January 11, 2015 – Introduction to the Diary of Frances M. Keating

Over the last 10 years I have dedicated many hours to transcribing diaries of my grandparents, great grandparents, and grandaunts and gr grandaunts.  Some are very long but I want to share this diary because I believe in has impacted me in so many ways.  It gives you a picture of a young woman who is losing every thing she cares about and how she handles it.  Frances was my Grandmother. She did not meet my Grandfather until her parents and sisters were all dead from TB. They had actually met when he first went to register for Queens University but it was only for her and her friends to give him directions since he had taken a wrong turn. After he settled into University they met again and as they say “the rest is history” They married, had eight children, twenty six grandchildren, and numerous gr and gr gr grandchildren.  We feel so fortunate to have had these two people in our lives.  Frances never would talk to her children about her family, it was too painful. So we know little about her at that time and finding this diary has opened up her world to us. Tomorrow I will start posting section of the diary, this is just the intro.

Prelude Notes to Diary of Frances M. Keating 1899 – 1902

1899 was a significant year in the life of Frances M. Keating. She was born Jan 1877 and at 22 was a young teacher. Her mother had died from TB in 1892 and left her husband with a son and three daughters. Frances was the youngest daughter. In January of 1899 she went to Springtown Ontario to teach. During that semester of teaching her sister Mary (March 24, 1899) and Father Patrick (May 23, 1899) died from TB prompting her to make two trips home to Kingston. They are recorded in this diary. The diary also shows her strong connections to the O’Neill family of Gananoque as Ag O’Neill was her best friend and that friendship continued her entire life.

The following description of Springtown was found on a site documenting deserted towns:

“Springtown which originally went by the name of Bagot was a small town on the Madawaska River. It provided rest for travellers along the river. It began in 1848 when John Holliday opened the first post office. The village grew to include a blacksmith shop run by Frank Dowlan, the Madawaska Hotel operated by Joseph McCrae, a general store and post office operated by P. Kennedy and John McGregor’s sawmill.”

“Springtown was linked to Calabogie in the west and Burnstown in the east by a trail which followed the shore of the river.”

“Like many other towns, Springtown’s demise began with the arrival of the railway. When the Kingston and Pembroke Railway was built through Calabogie and travel along the road began to dwindle.”

“Springtown was hit by Scarlet Fever somewhere around 1915, wiping out many of the residents.”

“The Madawaska River was dammed for hydro electricity generation, which flooded the rapid and part of the original townsite. {This information is disputed by Irene Robillard in her book about Springtown. Her research shows that the town deteriorated due to the railroad coming to Calabogie and reducing traffic through the area}”

In researching the people mentioned in this diary I have contacted two women who have written books about the area. Carol McCuaig provided me with the following information:

“The John Halliday family (Presyterian) usually boarded the teacher at the turn of the century. The Ryans, Morans, McNeeleys, Reddys and Kennedys were old Bagot RC families. The Fosters were French-Canadian, called Facette until they anglicized their name. The McCreas were the founding family of Springtown, and pioneer Edward Sr. was one of the sponsors when St. Gabriel’s was built. The Armands were from Arnprior. Ethel must have been related to Teresa Armand who married Joseph McCrea. Ethel McCrea was their daughter as was Tece that Frances mentions. (Teresa Carlotta McCrea) Ethel McCrea would have been 13 when Frances taught there and Tece 11. Miss French was a Renfrew girl who taught at Springtown prior to Frances. The Eastons were Renfew people.”

“Edward McCrea was married to Bridget Ryan. He was a stonemason from Springtown, County Fermanagh, Ireland, who became a well known lumberman here. He kept a tavern at Springtown which is now Still Point House of Prayer. Several siblings also settled in the district, as did their cousin Gerard McCrea, a Protestant. Edward’s son Edward Jr. married Elizabeth McCrea, daughter of Gerard. They, the couple, were second cousins.”

Carol has written a soon to be published Memory Book about St. Gabriel’s Church where Frances attended Mass. She was very responsive to my request for information and I shared Frances’ diary with her.

In my own research on Ancestry.com I found out that the baby born on May 3 to the Hallidays was James Harold son of James E. Halliday and Robina Mather Halliday. I also found out that he married Mary Cardiff on Oct 12, 1926. And it would appear that he had become an engineer and he and his bride lived in Bath NY in 1926.

