1942 letter from Rockchapel, Co Cork, to Baltimore, Maryland
In 1942, Mr Jim T. D. Keating of 2121 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland, received a letter from D. C. Keating of Rockchapel, County Cork, Ireland. Better eyes than mine say that the letter was postmarked Seipeal Na Carraige, which is Irish for “chapel of the rocks”, according to Wikipedia.
Can this postmark and letter help us locate Mr Keating’s origins in Ireland? As it turns out, yes.
The American Records
The 1930 census of Baltimore shows a Jim T D Keating and family at 2121 West Baltimore. Also in the household was a Margaret Keating, age 34, sister to Jim. She was been born in Ireland and had arrived in the United States in 1922.
I searched the Ellis Island database, using stevemorse.org as a starting place, and found a Margaret Keating, age 25, arriving aboard the SS Carmania on July 9, 1921. The letter helped identify this woman as Jim Keating’s sister, since her birthplace on the passenger manifest was listed as Rockchapel, Cork. Her nearest relative in Ireland was her father, David Keating, in Rock Hill, Rockchapel.
Her destination raised some doubt in my mind, since she wasn’t headed to her brother’s home. Instead she was going to the home of her sister Mrs James Lane at 53 Bromfield St, Lawrence, Massachusetts.
That doubt was cleared up when I found the marriage record for Catherine Keating, 27, and James Lane, 30, in the list of marriages registered in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts. The two were married 28 November 1906; James’ residence at the time was 59 Bromfield Street, and Catherine’s parents were David [Keating] and Nellie O’Connell.
The Irish Records
Having narrowed down Mr Keating’s Irish origins from thirty-two counties to one townland, I decided to look for the Irish vital records.
Margaret, daughter of David Keating, a carpenter of Rockhill, and Ellen Keating, formerly Connell, was born 26 May 1896, in Rockhill.
Mr Keating was on the 1910 and 1940 censuses of Baltimore not as “Jim” but as “Timothy D”. We find that Timothy, son of David Keating, a carpenter of Rockhill and Ellen Keating, formerly Connell, was born 24 July 1874, also in Rockhill.
Though I didn’t find the birth for their sister Catherine, later of Lawrence, Massachusetts, she was not completely missing from the Irish records. The informant for Margaret’s birth was “Katie Keating, sister, present at birth.”
Their parents were married April 29, 1873, by W P Hennessy, a Roman Catholic priest, at the Roman Catholic Chapel of Rock, Union of Kanturk, County of Cork. The witnesses were James Lane and Matt Connell.
The writer of the letter may have been Timothy’s brother Daniel, who was born May 20, 1887. He was also the informant when his father David died, a widower, February 17, 1931. Ellen (O’Connell) Keating had died January 23, 1927. Daniel himself passed away on December 12, 1959.
Timothy Keating's likely death
Timothy D Keating, of Baltimore, who received the letter, may have died December 12, 1948. There is an entry for that name and date in the Death Record Index at the Maryland State Archives. The Baltimore Sun of December 15, 1948, carried a notice that the Holy Name Society would assemble on Tuesday the 17th to say the Rosary for him. A copy of the death record would prove our guess right or wrong. There was nothing at findagrave.com that matched this man’s death.
Having the postal cover from Rockchapel, County Cork, definitely helped us trace Timothy’s roots back to the right place in Ireland. Without it we may have overlooked Margaret Keating’s arrival in 1921, since she was headed to Massachusetts, not Maryland.
At least one of Timothy’s daughters, Mary Ellen, married and had children, so hopefully he has descendants out there somewhere who will find this article helpful.
The family was relatively easy to find at familysearch.org, especially once I started looking for “Timothy D” Keating and not “Jim.” His sister Margaret’s arrival can be found by starting at Steve Morse’s Ellis Island Passengers Gold Form, following the directions, and narrowing the search to 1921.
The only slightly difficult bit of research was locating the possible index reference to Timothy Keating’s death at the Maryland State Archives. Googling for “Timothy Keating, Baltimore, 1948” located the OCR version of the Baltimore Sun, December 15, 1948, page 25.
Lastly, the Irish civil records, despite what the link says, are at: Irish civil records.
The image of the postal cover is used by permission of the owner of PHILGEN: Philatelic Genealogy. To see it there, click on Search Database in the left column and enter “Keating” in the search box. The image originally appeared at the Jim Forte Postal History site. I am not connected with either site.