52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 21: Military, Pt. 2

Something has been nagging me, and I think I have made a mistake.

I don’t think that the Tubal who died in the Boston Almshouse is my Tubal.

And, here are my clues.

On the page with the details of Tubal’s death, I missed a couple of little pieces of what might be valuable information.

1821-death-KEEN-tubal-boston MA alms house

  1. Tubal’s name here is spelled Tub*e*l not Tub*a*l. A little detail that could have been a simple mistake.
  2. In the fourth column, “To what family belonging,” the name “Tubel Keen” is written right before the words “from the almshouse.”. Again, it could have been a mistake, with the record keeper just repeating the deceased’s name. But, if the record keeper knew his/her job, that little piece of information means that the deceased Tubel’s father’s name was also Tubel.

In addition, I found two Tubals listed in “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War.

KEEN-tubal-midshipman

The Tubal above is the man whose pension file I have.

KEEN-tubal-MA soldiers and sailors of the rev war

And, then, here’s the other Tubal Keen from the same document.

There’s two clues here to this one being the correct Tubal.

  1. He was born in Pembroke.
  2. He was also given the alternate name of “Jubal.” My Tubal was listed several times on alternate versions of the same records with the name Jubal. For example, in his marriage record: The same date, the same woman, and the same place, but one record gives his name as Tubal and another as Jubal.

 

The Tubal who applied for a pension stated that he had no family. But, I know that my 3X great-grandmother and her four children were alive in 1821, as she wrote her will in 1826.

The Tubal who died in the almshouse had no property, real or personal. Sarah passed away with a will, having written very specific directions to the court as to the distribution of her property to her four children (Shadrach, Nancy, Margaret, and Washington) and her grandchild (Mary Ann Ruck). It seems reasonable that a woman with property would be one to write a will.

This obviously needs more research. But, I’m going to tentatively assume that the Tubal who served on the Dean isn’t my man.

‘Til next time.

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 21: Military

Months and months ago, back when I just suspected, rather than knew, that Tubal Keen was my 3X great-grandfather, I downloaded his Revolutionary War pension file from Fold3. I haven’t yet delved into the records in the file, so I think now, in light of this week’s prompt, is a good time.

Fold3 is a genealogy website that focuses on military records. I don’t have a membership, so I took advantage of a free weekend’s access. I really was just using a shotgun approach to research, so in addition to Tubal’s file, I downloaded a few other likely prospects. And, it paid off.

If you remember, a while back, I found the will of Sarah Ruck Keen, Tubal’s widow.  (I have a marriage record for them.) In her will, all four of her children are named. That was the link that tied Washington E. Keen to his hard-to-find father, Tubal. You can see the generations between him and me in the graphic below.

me to tubal

Tubal was born in Pembroke, Massachusetts, circa 1756, the son of Francis Keen, Sr. and Margaret Hunt Keen. He was the right age and in the thick of things when war broke out between England and the colonies, a prime candidate for Revolutionary War service.

Below is the first page of his pension file. It confirms that he served in Massachusetts in the Navy.

Fold3_Page_1_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files

The second page of the file contains information about his service and the outcome of his pension application:

Fold3_Page_2_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files.png

It states:

Tubal Keen, of Boston in the state of Massachusetts, who was a Midshipman on board the frigate Dean commanded by Capt. S. Nicholson, for the term of 2 years.

His application was approved:

Inscribed on the Roll of Massachusetts at the rate of 8 Dollars per month, to commence on the 3rd of April, 1818.

Fold3_Page_3_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files

The third page repeats his service details, but also adds “Invalid” at the top of the page.

The page below is a copy of his testimony as to his service, but it’s dated June 24, 1820. It appears that he was granted pension funds in arrears, based on the dates and notes on the page above.Fold3_Page_5_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files

The handwriting is hard to read. But here is a transcription of the majority of the document as near as I can get:

On the Twenty fourth day of the June, 1820, personally appeared, in open Court, being a Court of Record, viz. a special District Court of the United States for the said District, Tubal Keene aged sixty seven years, resident in Boston in the County of Suffolk, in said District, Mariner, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath declare, that he served in the Revolutionary War, as follows:

As a private in the company commanded by Captain (?) in the regiment commanded Co. (?) Massachusetts line of the army three years and six months afterward as a midshipman on board the Frigate Dean Captain Nicholson which (?)was subsequently call the Hague and commanded by Capt. (?) this declaration was dated the 26 April 1818. His pension certificate is ? 6457 and dated January 30th 1819.

