Marie White O'Keefe's Memoir

Marie White O’Keefe’s remembrances in 1965.


Marie was my grandmother-married to Denis Albert O’Keefe. Much of this relates to her family, the White’s although she starts out talking about the O’Keefes.


Denis O’Keefe was born in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland in 1857. He would always say he was born the night of the big wind. He died in Harrison,
Westchester County, New York on November 1, 1933 of a stroke.


In Ireland he drove trotting horses. Coming to America around 1880, he took a position as coachman. He drove in New York City for very prominent Aristocratic families and went to their summer homes with them taking his family. The most important family was the Clarence Day family. (One son of this family wrote at least two popular books. One “Life with Father” another “Life with Mother”. In both these books by Clarence Day Jr. the O’Keefe family is mentioned under the name O’Dowd.

After retiring, he was restless and took a position as sexton of St. Gregory’s Church in Harrison under Father William Prunty. While there, he suffered his first stroke. From this he was left with an injured leg, but which did not prevent him from getting around, working with his flowers and visiting every day with the family of his son, Denis who lived two and a half blocks away. He had a marvelous sense of humor and loved to tell good wholesome stories about his life.


Julia Sheehan born in County Cork, Ireland in 1859. Died in Harrison, New York February 18,1935. Denis and Julie ( as he always called her ) were married in New York City around 1880. Julie always said that Denis followed her to America and he would always answer, “Yes, but I
caught you didn’t I” They had seven children – Michael, a girl who died in infancy, Timothy, Denis Albert, Thomas, Kathryn, Anna. Julie
survived Denis by two years. She had a fall in her home and died one week later mostly of shock. This home was at 74 Harrison Avenue, Harrison, New York and had been purchased for their comfort by son Denis. Both Denis Sr. and Julie are buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Port Chester, New York. In the same cemetery are buried Julie’s father, Timothy who died in Harrison, NY while living with Julie and her family and her brother Thomas, a color bearer for the famous Sixty-Ninth Regiment in the Spanish American War. His illness that caused his death was a result of the war. Many times his family witnesses him in the color guard in parades on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In St. Mary’s Cemetery are also buried Timothy and Thomas, children of Denis Sr. and Julie. Michael is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Long Island.


Denis Albert O’Keefe – son of Denis Sr. and Julie. Denis was born in New York City on West 34th Street on December 22, 1887. He was an infant during the blizzard of March, 1888. The building in which he was born was taken down years later to make room for the building of the huge Pennsylvania Railroad Station. Now, in the 1960’s, that building is being demolished for future building ( of the new Madison Square Garden on top of the Passenger Station. )

Denis Albert attended St. Patrick’s Cathedral School, Holy Innocence School, a district school on North Street in Harrison, Parson’s Memorial School on Halstead Avenue, Harrison NY. The first two schools were in New York City. As a young man Denis Albert learned the plumbing trade in New York City and worked on many skyscrapers and hotels. In the Commodore Hotel on East 42nd Street he was in charge of certain bathroom installations. It was in this building that he was working when World War I came to an end. The brass fire hydrant outside the hotel was installed by
him. It is something he always looks at with pride. While learning his trade, the O’Keefe’s lived on West 69th Street in New York City. Blocks and blocks of this area have been leveled to make room for the building of the New York Civic Center.

During the summers, the O’Keefe family went out to live in Rye and Harrison, New York. Denis was in his late teens and early twenties at this time. His hobbies were track and baseball. He used to run along with his buddies on the dirt roads in Harrison and won medals in track meets in Madison Square Garden in New York City. He played baseball on teams in Harrison and was a staunch rooter for the New York Yankees professional baseball team. In later years he changed his rooting to the Dodgers of Brooklyn, now of this writing, The Los Angeles Angels. Denis is still one of their fans. (In 1969-70 the Mets are his favorites. They train in St. Petersburg, Florida where they live)


