The Healy Family History of Cherry Valley

Helen Healey Monahan, born in 1916, was the daughter of Tom and Nell Healey. Tom, born in 1871 to John and Margaret Culhane Healey, was one of six siblings who mostly settled in Cherry Valley, Illinois. Nell, born in 1874 to John and Bridget Fallon, was one of 13 children. Helen married Robert Monahan in 1941. Her siblings included Lucille, John, Francis, and Monsignor Joseph Healey. The Healey family resided in several homes in Cherry Valley, with Tom working at Ray Lee’s Hardware Store and serving as Postmaster. Helen’s recollections provide a vivid portrayal of Cherry Valley’s past, its community, and local businesses.

Helen Healey Monahan, her sister, and their three brothers were the daughters and sons of Tom and Nell Healey. Their father was born in 1871 and was the son of John and Margaret Culhane Healey. He was one of six brothers and sisters who nearly all settled in the Cherry Valley area. Mary Healey married Patrick Flynn. Margaret Corcoran is her daughter. Colette Corcoran Carlson (Mrs. Robert Carlson) is a granddaughter. Alice Healey married Luke Kehoe on June 2, 1893. Their children include Helen Kehoe Larson (Mrs. Hilmer Larson). The Hilmer Larsons have two children, John and Mary Jane. John and wife Betty Jean Gifford live in Winnebago. Mary Jane is married to James Biergan and they have three children, Patrick John, Mary Jo and Matthew Francis.

Tom Healey’s other brothers and sisters were Garrett Healey, Maggie Healey Peacock and Patrick Healey.

Their mother, Nell, was born in 1874 and was the daughter of John and Bridget Fallon. John had come to Cherry Valley from New York and Bridget came from Galway in Ireland when she was 16. Nell was one of 13 children and lived on their farm about five miles southeast of Cherry Valley. Nell was a teacher in a one room school near the farm. Bill Fallon fought in the Spanish American War and died in the Philippines. Michael fought in the first World War. Two brothers, John and Joe, continued to farm the Fallon farm. Nell’s sisters married and lived in Rockford.

Helen Healey Monahan was born in 1916 and married Robert Monahan in 1941. Her sister, Lucille, was born in 1902 and was married to Arthur Kjellgren. She died on November 16, 1973. Her brother John was born in 1899 and married Helen Peterson, the daughter of Frank Peterson who farmed south of Cherry Valley. John died in 1973. Another brother, Francis (Bill), was born in 1904 and passed away in 1948. Their third brother, Joseph, born in 1906, is now Monsignor Joseph Healey, Pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Harvard, Illinois. He studied for six years at the North American College in Rome, Italy, and was ordained a priest in 1931.

The Healey family first lived on Van Buren Street in the home owned by Aggie Wheeler. Later they built a house near the Dr. Klontz residence, and finally about 1916 they built a home next to the old St. Rita’s Church on Lawrence Street. Tom Healey was employed at Ray Lee’s Hardware Store and lumber yard. He was also acting Postmaster around 1933. He was assisted by Mildred Conklin Wilson.

Helen Healey Monahan has many memories of her childhood in Cherry Valley. She attended Cherry Valley School and remembers Charlotte Gannon and Marie Markham as two of her favorite teachers. She also remembers the large cloak rooms and the center stairway. A large spring festival was held every year at Blackhawk Park in Rockford. The big school programs were held in Oberg’s Hall up over the drug store. At home as a little girl she remembers a lot of parties for her older brothers and sisters with games like spin the bottle, post office, fudge making and taffy pulls (the most popular). In the winter the older children enjoyed skating on the mill race. Holidays brought back special memories too. There were lots of firecrackers on the 4th of July. Halloween was a great night with upsetting outdoor privies as the favorite trick. Memorial Day was a much more serious holiday with flowers being placed in the river from the bridge. A walk to the Cherry Valley Cemetery on the hill would follow, and Harry Burke would always read “Logan’s Orders”.

Helen also remembers several businesses that have been in Cherry Valley. She remembers grocery stores run by the Jordans, Stevens, and W. C. North. Bill Oberg had a confectionery store, and later Charlie Robinson had a drug store. Ray Lee had a hardware store on State Street and a lumber yard across the tracks on North Cherry Street. Katie Burke ran a dry goods store on State Street, and Joe Levasseur had a restaurant. Across the railroad tracks was a blacksmith shop. Luke Kehoe had a farm implement store on the south side of State Street next to Lee’s hardware. Charles and Ed Hyland had a large grain elevator. Sis Shaw would sell her hand painted china.

Other memories of Helen Healey Monahan are of Cherry Valley’s only woman mayor, Mrs. Josephine Slater, as she drove around in her electric car. She remembers the telephone station that was manned by Georgia Poulton and located next to the original post office. She remembers when all the country roads were just dirt and also getting stuck in the mud when her family went to visit her grandmother in the spring. She rode the interurban to Rockford where she attended Muldoon High School (1933-37). The last couple of years before she graduated she came home from Rockford on the Greyhound bus. She also remembers traveling between Rockford and Cherry Valley on the Northwestern train. Several trains went through Cherry Valley carrying freight and passengers.

Thanks to the memories of Helen Healey Monahan we can visualize many pictures of the years gone by in this little village of Cherry Valley.

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