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How Our Streets Got That Way

Possible Misreading of Signature of Signer of Declaration Accounts for Keap Street.

By John C. Skinner | The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Apparently no one knows precisely how Keap st., which runs from the Wallabout SCanal to Metropolitan ave., got its name. However, an interesting conjecture has been made recently by Morrison R. V. Weyant of Brooklyn, in a pamphlet filed in the Brooklyn Public Library.

It is a well known fact that the series of streets in the section of Williamsburg in which Keap st, is included were named for signers of the Declaration of Independence. Puzzled by the inclusion of the name of a non-signer, Mr. Weyant examined the signatures in the famous document, finding that that of Thomas M:Kean of Delaware might easily be read as “Thom M. Keap.” McKean was apparently accustomed to writing his signature in this manner, the two dotts probably indicating the “c” in “Mc.” Also, the final “n” is ended with a flourish which makes it look remarkably like a “p.”

Signature Misread.

Thus, when some unknown patriotic citizen proposed naming these streets for the signers, the signature of McKean was probably taken from a facsimile copy of the Declaration and misread.

Though the actual date of the naming of the street does not seem to be recorded, Mr. Weyant notes that Hearne’s Brooklyn Directory of 1850-1 does not include Keap st., although it was indicated as a “laid out” street about that time. However, Smith’s directory for 1854-5 does list Keap st., as one of those “intersecting Bedford avenue,” so it may be inferred that Keap st. received its name somewhere between 1850 and 1854.

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