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Heathfolk Revisited

Chapter 5
The Heath Family in America

John Heath comes to Fond du Lac

The largest remaining branch of Samuel Heath I’s family is to be found in the United States of America.  We have already seen in Chapter 2 that John Heath, the second son of Samuel I, emigrated to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  He was followed by his half-brother Nathan Richard, who had previously visited the USA with his parents.

Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Past and Present tells us:

[John] served an apprenticeship in the machinists’ trade, but on account of ill health gave up that pursuit, and on the advice of his family physician came to the United States, settling at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 1867, where he secured a clerkship in the store of the late B [Benjamin] Wild with whom he remained as a salesman for two years.  At the end of that time he was admitted into partnership in the business which was afterward operated under the firm style of B Wild & Company. . . . They were associated as partners for about twenty-two years, or until they sold out to the American Biscuit Company in 1891.  John Heath then became assistant manager for that company in Fond du Lac and remained in that position until the business was merged with the National Biscuit Company.  He was afterward engaged as assistant manager for the latter company at this point until he became a member of the O’Brien Dry Goods Company, of which he is now the president. . . . Mr Heath is recognized as a man of sound business judgment and unfaltering energy . . . 

The Wilds – a Family of Bakers

John and Nathan Richard became connected with the Wild family by marrying two sisters: Sarah Jane and Eliza Lucy Wild 1Their father, Benjamin Wild, was born in 1828 in Burslem, Staffordshire, and emigrated from Crewe with his wife Eliza (née Bonell) and family to America in 1850 2, when Sarah Jane would be barely two years old.  After a few years in Milwaukee, he settled in Fond du Lac, where he established his bakery business.  It was to this business that John Heath came in 1867, and it would be too much of a coincidence for him to have arrived in Fond du Lac purely by chance.

Benjamin Wild’s father, also called Benjamin, can be seen in Market Street, Monks Coppenhall, in the 1851 census.  He was a baker aged 59, born in Sutton, Shropshire.  His wife Sarah was born in Burslem.  By 1851, Benjamin junior had already left Crewe for the USA, but Benjamin senior’s unmarried brother (‘farm labourer’), his unmarried son Henry (also a baker), his married daughter Lucy Morris 3 and her four young children were all living together.

Although Sarah Jane and John were too young to have known each other in Crewe, their fathers must have been acquainted, if not firm friends.  When John was advised to emigrate to the USA, he obviously turned to the one person his father knew in America – Benjamin Wild junior.  John married Sarah Jane on 8 June 1869, an event which no doubt led to his being made a partner in his father-in-law’s business 4.  By 1889 it employed between sixty and seventy workers.  Benjamin’s three sons – William Walter, Benjamin and Edward – were also employed by their father in the Excelsior Steam Bakery of Fond du Lac.  One wonders if they were jealous of their brother-in-law!

Two of Benjamin junior’s sisters also emigrated to America, but his younger brother Henry remained in England.  The 1871 census for Crewe shows that Henry had taken over the bakery business in Market Street and, besides his own wife and family of five children, had an apprentice confectioner, a servant and a ‘nurse girl’ living in.  It is of interest to note that Henry Wild (then living in Liverpool) was present at the funeral of Thomas Henry Heath in 1900 5Moreover, Samuel Heath (‘Coal Merchant of 8 The Grove, Victoria Park’) was a witness in 1905 to the will of Hannah, wife of Henry Wild.  There was obviously a close relationship between the Heaths and the Wilds for many years.

John Heath’s Contributions to Civic Life

Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Past and Present also says:

Mr and Mrs Heath are members of the Episcopal church and are much interested in the moral progress of the community. . . He is prominent in public affairs, having served as alderman of the old second ward and also as president of the city council in which connection he exercised his official prerogatives in support of many public measures.  He has been president of the board of education and is now president of the library board.  It was through his influence and under his administration that the Union, Lincoln and Washington school buildings were erected and various other improvements made to school property while the system of instruction was greatly enhanced by the adoption of modern progressive methods.

Clearly John followed in his father’s footsteps in his devotion to church and civic affairs.  In political life, he was a Democrat, and there is a photograph showing that John loaned his automobile (‘the best in town’), complete with chauffeur, to President Taft when he visited Fond du Lac.

