The Keating Family Immigrates to America

[I originally wrote this a few months ago as a post on Facebook, but thought I’d share it here as well, with minor edits. I’m so, so sorry…]

Barque Vierge Marie (Bark Virgin Mary)

In November of 1854, my young immigrant ancestors, John and Julia Keating, were nearing the end of an already extended and arduous journey when their storm-driven ship hit a sandbar near the tip of Long Island Sound and began to┬ábreak apart. This was the second time their vessel had taken on water during the trip, but this incident proved the final nail in the ship’s coffin. They swam to shore and were tragically but briefly separated, washing up on different parts of the beach, not knowing whether the other had survived. They were reunited when John finally found Julia sitting on the steps of a local church, staring outwards at the storm wracked sea.

After a few years stay in Stamford with family, they settled in western Maryland and the family has since spread from there. Two of their children later chronicled the events of that fateful night in letters to their nieces and nephews.

The section of the East Coast where the wreck occurred is geographically known as the New York Bight. This shallow indentation in the coastline stretches from Montauk Point on Long Island to New York City and then around to Cape May in New Jersey. Both Long Island Sound and the shoals of Cape May were well-known for tearing out the bottoms of unwary ships heading toward the harbors of New York.

Although I’ve never found a passenger list or a family history that provides the name of the ship, the only recorded wreck from that period that matches the events and locations written of in old family letters is the Vierge Marie. She was an old Belgian three-masted vessel that had already made many trips between Europe and the United States.

Given the tribulations my ancestors faced on that trip, both underway and at its fateful conclusion, as well as that final decision to abandon ship for the uncertain safety of a lee shore, I can only assume that their Barque was worse than the Bight.

I think I’ve discovered my family’s new motto.

5 Replies to “The Keating Family Immigrates to America”

  1. From where did these Keatings come. One of my grandmother’s father was William Keating whose family came to Massachusetts in the 1700s and moved to Canada after the American Revolution. I am not sure where in Ireland they lived.

  2. My great great grandparents were a J Edward and Julia Keating who had 5 children that we know of. One of the boys built a home in Jerome Idaho which is on the National Register and the daughters all ended up in Washington State about 1920. We did find them in Wisconsin at one time but then lose track and we know Julia Keating is buried in St Benewahs Idaho. My Mother recently passed and due to Altzheimers was not able to provide any further information. Could this John and Julia be relations? Thank you for any help.

  3. Hiya kinfolk– My name is Michael Keating & I live in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Since my mom was a Keating It was much easier to trace back initially as we came from one common ancestor, Redmond Keating. He had 2 sons, Redmond 2 and Michael. Dad’s side came from Michael and mom’s from his brother Redmond 2. There were 3 generations on mom’s side and 4 on dad’s by the time I came along in 1948. Redmond 3 was my great g.f. on dad’s side and mom’s dad was William, born 1860 in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia. (People find it hard to believe that my g.f. was 7 yrs. old before Canada became a country in 1867.) His daughter Agnes, (my mom), passed over in 2015 in her 100th yr., but it all goes back to County Wexford and beyond to Normandy and all the way back to the Geraldidis from Italy. Quite a run! See you all in church.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.