And, I do solemnly swear, that I was a resident citizen of the United States, on the 18th day of March, 1818; and that I have not, since that time, by gift, sale, or in any manner, disposed of my property, or any part thereof, with intent thereby to diminish it, as to bring myself within the provisions of an Act of Congress, entitled “An Act to provide for certain persons, engaged in the Land and naval Service of the United States, int Revolutionary War,” passed on the 18th day of March, 1818; and that I have not, nor has any person in trust for me, any property, or securities, contracts, or debts, due to me; nor have I any income, other than what is contained in the schedule hereto annexed, and by me subscribed.  

X (his mark)

Tubal Keene

Sworn to and declared, on the twenty fourth day of June A.D. 1820

The next page is an accounting of the possessions of Tubal:

Fold3_Page_6_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files

Schedule of property belonging to the subscriber (?) late a midshipman in the United States Navy

Real Estate. None.

Personal Estate. None.

Occupation a laborer but unable to work in consequence of old age and infirmities, having had my left leg and arm broken (?).

Family. I have none.

Tubal Keene

X His mark

Well, that’s interesting. At this time, he had four living children and a wife, Sarah. Hummm…

The file also includes a letter of testimony as to his service in the war:

Fold3_Page_7_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files

Fold3_Page_10_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files

The letter reads:

District of Massachusetts

I Tubal Keen of Boston in the County of Suffolk Commonwealth of Massachusetts laborer of the age of sixty three years a native citizen and resident in the United States an application for a pension under the law of the United States do before you oath declare that in the month of January in the year 1781 I enlisted as a midshipman in the Navy of the United States and was attached to the Dale Frigate afterwards called the Hague under Captain Samuel Nicholson. That I served two years and two months in the capacity and after the declaration of peace I was honorably discharged. Our first cruise was in the West Indies coast where we captured many prizes- as was also our (?) . Captain Manley was commander as the time after peace took place. My discharge was destroyed by fire in a house which was hired by me about seven years since, and which was burned to the ground in Boston. I further testify and declare that my circumstances are much reduced and I am in extreme poverty and in need of aid from my country for support.

(Signed) Tubal Keen

The letter is signed by a district judge and also includes a declaration of the ship’s surgeon as to the veracity of Tubal’s testimony.

The remaining pages in the file are official court documents that show the approval of his application.

Just a few years later, Tubal died in the Boston Almshouse:

1821-death-KEEN-tubal-boston MA alms house

Tubal died on June 12, and he was buried June 13, 1821. His cause of death was “Liver Complaint.” The last columns list the undertaker and the grave position in the cemetery.

A sad end and a bit of a puzzler, too. Sarah, his widow, had enough property to execute a will for her children and to provide care for a granddaughter. Yet, Tubal seems to have died penniless and alone. It warrants more research. But, that will have to wait for another day.

‘Til next time.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks| Week 18: Close Up

I decided this week to take a close up look at the 1810 Federal Census record of the Tubal Keen family of Boston, MA, to see what additional information I could find out.

keen-tubal-1810-us census-boston

If you remember, I’ve recently discovered (through a state census record that led me on a profitable wild goose chase) that Tubal, my 4X great-grandfather, was indeed the father of Washington E. Keen, my 3X great-grandfather.

Tubal was born in Pembroke, MA, and was baptized in November of 1756. He served in the Navy as a midshipman during the Revolutionary War. After the war, on November 11, 1790, he married Susannah (Suky) Glover.

After Suky’s death, he married Sarah Ruck, my 4X great-grandmother, on January 14, 1796. Sarah was possibly Suky’s sister; that needs more research for another day.

Let’s see what the 1810 census might tell us about this family, shall we?

By 1810, Tubal and Sarah would have been married about 14 years. Any children from their union would then be under the age of 14.

Below is the line for Tubal and his family, listed with the other inhabitants of Clark Square, Boston.

keen-tubal-1810-us census-boston 1.jpg

The numbers in the columns represent the individuals living in the household, their age ranges, sex, and slave or free status. The double lines divide the males, females, and slaves.

