Daily Archives: November 29, 2008

Genealogy Mystery – Children of Jacob and Mary (Shimer) Keeley

I have decided to try something new. I am thinking that I will try to post a “Genealogical Mystery of the Month.” Who knows, perhaps someone will read it and be able to help!

If you have seen my genealogy website, you will know that one of the families I have researched extensively is the Keeley/Keely family of Chester County, PA.  Jacob Keeley, who was born March 25, 1758 and died April 13, 1814, was my 4th great grandfather. Jacob was the son of Sebastian and Elizabeth. He married Maria (a.k.a. Mary) Shimer, daughter of Michael, on March 17, 1782. Mary died the day after Jacob, on April 14, 1814. They are both buried at Brownback’s Church (present day Spring City, PA).

Per Zion Lutheran Church records: “Jacob Kiele, b. 1757, d. 15 May 1814; son of Sebastian and wife Elizabeth; married 1782; 3 sons and 6 daughters, all living; died of ‘hitsigen fieber.'” [Note that Hitziges Fieber is typhoid fever.] The children are identified in a Chester County Orphan’s Court petition filed October 31, 1814. They were Hannah, widow of John Saylor; Sebastian; Elizabeth, widow of Isaac Stetler; Jacob; George; Mary, wife of Abraham Haas/Hause; Esther; Sarah; and Catherine (the last three being minors.)

So, what became of the nine children? Most of my info (other than my direct line) is sketchy at best, but here’s what I have:

I believe that the eldest, Hannah, the widow of John Saylor, married Jacob Kalb on February 24, 1818. The last record I found for her was the 1850 census, at which time she and Jacob were living in Limerick. Hannah’s known children were Sarah, Maria and John Saylor (with first husband) and Israel Kalb (with second husband). If anyone has further information on her, please contact me.

The next child was Sebastian. He died June 16, 1819 and is buried at Brownback’s Church near his parents. I believe that he married Anna Levengood and that they may have had three children: Jacob (born about 1810 and died before 1900; married first Mary Ann Cassidy and second Catherine Swinehart), Elizabeth (born about 1813; married Peter L. Carl) and Sebastian (born 1817 and died 1899; married Maria Thomas). Unfortunately, this is mostly speculation based on 1) Montgomery County PA land records showing land transactions for a Sebastian Keeley and wife Ann in Limerick township in 1814; 2) New Hanover Lutheran marriage record for a Mrs. Anna Kuhley to Jesse Pennypacker on January 25, 1825; 3) the tombstone of Sebastian saying that it was erected by Jacob and Sebastian Keeley. My hypothesis is that they are his sons and that the afore mentioned Jacob and Sebastian are likely the ones who erected the tombstone. I would really like to hear from anyone with additional information on this family.

The third child was Elizabeth, widow of Isaac Stetler. So far I have been unable to find out if she remarried. There is an Elizabeth Stetler who died in Trappe, Montgomery County, PA on January 26, 1862, but that Elizabeth was aged 70 years, 5 months and 14 days – which doesn’t match the December 18, 1786 birth date for the daughter of Jacob and Mary. So the question remains, what ever happened to Elizabeth?

The next child was the son Jacob who married Sophia Shuler. He apparently died about 1828. That date comes from a biography of his son Davis in the Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chester County, but there are so many errors in that bio that the death date of 1828 must be considered suspect too. So again, specific information on his death date and/or where he is buried would be appreciated.

The fifth child was George. I know that many researchers believe he married Sarah Rooke. However, I believe the George Keeley who married Sarah Rooke was the son of Jacob’s brother John, and thus a cousin to this George, who was born in 1792. So again any information would be appreciated.

The sixth child was Mary who was married to Abraham Haas. She and her husband apparently lived in Philadelphia for a while then removed to Northumberland County, PA, where she died May 3, 1849. The information I have on her and her family comes from a bio of her son-in-law Tobias Shurtz, which seems pretty accurate.

As for the seventh and eight children, Esther and Sarah, I have found no information on either of them and would appreciate any hints, clues, speculation, etc.

The youngest child was Catherine. She married Amos Evans and was my third great-grandmother. I have quite a bit of information on this line on my genealogy website.

So there it is. The mystery is what happened to the children of Jacob and Mary after the parents died in 1814. I’d love to hear from anyone who can add to what I have posted!