Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ongoing mystery of Richard Berry Keeney's first wife

This was a genealogical problem that I didn't realize that I had until I read my ancestor Eva Keeney Smith Combs's obituary.

"She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband Oren; two sons, William A Smith and Clyde Willard Combs; two grandchildren, Mrs. Hugh (Marjorie) Gilliland and Kenneth Ray  Combs; three great-grandchildren, Ronald Joseph Farrell, Mary Ann Patten and Connie Jean Rhinehart; eight brothers, Earnest, Elmer, Edgar, Clarence, Clyde, Claude, Roy and Fred Keeney; and two half-brothers, Willie and Bert Keeney"

I had never heard of there being two half-brothers - nor a first marriage at all.

Richard Berry Keeney married Eva's mother Anna Robison on the 14th of October 1880 in Belton, Cass County, Missouri.  Anna's family lived in Johnson County, Kansas in the 1880 census.  Her father Richard Keeney does not appear in the 1880 census that I can find.  And believe me, I have looked aplenty.

I have yet to find marriage records for his first marriage or for his brother Elbert James Keeney's (well-documented otherwise) marriage to Annie McKown in 1878, so I suspect lost marriage records from the place/time the marriages took place.

So, I began looking for Willie's and Bert's Keeney and pretty quickly came across:

State Washington
County Chehalis
City of Hoquiam, 3d Ward, S.D. 2? E.D. 29, Sheet No. 3A/49A
16 April 1910 by Lee Carlton
410 M Street
line 45, 58/58 KEENEY Bert J head WM 33 M1 9 Missouri Missouri Missoura Teamster/Livery barn Rents House
Emma L. wife WF 28 M1 9 2/2 Kansas Penn. Penn.
Orvil R son MW 7 S Kansas Missoura Kansas
Glenn J son MW 2 S Washington Missouri Kansas

and also:

Kansas Marriages
KEENEY Bert J / McCRAY Emma 06-20-1900 Crawford Co., KS

So, a Bert born in Missouri and married in a part of Kansas where Richard and Anna Robison Keeney had lived.  Their first son Ernest Elzie Keeney was born and died 1881-1885 in Crawford County, Kansas.  So far, so good.

Then, something that didn't fit:

record title: Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960
name: Bert J. Keeney
death date: 12 Sep 1933
death place: Hoquiam, Grays Harbor, Washington
gender: Male
age at death: 57 years 1 month 25 days
estimated birth year: 1876
marital status: Married
spouse's name: Emma Keeney
father's name: Joseph Keeney
volume/page/certificate number: 34


Then I went looking for this Bert son of Joseph.  There is only one Joseph Keeney with a (nearly) appropriate 'Bert'.  The Joseph and Miriam Evans Keeney family has a son in the 1880 census named Gilbert O. Keeney b. 1874.  But I found Gilbert O. Keeney b. Jun 1873 in Missouri in the Phillipines in 1900 census with the Hospital Corps of the US Army.  Not this 'Bert'.  I cannot find a 'Bert' in 1880 that matches this one and is not otherwise documented.

Then I found this note from Roscoe Keeney's Keeney Update, Dec. 2004:
noted 9 Mar 2013
Roscoe Keeney includes notes from the 1920 Washington State Census that state:
“BERT J. KEENEY 42 Gray’s Harbor s/o Elbert James Keeney of Cass Co. MO; Emma 39 KS, Orval 17 KS and Glenn 11 b. WA”

Okay, now.

Elbert is well documented with lots of kids.  His only (known) marriage was in 1878 and here he is in the 1880 census:, 1880 United States Census,
[Household: Couple houses down from his Uncle Isaac Keeney]
Albert KEENEY Self M Male W 22 MO Farmer KY KY,
Ann KEENEY Wife M Female W 19 MO Keeping House MO MO,
Source Information: Census Place Washington, Jackson, Missouri, Family History Library Film: 1254694, NA Film Number: T9-0694, Page Number: 250B.

There is not one census in which Bert J. Keeney appears with Elbert and family, and, in 1891 Elbert and Annie had a son and named him Elbert Earl Keeney - and they called him 'Bert'.  So, I'm pretty sure that's wrong.  But the near miss just makes me think I really am on the right track.  This IS the son of Richard Berry Keeney and his unknown first wife.

But my real question is: who was she?

His death record as transcribed appears to have nothing (the index does not link to an image of the original document at this time).

His World War I Draft Registration form on shows his full name as Bert Jacob Keeney.  Jacob was Richard B. Keeney's father's name.

I am utterly convinced this is Richard's son, am completely unable to prove it and am also unable to find out who his mother was.

There has been no sign of an appropriate "Willie" at all, though I wasn't terribly surprised at this as the nickname would seem to suggest a boy who died young.

And there it sits.  Sigh.