John’s Visits to England

John returned to England on at least two occasions, for he is to be seen in the ships’ manifests (published on the Ellis Island website) as he returned to New York from Liverpool.  In September 1905, he was accompanied by his wife and son Samuel Wild on board the Campania.  In September 1913, John and Sarah Jane came to England again, returning to America on the Cedric.  There is photographic evidence of one such visit, probably the one in 1905.

John and Sarah Jane at Home

John and Sarah Jane made their home on East First Street, Fond du Lac, adjacent to the Wild Bakery, remaining there after John had severed his links with the company.  They can be seen in the 1905 census in the 10th Ward of the city, Sarah being listed as ‘Lydia’ – obviously a clerical error.  The other residents are named as Sam and Frank (sons) and Hazel (daughter-in-law).  In the 1910 census, John and Sarah are living alone with a servant; Frank and Hazel and their daughters Eleanor and Dorothy are living a few doors away.

John died on 26 December 1914, and Sarah Jane on 6 October 1917 6They were buried in the Rienzi cemetery in Fond du Lac.

John’s Descendants

John and Sarah Jane had four children: John Benjamin (who died on 21 July 1870, aged 4 months), William Henry (b 1871), Frank Howarth (b 1881) and Samuel Wild (b 1885).  Two of these sons were in the newpaper business: William Henry was the manager of the advertising department of the Wood County Reporter, and Frank became the city editor of the Daily Commonwealth.

William Henry Heath & his Family

William Henry married twice, being divorced from his first wife May Vivian Richie on the grounds of his adultery.  They had six children: Sarah Vivian (who died in childhood), John Richie, Marian Curzon (a boy), William B, and twin sons Edward T (sometimes referred to as Theo) and George.  William Henry later married Hattie Kayser, who bore him two children: Samuel Richard (b 5 May 1909) and Katherine (b 1911).  Katherine died of scarlet fever in 1918.  At the time of their father’s death, both children were in Chilton.

After being employed in various capacities in the newspaper industry, William Henry became the editor and director of the Chilton Independent Journal, which was founded in 1916.  He was very musical, playing several instruments, and was for a time a member of a military band.  He died suddenly at Chilton on 30 October 1917, only a few weeks after the death of his mother.  Like many members of the family, he was buried in the Rienzi cemetery.  His obituary 7 (from which much of his life story was gleaned) states that John Richie was serving with the expeditionary force in France, Marian and William were at the Howe Military Academy, and Edward and George were in Chicago, presumably with their mother, who died in Chicago in 1961.  Since the notice of her death 8 mentions only three of her sons – John, George and William – it may be assumed that Marian and Edward predeceased her.  (In fact, Marian died in 1959.)

In the 1920 USA census, John Richie and his wife Marguerite (née Withycombe) are seen to be living with Marguerite’s parents, who had three other daughters at home.  The 1930 census shows John in Lakewood township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  He and Marguerite (‘Madge’) have a daughter Jean aged 10, and John’s occupation is given as ‘Salesman – Radiator Co’.  John died in January 1962, and his death notice 9 reveals that he had a son John W; his daughter appears to be married to Jack E Jacobus.  There were seven grandchildren.  Marguerite died in January 1978 10 .  John W Heath's son John Allen was born in Lakewood, Ohio, on 3 January 1955.  He married Lianne Kraushaar (b 9 December 1956 in Eaglewood, New Jersey), and they have three children: Jason Thomas (b 17 November 1987 in Rochester, NY), Benjamin Allen (b 12 May 1990 in Rochester, NY), and an adopted daughter from South Korea: Marianne Elisabeth (b 17 June 1993).

William appears as a ‘roomer’ (lodger) in Cleveland, also in Cuyahoga County.  Judging by the other occupants, he appears to be in a lodging-house or hotel.  His occupation is given as ‘Legal Researcher’.  He died in 1963, and his death notice 11 names his late wife as ‘Zadia’ without giving any indication of her maiden name.  Since the only close relatives appear to be his brother George, nephew John W and niece Mrs Jack E Jacobus, it may be assumed that he had no children of his own.

In the 1930 census, Marian is in Omaha township, Douglas County, Nebraska, where he is employed as an insurance agent.  He has a wife called Ernestine (née Shayler), and two daughters: Marilyn (7) and Ernestine (3½).  The twins Edward and George, aged 23, are still at home with their mother May Heath in Lakewood township in Cuyahoga County.  The boys are 23 years old, and appear to be unemployed.  The family have a ‘roomer’ – a salesman – living with them.

