This is a look at the Johnson / Heffley Family history. I hope that this web page can become a collection of information and a resource for family and friends. I plan to update, and/or, correct this page as new information is discovered. Thanks for your help.
The following is an 1837 map of County Mayo:The following information was obtained from the Thomas Noland publication of 1989 titled "The History of the Langdon and Thomas Families":
Web site manager:Eugene (Gene) D. Johnson, son of Ellsworth and Rowena Heffly Johnson. Grandson of Adam LeRoy (Roy) and Wilhelmien (Minnie) Blum Heffley, g.grandson of George and Elizabeth Gillespie Heffley, g.g.grandson of Patrick and Margaret Clancy Gillespie, g.g.g.grandson of William and Mary Thomas Gillespie, g.g.g.g.grandson of John Thomas Sr. and Mary Gillespie Thomas.
This page was last updated June 6, 2004IRELAND
Descendants of the Langdon and Thomas families may wonder as to what factors led to the decision that their ancestors leave Ireland---the land of their birth. The immigrants left behind parents, brothers, sisters and sometimes children. It was said that when an Irish family decided to leave Ireland a wake was held by the relatives and neighbors for it was almost as if the persons had died---they would never be seen again! Perhaps the following synopsis of Irish history will point out the many causes for the exodus.
In Ireland by the year 1653 Cromwellian forces had subjugated all of the country. Certain acts of the British parliament decreed the transportation of landowners to the inhospitable terrain of Connaugh which included the counties of Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscomraon. Their lands were sequestered for adventurers and demobilized parliamentary soldiers. Over eleven million acres were confiscated and any Irish landowners found east of the River Shannon after May 1, 1654 faced the death penalty or slavery in the West Indies. By 1865 only twenty-two percent of the land of Ireland was owned by Catholic Irishmen. What had been established over most of the island was in fact a landed ruling class mainly of English and Scottish origin, professing some form of Protestantism and dominating a native Roman Catholic and still Gaelic speaking peasantry. This was the Protestant Ascendancy which lasted into the last quarter of the nineteeth century.
Following the defeat of Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne the Catholic population was both crushed and hated by its masters. Then commenced a series of anti-Catholic statutes: The Penal Laws. Under these laws Irish Catholics could not sit in parliament or vote in elections; they were excluded from the bar, the bench, the university, the navy, to own a horse worth more than five pounds, pocess arms or receive a formal education.
On August 22, 1798 French General Humbert landed 1,000 troops at Killala, County Mayo to aid in the uprising by the Society of United Irishmen. The French were joined by 1,000 Irish from the Killala-Ballina area and drove the English from Castlebar on August 28th. The expedition ended September 8th at Ballinamuck, County Longford where it encountered the English under Lord Cornwallis. (The same Cornwallis who surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781). The uprising and the French participation were instigated by Thelbald Wolfe Tone who was captured on October 15th and executed. Following the rebellion hundreds of Irishmen were transported to the penal colony in Australia as convicts. Left behind them was a gutted country devasted by fire, bayonet and the portable wheeled gallows.
The middle of the 19th Century brought an unparalled human disaster to Ireland---the potato famine. The staple food of 8.5 million Irish people was struck by a blight that destroyed the crops of 1845, 1846 and 1848. The hardest hit area was the west and southwest which included the counties of Mayo, Clare, Galway, Kerry, and Limerick. Fever followed famine and between 1841 and 1851 the population fell by nearly twenty percent. Total deaths were estimated at 1,383,350. It was estimated that another 1,445,587 emigrated, mostly to America. In County Mayo in 1841, there were 475 people for every acre of land and 64 percent of the farms were smaller than five acres. The famine lasted from 1845 to 1849.
The Irish Catholics of Ireland having undergone Cromwell's punishments, religious persecution, rebellion, poverty, war, penal laws, famine and disease it is no wonder that emigration ensued. The wonder is that any people remained in Ireland.
