An Account Of John Charles Keating

There are two letters written by children of John C. Keating that helped me start my research. Though written many years after the events described, and I’ve since found that some of the details (such as dates) are not precise, they provide an interesting view on the life of my immigrant ancestors.

The following was first transcribed from the original letter by Michael J. Keating on 06/29/1980. I later re-typed it on 08/13/1996. This letter mentions all three immigrant Keating brothers, John, Patrick, and Simon. The story of the shipwreck still captivates me to this day. I’ll follow up on this letter with some anecdotes regarding the contents.


John C Keating was born in the small city of Ballymore, Co. Kildare, Ireland, about 35 miles from Dublin. He was one of a large family of seven boys and two girls. They all grew up large, strong and healthy men and women. On account of the coercive laws of England they had no schools at that time, and as a result they had no education.

As a young man, he worked at carrying large sacks of grain up in a large building for storage purposes (there were not any elevators in those days). He was a large, strong man, 5’11-1/2 in his stocking feet, and 210 lbs.

He married early in life Julia Hyland, also from Ballymore, a very smart and capable young woman. The Keating family were poor, while the Hylands were well to do. The bride was very popular, and they had many valuable wedding presents. They packed all into four large trunks and started on their wedding trip to America, the land of freedom and of their dreams.

This was before steamboats came into use. They started on a sail boat. The trip generally took six weeks; this trip took eleven weeks. They were wrecked in mid-Atlantic Ocean at midnight. John C. Keating and a watchman were the only ones on deck when the storm struck. The first wave burst in the hatch on one side of the boat, and the water rushed down on the passengers and crew in their berths. They were frantic, and all rushed for the ladders. John C. Keating and the watchman stood at the top of the ladder and pulled them up. Each person had a hold of one ahead and would not let loose until their hold was broken. This made it hard work; they had to pull until someone’s hold broke; sometimes two would come, and sometimes three. It was daylight before they got them all up. Then in the meantime they got the pumps working and carpenters boarding up the side. John C. Keating was the hero on this occasion. The passengers presented him with a purse to show their appreciation.

This same ship was wrecked again when going through Long Island Sound. It ran on a sandbar. There was a life-saving station there, and they got a line to the boat, then a second line. They took the passengers off two at a time loaded in the little boat (women first). So Father and Mother were separated and landed at different parts of the shore. He wandered and searched all night, wet, cold, and hungry, for Mother. It was a cold winter night. He finally found her sitting on the steps of an old building looking out at sea nearly frozen with her wet clothing. They lost all their baggage. Of course, they still had some money and the purse the passengers gave him. They drifted down to a small town in Connecticut where he secured a job cutting ice during the winter.

This was in 1853; James Buchanan was president of the U.S.A., and the country was in an awful depression. The government opened poor houses to help feed the people. They rationed out corn meal and bacon twice a week.

They lived there during the winter, and while still there his brother Pat Keating came out from Ireland — left his wife and one young son behind. Pat got a job cutting wood with an axe and chopped his foot; he never used an axe before (They used a Bil Hook for choppingin Ireland). Then they all left for Mt. Savage, Md.

John C. Keating secured a job on the railroad, and Pat went to work as housman for a Mr. A.C. Greene, Supt. of the old Borden Mining Co.. This was in 1854.

The railroad had wooden rails with one-inch strap iron spiked on; the road bed was not solid. This caused much vibration, and the spikes on the ends worked loose and out, and caused the strap iron to cock up on the loose ends. If it got high enough, it would run over the top of the wheels and wreck the engine or train. So they pushed a flat car in front and had a man posted there as a lookout to watch ahead. This was his first job, and he was getting along all right.

Then they rented a house on a sixty acre farm two miles from Mt. Savage about 1/2 a mile east from the village Allegany, and this was the first effort to start the Keating clan in Western Maryland.

After about three months at his job, he missed seeing one of the loose joints sticking up, and he landed in a culvert on his head; he was out for ten hours; his neck and shoulder were badly bruised and skull fractured. Being a very strong man, he seemed to recover quickly and it did not bother him. He continued until he was getting up to about fifty years and it continued to get worse and evenutally caused his untimely death, he being only 58 when he passed away.

After he fully recovered, he went to work in a rolling mill in Mt. Savage, swinging a 95-lb hammer. There was two such hammers in use there; the other one was swung by his brother, Simon Keating. This was heavy work, and it took a very strong man to do it, and it paid extra. His brother Simon stood 6’2 in his stocking geet and weighed 220lbs.

