In Memoriam – Keith G. Earley (1945-2021)

I remember the first time I met Keith Earley. I was just a few months in as a new hire in 1999 to the Lucas County Engineer’s Office, and George Wilson was the County Engineer at the time. George had been County Engineer since 1970 and he was ready to retire, so he selected Keith as his replacement. George was introducing Keith around the office to the staff, and George and Keith stopped by my cubicle. The moment Keith and I shook hands, I knew immediately the kind of man he was and that I was going to like this guy. Keith had this quiet but approachable prescence, a disarming smile and a generous spirit to a fault. Any accolades that came his way, his first words would always be about his good fortune in working with good and experienced people. It was never about him.

Keith and I worked together for 20 years and I learned so much from this man in so many different ways, it’s actually very difficult to put into words.

In December of 2015, nearing Keith’s 70th birthday of 31 Dec. I decided to look into Keith’s Earley family lineage as a birthday gift. He was so surprised and grateful, as there were some things he did not know. I so enjoyed doing that for him.

It’s so hard to believe how fast 20 years goes by, but in 2019, Keith announed his retirement and at the end of that year he would retire. A retirement celebration was held at our office near the end of November of 2019. Besides the current staff at the time, many retired employees were at Keith’s retirement party, including George Wilson, the former County Engineer, and the County Engineer to be, Mike Pniewski. I was fortunate enough to be “photographer” for the day and got many photographs of Keith, along with Ruby, Keith’s wife and their kids and grandkids. I was able to give Keith and Ruby all the photos I took that day which I knew they would cherish.

Keith and Ruby moved after Keith retired to Grove City, Ohio near Columbus to be closer to their kids and grandkids. Cheryl and I have stayed in touch with Keith and Ruby since then.

 On 16 Dec. 2021, I got a Facebook message from Ruby telling us that Keith had passed away from cancer. I was heartbroken and in shock. I messaged one of the other staff with the news and immediately the word spread like wildfire. As a tribute to Keith, my former boss and more importantly a true friend, here is what I found out about his Earley family.

The Earley Family

I’ll begin with showing the obituary for Keith’s father, Justin Earley:

Courtesy of Newspapers.com© – Telegram-Forum – 20 Sep 1994

This marriage record from 1941 supports the obituary article for the parents of Justin Earley, the grandparents of Keith:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

I next found the marriage record for Glenn Earley and Della Miller:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Glenn Earley’s father was Lewis Frederick Earley, and his mother was Christiena Mann. Here is the marriage record for Lewis and Christiena in 1875:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Christiena died in 1889. She is buried along with a Wilson family:

Courtesy of FindaGrave.com©

The reason for the Wilson name will become clear later.

Lewis remarried in 1891 to Katherine (Kate) Logan:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

In the 1900 Census, here is Lewis and his family (Morrow County, Ohio):

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Notice that it says Lewis’s father was born in N.Y. and mother born in PA. The N.Y. connection for his father may not be correct.

In the 1880 census, here we have Lewis and Christiena, with Glenn (Morrow County, Ohio):

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Notice who is living next door…Ann (Wilson) Earley, Lewis’s mother, and his uncle, William. Just as important, notice where it says Lewis’s father was born:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Yes, that says Canada…the plot thickens.

In 1860, here is Christiena’s family (Morrow County, Ohio):

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Her father was Valentine Mann and wife Elizabeth. He was born in PA and she was born in MD.

For Lewis in 1860, here is the census (Morrow County, Ohio):

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Lewis is with his mother Ann (Wilson) Earley, both staying with Ann’s mother, Hannah and other siblings. Obviously, Lewis’s father is not there.

Researching Ann, I found the marriage record of an F.P. Earley and Ann Wilson, Dec. 25, 1851:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Digging deeper, the F.P. I found out stands for Frederick P.

I also found the gravesite for Frederick P. Earley:

Courtesy of FindaGrave.com©

Getting back to the connection to Canada vs. N.Y. – there is a very interesting clue here related to Frederick. There was a Thomas Earley found in the 1850 Census for Morrow County:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Thomas was just a few years older than Frederick, and it’s not entirely clear why Frederick does not show up in the 1850 census for Morrow County, but it’ possible he was elsewhere, and showed up in Morrow County after 1850. Thomas was also born in Canada.

With that said, I did find one Frederick Earley in 1850 in Muskingum County, OH, about 2 counties east of Morrow. He is alone in a boarding house, and it indicates birth location as Unknown and he was a baker:

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

This may or may not be Frederick P. Earley.

Another clue is, in the 1880 census, Lorinda, separated or divorced from Thomas, still has children, including a child named Frederick, a twin. (hmm…interesting):

Courtesy of Ancestry.com©

Thomas Louis Earley was born in Quebec, Canada. Thomas died in Sherman City, Isabella County, Michigan in 1898 and was married a 2nd time to Lorinda’s niece Sarah Jane Brand (maiden name of Lorinda). Notice the middle name of Thomas was Louis. I have found no evidence that Thomas and Frederick were brothers. It’s possible they may have also been cousins. Whatever the case may be, I am inclined to be believe that Frederick was from Canada and not N.Y., simply because the evidence is stronger towards that end.

If Thomas and Frederick were brothers, then the good news is this. Thomas’s parents were:

John James Earley (b. late 1700’s – d. 1850 Franklin Co., N.Y.), from Tyrone, Ireland. Immigrated to Quebec from Ireland. Fought in the War of 1812 (for the British) and married Sophia Beausejour (some researchers believe her maiden name was Simon).

Sophia Earley was b. unknown – d. 1865 in Mt. Gilead, Morrow County, OH.

Back in the beginning of January 2020, I asked Ruby if I could dig into her family roots. It turns out that part of Ruby’s family roots are in West Virginia, and better still, Ruby is a distant cousin to my wife Cheryl through the Adkins family. Go figure. Kismit I guess.

Just a word of advice…never take for granted the people that you meet and become part of your life, they just might end up being family.

This has been my 75th post and I thought it would be very appropriate to celebrate the 75 years that Keith Earley spent in this world and I was lucky enough to know this great man for 23 of those years.

Acknowledgements:

Ruby Earley – Ruby, I could not have done this without your consent and it has been an honor and a privilge to share Keith’s family heritage. You have been and will always be considered part of our family.

Cheryl, my wife who always supports my “genie” work and I am so grateful for her love and support.

Thank you Keith for everything! Rest in peace my friend.

Brian

Keith G. Earley (1945-2021)