Please note that this entry will include descriptions of domestic abuse and will be included beneath the “Read More” tag.
John and Florence lived at the house on Second street until 1902. One more child was born while they lived here — Edward Thomas Keating, born in October of 1901. In 1903, they moved to Pine Street. This location is just around the corner from their former home, so they’re staying in the same neighborhood, likely with the same circle of friends and family.
On July 29, 1903, The Morning Post reports that the Fifth Ward is having an issue with billy goats escaping their owners and doing damage to other residence. Florence Keating caught a goat who wandered into her actual living room and ate her curtains. The article says they were valuable (it’s also possible that Florence made the curtains herself, in a later city directory she’s noted as a lacemaker). She tied the goat in her cellar and notified the owner, demanding payment for her curtains before she released it.
The owner (who was never never named), instead reported Florence to the authorities. The actual mayor got involved and the case got referred to the city attorney, Henry M. Snyder. Florence had to return the goat or risk being fined. Snyder was expected to issue a legal opinion on whether or not goat owners were liable for the damage. I couldn’t find any record of how this turned out in the Camden papers, but hopefully Florence got her lace curtains paid for.
In 1904, Florence was in the news again for reporting a dispute between her neighbors. The Morning Post reported on August 22, 1904, that Florence was irritated because the children had quarreled and then the parents got involved. The Post named Gheesa Jamison, living at 247 Pine Street and Laura Wrench, 245 Pine. An article in the Courier Post also discussed this, but while the story was the same, it gave some conflicting identification information. Curious, I decided to investigate the neighbors at 247 Pine and 245 Pine.
In 1904, James Jamison lived at 247 Pine Street, with his wife Helga and his children, James and Helga. James was born in 1896 and Helga was a small child. James suffered a tragedy in 1900 when his first wife, Tillie, died suddenly, in the middle of the night after the birth of another son. James remarried in 1902, to Helga Borgerson. James continued to have tragedy follow him — his son, Joseph, died suddenly in May of 1904 and Helga died suddenly in 1911.
At 245 Pine Street, Hans and Laura Rentz were a younger couple, Laura and her daughter, Julia, arrived from Norway in 1902, the same year Julie was born. They lived at the Pine Street address in 1903 and 1904, but had moved by 1905.
Based on this, I can guess that James Jamison, born 1896, was likely friendly with Florence’s child, John, born 1897. This might be the children’s quarrel that started the incident leading to the fines. Laura might have just been friendly with Helga as both were from Norway and, due to the time period, might have difficulties with the language.
John and Florence welcomed a sixth child, their fourth daughter, Beatrice, in May of 1905. That November, John was arrested for causing a disturbance at Broadway and Ferry, according to the Morning Post. He was claiming he could fight four men and couldn’t be calmed down. He was sentenced to twenty days or to pay a fine. He was arrested with a friend, Matthew Watson or Welsh (the article uses both). There’s no follow up as to whether John paid the fine or served the time.
By the end of 1905, John and Florence were now in their early to mid thirties with six children. They’ve remained in the same neighborhood for their entire married life, and their only public exploits are domestic issues with Florence.
In 1906, that starts to change.
Florence & the Neighbors: August 22, 1904
Death of Joseph Jamison: May 18, 1904
Death of Helga Jamison: 1911
John Keating Arrested: November 27, 1905
John and Florence married at the beginning of 1891 and lived with Florence’s parents for several years. At the time, John and Maria Ottinger’s children were still quite small — Maria would have around ten altogether, and Florence’s youngest brother was only two at the time of her marriage. (Her final child was born in 1900). It would have been a very crowded place to live, but John and Florence welcomed two children while living on Line street with the in-laws.
In 1894, they moved around the corner to St. John Street, where they remained for only a year. A year later, they moved a block or two away to Second Street where they were joined by John’s brother James. John and Maria Ottinger remained close in location to their daughter, but John and Florence were on their own. At the house on Second Street, they welcomed two more children and John’s brother came to live with them for a few years. By 1900, they had four children: Mary (1892), Florence (1894), John Joseph, Jr. (1897), and Margaret (1900). John continued to be steadily employed at J.H. Dialogue & Son, maintaining that same position throughout the difficult recession of the 1890s. James moved out, becoming a lodger on the next block.
All of this points to a relatively stable home life, at least on the surface, but John does appear to have a drinking problem that he was fined for in 1891 a month after the wedding, according to The Morning Post. The residences of this decade are gone now — most are parking lots in South Camden. Large parts of this area was redeveloped after World War II.
Florence Keating was born on January 29, 1874 (though it’s possible she was born in 1872 or 74). She was the fourth of at least ten children born to John David Ottinger and Maria Doman. John and Maria were both born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They lived in Philadelphia until at least 1885. By 1887, they were living in Woodbury, New Jersey before moving to Camden by 1890.
