05 December 2011

Ancestors in the attic

Keese House, Jefferson, TX

Today marks the start of a year-long project to share stories from our increasingly strange family genealogy project. I'm using calendar software to turn up what the relatives were up to on this day in history. This helps me decide which part of the tree to work on next in a nicely random way, which seems apropos. With any luck, it'll be entertaining....

Today in the family history project (a continuing series):
05 Dec 1884: Oliver Hazard Perry Keese dies in Junction, Texas, at the age of 58. The Keeses went in for grand patriotic masculine names and Confederate sympathies in a big way. His grandson, who was born 6 years later, was named Oliver Napoleon Keese. His father, Thomas Jefferson Keese, was born in South Carolina and died in Menard, Texas. My great-great-grandfather, Oliver H. P.’s  first cousin, was George Washington Keese. Oliver H. P. Keese was born in Lawrence, Tennessee, northeast of Memphis, and was in Texas by the age of 24, following the trend moving at that time to the southwest of the Mississippi. He served as a private in the Confederacy, in the Company of the 2nd Frontier. After that, he served as a Texas Ranger. These Keeses were cousins of the Keeses in my father’s line who went to Brazil as Confederados, but these Keeses stayed at the edge of West Texas, which was doubtless just as alien, just as removed from the aftermath of the Civil War. Interestingly, they don’t seem to have named any boy babies in ensuing generations for Confederate heroes—Oliver’s sons included yet another George Washington, yet another Thomas Jefferson, and Henry Clay Keese. The girls were not saddled with equally weighty names, fortunately. 

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