When Denis married Marie White of Rye, he was working in New York City and they lived in an apartment at 1135 Clay Avenue, the Bronx in northern New York City. There their first child, John was born. Lived there only a year and then moved to 124 Harrison Avenue, Harrison, NY. They lived there for forty-three years. All other seven children were born in this happy home. Denis, during the first years of his marriage went into the plumbing business in New York City with a friend. This friend robbed him twice and so he sold out his interest and started a plumbing business in Harrison, New York. Here he had a partner as well but later sold out his interest and stared in business for himself at the home address. Now he did very well for years. While in the plumbing business in Harrison, Denis (Dan) built an apartment house on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Fremont Street and conducted a hardware store on the ground floor. In 1929 and 1930 came the country’s financial crash. As thousands of dollars were owed him, he felt he could not carry on and gave up trying desperately to collect some of the money outstanding. Some good people paid off on notes but much was lost completely.

For security, Denis applied for a position under Civil Service in the State of New York and took a position as Supt. Of Custodians of the Schools of District Three in Harrison. It proved very beneficial and in September 1950 retired on pension to 7400 38th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida.

Denis Albert O’Keefe -was baptized Denis Albert – his mother nicknamed him Den. His buddies changed it to Dan and along the way, he, himself was signing his name Daniel. In applying for a marriage license in Port Chester, New York, she learned that his name was Denis. It was extremely difficult for Marie and everyone else to change to Denis or Den and so Dan stuck. And Denis Albert went right along signing his name Daniel. Now, after years of wrangling by Marie to get his name corrected on documents, in 1954 a new will was made by Denis and Marie and in it appears Denis or Daniel O’Keefe.

Marie Elizabeth Agatha White – born February 11, 1893 at 255 Railroad Avenue, Rye, New York. Her father was John Walter White and her mother was Catherine Augusta Nolanska Houlihan. Now in 1965 the old homestead is still there (the avenue now known as Theo. Fremd Avenue) In this year of 1965, Idy and Jim Wall have just purchased the homestead from Idy’s father, John Martin, who inherited it from his deceased wife, Helen, one of Marie’s sisters. The Walls have renovated the entire inside of the house and it is adorable. The outside has been painted white
for the first time in it’s long and comfortable life. The reason for the homestead being owned by the Martins, Helen White Martin inherited it upon the death of her mother, Catherine. The homestead was built by Mary Houlihan, mother of Catherine Agusta on 3 and ¾ acres of ground bounded by Railroad Avenue, North Street and Hammond acreage.

Grandfather – Simon Houlihan – born in Ireland

Grandmother – Mary Haugh -born in County Clare, Ireland in 1842

Simon and Mary were married in Ireland at the ages of sixteen and immediately sailed for America on a sailing vessel. They were met at a New York City dock by friendly Irishmen who took them to their home in West Rye for housing and protection. This was the custom of the times. All ships from Ireland were met by Irishmen and immigrants who had nowhere to go were taken in tow. Thomas and Mary were made comfortable by a family named Sheedy.


Later, Simon and Mary found rooms for housekeeping in the Kirby homestead on North Street. It was the property adjoining this Kirby property that
Mary later bought. Now in 1965, this homestead still stands and is occupied by the Howard family. Simon found employment. Five girls were born
to Simon and Mary in this home. Two girls died in infancy. Then Mary Elizabeth, Margaret and Catherine Agusta survived.

When the Civil War broke out, Simon volunteered as a seaman. He was badly gassed aboard ship during fighting. He was badly gassed aboard ship during fighting. Confined to a temporary hospital in Washington, Mary, his wife and Mary Elizabeth his daughter went to visit him. There they met President Lincoln who came to the hospital. Simon was advised by doctors upon his honorable discharge that he return to Ireland to recuperate. There he died.