KILLALA, a. sea-port, market and post-town, and parish, and the seat of a diocese, in the barony of TYRAWLEY, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 22 miles (N.) from Castlebar, and 131.5 (N.W.) from Dublin, on the road from Ballina to Ballycastle; containing 3875 inhabitants, of which number, 1125 are in the town. During the disturbances of 1798, General Humbert, with two frigates of 44 and one of 38 guns, having on board 70 officer, and 1030 men, sailed from Rochclle On the 4th of August, to make a descent on the county of Donegal; but being frustrated in that attempt by contrary winds, landed his force in Kilcummin bay on the 22nd of the same month. The garrison, at that time consiting of only 50 men, fled, after a vain attempt to oppose the entrance of the French vanguard; and aeveral of them were taken prisoners. The French forces were joined by many of the peasantry, and after they had taken Ballina greater numbers flocked to their standard, to receive the arms and uniforms which had been sent from France for their equipment. The town is situated on the bay of the same name, and on the west bank of the river Moy, it contains about 200 houses, of which those in the principal street are well built. The manufacture of coarse linens is carried ' on to a very small extent, but the principal trade is the exportation of grain, of which the annual average from 1810 to 1820 was 5000 tons, chiefly oats and barley; and the value of the imports, consisting of planks, iron, tar, slates, flax-seed, herrings, and sugar, about £5000. The trade was on the increase from 1820 till 1825, but, from the improvements of the port of Ballina, what formerly came into this port for the supply of that town is conveyed thither direct by the river Moy, and from 1830 to 1835 the average exports from Killala have not exceeded 3500 tuns, nor the value of the imports £4000 per annum. A considerable fishery is carried on, in which more than 300 persons are occasionally engaged, and for which this is a very good station; and large quantities of sea-manure are landed at the quay , the pier is very old, but has been recently repaired. The entrance to the bay is between Kilcummin Head and Kennisharrock Point. On the western side of the bay, off the point of Ross, are the Carrigphadric rock, between which and the mainland is a shoal dry at low water: and on the eastern side, about two miles from Kennisbarrock Point, is a creek called Pullogheeny, where small vessels load kelp and other commodities during the summer. The harbour affords good and safe anchorage for vessels drawing eight or nine feet of water, and vessels drawing 12 feet may get to the anchorage about high water. A constabulary police force is stationed in the town; and it is the bead of a coast guard district, comprising the stations of Dunkeeban, Port Terlin, Belderig, Ballycastle, Lacken, Kilcummin, and Ross. The market is on Saturday, and fairs are held on May 6th, Aug. 17th, and Nov. 8th. Petty sessions are held in a private house every Friday, and a manorial court is held occasionally. The episcopal SEX of KILLALA appears to have been founded between the years 434 and 441, by St. Patrick, who, during that period, was propagating the faith of Christanity in the province of Connaught; and built a church at this place, called Kill-Aladb, over which he placed one of his disciples, St. Muredach's, as bishop. Of Muredach's successors, who by early writers are called bishops of Tiramsalgaid (from the surroundine territory, now the barony of Tirawley), and also bishops of O-Fiacra-Mui (from a district of that name extending along the river Moy), very little is recorded till after the arrival of the English in Ireland, though among the few names that occur within that period is that of Kellach, the son of Doghan, or, according to some writers, of Owen Beol, King of Coonaaght. At the instance of Donat O'Beoda, who was brhop in 1188, Pope Innocent III. confirmed all the ancient possessions of the see; and in 1255 a bishop of Killala, whose name is not given, accompanied the archbishop of Tuam into England, to petition the king for the redress of certain grievances to which the clergy were then exposed. Robert of Waterford, who suc- ceeded in 1350, was fined 100 marks for neglecting to attend a parliament assembled at Castledermot, in 1377, to which he had been summoned. Owen O'Connor, Dean of Achonry, was advanced to the see by Queen Elizabeth in 1591, and was allowed to hold his deanery with the bishoprick, and his successor, Miler Magragh, was permitted to hold also the see of Achonry in commendam. Archibald Hamilton, who succeeded in 1623, ordained from Jas. I. a commendatory grant of the see of Achonry, and his successor, Archibald Adair, was, in 1630 consecrated bishop of Killala and Achnnry, which two sees appear from that time to have been united. Thomas Otway, who succeeded to the united sees in 1670, rebuilt the cathedral from the foundation. The sees of Achonry and Killala continued to be held together till the death of the last bishop, Dr. James Verschoyle, in 1833, when, under the provisions of the Church Temporalities' Act of the 3d and 4th of Wm. IV., they became annexed to the arcliiepiacopal see of Tuam, and the temporalities were vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The diocese is one of the six that constitute the ecclesiastical province of Tuam, and comprehends part of the county of Sligo and a very considerable portion of that of Mayo, it is 45 miles in length and 21 in breadth, comprising an estimated superficies of 314,300 acres, of which 43,100 are in Sligo and 271,200 in Mayo. The lands belonging to the see comprise 33,668^ statute acres, of which 10,176 are profitable land; and the gross annual revenue, on an average of three years ending Dec. 31st. 1831, amounted to £2600. 