WHO WAS KATE RABBIT?

DOUBLE GENEALOGY: The ADOPTION WITNESS. Update 2, Addendum 6

Who was Kate Rabbit?  Darned if we know! Well, she married Joseph Baxter M. Osborn titleonlywidgeton 14 SEP 1885 in Montclair, Essex County, New Jersey.1A  Their marital record says she was born in 1863 to Owen Rabbit and Mary Higgins.  Truth is, a number of children born in Roscommon Ireland about that time, to namesakes Owen and Mary are available from online search, but Kate is not among them. Her groom was a Montclair boy, born 1859 to William Osborn and Mary Mitchell. That a Kate Rabbit was mentioned  in Montclair, could actually help solve our puzzle!

We did not find her in the 1880 US Census. Nor could she be plucked from the New Jersey State Census 1885.  That was discouraging because we wanted her to have laid footprints in Essex County in the early 1880s, on which we could spy.  We were not to ask much of her – just a little intelligence from the 1880 decade in the US. 

Now, a Catherine Rabbott and Jos. Osborn had a male babe on 11 June 1886, in Montclair.1C Thus, we had high hopes to study her as she stepped forward through life.  Then, as we are painfully aware, Census 1890 was destroyed and besides, Kate apparently demised about then, for Joseph remarried in 1895. It seemed that is all we might know of Kate Rabbit but perhaps that is enough.

OUR INTEREST IN KATE RABBIT IS … JANE CARROLL

In turn, our interest in Jane Carroll is one John Kelly – potentially, our biological great grandfather.

Jane Carroll’s saga with her husband  John Kelly began to be told in the book “Double Genealogy: The Adoption Witness”. It spilled over to the “Deathbed Rant” in a previous post on this blog.  We shall summarize the situation in three recaps to show how our tiny window on Kate Rabbit  moves the tale forward.2 3 

RECAP 1

Our John Kelly disappeared from Scotland after his 1882 disclosure of an illegitimate son, whose mother he did not marry. He was from the US and born about 1859. 2 3

The Scotland Census of 1891 listed a widow, Jane Kelley, born in Campbeltown, Scotland around 1859. 2 Her two girls had been born in the US in 1885 and 1887, whose father turned out to be a John Kelly, born about 1859.  

How odd it would be, should the two John’s prove one. With avenues to pursue our own John dwindling, we took up the challenge to assess. So, Recaps 2 and 3 refer to Jane’s John. That he might be ours too, is subject of a different thread taking place in Scotland.  One at a time.

 RECAP 2

The rant exposed a major deceit on the part of the widow. Jane Kelly insisted that her maiden name was Carroll, and that she was born about 1860, in Campbeltown, Argyllshire to Bernard Carroll and Catherine McCormick. 2 3  

A horde of documents supported that notion. Except that, her birth record could not be located. That is, until the deathbed reveal, wherein the 1887 daughter, who had prior attested to Jane’s claim, now indicated her mother was born in 1856 of Bernard McKernan.  In fact, her birth was registered in Campbeltown in 1856 as Jane McKearnun of Catherine McCormick.3  Her parents were Irish. 

Bernard changed his name over time, being McKerrell on one census, such that an evolution to Carroll could be appreciated.3 However, nothing could mitigate the age differential, other than that Jane lied, or had experienced something in life to change her expressed recall.  

By the way, only one Jane Carroll or similar, was found to be born in Scotland of a Bernard father and Catherine McCormick in the extended time frame. 

RECAP 3

Widow-Jane, it seems, left Scotland and returned by 1891, after the mid-1880 births of her daughters and death of her John Kelly. So, John died in that narrow window.  John and Jane’s time in the US remains most elusive; they have not allowed us to know John –  hence the need for work arounds, seeking clearer parallel trails, such as we hoped from Kate Rabbit.

The State of New Jersey and Roman Catholic documents available online and by ordered transcript show:

  • Marriage on 27 SEP 1884 of John Kealy, b. 1861 Ireland, to Jane Carroll b. 1859 Scotland at St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey.   Jane’s parents: Catherine McCormick and Bernard. John’s were Michael and Bridget. Only Catherine’s surname was mentioned and all parents were of Ireland.  2 3
  • Birth of Female Keley in Essex County, NJ on 13 APR 1885 to John Keley b. 1859 Ireland and Jane Carl, born 1859 Scotland 2 3
  • Christening of Mary Jane Keely at Immaculate Conception in Montclair, New Jersey, on 30 APR 1885, whose parents were reportedly James Keely and Jane Carroll. The child’s birthdate was specified as 13 APR 1885. 2 3

Note that Widow-Jane’s daughter was Mary J. Kelley born 1885 US, according to Scotland Census 1891. 2

One must keep a vigilant side-eye on huge unsubstantiated claims such as John Kealy,  John Keley and James Keely are the same, and that Jane Carroll is Jane Carl. Especially in view of inconsistent birth dates. Or, the whopper that the Newark marriage is connected to the Montclair christening …

…  KATE RABBIT TO THE RESCUE!             

Sometimes it is  not enough to use online data or to receive copy from the Data Owner’s Archive. The first has been abstracted for digital input and the second, for transcription. In this case, it took a trip to Family Search Affiliate Library where microfilm or “snapshot” of the original data can be viewed.  Sure, it is not digitized, and one must cull through numerous images to get to the target.  

The image disclosed two new names on the Newark marriage record: James Welsh and Catherine Rabbit. The word preceding their names was illegible, so these probable witnesses were not input to the online record.   Still it gave no context as to age or relationship to the principals.

Now, there was no plethora of Catherine Rabbit floating about the US for competition. Yet one must have had some significance to John or Jane on their special day in Newark. Therefore, the jaw dropped when the name married a Montclair native, in Montclair, just months after Mary Jane was christened  there. 

While proving nothing, it is now a nudge more probable that the Jane Carroll who wed John Kealy in Newark, later chose a name for Mary Jane Keely in Montclair and wrote out Mary J Kelley’s census in Scotland, in 1891. 

Little steps! Someone asked why it took five years to write a genealogy. This is why.

Click DEATHBED RANT should you be so inclined.


Special thanks to the Family Search Affiliate Library at 5200 S Univerisity Ave., Chicago IL for a truly welcoming research day. 

Notes and Sources

1 Documents accessed at  www.FamilySearch.org © 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. including:
A New Jersey Marriages, 1678-1985: Joseph Baxter M. Osborn and Kate Rabbit, 14 Sep 1885; citing 1,378,203
B New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891. Passenger lists 2 May 1881-18 May 1881 (NARA Series M237, Roll 436) for Kate Rabbit
C New Jersey, Births, 1670-1980; Osborn, 11 Jun 1886; citing, Essex, New Jersey, United States, Division of Archives and Record Management, New Jersey Department of State, Trenton; FHL microfilm 494,201.
2 Double Genealogy: The Adoption Witness. Published by Booklocker.com. Copyright © 2018 Marilee Wein
3 Genealogy Imagined From A Deathbed Rant, With An Imposter, On Yonder Sea. Published on this blog.  All posts authored here by Doublegenealogytheadoptionwitness are Copyright © Marilee Wein 2018-2019.  All rights reserved. 

8 thoughts on “WHO WAS KATE RABBIT?

  1. I was literally sitting next to a colleague Mary Higgins as I read this. She’s wondering if maybe you’re distantly related as she has Irish connections. I’m off to click Deathbed Rants ;-P

    Liked by 1 person

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