As for the Kingston/Gananoque references I know that Ag is Agnes O’Neill and that Ag’s mother was a Shiels/Shields and her father Lawrence O’Neil came from Wexford, Ireland. That is very near to Avoca/Meeting of the Waters where Frances mother came from and they may have been cousins. My mother always referred to Ag as Aunt Ag LaQue. Ag married Wilfred LaQue of Gananoque who was a bookkeeper. They had two children, Mary and …… Wilfred died when the children were young. Ag’s mother Sarah Shields O’Neil died in 1896 from consumption so Agnes and Frances had endured the loss of their mothers together.

Frances sister Jane aka Jen died July 18, 1903 at age 28 from consumption of over two years duration. She was living at home with Frances and their Aunt Jane aka Jen O’Neil. They lived at 148 Rideau St. This may explain the last word at the end of this diary. Her brother was Jim Keating who married Mary Campion in 1901. He had been boarding with Mary’s mother and family in 1901 census and it states he was a time keeper. He also appears in the 1901 census in the family home.

Uncle Martin is Martin Meagher who was married to Frances’ Aunt Kate O’Neil.


January 10 – #2 great game

Boy, I need to find a way to have more energy. I slept in again this morning and still wished I could take a nap this afternoon.  Oh well.  Yesterday I did that thing again – I was booking a plane flight and used my maiden name again. Good thing I checked everything before I clicked on the final button. Really scared me.  At least this time I caught it otherwise I would have had a problem at the airport because I am sure last time getting threw was a fluke. Dear, Dear.

Went shopping and got frames for some of our pictures from Ireland and a pillow for the pillow case I bought in an art shop with everyones favorite view of Galway.  And we got food.  Shopping is still not so easy. I wish this had packs of meat for two. And I am trying very hard not to stockpile groceries and only getting what we will eat in a week or two.  No need to have all the stuff in the cupboards. Fresh is better.

This afternoon was Pink at the Rink a cancer fund raiser at the Union vs Dartmouth Hockey Game and I won the tshirt from the 2014 US Woman’s Hockey Team – It is signed by all the members of the team.  Trying to decide what to do with it. I know we have some young lady hockey players in the extended family and one of them might like it.  Will have to decide. Maybe one of my kids might like it?

Union played well tonight but again they are so small the Dartmouth team had no players shorter than 5’6″ so our guys although they played well and were tied with two minutes left D scored to go 2-1 and then they got an empty goal shot so the game ended 3-1.

I really enjoy the games and there were other people there today and the PEP Band.  I am sure the team appreciates having a couple of hundred people there to root for them.  The money raised goes to several families at the college who have a member with Cancer.

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January 9,2014 – David and Golieth but David did not win tonight

I was going to write about something else and then we went to the Union College vs Harvard woman’s hockey game. First of all you have to understand, Harvard is one of the top teams in the ECAC so recruiting for them is easier than for Union also because after all  – It is Harvard. But since we started attending the Union games a few years ago it is obvious that they are the little engine that is struggling.  They play well and give it their all but they have not had a winning season ever as far as I know.

But tonight they looked great. Really – First of all you have to picture this – you come out on the ice and the other team is made up of 1 – 5’11”, 1 – 5’10”. 6 – 5’9″, 4- 5’8″, 5- 5′ 6″ and 6 players 5’5″ or shorter. and then there is the Union team – 1- 5’9″, 1- 5 ‘8″, 4- 5’7″, 1- 5’6″, and 15 players 5’5″ or shorter. And they are great hockey players.  They have skills and energy and all you need to play.  But against a huge team like Harvard really now.  They played so well the score was only 7-1 at the end. They broke up so many plays and all but they had a hard time getting the play down in front of the Harvard net.  Those woman were just so much bigger so that their strides = well you can imagine it. It is like when I go walking with my 6’1″ husband and I am 5’1/2″ tall. I have to walk two steps for everyone of his.

I love our team. They have heart and talent but they really need some height.  My dream all my life has been to be 5’6″. Just to be a more normal height would have been nice and if you play a sport I would think size is important as well.

We will be back tomorrow afternoon for Pink At the Rink – a cancer fundraiser and hopefully there will be more supporters there. That is the other thing that is sad to me.  There appeared to be more Harvard supporters in the crowd than Union folks. That needs to change as well.