Mary was entitled to a pension, which she did not claim for many years and in those days was not retroactive. The amount was thirty dollars a month when she finally received it. Meanwhile, Mary went out to work at washing and ironing in the homes of the wealthy. Mrs. Kirby,
the landlady cared for the 3 little girls. Mary Haugh Houlihan was a thrifty woman and before long had saved enough money to buy the property on

Railroad Avenue in Rye, NY. She wished to build a house on the property but also needed help to farm the ground and to have someone to care for the three girls, so she had a trunk built and sent it with passage money to an unmarried brother, Thomas Haugh in Ireland. Tom could not refuse such a plea and soon joined Mary and her three girls. The homestead was built (four large rooms originally) and the family moved in. Mary continued to work but little by little she had laundry brought to the house. A large addition was added early. Thomas planted most of the property as a garden. Fruit trees, berry bushes of all kinds and grape vines were also planted. Later a barn was built and pigs, a cow, a horse and buggy were installed.


Mary Haugh Houlihan was a proud and independent woman and never settled for anything but the best. Uncle Tom Haugh lived on with Mary and
her children until they grew to adulthood. As a child I loved him very near the huge coal fire in the kitchen falling asleep but always able to entertain us children with his stories. He died in Rye when I was a young teenager and was buried in the family plot in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Port Chester, NY.

Mary Haugh Houlihan saw that her three girls got a good Catholic education and sent them to the Parochial School in Port Chester, New York. To
get there, they walked the railroad tracks every day, a distance of at least four miles. At that time, Mary did not have a horse and buggy, but on special occasions such as Holy Communion, Confirmation and school programs, Mary rented a coach and horses to take the girls and herself to the church or school. At that time, Mary gave her girls the best education that was necessary for a young lady to make a respectable living. Mary Elizabeth was sent into New York City to learn the dressmaking business. Here she made many friendships that lasted throughout her lifetime and people became bosom friends of our family. Later Mary E. opened a dressmaking establishment in our homestead and catered to the elite
of Rye. On two different occasions she traveled to Europe as companion to Mrs. Catlin. Aunt Mary, who never married had a great influence on my life, as it was she who saw that I studied hard with my homework from school and that I practiced my music. She was thorough. She died in Rye in 1936 and is buried in the family plot in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Port Chester, New York. Aunt Margaret, who was a person bent on having a good time worked at this and that and did not want special training finally married Daniel Hickey, a person like herself who drifted from this job to that and who lived here and there but always seemed to get along by hook or crook. When I was in Rye high school, they had a restaurant in Rye, and many a time friends from school and I played hooky and spent an afternoon playing games and their apartment over the restaurant. Aunt Mag was
a dear and a cover-up for many of the pranks I played as a girl. Aunt Mag always seemed to have time to take me and my sisters to places my mother was not able to. I can well recall the rides on the trolley cars. Aunt Margaret Hickey and Daniel Hickey, her husband had two living children, Joseph and Betty. (two babies died in infancy and were buried from the homestead. I can still see those little white caskets being born across our long porch and placed in a wagon to be taken for burial. Catherine (my mother) was born in Rye on August 28, 1866. She was educated as a nurse and while nursing Maud Park, a young child in the hospital, the child’s parents became so fond of my mother that they asked her to accompany the child to their home and be her nurse. Catherine did this and went with the family to Santa Barbara at least twice to try that climate for the restoration of the child’s health. The Park (Park and Tilford Grocery Firm) home was a large one on a vast estate in Purchase< NY in the town of Harrison.


On her free time, Catherine often went to socials at the Quaker Meeting House (still standing in 1965) in Purchase near Rye Lake. On one of these
occasions she met John Walter White, who after marriage to Catherine (Kate) became my father. John courted Kate at the Park estate. One fond haunt was Kitty Hawk Falls on the property. John had a horse and buggy and they enjoyed many rides around the countryside. When John and Kate married on February 24, 1892 my grandmother, Mary would not let Mary leave home and so John had to bring his bride to the homestead. In the homestead at that time lived, besides grandma, Uncle Tom Haugh, Aunt Mary and Aunt Margaret (Mag). Then John and Kate decided to have five girls. After the death of Uncle Tom on June 6, 1902, John, My father was the lone man in the homestead with nine females.


