A Working Theory: Part 2

So, when last we left this seemingly never-ending search for answers, I had found two names that also occur in our Keene family lore, Shadrach and Tubal.

What I hadn’t found, though, was any direct connection between those two names and Washington E. Keen (my great-great grandfather) or his son, George Augustus Keene (my great-grandfather).

I am fairly certain that Shadrach (born circa 1797) and Washington (born circa 1810) are not father and son. They could possibly be brothers. And, if brothers, then Tubal and Sarah are Washington’s missing parents. But, there is no proof; just proximity.

And, just how does this relate to George Augustus and his rumored name change? According to the family story, George was born in 1833 as Tubal, but changed his name at the young age of 10. Well, there’s that name, Tubal, that we also see as the father of Shadrach. It was very common in early American families to repeat names from generation to generation. Tubal wasn’t a very common name. In fact, there is only one Tubal or Jubal Keen in Massachusetts at this time. So, I think that it might be significant. But, again, no proof.

Now, let’s take a moment to think about George Augustus and his siblings. Why? Because there might be clues in his siblings’ names as to how his parents named their children.

George’s surviving siblings were: Edmond S., Lydia A., and Washington E., Jr. There might have also been another Washington E. Jr. who died at the age of four, years before the surviving Washington Jr. was born.

Do you notice anything? None of those names are what might have been considered old-fashioned in their day. None of those names are Old Testament names like Shadrach, Meshach,  Abednigo, or Tubal. Or, Sarah, Rebecca, or Hannah.

No, they are more “refined” if you will: George, Edmond, Lydia, and Washington.

I think it unlikely, but not impossible, that George Augustus’ parents named him Tubal. It just isn’t consistent with the names of the other children in the family.

But, what if his father, Washington, was born as Tubal?  After his father??? Hummm…

It’s a theory that nicely ties up some of the family lore into a neat and tidy package. Which rarely happens in family history! So, there is that. But, at this point, until I discover something else, it’s the best I have.

keene-georgo augustus
George Augustus Keene, my great grandfather

Washington E. and George A.: A Working Theory

In my last blog post, I told you about the two family stories that I just can’t seem to prove or disprove.

Mystery Story One: Were there really three Keen/e brothers named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abdenigo?

Mystery Story Two: Did George Augustus Keene really legally change his name from Tubal when he was only 10?

Related Bonus Mystery: Who are Washington E. Keen’s parents, and where did they come from?

I have found absolutely no evidence of the three Biblical brothers (as I have come to think of them), not a whiff of Washington’s parentage, and no trace of a birth record or name change documentation for George A/Tubal.

I have searched or inquired in, at, and through:

the family genealogy books in the DAR library in DC,

the online genealogies at Family Search,

vital record books and county/state histories at the Family History Library, Salt Lake,

Google, with all sorts of variations of search parameters,

numerous vital records for cities and towns, both in print and online,

the Massachusetts Historical Society,

church historians,

at least two Keen family histories/genealogies,

a Keene family Facebook page (no relation that we could discern),

the genealogical library at the Huntington Beach Public Library,

Ancestry, My Heritage, The NEHGS,

and more…

But, I have found tantalizing clues, puzzle pieces, and traces of family lore. And, the more I search for answers, the more I think they these three mysteries are related. (A little genealogy humor there!)

Tantalizing Clue #1: Do you remember that in the death record for Washington I also found that he shared the same tomb at Christ Church with Shadrach Keen’s family?

Tantalizing Clue #2: Do you also remember that Shadrach Keen lived in a house in Princeton at the same time that Washington lived in a house in Princeton?

Tantalizing Clue #3: I have since learned that Shadrach Keen had a father named Tubal.

Hummm… What if the names (Shadrach and Tubal, but not Meshach and Abednigo) in these family stories are correct?

But, what if the story has been garbled, sort of like a game of Telephone that has lasted a hundred or so years?

Let me explain. There is a search strategy in genealogy called The FAN Club. It’s collateral research, using the names and information of friends or family, acquaintances, and neighbors, or FANs. Usually, people didn’t live in or move to areas where they had no connections. Taking note of people who appear in more than one document about an ancestor usually means something. Not always. But, it can.

In this case, since I was stuck at Washington, I decided to see what I could learn about Shadrach, since he has shown up twice in proximity to Washington.

I found Shadrach’s death record; he had died in April 12, 1862 at the age of 67 in Boston. He was buried in the East Boston cemetery.

keen-shadrach 1

No, here’s where it gets interesting. (At least for me! You might be gritting your teeth or yawning by now!)

On this same record, we learn that Shadrach’s parents were Tubal (but sometimes transcribed as Jubal) and Sarah. They were born in Pembroke and Salem, respectively.

Well, huh… there’s another familiar name…

So, what can I learn about Tubal and Sarah?

I found their marriage record.

keen-jubal-1790-1796-marriage-boston red

Apparently, Tubal was married twice. First, to Susanna Glover in 1790. Secondly, to Sarah Rock (Ruck) in 1796. On this record, Tubal has been transcribed as Jubal. In other vital record books with the same information, it is Tubal. I’m pretty sure this is our guy, though, based on his wife’s name.