After a couple of years, Pat Keating quit his job with Mr. Greene and left Frostburg for Fort Duquesne — now Pittsburgh, Pa. — over the old Braddock’s Road in a heavy old-time jolt wagon with his wife and child through the wilderness of the Allegheny Mountains. Pat was a man with vision and plenty of nerve. Coal was just coming into use, and he started the first coal yard in Pittsburgh and made a lot of money quickly. Then he quit the coal business and he and John C. Keating went into building new railroads all around the country. They spent about fifteen years at railroad building, made plenty of money, and spent and lost money. After that John C. Keating went to work at the New Hope Mine as coal inspector (or dock boss).

After building the house [183 McCulloh St. in Frostburg], the family moved from the little farm. Your father [John W. Keating, 1871 – 1941] was about fourteen years old when we moved. All of the family were born there except the oldest girl, Jerry Counihan’s mother.

John C. Keating was always on time for all his duties or appointments in life; he never missed one. He kept his word at all times; he was very quiet and reserved. He was not only a Catholic, but he lived his religion. He went regular to all his duties, and all his family had to join him at 9 P.M. each night to recite the holy rosary. He never bought anything on credit. He could look the whole world in the face for he envied not any man. I have pulled back the curtain that (illegible) his life and found no dark spots or skeleton in his closet. And he is surely gone to heaven.

2010 Keating / Pope Family Reunion

The annual Keating / Pope family reunion has been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, 19 June 2010, in Howard County, Maryland.

Primarily a reunion of the descendants and cousins of John Keating and Sara Pope of western Maryland, more distant cousins are welcome, and have shown up with increasing frequency over the last several years.

For additional information, please contact me or leave a comment below. I will also post more details as plans progress.

John Charles Fitzgerald Keating (? – August 1944)


KEATINGE — August, 1944, John Charles Fitzgerald, beloved only son of Dr. and Mrs. Keatinge, Waingroves Hall, Codnor, Derbyshire.

Source: “Deaths”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, 26 August 1944, p. 11.

Micheal Keating (? – 19 June 1901)


KEATING — June 19, at Barnaboy, Philipstown, King’s County, Micheal, second eldest son of the late Micheal Keating; deeply regretted. R.I.P.

Source: “Deaths”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, 20 June 1901, p. 1.

William Keating (c.1835 – 11 March 1876)


KEATING — On the 11th inst. at his residence in Dundrom, to the inexpressible grief of his sorrowing family, William Keating, Esq (of the firm of Messrs. McBirney and Co., Limited), eldest son of the late Walter Keating, Esq, of Kells, County Meath, aged 41 years.

Source: “Deaths”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, 18 March 1876, p. 7.

Note: William in this death notice is probably the same William in this 1859 marriage notice.

Keating – Jones Marriage (1 December 1859)


Keating and Jones — December 1, at Rathfarnham Church, by the Rev. M. Archdale Clare, William, son of the late Walter Keating, Esq., Kells, county Meath, to Anne, daughter of William Jones, Esq., Garville-terrace, Rathgar.

Source: “Marriages”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, p. 4, 5 December 1859.

Note: William in this marriage notice is probably the same William in this 1859 death notice.

Caroline (Schomberg) Keatinge (? – 1 May 1859)


Keatinge — May 1, at a very advanced age, at Rathgar House, Roundtown, the residence of her son–in–law, Mrs. Caroline Keatinge, the last surviving child of the late Sir Alexander Schomberg, Captain, B.N.

Source: “Deaths”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, 5 April 1859, p. 4.

Bray – Pope Marriage (27 April 1859)


Bray and Pope — April 27, George Frederick Campbell Bray, Esq., Captain 96th Regiment, second son of Colonel Bray, C.B., late of the 39th Regiment, to Charlotte Frances, only surviving daughter of the late Edward Pope, D.D., Archdeacon of Jamaica.

Source: “Marriages”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, p. 4, 3 May 1859.

Connell – Hobbs Marriage (27 April 1859)


Connell and Hobbs — April 27, at St. Peter’s Church, by the Rev. Dr. Fleury, John Connell, Esq., second son of James Connell, Esq., of Eskdale House, Laryholm, Dumfriesshire, to Jane Josephine, youngest daughter of the late Captain Hobbs, Barnaboy, King’s County.

Source: “Marriages”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, p. 4, 30 April 1859.

William Henry Ogle (c. 1777 – 1 April 1859)



Ogle. — April 1, at Stephen’s–green, William Henry Ogle, Esq., barrister–at–law, aged 82 years.

Source: “Deaths”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, 5 April 1859, p. 4.

A Faithless Spouse (15 August 1860)

A Faithless Spouse. — Some time during the past week, the wife of a farmer, named Keating, who resides near Killarney, being convinced of the fact that variety is charming, left her husband’s house and proceeded to Cork, with the intention of emigrating to America. Unfortunately for the success of her design, she brought with her £28, the property of her deserted spouse; and he, being unable to sustain so great a loss took out a warrant for her apprehension, and forwarded it to Cork, whither he ascertained she had fled. The warrant was entrusted to Constable McManus, who has obtained quite a reputation in such matters; and he succeeded in arresting the lady in Queenstown on Monday. She was brought before the magistrates at the police-office this morning,when an application was made to have her transmitted to Killarney; this was granted. The greater portion of the money was found in her possession, which will, no doubt, afford some consolati[on] to the afflicted husband.

