To all Keesling researchers &/or family members, esp. all who purchased my "Keesling and Smith Families of Greene County, Tennessee and Webster County, Missouri"; 1987. Also, to all Shoemaker researchers &/or family members, esp. Lonnie Shoemaker, and to the descendents of David Shoemaker of COCKE CO., TN (Parrottsville area).
My wife, Joyce Ann Keesling & I were md in APR 1966, and our son Richard Jr, was born in DEC 1966. At her baby shower,for our son, my wife was given a Log-O-Life book, a a gift. It has a rather extensive family tree, but it also contains a message from each of us, as parents, to our little baby, and a pledge for us to fill in the pages as completely, and as accurately AS POSSIBLE. We were (mainly I was) asking our parents, aunts, uncles & grandparents for all they knew about the family tree part, but more on my side than on Joyce's.
In 1971, I & my sibs, nieces & nephews were made aware, by urologists from Fitz-Simmons Army Hosp. of Denver, CO, for the first time, that the "Bright's Disease" in my father's family, which he died from when I was eleven, was actually "Alport's Syndrome". Since I had already been corresponding with family members on the family tree, the urologists correspnded with me, the youngest sib, over the next couple of years.
Also, in 1971, Joyce's maternal grandmother died in MO, rather young & unexpectedly, and in 1972, Joyce's father's brother, Roy Keesling, died in OK, also young & unexpected. We felt we needed to go back to Webster Co., MO, and talk to all the elder members of the Keesling & Smith families, to learn all we could while they were still living. We were able to do so in 1972 & in 1974.
During our 1974 visit to MO, with our eldest four small children, we felt honored to meet, & visit with, "Uncle Jake" & "Aunt Inez" Keesling. Jacob Loy Keesling was a brother of Joyce's grandfather, William Samuel "Sam" Keesling, who md Joyce's grandmother, Sarah Catherine Smith. Uncle Jake & Aunt Inez had made a trip back to COCKE CO., TN, in the mid-late 1960's, to learn what he could about his father's first wife's place of worship & place of burial. A picure was taken of Uncle Jake in front of Harned's Chapel, where he was told the little family of his father, James Alexander Keesling & wife worshiped, and where she was said to be buried, before "Jim" Keesling brought his four little sons to Webster Co, MO. Her name was said to have been Sarah Sentha Lorena Shoemaker, according to Uncle Jake, or according to what he had been told during that visit. That is the information that was included in the 1971 book, commemorating the centennial of The Immanuel Luthern Church of Rader, Webster Co., MO.
Uncle Jake's father, James Alexander Keesling came to Rader, MO, with four little sons; Joseph Emmet, George Andrew, William Samuel "Sam" & Francis McCarl "Carl" Keesling, after his first wife died in COCKE CO., TN. James's father & sister, George Keesling & Aunt Easter (Keesling) Mace had already been members of The Immanuel Luthern Church, at "Radertown", for sometime, before James came here. Shortly after he arrived here in MO, James Alexander Keesling md Lavina "Vine" Rader, and they had; Darius Jackson, William Franklin "Bill", John Simeon & Jacob Loy "Uncle Jake" Keesling. Uncle Jake's father, James Alexander Keesling, was Joyce's great grandfather & James's first wife, BURIED IN COCKE CO., TN, was Joyce's great grandmother, being the mother of Joyce's grandfather, William Samuel "Sam" Keesling. "Grandpa Sam" Keesling md Sarah Catherine Smith, Joyce's grandmother.
Joyce & I moved here to Niangua, MO, near Rader, in 1986, and I met with several members of her Keesling family to decide what to include in my book of 1987. I tried to keep in contact with & correspond with members of both the Keesling & the Shoemaker families from 1972 to 1987, and more with local members of the Keesling family since 1987.