So, from left to right we see that there are:

  • 1 male under 10 years
  • 2 males 10-16
  • 0 males 16-26
  • 0 males 26-45
  • 1 male over 45

There is then a double line representing a division between males and females:

  • 1 female under 10 years
  • 1 female 10-16
  • 0 females 16-26
  • 1 female 26-45
  • 0 females over 45

Then another double line, dividing free residents from slaves.

  • 0 slaves (yay!)

All together, there are seven inhabitants in the Keen household, and the numeral 7 for the total is in the last column on the right.

We can guess that the two oldest people, one male and one female, are Tubal (over 45) and Sarah (26-45). That leaves five children, two under 10 (one male and one female), and three 10-16 (two males and one female).

We know that Tubal and Sarah had four children:

  • Shadrack, b. 1796
  • Nancy, b. 1797
  • Margaret, b. 1800
  • Washington, b. 1810

Based on their birth years and the age ranges of the 1810 census, the two children 10 and under are Washington, newborn, and Margaret, about 10 (one male and one female).

The one female 10-16 would be Nancy, who would be approximately 13.

That leaves us two males aged 10-16. One is Shadrack, born September 1796, who would be about 14.

So, now we have a mystery. Who is the one remaining male child, 10-16, in the household? Hummm…

Let’s do some deductive reasoning, shall we?

In Sarah’s will and probate record she names her four children that I’ve listed above. In addition, she also names a grandchild, Mary Ann Ruck. Neither of her married daughters have the last name Ruck, so little Mary Ann isn’t the daughter of one of Sarah’s daughters.

Sarah’s last name when she married Tubal was Ruck.

One possibility is that Sarah Ruck was her married, not maiden, name, and she was a widow with a young son when she married Tubal, who was also widowed. By the time of Sarah’s death in 1826, her son, the father of her grandchild Mary Ann, was deceased, and therefore not mentioned in the will.

The other male, 10-16, could very well be this firstborn son, who would have been less than two years old when she married Tubal, based on the age range in the census.

Whew… that’s a lot of numbers and names! I commend you if you’ve hung in there to the end of this post!

I guess the point of all this is that in those seemingly straightforward little numbers across the census page is a story to be found, one of marriages and losses and the details of our ancestors’ lives, if one is willing to look closer.

‘Til next time.

 

 

 

52 ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 16: Storms

Storms. Growing up on the desert as I did, wind and sand storms were quite common. My legs got sandblasted more than once while I waited by the mailbox for the school bus. The dust would also blow in through any teeny, tiny crack or crevice in the walls or windows of our (unfinished) house. The sand would pile up against the lava rocks my mom used as garden borders. Tumbleweeds were blown everywhere, and grit would sink to the bottom of our above-ground pool.

The photo below was taken in June 1959, after such a storm. That’s sand on the roof. The note on the back says that my brother, Bob, had just finished painting the windows. I can’t imagine that he was pleased…

bob had just painted the windows, ...just up, the was before the big blow 6-25-59, new trees not planted yet.jpg

But, there were also snow storms.

Snow storms, you say? In the desert?

Yup, apparently so.

1949, China Lake CA, snow storm.jpg
1949 snow storm, China Lake
charlotte in 8in of snow, jan 1949.jpg
This is my older sister, Charlotte. The note on the photo says the snow was 8 inches deep.

Apparently, this storm also dusted Los Angeles. Below is my grandparents’ front yard at 325 Gertrude St.

jan 12-48, snow on lawn 325 gertrude st..jpg

This next photo is after my parents built their house out in Inyokern.

snow storm (1).jpg

This must be 1961 or so, as that’s me, my younger brother, Richard, an older sibling (probably Charlotte), and my brother, Don, sitting on a snow bank on the side of our house.

snow storm (4).jpg

I don’t remember this snow storm, nor are there any photos of snow storms, after this. It might have snowed, and either I just don’t remember, or I don’t have photos. I know for certain that in the 25 years that we have lived in the Los Angeles area, there hasn’t been any snow here. I imagine that would cause quite a commotion now!

