne and John Shelton are two fine gentlemen, and we thank them both for letting us share their journey, and for welcoming our help as we all worked together to identify their Heaton ancestors.

The link below will take you to an index of all of the people represented in our Heaton Project, and includes the extended families and associates of two different Heaton lines. A green tree icon identifies a descendant of our earliest known ancestor of the Lincolnshire Heatons, John Heaton (s1490-1552) of Fotherby, Lincolnshire, England, and a blue tree icon identifies a descendant of Robert Heaton (1642-1717) of West Riding, Yorkshire, England, our earliest known ancestor of the Yorkshire Heatons. John Heaton and Valentine Heaton and their families will have blue tree icons.

Brick Wall Solved: Washington Heaton's Father was not Colonel John Heaton

Who, really, was the father of Washington Heaton (1777-1826) of Washington County, Pennsylvania?... The story his descendants learned was that his father's name was John Heaton, a soldier serving in the Revolutionary War under General George Washington when John's son was born on 11 September 1777 -- and that Washington Heaton earned his name because of his father's admiration for the General. Good story for sure, but which one, of the many John Heatons, was Washington's father? We identified five potential candidates: John Heaton (1760-1820), John Heaton (1743- ), John Heaton (1719- ), John Heaton (b1756-1823) and John Heaton (1745-1831) -- and then we knew! Washington  turned out to be a descendant of the Yorkshire Heatons, even though the Lincolnshire Heatons had been claiming him for generations.

In his Heaton Families II, Dean Heaton wrote that Washington was "very likely" the son of Colonel John Heaton "either by an earlier marriage or born out of wedlock." No explanation for the statement was provided, and some of Washington's descendants who have remained skeptical talked to other Heaton researchers, and together we decided to try and learn which John Heaton really was Washington Heaton's father. We had previously researched only nine John Heatons, yet not with Washington in mind, so we began with those nine, which included the "very likely" Colonel John Heaton. We were able to eliminate all nine fairly quickly. Regarding the "very likely" John Heaton, as we learned more about how committed he was to his family, we believed that if he had been Washington's father, we would have found some evidence or record of their involvement in something together -- or at least have found them in the same location once or twice. We also believe Washington would have been included in the Heaton family Bible records kept by Colonel John's daughter Charlotte (Heaton) Black. Howard Leckey's The Tenmile Country, wrote about the Bible which did not include a son named Washington, however did mention a daughter born to Colonel John's wife by her previous marriage, and who was raised by Colonel John. We decided at that point that Colonel John was not the father we were looking for, and also decided to extend our search and research to include as many other John Heatons as we could find until we found the John Heaton that felt "right". We added 453 new people to our Heaton Project, found sixteen "new" John Heatons and researched them enough to eliminate all but four of them.

Our best candidates for further research were John Heaton, John Heaton, John Heaton and John Heaton -- and then we knew! John Heaton must have been Washington Heaton's father -- at least until some new information proves us wrong.

  • We do still wonder why Washington named his only son Benjamin.

The link below will take you to an index of all of the people represented in our Heaton Project, and includes the extended families and associates of two different Heaton lines. A green tree icon identifies a descendant of our earliest known ancestor of the Lincolnshire Heatons, John Heaton (s1490-1552) of Fotherby, Lincolnshire, England, and a blue tree icon identifies a descendant of Robert Heaton (1642-1717) of West Riding, Yorkshire, England, our earliest known ancestor of the Yorkshire Heatons. Washington Heaton and his family will have blue tree icons.

Brick Wall Solved: John Bolton (1756-1819) of Bridgewater and Boston, Massachusetts

John Bolton married Zilpah Peirce in Boston in 1803 and had one daughter, Elizabeth Everett Bolton, born in Boston in 1806. Our family had been searching for three generations to identify who these Bolton ancestors actually were. After years of frustrating hit-and-miss attempts, about five years ago we decided to methodically research and eliminate, one-by-one, the members of every Bolton family we identified to have been living in Massachusetts during the targeted time period. To keep them all straight, we gave the most likely John Bolton candidates identifying names and also grouped the families by their primary counties of residence. The project was completed in 2010, and only one family and, thankfully, only one John Bolton, remained probable. Unless we find any conflicting documentation to the contrary, we have decided to "claim" the candidate we had called "John Bolton (the Uncle) of Bridgewater" as our Ancestor.

