1842 – Catherine Keenan Arrives

     Sometime in 1842 the youngest of our Keenan relatives arrived in Brooklyn. Catherine, born in 1821, was just 21 years old. She did not arrive alone, however. She was probably accompanied by her friend Catherine Harden. Catherine Harden had been a sponsor at the baptism of Catherine Keenan’s daughter Ellen, born in Ardagh Parish, Longford in October of 1841. Catherine Harden was a cousin of the baby’s father – Edward Harden. According to the 1855 New York State census Edward and their daughter Ellen did not emigrate till 1845, but it seems unimaginable that Catherine Keenan would have left a newborn infant behind in Ireland. There is a record of a “Mrs. Harding with infant” who arrived in New York in February of 1842 on the ship “Patrick Henry”. Although we don’t know the circumstances that would have led to a new and inexperienced mother crossing to America unaccompanied, it might be relevant that we have not been able to find a marriage record in Ireland for Catherine Keenan.

     It is likely that the two women, Catherine Keenan and Catherine Harden, ended up living with Patrick Keenan. In 1840 Patrick was listed as living on Tillary St. near Carll, the same address given for his brother Owen, as well as Matthew Keenan and John and Elizabeth Farrell. Patrick had married Ann Moran in May of 1840. (Thomas Moran, Ann’s older brother, was one of the witnesses to the marriage.) By 1842 Patrick and Ann had had their first son, who they named John.  When they had their second son, Thomas, in July of 1844, Catherine Harden was chosen as one of his baptismal sponsors.

     A year later, on June 16th of 1845, the ship “Agnes” arrived from Liverpool. On board were Edward Harden (“Harding”) and Catherine Harden’s brother, Thomas “Harding”. (However there is no record of a child Ellen on board. ) Edward’s occupation was listed as “printer’ and that of Thomas as “painter”. Apparently printing was not a profession easily pursued by an immigrant Irishman, however, because a year later the Brooklyn Eagle printed the following report:

          Shortly after the Harden men had arrived in the U.S. , they had been followed by Thomas’s sister, Elizabeth Harden. Apparently all of the Hardens were welcomed and taken in by the Keenan/Moran clan. When Thomas Moran and his wife Margaret (Roy) had their third child, Thomas, that November of 1845, they asked Thomas and Elizabeth Harden to be his godparents.

By this time Edward and Catherine Keenan had renewed their relationship. On May 30 of 1847 their second daughter, Catherine, was baptized in St. James Cathedral. The sponsors were Catherine Harden and Michael Keenan. Catherine Harden of course was a cousin of Edward’s. Was Michael a cousin or sibling of Catherine Keenan’s? That is something we will have to investigate a little later.

     As you might recall both Matthew and Patrick Keenan had  purchased building lots from the developer Cornelius Van Cleef in, respectively, 1844 and 1846. The lots  were side by side on Bergen St., between Grand Ave  and Washington Ave. in the 9th Ward. Patrick went on to built his house there in 1847. In 1848 Edward and Catherine purchased lot #234 almost directly across the street from Patrick. Although the deed was not recorded until June 28 of 1850, we know they were being charged taxes on it from 1848, as evidenced by this notice in the Brooklyn Eagle in February of 1850:

     The 1850 Census found them living there with their two daughters in a framed house valued at $400. Edward’s occupation was listed as “Gardener” and his birth year given as 1816. This map (from 1886) shows the proximity of the lots purchased by the Keenan clan. The Harden’s lot was later designated #761 and  Patrick’s #764

           Later that year Edward and Catherine had their third daughter, whom they named Elizabeth, in their new home on Bergen Street. 

        On January 2 of 1852 Edward Harden, having resided in the U.S. for over six years, became a citizen. His sponsor was James Keenan, presumably Matthew’s son, who was a native born citizen of nineteen years of age. Then the following year the Hardens themselves finally had a son, whom they named Edward, after his father. 

      In 1855 we notice  that there was another Keenan living on Bergen Street, just two doors down from the Hardens – probably at what would become #765 (see the map above). Michael Keenan, (b. 1815) and his wife Ann (b. 1819) were renting the house, and  I believe that this Michael Keenan was probably the one that we noted was a godparent to Catherine’s daughter in 1847.

     In the 1855 Census Michael stated that he had immigrated around 1838, his wife a couple of years later. The marriage records from St. James show that Michael married Anne McCaffery on November 17 of 1839. Nearly a decade later, on Jan. 30 of 1848, their son James was baptized. One of the baptismal sponsors was John Farrell. While there were many John Farrells in Brooklyn at the time, this certainly could have been Elizabeth Keenan’s husband, given the possible family connection.

    The exact relationship, if any, of this Michael to our other Keenans is difficult to determine. That he named his son James suggests that his own father was named James, and that would probably make him a cousin of our Keenans. Unfortunately their son James died of scarlet fever in September of 1849, when he was not quite two years old. They were living in Ward 11 at the time, probably on Raymond St. according to the street directories.  Like the other Keenans they eventually made their way to the 9th Ward. After the 1855 Census however they seem to have disappeared.