Volume 1, Issue 1 September, 2000

Cornelius Heffernan page 1

Cornelius Heffernan

What we know about our common ancestor

Our ancestor Cornelius Heffernan was born in Ireland in February 1850 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1865, according to the 1900 Census. His granddaughter Eileen Halpin Landy recalls her Aunt Stella telling her that "Pa said he was from Waterford." (Other relatives say with certainty "County Cork", but without having a specific source, other than family lore.) His granddaughters Glare Heffernan Pennell and Eileen told me that Cornelius settled first in Amenia, Dutchess County, New York, where he married Margaret Maroney around 1872. At least 4 out of their 12 living children were born in Amenia, the rest in Yonkers, Westchester County, NY.

Cornelius noted on the 1900 census that he had been married 28 years and had been in the US for 35 years. They had 12 living children at that time out of 13 births, all of them living at their home on 607 Nepperhan Road, Yonkers, NY. (This house no longer is standing, but their later residence 24 Portland Street still is there.)

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Inside This Issue  
1 Cornlius Heffernan
1 Genealogy Project Underway
2 Margaret Maroney Heffernan
3 The "Original Family"
3 Questions Requiring More Research
4 Allow me to introduce myself

Genealogy Project

Debbie Heffernan Benko
A great great granddaughter

I have been piecing together the Heffernan family tree since 1997, when my Uncle Edward Heffernan gave me a copy of what his Uncle Corney Heffernan had put together years earlier for their branch of the family (Corneliusí second son Edwardís descendents).

The bulk of my information covers this son followed in volume by Joseph, Mary, Anne, son Cornelius, and Margaretís (Peggy) children. There are apparently no descendents from the following children: Francis, Charles, Stella, John, Richard, and Flora, and I donít believe any of them married.

I am thrilled to share what I have, including the family tree, narratives, pictures, and newsletters.

I have interviewed a number of Heffernan cousins having a dozen or so different surnames, and continue to do so as I obtain more names and phone numbers. I have gone to the National Archives in Washington, DC, to look at century old Census records; conducted searches on the Internet; left queries on message boards on genealogy sites; and found relatives in AOL membership directories.

Recently, I traveled to Yonkers, NY, where Cornelius Heffernan and Margaret Maroney settled and raised their family. Most of their children were born there, and they and most of their children are buried there at St. Maryís Cemetery. I took pictures of the gravestones and have posted them on the Internet on the web site. I met several family

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Cornelius Heffernan page 2

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Their descendants describe the family as being very musical. Aunt Stelle was a pianist and organist. Other girls played the piano. One may have played the harp. The brothers were Irish tenors for the most part, and loved to party and sing. The boys all played instruments, including the coronet and violin. They practically had their own orchestra with which to amuse themselves. Bill Heffernan remembers going to their big white house on a high hill overlooking the city of Yonkers when he was small, and the good times with all the eating, drinking, and singing and laughing. They were a good-looking bunch, he writes, right from Gramma Heffernan down.

The Census listed Corneliusí occupation as a firemanís stat (sp) and Margaretís as homemaker. In those days, firemen generally were those who stoked the boilers. In addition, his granddaughters recall that he was in charge of the water station at the top of the hill in Yonkers. That every morning he would walk down Lake Street and then climb the stairs to the top of the hill to the water tower. They were unclear exactly what he did.

Eileen said that Cornelius died of a heart attack in 1910. He is buried at St. Maryís Cemetery in Yonkers under a headstone that simply says "Heffernan"- see below. His wife Margaret and at least 4 of their children are buried in the same plot. (Eileen thought that 8 people were buried there). It is the headstone on the side of a hill at the cemetery. (His son Edward also had a separate Heffernan headstone down the hill and on the other side of the cemetery road, but within eyeshot).

Margaret Maroney Heffernan

The mother of the clan

The 1880 Federal Census reports that she was born in April 1855 in NY (probably Dutchess County) and her parents in Ireland. Eileen told me that Margaret died about 1931 in Yonkers, NY. (Clare suggested maybe 1933 or 1934). The June 1900 Census reported they had been married 28 years - doing the math suggests a marriage date of 1872, when she was about 17.

I copied a wonderful picture Eileen had of Cornelius, Margaret and 11 of their children. I can make copies available over the Internet

Eileen reports that Gramma Heffernan loved to have her family around, particularly on Sunday nights when everyone was off of work; she thought nothing of having all her children and their families over to her house on 24 Portland Street for dinner. Clifford Heffernan would play Grammaís baby grand piano and Gramma would go to bed around 9 p.m., leaving everyone downstairs playing and singing. Gramma was content knowing her family was around and safe.