Samuel Richard married Josephine Dorothy Krug on 16 April 1937, and they had four children: David Richard (b 6 June 1938), Katherine Mary (b 3 March 1940), Margaret Ann (b 3 August 1945) and James William (b 6 March 1947).  After his first wife’s death in 1948, Samuel Richard married Audrey Bea Dillie, by whom he had two children: Deborah Kay (b 28 February 1957) and Heide Ellen (b 10 March 1960).  Samuel Richard became District Attorney for Fond du Lac, but he resigned from that post due to ill-health in 1946.  He died at the age of 52 on 10 July 1961.  Audrey died on 2 November 1965, and her two daughters were then raised by their half-sister Katherine, who already had two children of her own.

Katherine married Michael Holman on 20 October 1962.  They had five sons: Michael Joseph (b 21 July 1963), John Patrick (b 4 December 1964), Timothy Richard (b 7 April 1967), Ted Albert (b 19 January 1971) and Daniel James (b 30 December 1972).

Margaret Ann married Gerald Charles Hermann on 19 April 1969.  They had three children: Keith Gerald (b 24 September 1970), Kevin Richard (b 14 November 1972) and Sara Marie (b 17 July 1978).

David Richard never married.  James William was married to Jane Hebert on 17 April 1976, but they divorced with no children.  In 1988, James married Cindy Benedict, and they were divorced in 2005.

Frank Howarth Heath & his Family

Frank Howarth married Hazel Eleanor Weil, and they had three children: Sarah Jane (b 7 September 1905) (she later changed her second name to Eleanor), Dorothy Frances (b 29 December 1908, and named after Frances Wild, the sister of Sarah Jane and Eliza Lucy) and Benjamin Wild (b 19 July 1914).  Frank died in 1952.

Sarah Jane married Willard A Boldt; they had a daughter called Barbara.  Sarah and Willard can be seen in the US census for 1930, when they were living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Willard was a teacher in a Vocational School.  Dorothy Frances married William Washington Patrick, a prominent orthopaedic surgeon in Chicago; they had four children: Patricia (b 7 November 1930), Michael Heath (b 31 March 1936), Sharon (b 4 March 1938) and Peter (b 15 July 1940).  William and Dorothy were divorced in 1948, and both re-married.  Dorothy died in 1958 and William in 1968.

Michael obtained a PhD in biophysics at the University of Chicago, and married Catherine Russell.  They had two children: Kelly (b 25 June 1959) and Kevin (b 18 January 1962).  Kelly remained single, but Kevin married Debbie Romano.  Living in Dallas, Texas, they had two children: William Joseph (b 2 September 1993) and Sarah Corine (b 12 March 1997).  Catherine and Michael were divorced in 1975, and in 1976 Michael married Beverly Crane (b 16 January 1945).  They met at the University of Texas in Dallas, Beverly having already obtained a PhD in humanities from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  They also had two children: Jeremy William (b 29 January 1981) and Meghan Jeannette (b 8 September 1984).

Benjamin graduated from Marquette University as a mechanical engineer.  After two years in research engineering, he joined the US Air Force and served throughout World War II, retiring in 1946 as a Major.  He then became associated with an independent petroleum exploration group, and at the time of writing was still involved as chairman of two companies and a director of two others.

Benjamin married Mary Aloise Buckley; she was an accomplished writer, and had many of her articles published in the National Review magazine which was founded by her brother William F Buckley Jr in 1955.  After her death, the articles were published in book form 12Benjamin and Aloise settled in West Hartford, Connecticut, where they raised ten children: James Buckley (b 7 March 1945), Pamela Curzon (b 8 October 1947), John Kirkover (b 8 March 1949) (he later changed his name to John Aloise Buckley), Priscilla Langford (b 1 September 1951), William Buckley (b 12 March 1953), Mary Alison (b 21 May 1954), Elizabeth Stanton (b 29 April 1955), Jennifer Wild (b 10 October 1956), Timothy Buckley (b 12 January 1958), and Janet Powell (b 7 September 1959).  It is interesting to note that the given names of the children include the surnames of the families closely associated with the Heaths: Wild, Powell and Buckley.  A picture of the six daughters can be seen here.  After Aloise’s untimely death in January 1967, Benjamin married Maria Elena Beehan in 1968.  They moved to Farmington, Connecticut, in 1976, and later to Newport Beach, California.

In February 2012, Sally and Mike Hall (see Chapter 9) visited Newport Beach to meet Ben, Maria and Janet Heath.