John made his living as a carpenter in Rye. Before very long though, he established his own business in the big red barn on the premises. He built
many of the prominent homes and business places in Rye and in the surrounding territory. One of the largest of these was the famous Apawamis Golf Club, the original building having been destroyed by fire about 1908-1909. I remember the fire well for it was during the day and I was in Rye High School on a slight hill and we were allowed to go to the windows and look across to the burning building, which was on another slight hill.


John was a home loving man and rarely went any place from home. His two buddies were the Budd brothers and he and they would sit together and smoke and chat. John smoked a pipe. Many a good time my family had at the Budd fishing camp at Milton Point in Rye. We would stay for a week at a time and because it was so huge we could bring our friends. John’s only connection with organizations was as a volunteer fireman. He was always slim and looked very regal in his blue uniform carrying a brass trumpet as captain. This of course was parade dress. Fire fighting equipment at that time was very crude. Horses were sometimes pulled in by those who owned them to pull apparatuses, but I can well recall as a girl helping to pull a hose cart along with anyone else who happened to live along the route to a fire.


Catherine Agusta Houlihan White (my mother) died in Rye, New York on April 27, 1939 and was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Port Chester, New York. John Walter White (my father) died of a heart attack in Harrison, New York while working in my son Bill’s house on December 18, 1946. John, my father is buried beside my mother in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Port Chester, New York in the family plot. When my mother died, she and my father were living in a double house on the homestead property, one of two my father had built. In this house lived also my sister Lou and her son George Graham. The other half of the house was rented. My sister Lal and family were then living in the family homestead and sister Nan and her husband were living in the second house my father had built.


A very short time after my mother’s passing, my father came to live with me and my family. He remained for nineteen weeks and then decided to go back and live with his brother, Uncle Mike on the family farm in Purchase, about seven miles from my home. We went to visit him and he always seemed happy and busy being a farm boy. After the death of Uncle Mike, my father being executor of the will had to settle the estate. After this was done he went to live in our old homestead with my sister Lal and her family. This is where he was making his home when he died suddenly of a heart attack at Bill’s home where he was making some improvements. My mother and father, God have mercy on their souls were the finest parents any children ever had.

My four sisters and I grew up in an atmosphere of love and plenty, not riches but everything we needed for health and happiness. I was the oldest
born in the homestead on February 11, 1893.

Anna, my next sister and always called Nan was born in the homestead on July 27, 1894. She married Frank Kiernan in 1925 while a teacher in the Parsons Memorial School in Harrison, New York. She had been educated in the Rye Public Schools and Oneonta Normal School. I might add here that Frank Kiernan, my sister Nan’s husband served as a soldier in World War I. He died August 10th, 1968 at United Hospital, Port Chester,
New York.


Lucy, next in line and called Lou was born in the homestead on September 18, 1897. She attended the Rye Public Schools and then went to work in New York City in a bank. After World War I, she married George Graham, Jr. of Rye when he returned from Europe and the war. They had one son, George III, who when a grown up man was known as “Prunsie”served in World War II as a Navy man. After the war, he married Flo, a nurse and at this writing they have two high school sons, John and Peter.

Helen, my beloved sister and called Lal was born February 12, 1900 in the homestead. She attended Rye Parochial School and Rye High School.
She had a beautiful trained singing voice and acting ability and sang in school and in public. She went to work for the Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company in New York City and also sang in their musical group. She married John Martin of Rye and had five children; John,Jr., Mary, Sally, Irene and Robert. At this writing all are living and are married. Lal, my dear sister died in United Hospital in Port Chester on July 13, 1958 and is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Port Chester, New York.

Jane Frances, my youngest sister was born in the homestead on August 24, 1905. She was educated in Resurrection School and Rye High School. She took a course in beauty culture in New York City and worked there and in the home, as she was needed in the home to help with the work. She was taken ill with Typhoid Fever at my father’s summer home (he had two) at Bantam Lake, Connecticut, was brought home, hospitalized but died later in the double house in which my parents were living on the homestead compound. That was in 1933.