John Bolton, our ancestor, was born in Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts in 1756, the only son of John Bolton Jr. and Elizabeth Hayward. As a young man he enlisted in the Continental Army and served in the Revolutionary War until its end in 1781. In 1797, after just a few months of marriage and no children, he divorced his first wife, Betsy Denny, very publicly in the Boston newspapers. He married Zilpah Peirce almost six years later and they had one daughter, Elizabeth Everett Bolton, in 1806. Zilpah died when Elizabeth was two years old and John's health and finances went steadily downhill. He died in Boston in 1819.

It would be lovely to say that, by finally identifying John, our Bolton Brick Wall was completely destroyed. However... as so often happens, with one problem solved, others presented themselves.  In the earliest reliable resource we have found, the words "uncertain" and "perhaps" were used to describe the placement of both John Bolton Jr. and Elizabeth Hayward in their respective Bolton and Hayward families.  Because we wanted to know the truth, our next major Bolton tasks, in addition to trying to identify Zilpah Peirce's family, became to determine the accurate parentage of both of our ancestor John's parents, John Bolton Jr. and Elizabeth Hayward.

Brick Wall Solved: John Bolton (c1730-c1762) of Bridgewater, Massachusetts

John Bolton Jr. married Elizabeth Hayward in Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts in 1751 and had four children. Their third child and only son, John Bolton, was born in 1756 and was our first Brick Wall subject discussed above.

In the Vital Records of Bridgewater, for his marriage and for the births of each of his children, John was identified as "John Bolton Jr."  As early as 1897 when Nahum Mitchell's History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater was published, the parentage of John Bolton Jr. was described as uncertain.  Then Anna Chesebrough Wildey's 1903 Genealogy of the Descendants of William Chesebrough stated that John Jr. was the son of Ensign John Bolton (1686-1755) and Ruth Hooper (1691-1755).  Although now proven to be incorrect, that wrong conclusion at that early time was probably considered logical.  John Jr. "should" have been the son of a John, right?

Since that publication in 1903, almost all books and internet sources on the subject have perpetuated the error.  We, also, initially thought that 1903 conclusion seemed logical, while at the same time believed that it shouldn't be that difficult, in today's world, to prove -- or disprove.

After completing our research of all of the Massachusetts Bolton families, it appeared probable that John Bolton Jr. was the son of one of the sons of John Bolton (1660-1721) and Sarah Chesebrough (1663-1743), and therefore the great grandson of Nicholas Boulton (c1600-1683) the Immigrant.  We were determined, if we could, to identify the correct father and to set the record straight.

John Bolton (1660-1721) and Sarah (Chesebrough) Bolton (1663-1743) had eleven children, six of them sons. The only son we could initially eliminate from consideration as John Jr.'s father was the eldest, Ensign John Bolton (1686-1755) who, according to land records, his will and the division of his estate, had five daughters and no sons. We therefore concluded that the title of "Junior" was used only as a means of distinguishing the younger John (c1730-c1762) from his older uncle John (1686-1755), who also lived in Bridgewater. The remaining five brothers, all of whom were researched as possible fathers, in order of birth were Samuel Bolton (1688-1753), Nicholas Bolton (1695-1750), Elisha Bolton (1700-1777), Joseph Bolton (1704-1751) and Nathaniel Bolton (1706-1770).

When our research of the brothers brought us to Elisha (1700-1777), we learned that he had six sons who had all served in the French and Indian War.  According to the records, they enlisted and served in pairs. Imagine our excitement when we learned that the first two to enlist were the two oldest brothers, John (c1730-c1762) and Elisha (c1735- ). Elisha's birth had been recorded in the Bridgewater records, but John's had not.  Additional research told us that one of Elisha (1700-1777)'s sons had died in the army on or before 9 Jul 1762, and that all of his sons except John could be found in the records after that date.  We had wondered of course, before discovering the war records, why we had found no records of John after the birth of his last child in 1760.  So, then we knew... Elisha Bolton (1700-1777) was John Jr.'s father!