“Til next time!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks | Week 13: The Old Homestead

After the end of World War II, my parents moved back to Los Angeles, after being sent around the country during my dad’s time in the Army.

charles l keene, jr, and bula helen keene, 1943
Mom and Dad in 1943

Dad was looking for work, and he heard from a buddy that the Navy was looking for civil engineers out at a place in the California desert called Inyokern.

Yes, it was a Navy base in the desert. At a dry lake bed.

So, around 1946, they packed up their two kids and drove the 120 or so miles north of LA to check it out. And, sure enough, Dad was hired as a pipe-fitter at the Naval Ordinance Test Station, which was first located at Inyokern, then moved across the valley to Ridgecrest. This Navy base in the desert has had several name changes through the years: NOTS, China Lake (after the dry lake bed there), and now NAWS China Lake (Naval Air Weapons Station).

At first, Mom, Dad, and the two kids, Robert and Jeanne, lived in a little trailer, waiting for base housing to be built. This really was a bit like pioneer days. There just wasn’t much out there.

jeanne and robert by trailer.jpg
My sister, Jeanne, and my brother, Robert (Bob)
trailers in desert.jpg
Navy “housing” in 1946

My parents eventually moved into proper base housing, a duplex. And, in 1947, my sister, Charlotte, joined the family.

bula and charles' home in NOTS bse inyokern, 8-47.jpg
My parents’ “upscale” on-base duplex

My brother, Don, arrived in 1955, and about that same time, my parents decided to move off base to a place of their own. Ten miles west across the valley, three miles north of the small town of Inyokern where NOTS was originally planned, Mom and Dad bought one acre of land.

empty plot.jpg
Dad, marking out the foundation

If possible, this was even rougher than the base was when they had originally arrived. It was barren.

They built a four-bedroom, 2-bath house, with the living room windows facing to the west for a view of the Sierras.

framed in.jpg
Foundation and walls

In 1958, when I was born, my parents were still working on the house, although they had already moved in. In fact, the house wasn’t completed for years. I remember tar paper on the inside walls, and we used the open studs for shelving.

Dad was talented at working with his hands, and he was very, very clever. He did much of the work to finish the house, using his carpentry and pipe-fitting skills. He soon added a shed and a garage, as well.

As their family grew to include my younger brother, Richard, Mom and Dad added on to the house.

house-front-addition.jpg
An expansion to the living room
new back porch.jpg
A back porch and family room addition

As Dad worked on the house and outbuildings, Mom was busy putting in gardens. She planted grape vines along the driveway, grew an abundant vegetable garden, put in iceplant under the dining room window, and placed flowers where ever she could. She made our little acre of the desert blossom.

6-1961-bula-lawrence-donald-barbara-in-the-garden.jpg
Mom, Bob, Don, and me in the garden, and Dad trimming the grape vines, 1961

Not too long after they moved in, my parents began acquiring animals. There were cows, goats, sheep, chicken, ducks, geese, cats, and dogs.

6-61, Charlotte and Blossom.jpg
My sister, Charlotte, with Blossom the Cow
barbara, sue, beth, sheep.jpg
My cousins, Beth and Sue, with me and one of our sheep, about 1968

Dad also put in our well.

6-65, charles, richard, pipe for new well.jpg
Richard and Dad at the new well

We ate many of the animals we raised. When the chickens grew too old to reliably lay eggs for breakfast, they became our dinner. (I plucked a lot of chickens.) My dad eventually put up a tripod next to the well to help him with hanging the larger animals (either those we raised or what he got on his hunting trips) after butchering. We ate lots of organ meats, not wasting any edible parts. I grew up on chicken gizzards, liver and onions, and home-grown vegetables. It was just our way of life, but I’m sure it seems foreign to most modern-day Americans.

As their children grew up and left home, and they grew older, Mom and Dad began to scale down the farm. There were fewer and fewer animals, and the garden became smaller.

sir rooster the boss, 1970.jpg
Mom kept the chickens after most of the other animals were long gone

A year after I married and moved away, and my younger brother off in the Marines, Mom and Dad sold the old homestead and moved to Nevada.

Forty years later, I can hardly recognize the place. I drove by several years ago on my way home from a visit with Mom. It was hardly recognizable. There are now neighbors on both sides and across the street beyond the railroad tracks. The once-empty pasture behind the house has been subdivided. The well, my old landmark, is gone.

