Ellen O'Hanlon Heatley

Contributed by Emma May STEVENS NOLAND © 1998

Ellen O'HANLON (HANLON), born 12/22/1834, in a castle, in County Kerry, Ireland, daughter of Jeremiah O'HANLO (HANLON) and Margaret Ellen (SCANLON) O'HANLON. Ellen had a twin sister, Bridget. It was said, Margaret Ellen was a Lady-in-Waiting, to the Queen.

Ellen's earliest memory of her childhood, was of running away with her twin sister, to follow their brothers to night school.

About 1841, when the twins were seven years old, the family immigrated to Canada, possibly Montreal. It has been related, the family left Ireland, due to Political Pressures, or for Religious reasons.

It was in Canada, the twins learned dressmaking, they were given the task of making doll clothes, for a wealthy woman, when they were about 10 years old. The woman tested their ability, by pulling at the seams of the doll clothes, when she came for them. They must have done exceptionally well, they passed the test and it was all hand sewing. In 1848, the family moved to Chicago, IIllinois, where the father, Jeremiah, became prominent in the development of that city. Later, Ellen and Bridget worked for Marshall Fields, in Chicago. One of the largest department stores in the country. Their stitches were perfect and they did such fine sewing, they were much in demand.

In Chicago, Ellen met Francis (Frank) Perrin HEATLEY, they were married 09/25/1853. Frank was twenty three and Ellen was almost nineteen. Three daughters were born to this marriage, before the family moved west, to St. Charles, which later became Denver, Colorado:

  • 1. Ophelia Ann HEATLEY, born 05/25/1855, died August 5,1856, at the age of 14 months.

  • 2. Mary Jane (Mollie) HEATLEY, born 02/10/1857, in Indiana.

  • 3. Margaret Ellen (Nell) HEATLEY, born 05/12/1859, in Indiana.

In the spring of 1860, Frank and Ellen moved to Colorado Territory, in a covered wagon, drawn by oxen. Mollie was three years old and Nell was one year old. At this time, many families were emigrating West. It took about forty-five days to travel from St. Joseph, Missouri to Colorado, by wagon train. It was in one of these many wagon trains, Ellen and Frank endured the hardships of traveling to their new home, with two little girls, fighting dust, heat and Indians on the way.

Five more children were born to this marriage, in addition to the three little girls, of which only two survived:

  • 4. Ophelia (Phe) Ann HEATLEY, born 09/3/1861, in Denver City Frank's favorite name was Ophelia, (possibly his grandmother's name). As their first daughter, born with this same name, died in infancy, the fourth daughter was also named Ophelia Ann and was called "Phe" her entire life.

  • 5. Francis (Frank) HEATLEY, born 10/4/1863, Denver City

  • 6. Herbert (Hub) HEATLEY, born 10/14/1865, Denver City

  • 7. Edward (Ed) HEATLEY, born 04/11/1868, Indiana

  • 8. Flora (Flo) HEATLEY, born 10/2/1870, Chicago, Illinois

In the new frontier city, the family built a home at 11th and Wewatta Streets, which was the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River. This was the main area of the town. The first cabins were built here on "Indian Row."

The names of the streets were changed several times before the final names they are now known by:

THENNOWTHENNOW
1st StreetWeWattaFrontThirteenth St.
2nd StreetWynkoopCherry St.Twelfth St.
3rd StreetWazeeFerry St.Eleventh St.
4th StreetMarketSt. LouisTenth St.
5th StreetLarimerCheyenneNinth St.
6th StreetLawrenceArapahoeEighth St.
7th StreetCurtisWashingtonSeventh St.
8th StreetStoutAdamsSixth St.
9th StreetJeffersonFifth St.

Eleventh and Wewatta Streets would have been First and Ferry Streets, at that time. There was a ferry that crossed the Platte River at this point, to go to the "Highlands", (North Denver.) The children of Frank and Ellen were raised in this area and attended school. The girls attended Wolfe Hall, a private school for young women only, sponsored by the Episcopal Church, located at Seventeenth and Champa Streets. In 1889, the school was moved to thirteenth and Clarkson Streets. The boys possibly attended a Catholic School for boys, as there were few public schools at that time.

Ellen loved the United States History, reading all her children's and grandchildren's books, when they came home from school.