Our Bolton People

What began as our Bolton Brick Wall project, with John Bolton and Zilpah Peirce as our only two "problem" people, grew to include John's parents, John Bolton "Jr." and Elizabeth Hayward, and the search to identify their parents.  For three generations our family had been trying to identify who these Bolton ancestors actually were. We finally began to make some progress after we decided to methodically research and eliminate, one-by-one, the members of every Bolton family we identified to have been living in Massachusetts during the targeted time period. To keep them all straight, we gave the most likely John Bolton candidates identifying names and also grouped the families by their primary counties of residence.

Our John Bolton, we discovered, was a descendant of Nicholas Boulton, the Immigrant. Nicholas is the earliest known ancestor of most of the Boltons of Plymouth and Bristol Counties and the link below lists his known descendants, descendant families and associates.  Among the descendant families and associates, ancestors of some individuals may also appear, and by necessity, there is duplication of some of the people between other lists found on the site.

Our Bolton Family

Come inside using the link below for the full story...

Brick Wall Connection Made: Walter Hinds and Walter Hinds, County Cavan, Ireland

Yes! It's true... Our "Missing Link" has been found -- and his name was also Walter Hinds!

Walter Hinds of the 1800s was our ancestor and he was the primary subject of our Hinds Family research. Neither Walter nor Hinds appeared to have been common names in County Cavan, Ireland in the 1700s or early 1800s. So when we identified a second Walter Hinds, this one of the 1700s, it just seemed unreasonable to ignore the possibility that these two Walters were very likely related.

Walter Thomas Hinds of the 1800s

Our ancestor Walter Hinds of County Cavan, Ireland, was born about 1798. His parents and siblings were a mystery. He married Margaret Charters, probably around 1840, and they had eight children: John Hinds, James Hinds, Robert Hinds, Bella Hinds, Fanny Hinds, Henry Hinds, Edward Hinds and Richard Hinds. We learned from our research that Walter was identified most often, probably to distinguish him from his relatives with the same name, as Walter Thomas Hinds.

Walter Hinds of the 1700s

Three wills were found in Dublin at the National Archives of Ireland that introduced us to the earlier, 1700s, Walter Hinds, his brother, John Hinds, and Walter's eldest son, Ralph Hinds, all of County Cavan, Ireland. Through the wills we learned of several additional Walter Hinds family members and were able to identify our earliest known Hinds ancestor as another John Hinds (  -1706). The link below lists his known descendants, descendant families and associates. Among the descendent families and associates, ancestors of some individuals may also be represented.

A Tale of Two -- Now Three -- Walters Connected

We can now shout to the rooftops that through Memorial Deeds and other land records, our two Walters have been connected -- with yet another Walter Hinds! Come inside using the link below for the full story...

Scattered Bricks: An Introduction to the Heaton Project

Growing up as a Heaton, at least in our household, meant hearing many stories over the years about our ancestors. Nathaniel Heaton (1602-  ) of Lincolnshire, England, our immigrant who arrived and settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1634, was often mentioned. We believe our family had no idea there was another Heaton family living in England near our Nathaniel, just across the River Humber, an estuary, in the county of Yorkshire.

In developing our Heaton Project, we began with our Lincolnshire immigrant Nathaniel Heaton, adding his descendants and ancestors as we identified them. It wasn’t until we reached Bucks County, Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s that we discovered the Yorkshire Heatons. One wonders now if the Yorkshire Heaton descendants knew about us. Immigrant, Robert Heaton (1642-b1717), arrived from West Riding, Yorkshire, England and settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1682. The Yorkshire Heatons were Quakers, as were some of the families the Lincolnshire Heaton descendants married into.

The Heaton Project, as presented here, follows the Lincolnshire Heatons, adding information about the Yorkshire Heatons when we found the two families together geographically, or to answer specific questions.

The link below will take you to an index of all of the people represented in our Heaton Project, and includes the extended families and associates of both Heaton lines. A green tree icon identifies a descendant of our earliest known ancestor of the Lincolnshire Heatons, John Heaton (s1490-1552) of Fotherby, Lincolnshire, England, and a blue tree icon identifies a descendant of Robert Heaton (1642-1717) of West Riding, Yorkshire, England, the earliest known ancestor of the Yorkshire Heatons.

Traveling with our two Heaton families has been a delightful trip, and we invite you to share it with us...