Ben died in 2012, aged 98.

At the time of writing, Benjamin’s children are placed as follows:

James married Carol Weichert, and they had one child: Jessica Aloise (b 3 April 1976).  They were later divorced, and James married Dr Edith Petrello.  Living in Norfolk, Connecticut, he is a teacher at Avon High School. Jessica married Jeff Littleton, and they have a son Elija Root (b 26 November 2001).
Pamela married James Bailey-Gates; they had three children: Jennifer (b 28 May 1968), Aloise (b 18 June 1970) and Buckley (b 5 July 1972).  Jennifer married Steven May, and they had two sons: Ryan Patrick (b 20 June 1995) and Keegan Buckley (b 21 April 2001).  Pamela and James divorced, and she later married Robert Palmer, settling in Avon, Connecticut, where Pamela works for an insurance company.
Priscilla (‘Perky’) married Dr Chalmers (‘Sandy’) Hamill. They have three children: Bronwyn (b 25 July 1978), Whitney (b 16 November 1980) and Chalmers Morgan (b 24 July 1988).  They live in Watertown, Connecticut, where Priscilla works in a doctor’s office.
William Buckley (‘Buck’) married Katherine Kempin. They have two sons: Benjamin Wild II (b 31 June 1983) and Joshua Buckley (b 24 February 1990).  Living in Overland Park, Kansas City, Buck is a Captain in the Fire Dept.
Alison married Jonathan Cotton. They have two sons: Jared (b 4 July 1984) and Heath Wild (b 7 April 1987), and they live in North Canton, Connecticut.
Elizabeth (‘Betsey’) married Robert Walsh; they had four children: Mimi (b 5 September 1980), Benjamin (b 28 October 1982), Tessa (b 12 September 1984) and Alex (b :14 April 1986).  Betsey and Robert were divorced in 1993.  In 2002 she married Ken Harmon, and they live with her children in West Hartford, Connecticut, where she is employed in administrative work at the University.
Jennifer (‘JJ’) married Donald Robinson, and they had one son: Patrick B (b 20 June 1995).  They divorced in 2001.  Jennifer later married Geoff Smith, and in July 2007 they visited Joan and Geoff Heath at their home in England — the first visit by a member of the American branch of the family since John Heath came in 1913.  Jennifer works as a teacher in Woodbury, Connecticut.
John, Timothy and Janet have not married.  John, living in Woodbury, Connecticut, is a teacher; Timothy, living in Bethel, Connecticut, is also a teacher; and Janet, living near her father in Newport Beach, California, is an administrative assistant with the Irvine Company.

Samuel Wild Heath

Samuel Wild Heath graduated from Fond du Lac High School in 1904, and then attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  He became a salesman for The American Radiator company, and later was employed in the company’s offices in Milwaukee and Chicago.  He married Kathryn Helmer on 9 October 1921, but his obituary 13 (from which this information was obtained) makes no mention of any children.  He died at the Hotel Retlaw, where he lived in Fond du Lac, on 21 December 1942, being buried in the family grave at Rienzi.

Nathan Richard Heath joins his Brother in America

As we have already seen, Nathan Richard accompanied his parents on a visit to Fond du Lac in 1873, when he was 15 years of age.  He must have been impressed with the American way of life, for he returned some years later and married 14 Sarah Jane’s younger sister Eliza Lucy Wild on 17 October 1881, his address being given as Fairbank, Minnesota, and his occupation as ‘book-keeper’.

Nathan Richard died on 16 April 1904.  His obituary 15 says:

He was born in Crewe, England, and spent his childhood and early manhood in that country, coming to America in 1881.  He came directly to Fond du Lac and engaged in the laundry business and has been continuously in business here since that time, being proprietor of the Fond du Lac Steam Laundry at the time of his death.  He has been prominent in city affairs and has represented the Second Ward for two years in the common council.

Clearly Nathan Richard, like his half-brother John, followed his father’s example in service to the community.

Nathan Richard and Eliza Lucy had three children: Ewart Gladstone (b 1883), Bess Wild (b 1887) and Benjamin Lisle 16 (b 1890).

Ewart first married Hertha Ida Birge on 20 June 1906. After her death in 1911, he married Mrs Alma Ruez Keith 17 in June 1913; they adopted Robert Gladstone in 1923.