Marie Elizabeth White

As I mentioned earlier, I was born in the old homestead in Rye. Date was February 11, 1893, making me at this writing seventy-two and a half years old. {{Nana lived another 25 years to age 97}} Aunt Mary Houlihan and Uncle Mike were my godparents. I had a very happy childhood and played and romped through the woods adjoining our property. My (Mr. Martin) for Mr. Sterling. Mr. Sterling was the superintendent of the
Osborn Memorial Home Estate, which was close by and across the road, North Street. The Osborn Home for wealthy Protestant Ladies is still in operation. My sister Nan and I would often go to the home to visit the ladies and entertain with singing and playing the piano. My sisters and I played with the colored Martin boys because they were the only children except the three O’Rourke girls near our home. The O’Rourke girls never wanted to skate and ride their sleds down hill as the Martin boys did. I bought my first skates for fifteen cents from one of the boys. Nan and I used to enjoy coasting down Osborn hill in an old horse buggy, which had the shafts, removed and strong rope attached for steering.


I attended Rye Grammar School, Rye High School and Oneonta Normal School where I became a school teacher. Attending school I made many
friendships and was soon going to parties and giving parties. As there were no street lights in those days and a horse and buggy were rarely taken out at night, my mother would walk Nan (who always had to go where I went) and me to the party carrying a kerosene lantern. She would then return home and wait until it was time to escort us home. In those days we would be in bed by nine-thirty but the parties would start around six o’clock in the evening. I took piano lessons and dancing lessons after I was twelve years old. Our piano, a mahogany upright was a Christmas present and arrived on Christmas morning in a blinding snowstorm. I can still recall that team of sturdy work horses pulling that sturdy wagon
on which was that precious piano up our steep driveway which was covered with snow. One of my most memorable Christmases. I became a fairly good pianist and was an accompanist all during my high school days.


My high school days were filled with fun, parties, and trips, along with learning. I can recall one of those days when most of the boys and girls skipped afternoon session to walk to Port Chester, New York to see William Jennings Bryant, democratic candidate for President of the United States and Teddy Roosevelt, republican candidate for the same office whose trains stopped there at about the same hour. Both spoke to those assembled and all of us thought that we had been right in skipping school to hear them. But – it started to rain and we still had to get back to
Rye in almost darkness. We huddled together arms around each other as we trudged homeward wondering what our parents would say and maybe do and then there was Principal Mr. Shutts to face at school the next morning. God bless his soul, he almost approved of what we did. Many of the girls that afternoon were wearing heavy white sweaters and of course the boys had on garnet ones, the school color and with the help
of the rain, all the girl’s white sweaters had garnet stripes around the waist areas where the boys arms had been. I can’t recall my parents buying me a new sweater. I graduated from Rye High School in June 1911 and was one of the speakers. There were eleven in the class.


From Oneonta, I graduated in June 1913 and had an article in the yearbook. There were one hundred and some young ladies in the graduating class. At Oneonta I had many good times and sang, taking the part of a man in two operas. I had and still have a contralto range and was forced to be a man. To reach Oneonta It was necessary to go to New York City On the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad then the New York
Central Railroad to Albany, New York and from there the Delaware and Hudson Railroad to Oneonta which is in the east central part of New York State. It was an all day journey and longer if I missed a connection. Today, my grandson Bob is student at Hartwick College in Oneonta and can easily reach the city by motor vehicle because of well-paved roads through the Catskill Mountains and it only takes a few hours from his home in Westchester County. The Delaware and Hudson Railroad still runs through Oneonta but it is purely a freight railroad. My first homecoming
from college was for Thanksgiving 1911. My father was to meet me at Harrison Station with the horse and buggy, but there he was in Packard automobile backed up to the station platform, the pride in his handsome face, I will never forget and my pride in being able to ride in a family automobile I shall also never forget. But what happened? Poor Dad, in all his pride after putting me and my luggage into the car, put the gears
into reverse and we landed out in the train tracks. It didn’t take but the shifting of a gear and we were on our way home to the family. I had been very homesick while away but once in loving arms, I forgot it all.

After graduation, I taught in Edgeland School in Rye, a first grade after training for junior high school teaching and how I hated it. I had been offered many positions in my field but they were all far from home and my father wanted me to be at home. The only opening in Rye was first grade so I accepted it. The second year I was given a first grade in West Rye quite near home. I still did not enjoy it.