Preview of Coming Attractions

One of the aspects of genealogy that makes it so rewarding is the never-ending supply of "Brick Walls" we run into. Chipping through the bricks, and solving the puzzles, even when the solutions present more puzzles, is a joy! This website has given us the opportunity to share our problem people and to compare and discuss our information with others. We're excited about the answers we've already found -- and our cousins and new friends, too! We have additional puzzles we plan to share, and some that are currently in various stages of development include:

John Richard Watts and Jane Fleming, London, England, 1828

John Richard Watts was baptized at St. Mary Newington, London, Southwark, England in 1798. His parents were listed on his birth record as "John" and "Sarah" and he had a sister named Mary Ann, but no further information is known about who his family was.  He was an officer in the East India Company and first married Mary Ann Grice at St. Mary Rotherhithe, London, Southwark in Feb1825. Mary Ann died giving birth to their son, John Henry Watts, in late Dec 1825. John Richard then married Jane Fleming in 1828 at St. Dunstan, Stepney, London. Nothing at all is known about Jane's parents, birth or life before her marriage. John Richard and Jane immigrated with John Henry first to New York City and then to Honesdale, Wayne County, Pennsylvania and had four more children. 

Francis West (c1605-1692) of Duxbury, Massachusetts

What was the relationship between the Francis West who appeared in Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts in the 1630s and the Captain Francis West who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608? Many sources have noted that they were the same man, or that Francis of Duxbury was a descendant of Francis of Jamestown. Just as many, however, have reported that there was no relationship between the two men at all. Inquiring minds want to know...

Thomas Brown(e) (c 1760-1817) in England and Wales

Thomas Brown(e), born c1760, was likely the son of Henry and Mary Browne of Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England. He married, first, Jane Flemming of that village in 1789, immigrated to Monmouthshire, Wales, and married, second, Jane Williams in 1798 after his first wife's death. Some of his descendants immigrated in 1847 and then settled in Scranton, Lackawanna (then Luzerne) County, Pennsylvania by 1850.

John (Primus) Conger (c 1640-1712) of Woodbridge, New Jersey

Researchers, for years, have been trying to learn about the early life of John Conger. His name simply appeared in the marriage records of Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts when he married Mary Kelly in 1666. His country of origin has never been learned, although it is believed by some Conger researchers that his surname was originally "Belconger". Other variations of the Conger name have also been suggested over the years. John and Mary Conger relocated to Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey before 1669. John Conger, who produced a very long line of descendants, is thought to have had eight children with Mary, and after Mary's death, with his second wife Sarah Cawood, seven more.

Jonathan Arnold (1758-1838) in NY, CT and PA

Who was Jonathan Arnold's first wife and the mother of his first four sons? Jonathan was born in 1758 in Aquebogue, Suffolk County, New York. While still a teenager, he served first for New York and then Connecticut in the Revolutionary War and later appeared on the Census of 1790 in Warwick, Orange County, New York. He brought his four sons, David, Shubel, Thomas and Heman into his marriage in 1798 with Mary (Polly) Lester, and they had seven more children. They lived in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Whom, where and when did Jonathan marry first?

Levi Townsend (c1750->1830) of New York and Pennsylvania

Levi Townsend married Rebecca Jones, probably c1785 and probably in New York.  They had ten children and raised their family in Falls Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  Levi's early life is a mystery, and active research has been underway for years by this researcher and many others desiring to place Levi with the correct parents and siblings. DNA evidence has confirmed to our satisfaction that Levi was a descendant of one of the three Townsend brothers of Oyster Bay, Long Island, Nassau County, New York but which one and how many generations removed is not known.  It is believed that he was born in New York and probably lived in early Dutchess County (now Putnam County) before relocating to Pennsylvania.


Content and Accuracy

The site is a work in progress, built from ongoing research which, by its nature, is incomplete. Where secondary sources have been used, attempts have been made (or are being made) to locate a primary source or original document to verify or disprove the secondary source information. In most cases, erroneous information that had originally been included, and then proven to be incorrect has been identified and explained. In some instances, however, false information was deleted entirely. These deletions occurred primarily in the very beginning of the research process -- before it was learned that "bad" information, with verification and source citations, could be a valuable tool in future research. All opinions expressed and conclusions drawn are those of this researcher unless attributed to another source.