However, due to lack of time & energy (esp. energy & poorer health), I have only been able, lately, to try to keep up with some Lawson family history correspondence & research, mostly online, when health permits. I can only use ancestry.com at our local Webster County Library, and one day, when I thought I had taken my Lawson family files with me, to look up some Scottish censuses, I discovered I did not have the right files with me. As I scrolled down our local library page from ancestry, I noticed some MO Death Cetificates are available online. I was just curious, and short on time, but I decided to type in a search for Keesling, as an uncommon name, and most likely of some relationship to Joyce.
That's where the fun starts, if it is fun at my age & state of health, to feel like you've just fell thru the floor, and you keep on falling thru space. Believe me, it is much better to feel the exhileration of finding a new ancestor, and filling in a name that has been blank, in your family tree, for awhile.
I first found the death certificate of "Grandpa Sam" Keesling; mother name given as: SARAH OWENS; informant's name: Mrs. Sarah Keesling (wife) [actually (wife) next to name on actual death cert.]. I began to wonder if I had taken all of my meds by that time, that day, or if I could be already be feeling that ill from the panicy spinning of questions & possibilities rushing into my already not so clear mind; remember, by that point I realized I'd brought the wrong files with me that day, and didn't feel I could take much time because of already feeling somewhat fatigued. Well, Joyce's grandmother was the informant, and she was an 'in-law", like me, so maybe she got something mixed up?
"Grandpa Sam" was the first of the four sons, of James A Keesling and his first wife, to die in MO of TB, in 1934. Next was Francis McCarl "Carl", who died from injuries by Niangua cyclone of 1936. His son, Albert "Prince Albert" Freeman Keesling, informant, gave Carl's father's name as James Keesling, place of birth, TENN; mother's name unknown, place of birth, unknown.
Next to die in MO was Joseph Emmett, from heart attack due to diabetes, in 1950. His dau, Mrs. Marie Beard, Niangua, MO (who had talked to personally & who just died in Feb), informant, gave Joe's father's name as James Keesling & mother's name as FRANCIS OWENS. Last of the four sons, to die in MO, was George Andrew, from brain hemmorage due to high blood pressure, in 1952. His son, Carl Keesling, Niangua, MO, informant, gave George's father's name as James Keesling & mother's name as unknown.
Now I had two sources for OWENS as the maiden name of the eldest four sons of James A. Keesling & his first wife. Checking the COCKE CO., TN censuses, I found a dau listed to a Wm & Francis/Frances Owens. In 1850 & 1860, she is listed as Sarah 6/12 TN & as Sarah 10 TN. In 1870, she is listed as CYNTHA 20 TN, & in 1880, as the wife of James Kesling of COCKE CO., TN, as Sarah C 30 TN TN TN.
At this point in time, I have no proof that this Sarah Owens is, in fact, the first wife of James A Keesling, but if anything is "reasonable to assume", I would assume it is. Also, within the past few years, Lonnie Shoemaker seriously questioned whether the only possible Sarah Shoemaker, a dau of Russell & Emiline Shoemaker, was the Sarah who md James A Keesling. I must also assume that he was & is correct, and that the best work I've ever done, in compiling my 1987 book, that I've sold nearly 300 copies of, did not even get Joyce's great grandmother right. I also assume there is likely no one left in COCKE CO., TN, at present, who could began to answer all of the questions raised by the discovery of these MO Death Certificates online. Only thing I do know for sure is: #1; I will do whatever I can to correct any & all mistakes I've made in my 1987 book & #2; 35 years ago, I would have taken these questions with me, and tried to jump in my old car and drive to the Parrottsville & Harned's Chapel area to get the answers. Last time I went on a long trip alone was to my family reunion in KS, about 6 or 7 years ago, and I almost didn't make it back. I'm definitely not going to be able to drive there for any firsthand research.
If you know of anyone in or from the Bybee (Harned's Chapel) area, or the Parrottsville or Newport areas, who has any hints of knowledge of the family & descendents of Wm A & Francis/Frances (Burgess?) Owens, please print this post &/or otherwise pass along this info & questions along to them, please.
Sincerest apologizes for selling so many copies with such a huge error,
Richard D Lawson, Sr 1425 STHYF Niangua, MO 65713 (417) 473-1066
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