John Ottinger was born on August 18, 1847, Maria on July 16, 1849. They married on October 22, 1867 at St. Michael’s Church in Philadelphia. For the first few years of their marriage, they lived with Maria’s parents, Isaac and Maria Doman. John worked as a weaver. Their children: Maria (1869-1939), Louisa (1870-1887), Mary (1873-1932), Florence (1874-1840), Nellie (1876-1923), Elizabeth (1878-1949), Stella (1880-1941), John David, Jr. (1885-1967), George (1889 – ?), Marie (1900 – ?). All but George and Marie were born in Pennsylvania.
They had a relatively stable home life, remaining at the same address from 1879-1884. They lived in and around today’s modern day Kensington neighborhood and North Central Philly neighborhoods. This tracks as John Ottinger and Maria’s father, Isaac Domain, both worked in the textile industry which was prominent in Kensington during this period. The death of their daughter, Louisa, was the first evidence that the family had moved to Woodbury, NJ. Their son, George, was later born there in Jan of 1889.
In 1890, they move to 224 Line Street, where they remain until 1894. Florence married John J. Keating on January 1, 1891. They make their home with Florence’s parents until at least 1892.
Note: I have written a summary of John’s early years based on evidence collected. If you are interested in viewing the evidence, please click the “More” tag.
John Joseph Keating – The Early Years
John J. Keating was born in April of either 1867, 1868, or 1869 in Camden, New Jersey, in the county of Camden. Census records given various information, and my copy of the death certificate was barely legible. Likely, he was born in April of 1868 but no further information has been located.
He appears to be the youngest son of Martin and Mary (nee Daley) Keating, both of whom who were born in Ireland and emigrated sometime between 1865-1867. They had six children: James (Dec 1858), Maggie (1860), Ella/Ellen (1863), Hannah (1865), and John (1868). Alll but the last two children are reported to have been born in Ireland. According to parish records, James Keating, son of Martin Keating and Mary Daly) was christened in Dec 1858 in County Clare, Ireland in the parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane.
Martin and Mary emigrated to Ireland sometime in the mid to late 1860s and moved to Camden. For the decade in which I could locate them, they lived in South Camden, near the waterfront. The neighborhood in Camden where the family lived was redeveloped after World War II and none of the houses still exist. Martin and Mary both worked as laborers, though Mary appeared to stay at home with the children for a few years. John’s home life appeared to be relatively stable for the period as his family remained at the same address for more than six years. When they did move, they remained in the same neighborhood.
Mary Keating, John’s mother, disappears from records after 1874, and Martin’s last known official listing is the 1880 census where he lives alone with his youngest children. I think Mary died in 1878 because I’ve found a death record for Mary Keating in that year and much of the information matches, but I have nothing specifically tying her to this family.
I located an article in the The Morning Post on January 22, 1881 that described a girl committing suicide in Brooklyn, New York. She was using the name Alice Somers, but her real name appeared to be Ella Keating. In this article, it suggests that after the death of their mother, the father returned to Europe, leaving the family destitute. There was an inquest in New York City where Maggie Keating testified that “Alice” was her sister and that they were from Camden (information from a Brookyn Daily Eagle issue). I’ll be writing an article about Ella Keating’s death that will link to these articles.
The only Ella and Maggie Keating that appeared as sisters in Camden that I’ve located belong to this family, so I’m reasonably sure that this describes John Keating’s childhood. His mother died when he was young, and his siblings scattered. John would have been around 13 when this happened and young enough to go to work.
At some point, he began working at John H Dialogue Shipyards as a riveter and was living with his brother at the time of his marriage. He was admitted to the hospital in April 8, 1890, according to the Camden Morning Post, for a puncture wound he received at work. The John H Dialogue Shipyards was also known as Dialogue & Company on the Camden Waterfront. It closed just before World War I broke out.
John Joseph Keating & Florence Ottinger are my great-great grandparents. Their daughter, Margaret Keating, married Edward Joseph McHugh. Their son, Edward John McHugh, married Charlotte Reba Hudson. Edward & Charlotte are my paternal grandparents.
I’ve chosen them as my next series because of a collection of articles I located about their marriage and life together. No stories have ever been passed down about John and Florence, at least on my side of the family. I was surprised when conducting a newspaper search to find articles with headlines describing John as a wife beater and to learn he’d been arrested several times for it. He was notorious in the papers for this behavior – but no word of this was ever passed down in my family, at least not to me.
I decided to do my best to take apart the records I’ve found of them and attempt a deep dive into their lives to see what kind of picture I can put together.
Table of Contents
- John Joseph Keating – Early Life (1868-1890)
- The Tragedy of Ella Keating aka Alice Somers (1863-1883)
- Florence Ottinger – Early Life (1874-1890)
- Early Marriage (1891-1900)
- Florence & the Goat (1901-1905)
- Separation & Abuse (1906-1910)
- Quiet Years (1911-1919)
- The Line Street Years (1920-1927)
- John Dies in Car Accident (1928)
- Florence’s Final Years (1929-1940)