Source: “A Faithless Spouse”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, 15 August 1860, p. 3.

The Queen v. Margaret Keating (11 July 1860)

The Queen v. Margaret Keating

The prisoner was indicted for stealing £23 6s., the property of Patrick Foran. It appeared from the evidence that prosecutor went into a shop at Harwood, in this county, for the purpose of buying some articles, and after paying for what he had purchased, and going away, he came back in a short time, and complained of having lost his purse. He went for the police–sergant, who accompanied him to the prisoner’s house, which was about half a mile from the shop, and on interrogating the prisoner she denied having the purse. The constable then said he should search the house, when she went to the end of the room in which they were, and took it from under a bed, where it was hid. The prisoner said she had found it under her feet.

The jury found the prisoner guilty.

His Lordship sentenced the prisoner to three months’ imprisonment.

Source: “The Queen v. Margaret Keating”, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, p. 4, 11 July 1860.

Shocking Murder (14 October 1859)

County Cork

SHOCKING MURDER. — The village of Cloyne was a scene of horrid murder, resulting, we understand, out of a drunken brawl. It appears a nailor named Clayton, and Molony, a shoemaker together with several others, had a row in the street about eleven o’clock, on Tuesday night, when Keating finding his party were getting the worst of it, procurred a razor with which he all but severed the head from Molony’s body, causing instant death. The murderer has since been arrested — he is a married man with a large family, the deceased was unmarried. — Cork Enquirer

Source: Shocking Murder, The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, p. 3, 14 October 1859.

Karen Marie (Keating) Ridenour (1 January 1961 – 21 November 2009)

Karen Marie Keating Ridenour, 48

JAN. 1, 1961-NOV. 21, 2009

Karen Marie (Keating) Ridenour, 48
Karen Marie (Keating) Ridenour, 48

Karen Marie Keating Ridenour, 48, of Hagerstown, Md., died Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009, in Hagerstown.
Born Jan. 1, 1961, in Frostburg, Md., she was the daughter of Bernard A. and Phyllis C. Livengood Keating of Hagerstown.

She graduated from Williamsport High School, class of 1979, and received her associate degree in early childhood education from Hagerstown Community College.

She was previously employed with the Washington County Department of Social Services and the Jim Thorpe Elementary School, Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nev.

She attended St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Karen was an avid bingo player.

In addition to her parents, she is survived by her husband, Brian Ridenour; two sisters, Tina Wolfensberger of Hagerstown and Julie Slusarz of Fairplay, Md.; maternal grandmother, Gladys Livengood of Frostburg, Md.; aunts; uncles; nieces; and nephews.

She was preceded in death by one daughter, Kelsey Ridenour; and one sister, Sharon Ann Gay.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 17630 Virginia Ave., Hagerstown, with the Rev. Christopher Moore as celebrant. Burial will be in Rose Hill Cemetery.

The family will receive friends at Minnich Funeral Home, 415 E. Wilson Blvd., Hagerstown, on Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made to the John R. Marsh Cancer Center, 11110 Medical Campus Road, Suite 129, Hagerstown, MD 21742; or Hospice of Washington County, 747 Northern Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21742.

Online condolences are accepted at

Source: “Karen Marie Keating Ridenour, 48”, The Herald–Mail, Hagerstown, Maryland, 23 November 2009, viewed online at <> on 23 November 2009.

Jo-Ann B. Keating (1934 – 1 November 2009)

Jo-Ann B. Keating

KEATING Jo-Ann B. Keating 1934-2009 ‘Honestly’. Jo-Ann entered the Kingdom of Heaven peacefully and comfortably on Sunday Nov. 1st, All Saints Day, after a brave battle with cancer. First and foremost Jo-Ann was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and sister. Family meant everything. Jo-Ann is leaving behind her beloved husband Tom, her three sons and daughter-in-laws; John and Cathy, David and Amy and Ken and Starr. Her seven grandchildren: Alayna, Miranda, Kaleigh, JT, Cameron, Christopher and Carly- Grace. Her sister and brother-in-law: Carol and Russ O’Brien. Services are being held on Wednesday, Nov. 4th, 11:00 am with reception to follow at New Grace Church, 5400 Hwy. 17 South, Fleming Island, 32003. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the New Grace Church Memorial Garden Fund. Arrangements by HARDAGE- GIDDENS RIVERMEAD FUNERAL HOME, 127 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park, FL. Please Sign the Guestbook @

Source: Jo-Ann B. Keating, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Florida, 3 November 2009, viewed online at <> on 18 November 2009.