The father, Frank Heatley, became associated with Mr. "Big Ed" CHASE in a saloon and gambling hall. The family referred to it as a "Gaming Parlor", as there was so much criticism of this enterprise throughout the West. Gambling was wide open and connected with crime. It became necessary for the better establishments to conduct their business in a very clean and discreet manner, so they wouldn't be run out of town.

When the great fire of April, 1863, destroyed the family business, "Heatley and Chase Progressive Club", it was soon rebuilt and continued operating near Fifteenth and Blake Streets, which at that time was the business area of the city.

About 1870, the father, (Frank) developed Pneumonia and was left with a bad cough, which later developed into Quick Consumption, (Tuberculosis). The doctors advised an ocean voyage for his health. Ellen hired a woman to stay with the children and started for Ireland with her husband and a cousin, who accompanied her. Frank died at sea and was buried there,09/2/1870, at the age of 40 years. Ellen remained in Ireland only until the next return boat to the United States, arriving back in Chicago, on Saturday, 10/1/1870. On Sunday morning, 10/ 2/1870, her last baby daughter, Flora (Flo) HEATLEY was born.

Ellen returned to her children in Denver, with the new baby and remained in Denver, to raise her children alone. She now had seven children, with the oldest thirteen years old. What a remarkable woman she was, rearing her family in a new land, rather than return to her family in Chicago. She worked hard and didn't seek public assistance, like the families of today. There was no "Mother's Assistance available."

Mr. Ed CHASE managed the business, giving Ellen a share of the profits. Since Ellen was not a business woman, it was felt she didn't always receive her fair share from the gambling parlor and from Real Estate investments and property owned by the two partners, also, bad investments took a considerable amount of the money.

In the 1880's, as the city grew and railroads came to the area, more ground was needed for them to expand. They bought out the family home on Wewatta Street. This was a blessing for the family, as they had come by hard times. Being widowed at the age of thirty-six years, with a large family to raise, it hadn't always been easy, but she managed to keep the family together.

The family moved to 22rd and Glenarm Place, later moving to 23rd and Welton St. while waiting for a new home to be built a 347 South Fourteenth St., which she moved into in May, 1888. The names of the streets west of Broadway, were all changed in the early 1900's. South Fourteenth St., became Bannock St. At the time the family moved to the South Fourteenth St. address, the area where Sunken Gardens is now, was the city dump, across from West Denver High School. Ellen lived here for about 22 years and raised her daughter's, (Mary Jane), children after Mary Jane died, until they were old enough to keep house for their father, Clarence Hagar. "347" Bannock became home for many in the family after their lives were touched by death or divorce.

For years, a stately cottonwood tree stood near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River. Edgar C. STEVENS showed it to his children. It was the "Hanging Tree", at 10th and Wazee, near where his grandparents had lived.

It has been related, that when Ellen lived near the railroad tracks, bums would come to the back door for hand-outs. Then they marked the fence, so other bums knew it was a good place to get food.

Joy and sorrow had touched the family in many ways, yet life was good, but cruel to Ellen O'HANLON (HANLON) HEATLEY. She lived a good life and was a wonderful mother to all her family. Ellen died 08/11/1910. She was 75 years and 8 months old and she was buried in the family plot, in Fairmount Cemetary, Denver, Colorado. Somewhere along the way, the O' was dropped and name changed to HANLON.

Thus comes to a close, the life of Ellen O'HANLON (HANLON) HEATLEY, who left so much for her descendants to be proud of. She was like a stately ship, tossed about on the stormy sea of life. She was the Captain of her own ship, keeping her head high and her eyes on a straight and smooth course, so it didn't end up on the rocks. Oh, that we can follow in her footsteps and leave as much for our children to be proud of.

Ellen's twin sister, Bridget, remained in Chicago after her marriage to William STEWART.

Recent research has revealed new information on Ellen and Bridget's siblings. There was an older sister, Mary and 3 older brothers, Martin, Patrick and Thomas and we recently found desecendants of Mary (O'HANLON) HANLON, by searching the internet.

We are still searching for descendants of Francis Perrin HEATLEY, Martin (O'HANLON) HANLON, Patrick (O'HANLON) HANLON and Thomas (O'HANLON) HANLON.

If anyone recognizes this family
please e-mail Mary Miller.
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