Now I would like to revert to my childhood. My grandmother, Mary Haugh Houlihan with whom we lived was as I have earlier said a thrifty and clever woman but would always rebel against modern improvements. I can well recall the tracks for the trolley cars being unloaded on Railroad Avenue in front of our property and that was a long front. Mary ran down the hill in her always-starched calico dress and told the men to stop and take away these monsters. Then when the men arrived to dig up and lay the rails, Mary took a chair and sat all day long trying to prevent progress, but of course failed miserably. The rest of the families were pleased to have a conveyance at our very door. In my early childhood days and until 1912, we had only well water carried into the house, an outdoor privy, kerosene lamps and no telephone even though these inconveniences could have been changed for during the years water mains were laid, plumbing fixtures were available, electricity and telephone wires were strung along our avenue, but grandma Mary would not hear of such nonsense. When my father started in his own building business, he prevailed upon Mary to see how important it was that he has telephone service and she relented and at last we had another convenience to gloat over.


When I fell in love with Dan O’Keefe, so did my grandmother, he being in the plumbing business had no trouble selling Mary on the necessity of
sanitation and electricity in the home and so she gave Dan the job of installing plumbing and to an electrical contractor the job of electricity. And grandma enjoyed the conveniences as much as any of us. The trolley cars were never adopted by grandma as a necessity and she would make me walk with her to Harrison to visit a friend of hers if the horse buggy was not available.


My father, John Walter White was born on his parent’s farm at the head of the hill on Lincoln Avenue, Purchase, New York. The date was January 15, 1869 and he was the youngest of seven children. He attended the district school in Purchase, a one-room schoolhouse. As a young man, he worked for Kuhr’s Milk Company, which was on the farm adjoining the White Farm. He later learned the carpentry trade and was very successful in Rye and surrounding communities after his marriage to my mother, Catherine. He had established his own business. He made many
improvements to our home and built two other houses on the property. He later retired.


My grandfather, John’s father, Thomas White was born in Dublin or County Cork, Ireland in 1820. He died in Purchase, New York on November 20, 1899. My grandmother, John’s mother, Mary Harrison was born in Dublin or County Cork, Ireland in 1830. She died ten days after my grandfather from a broken heart. The date was November 30, 1899. Thomas and Mary had been married in Ireland and sailed for America on a
sailing vessel which took seventeen weeks. They bought the large farm in Purchase, New York , Town of Harrison and remained there for the rest of their lives.


Seven children were born to them: Patrick, born in Ireland, Thomas, Katherine, Julia, Michael, John Walter (my father) and a girl who died when
young. The last six children were born in the homestead in Purchase. The homestead, sitting back about five hundred feet from Lincoln Avenue is now the Superintendent’s house on the estate of a wealthy family who built a mansion further back on the farm. The old farm had to
be sold to settle the estate of my grandparents.


Denis Albert O’Keefe & Marie Elizabeth Agatha White

When I was a junior in high school, I met Dan O’Keefe. With my sister, Nan and sons of friends I had gone to the Rye firehouse to a card party and
dance, although my dear father had forbidden my sister and me to go to that building. I was introduced to Dan, his brother Tom and other young men from Harrison by one of our group who knew them. During the dancing I enjoyed many dances with him. I suppose I told him things about myself among them that I was the organist at Resurrection Church. Next evening, after services, who was standing outside the church but Dan who said he had come from Harrison to walk me home. That was the start of a romance that culminated in marriage five years later on June 30, 1915. Everyone in my family approved of Dan and my four younger sisters treated him like a brother from the beginning. I thought my beau was Dan, but it wasn’t until long after meeting him that he took me to visit his family and from his mother I was to learn that he had been baptized Denis. In more detail, I have accounted this earlier.

We had a very pleasant courtship, dances, trips into New York City and Long Island to theatres and sporting events. Then when I went away to school, Dan would come up by train for weekends and stay over in the hotel.

