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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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ROBERT M. KEATING, Superintendent and Treasurer of the Keating Wheel Company, of which he was the organizer, and inventor of the renowned Keating bicycle, was born in the city of Springfield, September 22, 1862. His father and mother, Michael and Catherine (Devitt) Keating, were of Irish birth, and were small children when their respective parents emigrated to America. Michael Keating, who was a mechanic, spent his life in Springfield, where he died, leaving a family of five children: Robert M., then a little child too young to realize the bereavement; Brightie E., wife of Frank E. Burtwell, of Springfield, Mass.; Mary E., the wife of Mr. Joseph F. Quirk, of Springfield, who was for some years the general agent of the United States Mutual Accident Association of this city; Katie T., who is at home; and John D., who is in business with his brother Robert. Mrs. Catherine D. Keating is still living in Springfield, where her childhood, maidenhood, and married life have all been passed.

Immediately after completing the course of the city schools, young Robert, whose natural tastes all inclined toward mechanics, entered the machine shop of Richard & Dole, and there served an apprenticeship. He easily secured employment afterward in the city and vicinity, where his superior skill was speedily recognized, and brought its just compensation. While steadily engaged at his work, he received patents on several new inventions; and, when the bicycle was put on the market, he was among the first men in the city to own one. Mr. Keating worked in several bicycle manufactories, in one of the largest of which he was superintendent; and thus, having ample opportunities to observe the imperfections of the various kinds in use, he was led to make improvements. Before long he had designed, patented, and built the first model of his own invention, the wheel now known as the Keating wheel, which was the first light-weight bicycle ever made for road use. This was in 1890. The safeties had just come in; and Mr. Keating made many improvements in this style, besides originating the light-weight. The bicycles then in use weighed from fifty to sixty pounds, and Mr. Keating’s thirty-two-pound racer was at first regarded as of doubtful success. Being firmly built, it kept its ground; and the subsequent build of racing wheels, which average from fifteen to twenty-one pounds, has proved his practical wisdom.

The Keating wheel having stood the test of many trials, he had no difficulty in organizing a stock company, which was incorporated a few years since with a capital of ten thousand dollars. At Westfield, Mass., the first factory was established, in which ten men were employed and during the first season seventy-five wheels were made. Seeing that a larger field of action was necessary for the success of the enterprise, the company moved the plant to Holyoke; and the capital stock was increased to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. In this factory more automatic machinery is used than in any other bicycle factory, much of which machinery has been invented by Mr. Keating. The establishment is a four-story building, covering an area of fifty thousand square feet of space. Its three hundred workmen produce ten thousand wheels annually. The company puts on the market wheels weighing from nineteen pounds up to twenty-three pounds, and conservative gaugers pronounce the Keating bicycle factory the best equipped in the country. Mr. Keating has from the start been the Vice-President and Manager of this company, and its success is largely due to his foresight and capacity for business as well as to his mechanical skill and inventive talent. He is connected with other incorporated companies, but that bearing his own name naturally has the first place; and in its behalf his energies are always in requisition.

Political questions have thus far been of small interest to him, his faculties having been devoted to the perfecting of intricate mechanical appliances and the details of business management. He is yet unmarried, and lives with his mother at 30 Adams Street, Springfield, Mass. On another page of the “Review” will be seen a portrait* of this well-known wheelman and prominent member of the Springfield Bicycle Club, Mr. Keating being not only a successful inventor and practical machinist, but an accomplished wheel-man.

*Editor's note: Portrait was included in the original printed book.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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