11. 1O.5, which, together with the revenue of the see of Achonry, since the death of the last bishop, is, by the provisions of the Church Temporalities' Act, vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The chapter consists of a dean, precentor, archdeacon, and the five prebendaries of Killanly, Errew, Ardagb, Lackan, and Rosserkbeg: there are neither minor canons nor vicars choral belonging to the cathedral, nor is there any economy fund. The number of parishes in the diocese is 27, comprised in 13 benefices, of which seven are unions of two or more parishes, and six are single parishes, and with the exception of the deanery, which is in the gift of the Crown, all are in the patronage of the Archbishop. The number of churches is 13, and there are two other places where divine service is performed, and of glebehouses, 11. The cathedral, which is also the parish church, is an ancient structure with a spire, it was repaired in 1817, for which purpose the late Board of First Fruits granted a loan of £1061. 10. 9., and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £600 for its further repair. In the R. C. divisions this dio- cese is & separate bishoprick, and one of the six which are suffragan to Tuam; it comprises 23 parochial benefices or unions, containing 30 chapels, which are served by 33 clergymen, 23 of whom are parish priests, and 10 coadjotors or coratea. The parochial benefice of the bishop is KiUaIa; the cathedral is at Ardnaree, near Ballina, and contiguous to it is the bishop's residence. The parish includes the island of Bartra, or Bartrach, and is generally in a good state of cultivation: the soil is very fertile, and the lands are nearly divided in equal portions between pasture and tillage, except the waste land and a large tract of bog. The surrounding country is rather bleak, especially towards the north, but the scenery is enlivened by several gentlemen's seats, of which the principal are the Castle, formerly the episcopal palace, and now the residence of W. I. Bourke. Esq., the Lodge, of T. Kirkwood. Esq., Rosa, of J. Higgins, Esq., Castlerea, of J. Knox, Esq., Farm Hill, of Major J. Gardiner; and Summer Hill, of T. Palmer, Esq. The living is a rectory and vicarage, constituting the corps of the deanery of Killala, and in the patronage of the Crown; The tithes amount to £154. 13. 9.: the lands belonging to the deanery adjoin the town and comprise 108 acres; and the dean, in right of his dignity, has the rectorial tithes of the parishes of Ballysakeery, Rafran, Dunfeeny, Kilbreedy, Lacken, Kilcummin, and Tcmplemuy; the entire revenue of the deanery, including the ---- is £772. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parish of Templemurry; the chapel is a neat slated edifice. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school, in which are about 90 children, is supported by the trustees of Erasmus Smith's fund, who allow the master £30 per annum, with a house and one acre of land rent free, and there are two private schools, in which are about 150 children. There is a dispensary for the poor of the neighbourhood. On an eminence in the town is an ancient round tower, about 83 feet high, of which the walls are of great strength and nearly perfect. About a mile to the south-east of the town, at the mouth of the river Moy, are the remains of a friary of Franciscans of the Strict Observance, founded in 1460 by Mac William Bourke, or, according to some writers, by Thomas Oge Bourke. Several provincial chapters of the order were held there, and the establishment continued to flourish till the dissolution, after which it was granted to Edmund Barrett. The remains consist of the church and some extensive portions of the conventual buildings: the church is a cruciform structure 135 feet in length, and from the centre rises a lofty tower, supported on four noble arches leading from the nave into the choir and transepts. At Castlereagb, on the banks of the river Rathfran, about two miles from the sea, are the vestiges of a castle apparently of great strength, which has been levelled with the ground: about a mile to the west is Carrickanass castle, about 35 feet square, and 45 feet high, built by the family of Bourke, and surrounded with a low strong bawn, and there are also several forts.
RATHLACKAN, a village in the parish of LACKAN, barony of TYRAWLEY, couuty of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 5.25 miles (N.) from Killala: the population is returned with the parish. It is aituated upon the north-western coast, and has a penny post to Killala.