Keating Family Disagreement Ends in Gunfire

Sometimes, years after doing your family research, you come across a newspaper article that you had never seen before. An article that raises as many questions as it answers. This is one of those articles.


Frostburg Mining Journal
Frostburg, Maryland
16 May 1896, Sat • Page 2

He Never Can be Hit.

A disagreement of about two years’ standing in the family of John Keating came to a head Monday. The old gentleman has been living alone for some time, the family near by. Some or all of the latter contracted the notion that Mr. Keating is insane. Accordingly a posse, headed by constable Jacob P. Llewellyn, forced the door of the hermitage Monday, and, reaching the bottom of the stairway, two shots from the top rattled the constable and his aide de camp, and they lit out. Next day, however, the constable, reinforced, returned to the charge and found the old gentleman in a better humor. He was taken to Cumberland, where a jury inquired Thursday into his mental condition and found him “insane but not a pauper.”

This is the second time constable Llewellyn has been shot at with revolving guns within a year, each time triumphantly missed. He seems to carry a charmed life. An “Old Guard” of men like him at Waterloo and “the clock of the world would have been turned back for ages.” As it is, he is the most eloquent living evidence of bad marksmanship in this metropolis.


I’ve known for some time that my immigrant great-great-grandfather, John Charles Keating, died at the Mount Hope Retreat in Baltimore County in September of 1896, but never knew how he came to be there. Apparently, shooting at Frostburg’s constable was the path he took. (Can you imagine the results of that today? He certainly wouldn’t have been left to sleep it off until the next day…)

Now, though, I’ve got even more questions…

  1. What happened in or around 1894 that started the family disagreement?
  2. I believe the family was at Mt. Pleasant Street by this time. Where was John living?
  3. What caused the family, after two years, to bring in the constable?
  4. Why have no verbal stories been passed down regarding this incident? (Good old Catholic shame, no doubt…)
  5. Was the “insanity” related to his head injury from falling off of the railroad handcart? Good old turn of the twentieth century alcoholism? Dementia (he was only in his sixties, but had lived a hard life — see also his head injury)? Something else?
  6. Are there any court records of his Cumberland hearing on 14 May 1896?

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