I’m pretty sure that Shadrach’s parents were this Tubal (Jubal) and Sarah. Based on the date of his death, he was born about 1797, a year or so after Tubal and Sarah’s marriage.

So, now I know that Shadrach isn’t Washington’s father. Washington was born about 1810, based on his age (34) when he died (1844). Shadrach would have been only about 13 years old when Washington was born. Possible, but not very probable. If they are related, they could be brothers.

I think that’s enough for today. If you’ve read this far, I’m sure your brain hurts. I will continue my working theory in my next post.

Til then!

Family Lore: Fact or Fiction

Stories. Every family has them. Such as…

…a crazy uncle who supposedly was saved from the Titanic by holding on to a floating tuba….

…or a great-great grandmother who reportedly shot her husband and ran off with a Native American chief…

…or a elderly great aunt who smells of cats and has whiskers who tells stories of her risque’ burlesque dancer days.

My family’s stories are not nearly that interesting, but they intrigue me all the same. Such as…

…that my paternal grandmother was French Canadian/Indian. We even “knew” the tribe.

Fiction: Have the genetic tests to prove it and not a drop of Native American DNA.

…that we were eligible for for the DAR through my maternal grandmother’s family line, the Gards.

Fact: Have the DAR membership certificate on my wall.

…that my great-great-grandfather, Washington E. Keen, was buried in Tomb 28 under Boston’s Old North Church. 

Fiction: He was actually interred in Tomb 27. But, close!

…that our Keen/e family began with three brothers, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo Keen, who immigrated from England to America. 

I don’t know! Absolutely no evidence to be found, so far.

…that my great-grandfather, George Augustus Keene, was actually named Tubal, but legally changed his name at the age of 10.

Still a mystery! No proof that I have found so far.

I would very much like to find the truth behind those last two stories. But, I have found nothing. Not. A. Thing to support either one of those stories. Not that I haven’t tried.

I have searched through vital records, family genealogies, journals, history books, called historical societies and churches, etc. I have found nothing to support either of the last two stories.

I’m working on some theories, however.

But, maybe some family stories are meant to remain mysteries.

keene-george-a-newspaper photo
Photo of my grandfather, George A. Keene (perhaps born as Tubal) from a newspaper article about his life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marblehead

A while back, I told you about visiting Massachusetts and finding out that I have more ancestors than I could have imagined from the coast of Massachusetts, from Marblehead to Boston.

While in Marblehead, we visited the little Marblehead Museum. The museum is housed in what might have been a private home in an earlier life, not too far from the town center. In the large open front room, we were able to see quite a few art works depicting the early seafaring life of the town, even though they were in the midst of changing the exhibit. The upstairs main gallery was not open for the summer season yet, so we missed that.

We had stopped by the museum hoping to find a listing of historical houses. As we walked through the town, we noticed house after house had plaques by the front door, with names and dates. We soon learned that Marblehead has over 200 homes dating from the Revolutionary War era, with some even from the mid-1600s. Most of these have been beautifully restored and cared for, and the historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places. It truly is charmingly lovely.

With so many ancestors from Marblehead, I had hoped that perhaps I could find a house or two that had once belonged to my family. So, at the museum, I talked with the archivist, Lauren McCormack. She kindly looked up the information she had on the houses, which wasn’t a complete listing.

Turns out, there isn’t one.

(Insert startled expression here.)

Which I still can’t quite believe. If I lived closer, I’d be walking up and down the streets of Marblehead, camera in hand, marking a map with names and dates that future genealogists would celebrate me for. But, I digress….

Unfortunately, we didn’t find houses in the museum’s records that belonged to my family. Ms. McCormack, however, said that she would look in the archives and get back to me if she found any more information.

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This is a typical house in the historic district of Marblehead. On the right-hand side of the house, above the window, you can see the small white plaque with the name of the original owner/builder and date it was built: William Sandin, Fisherman, 1714.

And, she did! She emailed me page after page relating to my Ashton, Diamond, Doliber, and Thompson ancestors: Transcripts of deeds and wills, handwritten family genealogies, and scans of centuries-old bills of sale, etc. It was a treasure trove!

Wow!

I will leave you today with this one image:

ashton-samuel-samuel jr-witnesses-indenture of paul cooper to joseph breed-marblehead

This is an indenture for Paul Cooper of Bermuda to Joseph Breed, mariner, of Marblehead (who may be yet another ancestor).  The indenture was for a period of eight years and five months to learn the “Art, Trade or Mastery” of seamanship.

Mr. Cooper agreed to “not absent himself day or night from his Master’s service without his leave… shall not contract matrimony… behave himself a faithful apprentice…” etc.

Master Breed agreed to the “utmost of his endeavors to teach or cause to be taught and instructed said apprentice in the trade… to provide for him… meat, drink, washing, lodging..to teach him to read, write, and cypher…” etc.

This document is signed by Samuel Ashton and Samuel Ashton, Jr., my 5x and 4x great-grandfathers. The date is March 15, 1781.

Like I said, I have deep roots in Marblehead…