Bess married Charles Leland Marston; their children were Charles Heath (b 1915) and Judith Hilton (b 1924).  At the time of writing, Charles was living in Seattle, and Judith, a doctor of medicine, was in Sonoita, Arizona.  Neither was married. Benjamin married Gladys Ramsey; they had two children: Lucy Eileen (b 1914) and Benjamin Lisle (b 1920).

After eighteen years of widowhood, Eliza Lucy married again on 28 February 1922 18Her second husband was William Ernest Smith, who was first engaged in the printing trade and later owned the Bijou cinema 19 (one of the first picture houses in Fond du Lac).  They went to live in the Retlaw Hotel in Fond du Lac for the last five years of their lives.  Eliza’s sister Frances Eastman also lived at the hotel until her death in August 1940 20Eliza died on 1 August 1944 21, and William died in the following month.  Both were aged 85.

A Separate Branch of the Heath Family in America

Minnie Gertrude Heath, the youngest daughter of Samuel Heath II, also emigrated to America with her husband Ernest James Parker and their two children.  Their story is told in Chapter 4.  Minnie was a niece of John Heath of Fond du Lac, and cousin to William Henry, Frank Howarth and Samuel Wild Heath.

Further Sections:



Chapter 1: Early Days (1321 – 1790)

Chapter 2: Samuel Heath I (1816 – 1882)

Chapter 3: Martin Heath (1810 – 1887)

Chapter 4: Samuel Heath II (1837 – 1922)

Chapter 6: Mary Alice & Thomas Henry Heath

Chapter 7: William Henry Heath (1862 – 1943)

Chapter 8: Samuel Percy Heath (1893 – 1977)

Chapter 9: William Geoffrey Heath (b 1924)

Appendix: The Will of Thomas Heath



1  This double link was echoed by Mary Alice and Thomas Henry Heath, who married into the Powell family, as may be seen in Chapter 6.  Back

2  Portrait and Biographical Album of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Acme Publishing Company, Chicago.  1889.  Back

3  Portrait and Biographical Album of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin says: ‘Mrs Lucy Morris came to Fond du Lac about 1870, and later went to the FeeJee [sic] Islands to meet her husband, who had preceded her to that country.’ Although some of the information about Benjamin Wild and his family is taken from the above book, the author is indebted to Marcus Harrod-Wild, a great-great-grandson of Henry Wild, for many of the details.  Back

4  Portrait and Biographical Album of Fond du Lac County says that John became a partner in 1871.  Back

5  The Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle, 7 July 1900.  Back

6  These dates and much of the information about John Heath and his family were supplied by Mrs Margaret Hermann of Waupun, Wisconsin, Benjamin Heath of Newport Beach, California, Michael Heath Patrick of Wisconsin and his daughter Kelly of Indianapolis (all descendants of John Heath) and Beverly Crane, second wife of Michael H Patrick.  The information is supplemented by extracts from the Fond du Lac registers of births, marriages and deaths supplied by Elaine Hoffman, Researcher for the Fond du Lac Genealogical Society, and by newspaper accounts supplied by Nancy Emmert, a genealogist in Madison, Wisconsin.  Some details have also been taken from Beddow’s family tree.  Back

7  The Daily Commonwealth Reporter, Fond du Lac, 31 October 1917.  Back

8  The death notice appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated 4 January 1961, and is preserved on the Cleveland Public Library Necrology website.  Back

9  The death notice appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated 2 January 1962, and is preserved on the Cleveland Public Library Necrology website.  Back

10  From the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated 23 April 1978.  Back

11  The death notice appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated 17 November 1963, and is preserved on the Cleveland Public Library Necrology website.  Back

12  Will Mrs Major go to Hell?  Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, 1969.  Back

13  The Daily Commonwealth Reporter, Fond du Lac, 21 December 1942.  Back

14  According to his obituary, Nathan Richard appears to have lived in America for only a short while before marrying Eliza Lucy.  One wonders if this union was arranged beforehand by his brother and sister-in-law.  Back

15  The Daily Commonwealth Reporter, Fond du Lac, 16 April 1904.  Back

16  Some references spell this name ‘Lyle’.  Back

17  The Daily Commonwealth Reporter, Fond du Lac, 20 June 1913.  Back

18  The Daily Commonwealth Reporter, Fond du Lac, 28 September 1944.  Back

19  Ibid.  Back

20  The Daily Commonwealth Reporter, Fond du Lac, 16 August 1940.  Back

21  The Daily Commonwealth Reporter, Fond du Lac, 1 August 1944.  Back