The Keels of Chowan and Bertie: Sibling Connections

Were William Keale the Immigrant and William Keel of Wiccacon the same person? I cannot say. If they were not the same man, they could easily have been father and son. An immigrant of the 1690s, who came unaccompanied, would, most likely, have been, at least 14. So, let’s say, he was born during the 1670s. To have entered a patent in his own right in 1713, a man would have been born no later than 1692.

In July 1720, Isaac Lewis sold John Keele some land on the west side of Cutawaske Swamp (Chowan County Deed Book F-1, p. 64). John paid only 20 shillings. It doesn’t say how many acres, only that it was part of a 400 acres patent taken up by Isaac. But, on 9 November 1726, John gave 100 acres on the west side of Cattawiskey Swamp to his brother, Nathaniel (Bertie County Deed Book B, p. 200). Witnessing this deed were Lazarus Thomas and John Winns.

John sold Jacob Lewis, for 20 pounds current money, 50 acres beginning at Raspberry’s corner tree “and running along a line of marked trees to Dawses Road” (Bertie County Deed Book A, p. 24) on 12 February 1722. Deborah Keele and Thomas Bird witnessed this deed. Then, on 14 May 1723, Jacob gave his “well beloved sister in law”, Deborah Keel, 200 acres “by or nigh” the Petty Shore. This tract began “at a pine a corner tree of Thos. Wiggan’s line” and ran “along William Keel’s line to Abraham Blewlett’s path…” (Bertie County Deed Book A, p. 74).

Was Jacob’s wife Mary Keel? Most likely. But, there are other possibilities. Today, your sister-in-law would be the sister of your spouse. But, in earlier times, it was a much more fluid term. It could also be your stepsister. Or the wife of your spouse’s brother. So, Deborah Keele could have been any of these to Jacob Lewis.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Jacob’s wife was Mary. On 23 January 1717, Jacob and Mary Lewis ceded to Isaac Lewis their claim to the southwestern part of 250 acres. Jacob and Isaac purchased this tract from George and Sarah Smith in 1714. They may have married earlier. Mary Lewis witnessed a power of attorney from Bridget Brown to her son, Isaac Lewis, on 18 Jul 1713 (Chowan County Deed Book W-1, p. 154). However, this may not be the same woman. Their marks are different.
  • Note the deed does not say Deborah was a widow or that William Keel was deceased. This would seem to eliminate the possibility that Deborah was the widow of William Keel of Wiccacon.
  • As the grantee, Deborah wasn’t, necessarily, 21. She has to have been at least 14 (minor majority, to use an Anne McCaffrey phrase) to witness a deed in 1722, so born no later than 1707/08. At that time, Jacob and Isaac’s mother, Bridget, was married to John Browne. On 9 August 1706, John Browne and his wife, Bridget Browne, sold Samuel Canidy 220 acres in the lower parish and on the south side of Kingsale Swamp. This was in Nansemond County, Virginia. Be sure to read this post on John Brown of Kingsale, Indian Trader. Excellent blog.
  • Margaret, the wife of Issac Lewis, was the daughter of William Hooker. She and their son, William, are mentioned in William Hooker’s will. Other daughters mentioned are Ann Evans, Bridgett Mann, Jane Brown, and Elizabeth Sizemore. There is no daughter named Deborah listed.

So far, we have William Keel (born possibly as late as 1692), Mary Keel Lewis (born about 1695), John Keel (born about 1700), Deborah Keel (born between 1702 and 1708), and Nathaniel Keel (born about 1710). These dates are loose guestimates based on land records. They could all certainly be older, but not much younger.

On 13 February 1726/7, Jacob and Mary Lewis sell Samuel Keel 200 acres on Chinquapin Ridge for “sterling money” (Bertie County Deed Book B, p. 210). Lazarus Thomas and John Williams were the witnesses.

So, we can add Samuel to our list. Born, say, 1711. And, of course, we have Hardy, born circa 1709. Were they all siblings? John and Nathaniel definitely were. Mary and Deborah almost certainly. The others? Probably. I’d say even possibly. Were they children of William the Immigrant? I don’t know for certain, but maybe. Looking at these dates, I wonder if he married twice.

