It’s been a very great joy in my life to learn about my father’s family. My parents divorced when I was 9, and we didn’t see my father until 26 years later. Before he died in 1999, I was able to re-establish a good relationship with him. We had talked about his family, but he said he didn’t know much. His mother, Kathleen Ramona Keppel, had died when he was born, and his father remarried when he was 3 years old. He had some contact with her family into his teens, but then all fell apart.
After his death, his wife sent me a box of his papers and pictures, and in that box was a small bunch of pictures, wrapped in wax paper. The pictures on the following pages were those pictures. The best find was a copy of the marriage announcement of my grandparents, Kathleen to Stanton Nickels. It read as follows:
"Nickels-Keppel -- On Friday, July 19, Stanton Nickels, formerly of Bayonne, and Kathleen Ramona Keppel, of Westwood,
FIRST WEDDING IN NEW CHURCH
Miss Kathleen Ramona Keppel and Stanton Nickels were married in the new Calvary Baptist church, Westwood, at 7:30 o'clock Friday evening, by the bride's father, Rev. J. J. Keppel, in the presence of 150 guests and friends. It was the first marriage to be solemnized in the new edifice, and was a war wedding, as both the groom and his best man are in the United States service and were in uniform. The church interior was attractively decorated for the occasion with palms, ferns and the American flag.
The bride was given away by her brother, Charles J. Keppel, of New London, Conn. Miss Florence Lee, of Bayonne, played the wedding march. The groom's best man was his brother, John Nickels, who is in the naval school of Columbia University. The ushers were George Keppel, brother of the bride, and Theodore Milbury, of Oradell.
The bride wore a gown of net over white silk, a bridal veil and orange blossoms, and carried a bouquet of white roses and sweet peas. The maid of honor was Miss Louise M. Keppel, sister of the bride; Miss Hazel Cordes, bridesmaid. Both were attired in pink organdie, with lavender hats. They carried pink carnations and lavender sweet peas.
Following the ceremony there was a family reception at the residence of the bride's parents, on Fairview Avenue, Westwood. Numerous valuable and attractive gifts were bestowed upon the couple.
With this little bit of information I posted messages on the Keppel forum. About a year and a half later, I received an email from James Keppel in Ireland telling me that he knew my family. He put me in contact with Bert Keppel, who is my first cousin, once removed. He had no idea that my grandmother had survived her youth, much less married and had a child. He has given me a treasure trove of information about my family. I’ve been to New Jersey and seen the house they all lived in, and found the graves of my great-grandfather and my grandmother. It turned out that she had actually lived about 6 months and died of a liver disease. Bert and I have since met and were very delighted to meet.
I’ll be gathering the information I have learned and will be posting it eventually.