As for my day – well, I over slept again. I think once I stop taking the antibiotic that will change. it says on the container it can make you tired and I am that for sure. But although I was dragging I did pack up another bag of clothing today and then dusted the bedroom, I don’t know where all the dust comes from but I have just about had it with dust. And I revised the family birthday list. We have such a huge family that several years ago I put together a list starting with our grandparents, then their eight children and spouses, followed by the 27 grandchildren and their spouses and then all of our kids and their kids. It is quite a hefty list of people. I had asked the cousins for updates and corrections and thankfully they sent them. So, it is sent out for another review. One thing was pretty funny, one of the cousins wife’s birthday seemed to have been wrong. I got it from someone the first time we did the list, then this time two of her children sent me differing dates. So I sent it to her and asked her to make sure the right one is there.

Then I made reservations for my trip to DC for a conference in Feb and a visit to the little girls so that was fun. And sent out our work plan for the grant for 15-16 to the heads of the organization so they can review it and send it on to the board members for review before we upload it to the Feds. Next project is the budget which I have already worked on but won’t be as much fun. I HATE MATH… why I end up doing this is beyond me. OH well, it will keep me out of trouble I guess.

Sitting here chomping on Keogh’s Irish potato crisps. I just love them and resisted the temptation to open a bag all afternoon. It is Friday so I guess the binge weekend has begun.. maybe I will bring a bag with me to the hockey game tomorrow.  Almost time to order another case…… yum yum…..

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January 8, 2015 – Sex in the Suburbs

“Be Thankful LIfe is a Mystery”

Many years ago we moved to Cushing Lane for a few years.  It was an interesting place to live. The houses were small, all started as boxes with concrete floors with heat in the floor, no basements and most had been added to over time.  We had an addition between the garage and the house to expand the kitchen and make a little family room.  The one bedroom wall had been taken down to turn it into a dining room and the other bedroom downstairs was expanded to make it bigger. Upstairs was a bedroom and attic area which we finished into a third bedroom. We had a nice fenced backyard which with little kids was very good.

So that sets the scene.  Now after living there for almost five years I had just about had it. We were having our fourth kid and were running out of bedroom space and we were surrounded by some really interesting neighbors.  Some of what went on was pretty funny but other things were of concern, like David and Tina down the street who were like 3 and 5 and taught my three year old every darn swear word in the world. Words that he had never heard at home and he loved using them.  Then there was the lady next door who’s husband had died and she was left with their two adopted children.  We rarely saw them but at one point the kids called me to tell me that the little guy was sitting on a bench out in the cold and was begging his mother to let him back into the house.  I went upstairs to the window on that side of the house and watched this little kid crying and begging for forgiveness etc.  I decided the appropriate thing would be to call the new hotline number for child protective.  I was shocked by the person on the phone.  She told me that she would like me to go next door and ask the mother if she needed help and that I should find some agency or her church to hook her up with.  They were not willing to do anything.  I was pregnant and at home with three little kids already. And I was not a social worker and was new to the county.  Sad things is that the kids did not do well in life, either of them.

So now that I have admitted that I chickened out after reporting the abuse and getting no help for them from the state agency that was suppose to take care of it, I will go on to this.  I was friends with Avis who lived across the street. Her children were grown and she did not work out of the house so we spent time having coffee or chatting.   One day she called me up and asked if the kids were inside. I said they were and she said good and then told me she was watching the house on the other side of me because quite the event was going on.  The 14 year old daughter it turns out was on top of the garage roof having sex with her boyfriend.  I did not go over to watch from Avis’ house even thought she invited me to. What I did do was call my husband and tell him we had to move and get out children out of that neighborhood.  There were some lovely people who lived on our street but I seemed to be surrounded by some scary people.

By the time our baby was four months old we were out of there and moved into a wonderful neighborhood. And that became a whole other story.  In fact that might be a good series of stories.  We have had everything in this neighborhood: a pedophile, domestic abuse, overly judgmental right wing christians, good friends, great kids, a king, and all kinds of other wonderful people.  Few are still here, in fact I believe we are probably now the third or fourth oldest residents of the circle.

I wish I had a picture of that other old neighborhood.  If I can find one I will scan it and attach it tomorrow.

Today was a good day. Went for a walk in the crisp cold sunny day. It was very nice. Then I went to work on the budget for the grant.  Such a lot of work needed to be done.  Just put numbers in and now have to see if they add up. Also slept in this morning. Naughty old woman did not get up until 10 am. I loved it. Made up for it by walking that mile or so this afternoon.  Needed exercise.

January 7, 2015 – Dreams can come true

“I am a great believer in luck

and I find that the harder I work,

the more I have of it.”

