Joseph Patrick McKeever was my maternal grandfather. He was born in Oct. 1893 in Ballymoney, Antrim. I’ve traced his life through his death, but am still awaiting information on his naturalization. I have his Birth registration from GRONI, his baptism info, and all the census information for him. He came to the US in 1914. He told my grandmother he had to leave as he had been in some trouble with the IRA. I realize the IRA didn’t exist in 1914, but I know there were other groups that were politically active at the time. He also changed his name sometime after he arrived -I’m not sure exactly when, but I think after WW1. He fought for the US, tho I haven’t found his military records yet. Since he didn’t meet my grandmother until 1922, I think he probably told her it was the IRA he was fighting with because that was the dominant group at the time and she would have seen it in the newspapers. I had no idea if there was any truth to this tale, but I now have some documentation from other Irish immigrants that they too were told to get out. I’ve decided to give his story credence.
At the time he left, Grandfather had been working in Belfast. I have the 1911 census, so I know where he was living. Belfast is on my list of places to visit.
My grandfather was the oldest of eleven children in a Roman Catholic family. His father was Patrick McKeever, born in 1871 and died in 1937 in Ballymoney. His mother was Margaret Mary Ewing, born in 1873 and died in 1960, also in Ballymoney. As for my great grandparents, I have all their birth registration information, baptism information, census information, and anything else I could get.
My mother visited her Aunt Aveline (Evelyn) Courtney in 1982 or 1983. Evelyn was born 1905 in Ballymoney, the sixth child of Patrick and Margaret. I don’t know when Evelyn died, but my mother said her son was living with her. I doubt he is still alive. Unfortunately, I was not into genealogy at the time of my mother’s visit and she left absolutely no information about them or anyone else she may have met or visited with.
I have a picture of Patrick and Margaret’s headstone, but unfortunately the cousin who sent it has no idea where the cemetery is located. That is one of the places I would very much like to visit when I come over, so finding it is at the top of my to do list. Their fifth child, Finvola (my mother’s namesake) is buried with them. Her married name was Darrach, but her husband is not buried with her. Maybe he died in the war. I’m thinking there may be other McKeevers and Ewings buried in the same cemetery. I have so many records for the McKeevers and Ewings in Ballymoney, I’m sure the cemetery must be somewhere in the area.
I also know I have lots of cousins. I have been in contact with two – one lives in Glasgow, the other lives in France. We are all grandchildren of Patrick and Margaret.
As for Glasgow, I think that’s where a large number of Ewings resided, and still do. My great grandparents went to Glasgow sometime after my grandfather was born in 1893, and returned to Ballymoney between 1902 and 1905 (the birth years of Finvola and Aveline).