How I ‘Came Across’ the Higdon Memorial Window at St. Ignatius Church and Cemetery

Marrige Certificate Patrick H Hefferan & Katherine M Owen

Before we married, my wife’s name was Marynell “Nell” Heffernan. Heffernan is an Irish name, about as common in Ireland as Smith is in the U.S. Nell’s great, great, great, grandfather (3rd great grandfather) was Patrick Heffernan. He was born on 1792. He left Ireland and landed in Alexandria, D.C., in July, 1817. He worked as a bricklayer building the new U.S. Capital in the District of Columbia for most of his life. He married and fathered 3 children with his wife Bridget. He died on 28 March 1848.

One of his grandsons was Patrick Henry Heffernan. Patrick Henry lived all his life and died in Washington City, D.C. Along the way he met and married Catherine Mary Owen on 7 January 1879, in Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland, at St. Ignatius Church, Chapel Point, Bel Alton. Patrick Henry Heffernan was Nell’s great grandfather.

Nell has a sister, Martha. Martha married Tom Daly. Martha and Tom live in Washington, D.C., today. Tom is a fellow genealogy researcher. He knew that Patrick Henry Heffernan had married Catherine Mary Owen, but he did not have a record to prove his knowledge was accurate. It’s about an hour drive from southeast D.C. to Chapel Point. Nell and I were visiting Tom and Martha several years ago, while Martha was still actively employed. Martha was at work, so Tom asked Nell and I if we’d like to accompany him to St. Ignatius Church so that he could photograph the certificate issued by St. Ignatius Church for the marriage of Catherine Mary Owen & Patrick Henry Heffernan. Tom had already called the Pastor, Father Tom Clifford, to verify that St. Ignatius still had the record. They did.

All three of us arrived at St. Ignatius Church late that morning. The Church and attached Manor House are historic. The view of the Port Tobacco and Potomac rivers from atop Chapel Point hill is amazing. Once the photo work was complete, at right above, Fr. Clifford invited us to tour the main floor of the Manor House. We looked at furniture, heirlooms, and historic photos. With Fr. Clifford continuing as our guide, we then went out to look at some of the oldest surviving brick work from the original Manor House. As we were walking along, Fr. Clifford asked me about my family genealogy research. I told him my family’s name was Higdon, and spelled it out. He said he knew how to spell it and wondered if we had yet seen the Higdon Memorial Window in the church. I said no. He led the way and I was amazed to see a full side window “IN MEMORY OF B. L. HIGDON.” Then Fr. Clifford went on to say there were still Higdons active in church affairs at St. Ignatius Church. As we continued discussing the Higdon window, and Higdon parishioners, Fr. Clifford took us a short ways outside the main door to the church and showed us B.L. Higdon’s tombstone a short distance away. Fr. Clifford then said that little was known about who B.L. Higdon was. 

Once back at home, I began, over the next two years, to research B.L. Higdon and found 9 historical records pertaining to him. I’d like to share my interpretation of those records with you.        Frank Mayfield

Last update for this page:

Please email our web guy Frank Mayfield at to report any problems, errors, or other issues, that you come across on this website. Thanks.