Surname Saturday – Heal

Family legend has it that either Pierre DeLone, or his father, was a French Huguenot minister who was forced to flee for his life from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The exact spelling of his surname is unknown; it could have been spelled DeLome, DeLon, or Delone. Seeking to avoid further persecution Pierre changed his name to Peter Heal and fled to America, settling along the Maine coast. Most kept that spelling of the name while other members of the family changed the spelling to Heald.

A good number of Peter Heal’s descendants continue to live in Maine, most notably in the Georgetown and Lincolnville areas. In 2002, Lincolnville’s bicentennial year, the town organized a multi-family reunion for descendants of the original settlers. The reunion took place at Tranquility Grange in Lincolnville Center, and yes, I am happy to say, I did attend along with my husband, his sister and brother-in-law. While there we met Isabel Morse Maresh, a Heal descendant and researcher. I bought her book, the Heal/Heald Genealogical Workbook, which is sold at the Lincolnville Historical Society located in the Old School House Museum in Lincolnville Beach. Anyone researching the Heal/Heald name should consider buying a copy of this workbook. It’s well worth the expense. Ms. Maresh’s book was published in 1988 after 10 years of research, during which she compiled hundreds of family photographs, a massive amount of genealogical information and family histories.

One branch of the Heals left Maine in the mid 1800s, and therefore are only mentioned in Maresh’s book. These were the children of Eliza Barrett and James Heal who relocated to Staten Island, New York to join their maternal uncle, Colonel Nathan Barrett, whose dyeing and printing business had a factory in Staten Island, with offices in New York City and Philadelpia. One son, James A. Heal, Jr. returned to Maine to farm the family homestead in South Hope, Maine. A daughter, Caroline, married Daniel Barrett of Camden. Neither of these Heals had children of their own and therefore all of the descendants of James and Eliza Heal have Staten Island roots.

Ms. Maresh, in an interview by Elizabeth Banwell, published in the local weekly paper The Republican Journal, 8 September 1988, described the strong Heal family resemblance that continues to manifest itself,

“Whenever I meet a Heal, I know it is a Heal. They tend to have high cheek bones with dark complexions and the men are usually handsome and they are generally very likeable people,” Maresh said.

Ms. Maresh probably never met Chester B. Heal (1882-1970) but based on her description, I’m sure she would have guessed that Chester was a Heal descendant.

Chester Barrett Heal, Sr. posing for the camera at his Aunt's house in Port Richmond, Staten Island, ca. early 1900s.
Chester Barrett Heal, Sr. posing for the camera at his Aunt Gussie’s home, Port Richmond, Staten Island, NY.

Chester (Sr.) died long before I began researching the Heal family, but due to the longevity of some members of this family around 10 years ago I was able to correspond with Chester Sr.’s son. We shared genealogical research and I sent him a copy of this photo of his father taken at the Dakin house in Port Richmond. Sadly, Chester (Jr) passed away this year at the age of 93.

In the following photo taken in 1962, Chester’s cousins pose outside a restaurant on a trip to New England.

Evelyn Silvie Burkman, her mother Louise Heal Silve, and her cousin Nina Dakin Horn ca. 1962 on a trip to New England.
Descendants of James and Eliza (Barrett) Heal. Ca. 1962.

In the center of the photo is Caroline Louise (Heal) Silvie. Louise was the grand-daughter of James & Eliza Heal. On her left, in the lovely yellow coat, is her daughter Evelyn Jabel (Silvie) Burkman. Cornelia Heal (Dakin) Horn, known as Nina to friends and family is on the right. Nina’s mother Gussie (Heal) Dakin was Louise’s first cousin. Although Nina and Evelyn were ten years apart and second cousins they look like they could be sisters, and certainly bear a close resemblance to Chester Heal. Other photographs shared by the descendants of Peter Heal in the Heal/Heald Genealogical Workbook confirm Ms Maresh’s statement “Whenever I meet a Heal, I know it is a Heal.”

Surname Saturday is a blog prompt suggested by GeneaBloggers.

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