                                            Thomas Jefferson

Why did I start with that line? I cannot imagine why. In life we all have dreams of things we wish we could do or things that would come to us.  I would have loved to be a ballerina or a figure skater or a good teacher. None of those things were in the cards for me.  I never thought I would be an addictions counselor or a passionate prevention person but those things did come my way.  Addictions were not part of my life until I married and learned about the genetics of addiction and decided I would pursue that field because of concern for my children’s futures.  I knew nothing about addiction but when I found out how many alcoholics were in my kids family line I knew I better find out about it. As it turned out it was a pretty interesting field and luck has been with me and I guess my dream of eventually finding a good job in prevention did come true and one would have to believe it was a meant to be situation.

I was working for CHP/Kaiser Permanente and in August of 1999 they announce to the provider community that the place would be closing down on January 1, 2000. It was a terrible shock to so many of us because we loved working there and still look back on those years as very positive ones for us.  The pay was good, working conditions good, bosses fair and would listen to us, and I had made some really good friends there. Not being a social worker or a nurse and with changing times there were few places for me to go where I could make the salary I was making at CHP.  So, I figured I would stay until the end and see what came my way.

My friend Pat went to interview for a job in Rensselaer County.  After the interview she told them she really was not interested in the job.  They asked her if she would be interested in another opening they had for a prevention specialist. After describing the job to her she said no thanks but she knew who would be great in that job and would love it. She gave them my name.  So I get a call offering me an interview. Fabulous job and one hitch, you had to live in the county to get the job. I said no thanks, I would love the job but I am not moving.  I thought that would be the end of it. Then a month later I get another call, this time from the Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health, would I please come back for a second interview. Sure, why not, right?  So back I go and had a wonderful chat and again, we want to hire you but you have to live in the county.  Sorry again, but I am not leaving my house for a two year grant position.

So, December came and CHP closed. I was hired on to help them close out claims which might go on for a couple of months with no reduction in pay and my benefits would continue so this was good. In the mean time I had visited the people the company were paying to help people find new jobs.  They told me I would be hard to place, but if Denis wanted a job they had plenty they could offer him.  He was not looking.

So, I learned how to close out claims and was not messing up too much and one day the phone rings. This is now about the second week in January.  It was the Commissioner of Mental Health. She said they wanted to offer me the job if I was still interested and if I wanted it they would go to the County Executive and request that the job be changed so I would not have to live in the county.  I said yes and two hours later I got the phone call that the job was mine and that they needed me to start right away. I told them I had this commitment at CHP and I would get back to her.  My supervisor in the claims gig looked at me and said “Are you’re nuts, you don’t owe us anything, go take the job.”

The next day I called and arranged to go with the Commissioner to a meeting with the State in a week and although it would not be my start date I would get comp time for attending this training with her.  The training was for those being funded under the grant that I would be working under. Every other group did a presentation about what they had done so far with the grant and the progress they were making. I learned a lot and it was things learned in grad school studying Community Psychology.

The end of this story of getting the job is that they gave me an office in the Commissioners suite. The desk had been used by the two woman who had the job before me.  When setting up the office I found a letter from the State that had arrived around New Years. In it it stated that if the position was not filled by the end of January the grant money would be taken away since the position had been open for over six months.   No wonder they were in such a rush to get me to the State and let them see someone had been hired.  I had a good laugh over it.  Sometimes things are just meant to be and our dreams do come through. That was my dream job and I stayed until I retired in 2011.

Since 2011 I have continued to volunteer on various groups doing prevention at the community level. I still love it although after the four months away I could easily step back away from it.  Something has changed in me and I have other things I would rather be doing.  Sad to say but true. I love presenting on underage substance issues and have attached a picture of a panel from last spring that Congressman Paul Tonko organized in the Capital District. He is a great advocate for the work we do in our communities and his staff have been wonderful to work with.

January 6, 2015 – starting all over again and a little story

Well, today it was really cold out and I had work to do on the computer so was good my car is in the shop.. They need to keep it until tomorrow so I will drive the Prof to work and then go to my meeting at 10 am.   But this evening dear Rose came and picked me up and I went back to Tai Chi Lessons.  Love it.  Almost every one was there, even Meg who teaches us alot of the time. She is going through Chemo and yet was out there doing this. She is thin but looks pretty darn good considering.and she has her lovely laugh which is a day brightener.  I have to wonder if being so physically active has helped her to go through it better.