I can’t say that I miss the place. It was the only home I lived in as a child, so I feel a bit nostalgic about it. But, it was hard in many ways. It was dusty, hot, and lonely. But, it was home.

‘Til next time.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks| Week 11: Lucky

Luck…

Fortune…

Serendipity…

Providence…

I’m not a big believer in luck, so I had to ponder this prompt. (Do you see a trend here?) I began to think about other words used to describe a seeming happenstance that worked out beneficially. The words above are just a few of what I came up with.

I’m especially fond of “Providence,” defined as “the foreseeing care and guidance of God or nature over the creatures of the earth.”

And, “serendipity” has long been one of my favorite words, not only in definition but in speech. It’s just fun to say!

And, what, you’re saying, does all this have to do with genealogy?

Well, I’ve been “lucky” quite a few times in my family history quest.

Just recently, I won a pass to RootsTech. The classes I took have given me some new knowledge and encouragement to continue my pursuit and to do it better and more efficiently. I hope that my improved research and organization skills will lead to more stories.

And, just a few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how I finally found the parents of Washington E. Keen by fortuitously stumbling onto a will.

What I didn’t realize until after I had written that post, was that the enumerator in the census that led to this discovery had made an error.

Sarah’s last name wasn’t Keene at all!

Here’s the entry in the 1855 Massachusetts state census:

1855-state census-KEEN-lydia kent-washington jr-sarah kent-lydia keen-lynn MA 1

If you look closely, you can see that underneath the “Keene” in Sarah’s entry, in very faint handwriting, is the last name “Kent.”

For whatever reason, the enumerator or someone else had written over “Kent” with “Keene“.

Kent is the maiden name of Washington’s widow, Lydia, seen on the first line. It’s probable that this is a relative of Lydia’s. (Though, it’s not her mother, whose name was Judith.)

This “lucky” error sent me on a trail to hunt down a Sarah Keene! I never would have looked for this name, and wouldn’t have found the will of the right Sarah Keen, if not for this serendipitous “mistake”.

Here’s to more “propitious” mistakes!

“Til next time!

 

These are my people…

Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet, the first French colonists to New France (Canada) are my 10x great-grandparents. This year, 2017, marks the 400th anniversary of their family’s arrival in the New World. And, on the site of the home they built there, a new exhibition featuring them just opened up at the Musée de l’Amérique francophone, in what is now modern-day Québec City.

Louis_Hebert,_apothicaire_de_Paris_-_02
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The exhibition only runs until October 29, 2017, so I’d better get a move on if I intend to see it before it closes.

Louis and Marie are related to me through my Nana Keene, my father’s mother, a tiny, 100- pound bundle of pure French Canadian fierceness. You might remember her from this photo:

charles-l-keene-sr-perpetue-keene

I know this connection only through the amazing work of my cousin, Peter, whose grandfather, Eli, was my grandmother’s brother. In other words, we share the same great-grandparents, Osias Bergeron and Marie-Amelia Gaumond, making us second cousins.

bergeron-osias-amelia

I never knew these great-grandparents, but looking at the photo, and their happy faces, I think I sure missed out, don’t you?

Peter researched through an astounding number of records, in French mind you, to document each generation back to Louis and Marie. (And, that’s just the work he did on one line!) Then, he unselfishly shared it with our family. I must confess that I didn’t truly appreciate his astounding work until I began to do research, too.

Here’s the line, from Louis and Marie to me:

Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet,

their son, Jean-Guillaume Hébert,

his daughter, Marie-Françoise Hébert Fournier,

her son, Simon Fournier,

his son, Simon-Philippe Fournier,

his daughter, Brigette Fournier Buteau,

her son, Basile Buteau,

his daughter, Marguerite Buteau Mercier,

her daughter, Agnes Mercier Gaumond,

her daughter, Marie-Amelia Gaumond Bergeron

her daughter, Perpetue Bergeron Keene,

her son, my father, Charles Lawrence Keene,

and finally, 12 generations later,

                      me, Barbara Keene Garrett.

If I make it to the exhibit, I’ll be sure to report back!

 

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.