Saturday, November 21, 2009

Healy & Steel; Resting Together in Peace

Before we traveled off to Washington, New Hampshire, I had discovered, or been discovered by another descendant of the Steel family through Between information the two of us had, we were able to verify that Church Tabor's wife, Elizabeth Steel, was the daughter of John and Jane Steel. There are a few sources that have Jane as the wife of James Steel, but we think that Patricia, James' actual wife, would have some complaints about this idea. Jane is buried next to Church Tabor, her son in law (see previous post about them) in South Hero, Vermont. I found records that John had died and been buried in Massachusetts. That information had him dying about a month after his wife. That seemed odd to me but the discovery that Jane and John had four other children besides Elizabeth and their youngest (married) daughter lived in Massachusetts cast some light on this situation. It is likely that after Jane passed away, John, who was likely living there in South Hero as well and in fact might have been the first of the group to move to South Hero, probably decided to go to either live with his daughter Sarah or to visit her before the harshest part of winter set in. He was apparently taken ill and died there a month after Jane had passed away in South Hero. He was buried in Massachusetts either for convenience of those in Massachusetts, or because winter was setting in and it would have been difficult to transport him to South Hero to rest by his wife. Of course, there could be other skeleton's in the closet and maybe husband and wife had separated years before. Maybe we will find out some day -- or not.

But back to Washington, New Hampshire. Church Tabor and Elizabeth Steel were married in September of 1782 in Washington, New Hampshire. Perhaps they knew each other previously since the Tabor family came from Rhode Island and before helping to build the Meeting House at Washington, Church had helped with the original Meeting House (now gone) in Nelson, New Hampshire. Or perhaps all the families moved there for one or another reasons and they met there. Regardless of how they met, John Steel, Jane's husband and Elizabeth's father, was the brother of William Steel who was well known in Washington, NH. William had a major dispute with John Healy (husband of Mary Wight formerly of Dedham, Massachusetts). John & Mary Healy and family had moved from Newton, Massachusettes to Washington, New Hampshire in 1778. John lived in the south of the town, right on the border of Stoddard, New Hampshire. William Steel lived closer to the center of the town and both men had strong opinions about where the Meeting House should be built. William apparently stirred things up quite a bit and finally John and other members of the community decided to try to annex the south part of Washington and create another town. This got William's wind up and he invoked the state legislature and once they got involved they determined the meeting house would be built where it now stands (neither John nor William's first choice) and everyone could just live with it -- and no new town -- and so they did.

So Church Tabor and colleagues got to work on the Meeting House and one could say they all lived happily ever after. Perhaps after that big brouhaha things settled down and John Healy (my great X 5 grandfather) and William got along for the rest of their lives. John lived until August 19, 1810. William died on October 26, 1810, apparently falling off his horse and drowning in a stream. Some descendents have wondered if he was helped along to drown, but since John had passed away previously, we know he did not help him along. Why is it important that these men lay down their differences? Well, John Healy's son, Nathaniel, married Church Tabor and Elizabeth Steel's daughter Jane Tabor (my great X 5 grandmother). So William is stuck with the Healy family because Nathaniel, John's son, married William's niece.
Whether or not they could get along well in life -- which they probably did except for having strong and differing opinions on various topics -- they now lie near each other in the Old Washington Cemetery. In the photo above, the large Healy monument marks the final resting place of 13 Healy's of three generations; next to that monument is a row of Steel slate headstone (not the closest two, but the further back line of 6), including William, Hannah his wife, Sarah Putnam Steel, William and John's mother, and a few others. All together they lie silently as the seasons cycle through year after year. In 2010 the two strong pioneer men who helped build New Hampshire, the Washington Meeting House and whose children and grandchildren helped to settle Vermont and later Wisconsin and Minnesota and beyond, will have rested only feet apart for 200 years. It looks like the children and great grandchildren have had the last laugh. And a good reminder why we need to treat all people well -- you never know who will end up on the branch next to you on your family tree.