We were married at a festive wedding in the Church of the Resurrection at ten o’clock with a large reception at home later. Then we were to
leave on a cruise for Portland, Maine. My sister Nan was to be Maid of Honor and my sister Lue was to be bridesmaid. Flowers and palms
were ordered for the church and home and of bridal and attendants bouquets. Wedding cake in individual boxes were ready and special music was arranged. My wedding dress was of heavy white satin and a long veil. Dan’s attendant was his brother Tom. Everything was going so smoothly and wedding presents were pouring in. My dear grandmother was allowed to open each one as the family gathered round her.


The day of the wedding was Wednesday. On Monday morning, I had to go into New York City for a few needed things and to pick up the cruise tickets. I went in to see grandma, who hadn’t yet gotten up for the day and I told her of my plans and to ask her if she needed anything from town. She said that since she wasn’t feeling too well, she might remain in bed for a while. Then she added that perhaps since she might not be any better the day of the wedding, I should buy her a frilly nightie for no doubt the guests at the wedding reception would visit her in her room. When I returned from the city late in the afternoon, I was shocked – grandma had died suddenly during the day of a heart attack. Gloom and sorrow
shrouded our home and instead of the final touches for a wedding, we went to work on a wake and a burial. I should add that Dan and I were married at 7 am with a Nuptial Mass on June 30th at Resurrection Church on Purchase Street, Rye by Father Meehan.


Returning home to a marriage breakfast at which champagne and pineapple and cheese were served. Dan became violently ill and had to be put to bed. However, he was well enough to attend grandma’s funeral the next day. After retuning from the funeral we had lunch at home and then Dan and I took off by trolley car for Harrison Railroad Station amid rice and old shoes. We were going to our apartment, our first home at 1139 Clay Avenue, the Bronx, New York City. By this time it was too late to take our cruise as the ship had left the day before. Our apartment was furnished by us in preparation for our occupancy. It was a new building and we were the first to rent an apartment on the fourth floor walk-up. As we were walking from the subway to the apartment, I remembered that although we had furniture, dishes and pots and pans, we had nothing to eat. I asked Dan to go into a store we were passing and among other foods to purchase four pork chops. When he arrived at the apartment where I had preceded him (wasn’t I brave to go there alone?) he had four pounds of pork chops. I learned during the dinner I cooked that he detested pork, but I had to inform him that he would be eating pork for a long time. So that was the beginning of a long uphill and downhill life together. Dan was working as a plumber on the skyscrapers of New York. Later he went into business with a trusted friend who twice within a few years robbed materials from jobs, which had cost both of them thousands of dollars. Dan soon made a settlement with that thief and we moved to Harrison, New York.


By this time John Richard had been born to us on Clay Avenue in the apartment April 17, 1916. in Harrison, we rented a two-story house from Mr. Driscoll t 124 Harrison Avenue. It wasn’t long before he offered it for sale and we bought it. The property on the corner and not far from church or shopping areas had a fence around it making it safe for children in which to play. In Harrison, Dan went into business with a Mr. McDonald and built an apartment house with shop and hardware store on the main floor. It was on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Freemont Street. Later, as Dan thought he could do better being in business by himself, he sold out to Mr. McDonald and went into business for himself at our home. He did
very well for years until the financial crash in 19291930. So much money was owed him and his supply houses had to be paid that it took most of our savings to meet those bills. A very small amount of what was owed him was paid off by notes, the rest never collected. At this point Dan decided that he had had enough of being in business for himself and at his age should get work in Civil Service where he could collect a pension at retirement age. He took a position as superintendent of buildings and grounds for Harrison school District Number Three which enabled him to retire to St. Petersburg, Florida in September 1950. During this time he was fire chief of the Harrison Fire Department. As our children were growing up we went summers to my father’s two houses on Bantam Lake, Connecticut and later to a tiny cottage we rented for the month of August at Round Lake, New York.

Our Children


During our years of success and trials, eight children were born to us.

