Florence & the Goat (1901-1905)

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series John & Florence

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.


City Directory

Keating: 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905

1904 Neighbors: Rentz, Jamison

1905 Census

Keating (Keighton), Rentz, Jamison


Florence & the Goat: June 29, 1903; July 9, 1903

Florence & the Neighbors: August 22, 1904

Death of Tillie Jamison: December 13, 1900 (Morning Post, Courier Post)

Death of Joseph Jamison: May 18, 1904

Death of Helga Jamison: 1911

John Keating Arrested: November 27, 1905

Series Navigation<< Early Marriage (1891-1900)Separation and Abuse (1906-1910) >>

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