John Heilman


JOHN HEILMAN, a retired farmer of Manor Township, Armstrong County, is now in his ninety-second year and one of the venerable citizens of that section. He was born there December 7, 1822, in what was then Kittanning (now Manor) township, on part of the place where he now lives, and is a son of Jacob and Susanna (Waltinbough) Heilman, both of whom belonged to families conspicuous among the pioneer settlers and prominent landowners of Kittanning township. Both names appear frequently in the old legal records and assessment lists of Armstrong County. On the assessment lists of 1807 the Heilmans appear as owners of mills, distilleries and large tracts of land. The name in old records is found written Hileman and Hyleman.

Peter Heilman, grandfather of John Heilman, was born in Alsace-Lorraine, son of Christian Heilman, and was but two years old when his parents crossed the Atlantic to settle in America. The mother died on the way, and was buried at sea. The father settled in Northampton County and there learned the trade of weaver. He married Elizabeth Harter, and came with his wife to Armstrong County, settling in Kittanning township in 1795-96. He had a tract of 350 acres, upon which he erected the log buildings usually found in those days. He reared a family of twelve children, and died at the home of his son Jacob when eighty-two years old. In politics he was an old-line Democrat, and in religion was associated with the Lutheran Church. A full sketch of his family appears elsewhere in this work.

Jacob Heilman was born in April, 1791, in Northampton County, and died in Kittanning township, Armstrong County, Dec. 27, 1876, in his eighty-sixth year. He was an extensive farmer, owning eight hundred acres of land, and was a prominent distiller of his day, when Armstrong County whiskey had a reputation as far south as New Orleans for being good, and the "Heilman whiskey" was highly esteemed as one of the purest whiskies in the market. When his son John was six years old Jacob Heilman purchased the old home tract from the heirs, and lived there until his death. He started in life with an ax and grubbing hoe, and acquired his wealth by honest labor and judicious management. He was a good business man, served his township as school director, and in political connection was originally a Democrat, becoming a Republican upon the organization of the party, in 1854. He married Susanna Waltinbough, daughter of Adam Waltinbough, of Fayette County. She died April 27, 1878, in her eighty-sixth year, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Mr. and Mrs. Heilman were the parents of four children: John Adam, deceased, who married Eliza Wilson; Christina, deceased; John; and James, born Feb. 15, 1829, who married Magdalena Reichert, daughter of Rev. G.A. Reichert.

John Heilman grew to manhood on the home place and in time purchased 181 acres of the tract, where he continued to follow general farming throughout his active years. He has always ranked among the most progressive agriculturists of his time, and improved his land much beyond the ordinary, taking a practical interest in up-to-date methods and putting into application many ideas generally considered in advance of the day. His property shows the effect of his discriminating care, being one of the most desirable in this part of the county. Mr. Heilman has been a Republican in politics since the formation of the party. He has several times been elected to the office of township supervisor.

On April 1, 1852, Mr. Heilman married Eleanor Wilson, a native of Westmoreland County, born Feb. 27, 1835, daughter of Robert and Eleanor (Hilborn) Wilson, who moved about 1840 to Manor township, Armstrong County, where Mr. Wilson farmed until his death. He came from near Murrysville, Westmoreland County. The Wilsons were of Scotch-Irish stock. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Heilman, the eldest three dying in childhood. The others are: Amos Simeon, John Arthur, Jacob Lemuel, Edgar Hilborn and Ellen Gertrude.

John Arthur Heilman, son of John Heilman, was born Feb. 1, 1860, at the home place, of which he is now owner, making his home there. He received his early education in the schools of the home district and at Kittanning, later attending school in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties, Pa. All his attention has been devoted to farming, and he has made a specialty of dairying, his place being known as the Maple Grove dairy farm. Mr. Heilman owns ninety acres, and his wife has thirty-five, most of which is under cultivation. He has twenty full bred cows, and raises considerable hay and grain. Mr. Heilman is a member of the I. O. O. F. lodge at Manorville, No. 932. He married Anna Ditty, and they have had three children, Paul C., Mildred A. and Lois Elva LaVerne.

Source: Pages 983-984, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed December 1998 by Sharon Doyle-Dantzer for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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