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!

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