I donít know Margaretís parentís names other than guessing that her fatherís last name was Maroney, and the suggestion by Eileen and Care that her motherís last name was Butler. Margaret had two sisters that Clare and Eileen remembered: Anne Butler Maroney, who never married, and Bridget Maroney who married a Quinlan, and later had two children: James and Maisie (Mary?) Quinlan. Eileen told me that James married a woman named Katherine (Kate) and they had 4 or 5 boys and a daughter also named Katherine, who used was a nurse at the Vassar Hospital in the 1920ís. One of their sons became a policeman in Poughkeepsie, NY. Glare and Eileen said that they had visited their farm in Dutchess County one summer. Clare and Eileen also remembered some Butler cousins that they used to visit in Dutchess County who raised horses.

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The "Original Family"  

Cornelius and Margaret had 12 living children out of 13 births in the 1900 Census; only the first 11 survived to be in the family picture take a few years later:

John 1872-1924
Edward 1875-1939
Cornelius 1876-?
Joseph 1879-1938/9
Francis 1881-1938
Estelle 1883-1958
Mary 1885-1953/4
Richard 1886-1938/9
Anne 1889-1957
Margaret 1893-1953/4
Charles 1895-?
Flora 1898-?
I took this information from the 1900 Federal Census, amending it where I had better information.  As you can see, I am still missing information.  
Questions Requiring More Research

The 1870 census records a Cornelius Heffernan living in Amenia, NY, with a Catherine Heffernan who was 60.  The illegible writing made it unclear whether Cornelius was 21 or 27 at that time.  If he was 21, then the years would be right for him to be the same Cornelius as our relative.  The 1870 census noted that both were born in Ireland, that Cornelius worked in a factory and that Catherine kept house.  The value of the real estate was $1000.  Who is Catherine and is she our relative?  I found a worn gravestone in Yonkers, NY, that was in memory of Catherine Heffernan by John and James Heffernan.  This stone was in the old part of the cemetery and probably dated to the 1880's. (cont)

members still living in Yonkers and had a wonderful time talking with them and hearing their stories.

More recently, I traveled to Southwick, Mass, to visit my Uncle Edward and Aunt Pat Heffernan, using it as a jumping off point to visit Unionville, CT, where my great grandfather Edward Heffernan settled with his family.

I hope to produce this newsletter a few times a year to keep everyone posted on our family tree and to use it as a conduit for gathering more information.  I'd appreciate any information family members have on their families, as well as names and addresses of other family members.

I am thrilled to share all of my work, including the full family tree, narratives and pictures of individuals, and copies of past newsletters.  At no cost, I can email JPG files for the pictures so that all of us can maintain the history of these wonderful pictures and text files.  For a modest "contribution" to help defray my growing costs, I can email you copies of these almost 100-year old pictures and a 50-page family history document.

I can be reached at (301) 424-1058.  My email address is:  My home address is 10311 Yearling Drive, Rockville, MD  20850.

The listing of Flora Heffernan (daughter) on the 1900 census is curious in that her great nieces don't remember ever hearing about her.  This could be an error on the census or Flora could have died young.  She was only 2 in the 1900 Census.  We are checking church records for more information about her.

I plan to research exactly where Cornelius and Margaret's family came from in Ireland, the ships that they immigrated on, and when the Maroneys and Butlers came over.  In the next year or so, much of the immigration and census data will be on the Internet, making research much easier. In addition, I am planning on researching the Maroneys, Butlers and Quinlans in Dutchess County more thoroughly. I also will fill in more dates and stores about people.  Please send me your information!

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I am Debbie Heffernan Benko, daughter of Richard Francis Heffernan, who is the second son of Edward Roger Heffernan Jr. and Madeline Francis Bowler of Unionville, CT.  Edward Jr. is the second son of Edward Heffernan, who in turn was the second son of the "original" Cornelius Heffernan.  In sum, I am one of Cornelius and Margaret's great-great granddaughters.  I am 38 years old, have been married 3 years and have a 2 year old son.

I am doing this project because I want to preserve our family history on paper.  It also feels wonderful to me to find that after years of moving around the world as part of an insular 4-person Navy family, that I have at least 200 Heffernan relations (and more to add).  Lastly, by preserving the names, stories, and images of my ancestors and relations, I feel somehow that they will not be forgotten and that they live on for our children and grandchildren to know.

The Original Yonkers Club from left to right and top to bottom: Cornelius Heffernan, and sons John, Edward, Cornelius, Joseph, Francis, Richard, Charles; his wife Margaret Maroney, and daughters Stella, Mary, Ellen, Anne, and Margaret.

This picture was likely taken in Yonkers, NY, between 1905 and 1910