John Richard was born April 17, 1916 in New York City. He attended Holy Trinity School in Mamaroneck, NY and Harrison High School and for a short period New York University. John married Helen Garwick of Harrison on July 9, 1943 in Oregon while in the United States Service –
World War II. He served later in the China-India area as a second lieutenant – transportation. John and Helen have two children, Nancy and Sean.

Robert Thomas O’Keefe born July 15, 1918 in Harrison, New York. It was the day of the Great Allied offensive in Europe of World War I. He
attended Holy Trinity School, Mamaroneck, NY and Harrison High School, The University of Missouri, Stevens Institute in New Jersey and was graduated from Columbia University. Bob married Rita Reilly of Rye, NY on August 31, 1941 at Brant Lake in northern New York State. He later served in World War II as a navy specialist, teaching at Stevens Institute. Bob and Rita have two children – Bob Jr. and Sandra Jo.

William Denis O’Keefe born March 4, 1920 in Harrison NY. Attended Holy Trinity School, Mamaroneck, NY, Harrison High School and Kent State
University for a year and a half when he was drafted into the army. He served as a sergeant in the European Area for three years during World War II. He entered the Omaha Beachhead on D-Day. Returning home in October 1945, he married Edna (Peggy) Parks in White Plains, New York on November 10, 1945. Bill and Peg have four girls – Patricia Ann, Janice, Denise (born on Dan and Catherine’s birthday Dec.22) and Colleen.

Catherine Agusta O’Keefe born December 22 (her father’s birthday) 1922 in Harrison New York. Attended Holy Trinity School in Mamaroneck,
New York and Harrison High School. Catherine married Robert Garwick in Camden, South Carolina on August 15, 1942. They have eight children – Erin, Kenneth, Lydia Hope, Lorin Elizabeth, Carrie Ellen, Gael, Guy Walter and Matt White. They also have two grandchildren born to Erin and Tom Whittaker – Mary Christine and Michael Shannon.

Marie Barbara O’Keefe born April 17 (her brother John’s birthday) 1924, in Harrison, New York. Attended Holy Trinity School in Mamaroneck, New

York and Harrison High School. Barbara married O’Dell Pumphrey of Texas in Harrison, New York. They have eight children – Martha Jeanne, John, Denis, Steven, Elizabeth Ann, Susan, Paul and Patricia. {{2 more born after Nana wrote this}}


Richard Edward O’Keefe born August 3, 1926 in Harrison, New York. Attended Holy Trinity School in Mamaroneck, New York and Harrison High School and graduated from Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts. Served in Air force training in World War II. Married Margaret Wisda in Bethesda, Maryland on June 24, 1948. They have seven children – Terence Patrick,Kathleen Bridgid, Mary Tara, Nora Dierdre, Brendan,
Shane and Danny.

Donald White O’Keefe born October 20, 1927 in Harrison, New York. Attended Holy Trinity School in Mamaroneck, New York, Iona Christian Brothers School, New Rochelle, New York, Harrison High School, Alfred University, Alfred New York. Served in the Navy during World War II on
Pacific duty. Married Joan Purcell of Harrison in White Plains, New York on July 5, 1952. They have three boys – Kevin, Brian and Sean.

Daniel Joseph O’Keefe born in Harrison, New York July 7, 1932. Attended Parsons Memorial School and Harrison High School both in Harrison, New York, St. Paul’s High School in St. Petersburg Florida, St. Petersburg Junior High School, Stetson University in Deland, Florida. Served in the
army in Washington DC as an aide to President Eisenhower. Married Joan Kirby of Rye, New York on December 8, 1952. They have four children – Denis, Suzanne, Joey and Kate.


This genealogy covering four generations, I hope will be an interesting reading for generations to come.

As I bring this history of the clans O’Keefe – Houlihan, White, O’Keefe to an end, I must add that Dan and I at ages seventy-eight and seventy-three respectively are living at 7400 38th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida. We own our modest home free and clear, happy in the fact that what we possess we owe to no one. Heavenly comfort !


Marie (Rea) White O’Keefe

written by Nana in 1965 -she lived almost 25 more years to the age of 97