So that was the fun of the day.  I did input in-kind donations for the grant and printed out updates for our family list of birthdays and deaths etc.  With there being well over 100 of us just on my mom’s family, There were 8 children on her generation, only five had children and there were 25 of us first cousins. And of course the numbers grow from there when you get into second and third cousins. What many of us love it to see those third cousins playing on the beach in the summer just like our parents knew their third cousins and were close to so many of them. They would be happy to see this going on.  We are lucky crew because our parents stayed close and made sure we knew each other.  I loved my summers in Canada visiting for a week or two every year or so when we were young and then as a teen my aunt Jean would bring me up with her for a month which was so special for me. I think she knew I needed to get out of the house.

So anyway, when I took the writing course in Galway we had an assignment one evening to write a short piece with descriptions etc. This is what I wrote about my Grandfather as a boy of 8. Nothing is based in fact, just my imagination.

Fergus had always loved a summer storm. It was exciting to see the lightening and hear the clash of the thunder. He was sitting at the kitchen table looking across at the school house watching the wind whipping through the trees and the rain crashing against the window. . Emily had been baking bread in the wood stove and the fragrance filled his being. He was waiting for he knew it would be coming.  He heard Emily getting out some dishes and reaching down into the cold storage for butter. His stomach was sending him messages, growling and yearning for the fresh hot bread. He sat very still and waited.  He and Emily spent most summer days together unless he was helping his Dad in the barn. He loved their time together.  His mother would tell him stories and teach him how to make things and he had his own patch of garden to care for.   He heard another crack of thunder and saw a tree across the road split in half. Even that could not diminish his joy as Emily put the warm, soft bread in front of him coated in butter and fresh strawberry jam. He took a bite and held it in his mouth and began to slowly chew.If he had died and gone to heaven Fergus thought he could not be happier..

Pictures of Emily McArdle and second of her and husband Charles O’Connor and children Fergus and Madeline

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January 5, 2015 – Back in the thick of it again

“Start Each Day With a Pep Talk to Yourself”


Well, today I can assure you was not a great day. Spending six hours in meetings was not fun. And it appears that is what my life is going to be like for a while thanks to the Federal Government.  The Grant we are working under in my community group announced our yearly application is due on the 26th of January, so we need to work quickly to get the darn thing done and then they added our six month report being due on Feb 4th when we will be in DC so we have to get it done by Jan 30th.  Yippee… Guess a couple hours each day will be dedicated to that endeavor.

It is pretty funny actually that I heard the same conversation at both meetings at least that is what it feels like. But we did get alot accomplished. I am still steps away from being engaged at this point and since they did great without me for four months i hope they will see the benefit of doing things with out me more and more since I am seriously thinking about moving to Saratoga and selling this house. I just want to be somewhere with sidewalks and places to walk to. Guess the last four months really spoiled me.

This whole idea of living each day as an adventure has made me pause to think..  Reality is that I am not sure how back in this little life here I can find adventure.  Maybe I do need to start walking up to the Stewarts Shop each morning and getting to know the people who hang out there. They are also building a Starbucks up that way as well so I could get a two mile walk every day and some coffee and maybe a sweet although doubt any of them have wheat free  goodies. Probably would have to bring my own.

Started to relook at my letters from Aunt Pat and am trying to figure out where to begin again writing the story of her adventures. So maybe I will start living vicariously through her letters.  Stop that thinking, I can make my own adventures I am sure I can. I did for the last four months I can do it again.  Now that is something I could do, walk up to Starbucks and just sit and write for an hour every morning and drink coffee. Will have to see if that is doable. Of course the temperature is going to be very cold this week so doubt if I will be able to drag my feet up the street that far.  My computer would be frozen by the time I got there.

Today a funny thing did happen that I want to remember.  I called the Irish Museum in Albany to see if they had any ideas for someone who teaches Bodhran lessons.  As soon as the woman answered the phone she said to me “I know I owe you a check for $100.”  I thought, whoa, wrong Margaret. She kept on talking and I tried to tell her she had the wrong person. Finally she stopped and said, ‘Maybe we should start over and you can tell me what you were calling about”. Turns out after much laughter she thought I was a Margaret that both Denis and I know and who is in Denis’ book club. They went to grad school together.  Guess they owe her some money. I wonder if I could have said I have moved and here is my new address and gotten some money from them.  It was a great conversation and we both had a good laugh over it.

Being short on adventure today I will cut this short. Tomorrow I will write a bit more about family stuff, unless I have a true adventure.