Edit profile to show place of migration

Most of what is known about John Keefe comes by way of family letters, census records, and a newpaper article after his death. John was born 24th August 1818 in County Cork Ireland to John Keefe and <unknown mother>, the exact Parish/Town is unknown. According to the above mentioned newspaper article, John worked as a hostler for a man named Lord Bateman. John and Lord Bateman's daughter, Mary, fell in love. We believe Lord Bateman did not approve of the match, possibly due to social class differences or the fact that John was Catholic and Mary's family was Protestant. John and Lady Mary, along with Mary's sister Susan (twin?) decided to run away to America. We believe they can be found aboard the ship called Westpointe which departed Liverpool and arrived in New York on 3rd July 1848. He was supposedly in Pennsylvania for a brief time before purchasing a team of oxen and traveled the rest of the way to Wisconsin. 

John staked a claim for land in Poygan, Wisconsin around 1849 until it was open for purchase in 1852. He is often noted as being the first white settler in Winnebago County, was noted as living peacefully amongst the Natives and was acquainted with Chief Oshkosh. His first son, Charles Bateman Keefe, was the first white child born in the county in February 1850. Old family stories say he loved dogs and could always been seen with quite a few of them following him around. Family says he was also known to engage in boulder throwing! John and Mary had 10 children, 8 boys and 2 girls, and lived their lives on their Poygan farm. 

Mary died 8th August 1907 of sepsis at age 83. John died 26th February 1919 from Pneumonia caused by Influenza. He was 100 years, 6months old. 

It would be nice to know if anyone has more information about John's life prior to coming to the US such as which town he was from, his mother's name and siblings he may have had. I'd also love to know where exactly Lord Bateman's estate was? John's wife Mary aways listed Ireland as her place of birth on the census records but some family say Lord Bateman's estate was located in Scotland near the English border. After checking back in the 1970s, Scotland had no records of any Bateman landowners around the mid 1840s.

Picture shows John Keefe and Mary Bateman

Additional Information
Date of Birth 24th Aug 1818 VIEW SOURCE
Date of Death 26th Feb 1919 VIEW SOURCE
Father (First Name/s and Surname) John Keefe b. Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Townland born County Cork  
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) Mary Bateman  
Number of Children 10  
Names of Children Charles Bateman, John B., Thomas Martin, James Francis, William Henry, Edward F., George Joseph, Mary Ellen, Robert, Susan A.  
Occupation Family letters tell us that John worked as hostler for Lord Bateman and drove/manned his 'Bus' which was a carriage of sorts. After reaching Wisconsin, he lived his life as a farmer.  
Place of Death Town of Poygan, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, USA  
View less entries


Winnebago Co, WI by Publius Virgilius Lawson USA VIEW SOURCE
Find A Grave entry USA VIEW SOURCE


  • The name Keefe is a Anglican/Episcopalian version of O'Keeffe and I have seen it in registers here in Bandon so it is possible that John was also Church of Ireland. Being a lower social class than Mary would have been enough for disapproval...also all of the children appear to have typical CoI names of the time.  There were two large families of Keefes in the mid to late 19th century. 'Lord' Bateman probably refers to a Mr Bateman with a good deal of land. If you would like to contact me at claremccutcheon51@gmail.com I will try to assist you. regards



    Sunday 1st April 2018, 09:06PM
  • We are fairly certain John Keefe/O'Keefe was Catholic. I have been told he donated the land for the Catholic church to be built in Poygan Wisconsin (St Thomas Aquinas) where he settled after immigrating. I've also been told that John began omitting the O' from his name after he left Ireland. We're pretty certain Mary Bateman, his wife, was Anglican as she would/could not attend St. Thomas and walked by herself on Sunday to a separate church in Winneconne, WI. She was also not allowed to be buried in the Catholic Cemetery with John Keefe so she was buried at Winneconne Cemetery. The plot, which was purchased by their youngest son Robert, there is also a marker for an 'Aunt Susan' who were are assuming is Mary Bateman's sister? Susan who sailed with them on the Westpointe to New York. John Keefe has a headstone right next to Mary in this non-catholic cemetery but there is some family lore from a relative who recently passed that said once John Keefe finally died 12 years after Mary, they had her exhumed and they were both buried together on their farm in Poygan. Not sure if there is any truth to that. Other family also says that their 10 children were raised Catholic, though I am not surprised by the fact that their names would be more Anglican considering Mary Bateman's background.

    After having done more research since adding John Keefe here to this website, and I have also come to agree with you that 'Lord' Bateman probably just meant that he was a landlord. The name John Bateman comes up loads in the land records but I don't know how to determine if that is 'our' John Bateman.

    I can email you, Clare. Thank you for your offer.


    Kelly M

    Monday 2nd April 2018, 01:21PM