The Keels of Chowan and Bertie: William of Wiccacon

Joseph’s father, Hardy, was born circa 1709. This is a guestimate based on his being about 30 when he and his two sons had their stock marks approved in 1739. Now where he was born and to whom? I don’t know. There are two theories:

  1. Hardy was the youngest of seven Palatine orphans whose parents and siblings sailed to Carolina with de Graffenreid. (Sources: The Keel Palatine Orphans in North Carolina and Virginia in the 1700s and Corrections, Additions and Revision to The Keel Palatine Orphans North Carolina & Virginia in the 1700’s to Palatine Orphans both by Dona Thorpe).
  2. “William Keel and brothers, Thomas and Robert, left County Cork, Ireland in 1696, stopped in Bermuda then traveled on to Chowan County, NC about 1701. William Keel’s son, Hardy, moved to Bertie County, NC about 1735 with his two sons Hardy Jr. and Joseph (“Keels” by Jerry Ponder, The History and Families of Ripley County, Missouri by Ripley County Historical Society, p. 249).”

Is either true? No clue. All I know is that Hardy and several other Keels lived in Bertie and Chowan (its parent) from, a least, 1713. Most likely, earlier. There is a reference to William Keale as a headright claimed by James Dannel. According to Hathaway’s The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 141, this claim happened on 25 October 1697.

North Carolina Digital Collections, Colonial Court Papers, Headrights

This is not an arrival date. Chances are William was in the colony years before this. Adam Gamball, for example, was already dead! His will was proven in November 1694. Headright laws were notoriously lax.

On 21 April 1713, James Hooper sold John Worley, for 90 pounds current money, 150 acres on the south shore of Chowan, bounding upon Thomas Steely and Wm. Keel’s entry (Chowan County Deed Book W-1, p. 143). I have found no record of this entry. He bought 200 acres on the north side of Wiccacon Creek from Edward and Ann Taylor on 7 April 1715 (Chowan County Deed Book B-1, p. 73). William Keel and Jacob Lewis witnessed a power of attorney from Margaret Lewis, wife of Isaac, to John Mayner on 18 April 1715 (Chowan County Deed Book B-1, p. 100). Isaac Lewis was issued a patent for 520 acres on 9 March 1717:

…lying in Chowan Precinct beginning at a pine a corner tree of Richard Williamson thence running along his line to the Widow Smith so to Jacob Lewis’s then along his line to Wm. Keels then to Thos. Wiggins then to Stephen Williams then from his corner being the centre of three red oak saplings and a pine then to the centre of three pines in Richard Williams line then along his line to the first station.

Patent Book 3, p. 29, File No. 351

It is through the Lewis family that the rest of the Keels come into focus. Sort of.



The Life of Joseph Keel as We Know It

After the Court summons of 28 Apr 1758, the next record of Joseph Keel comes on 18 May 1778. On this date, he entered a patent for 300 acres, beginning at Turner Everett’s line. The survey of this tract occurred on 10 February 1779.

Obediah Bullock and John Bland were the chain carriers. The survey begins at a pine in Henry Robertson’s corner. Thus, at some point between the entry and the survey, Everett sold his land to Henry Roberson. The patent was issued on 20 September 1779. Also mentioned in the description is a pine tree on the south side of the Wolf Pocosin.

Previous to this, Henry Roberson had entered a patent on 11 March 1778 beginning on Keel’s branch. This tract was for 300 acres.

John Bland had two patents adjoining the lands of Joseph Keel. The first of these entries was on 13 July 1779, for 288 acres. Its location was

“…Between the lines of Luke Robason, Joseph Keel, Obediah Bullock, David Legget, Peirces, Elijah Price & his own line to the beginning….”

The second entry, occurring on 3 March 1780, was for 150 acres. It adjoined the lands of Joseph Keel, Henry Roberson, and Obediah Bullock. Stephen Bland and John Wynn were the chain carriers during the survey.

In 1779, the taxmen assessed Joseph for 640 pounds.

During the American Revolution, Joseph served in the Martin County militia. He was issued a voucher on 30 August 1783, allowing him the sum of 3 pounds, 5 shillings.

According to Wikipedia:

The Martin Count Regiment was known to have been involved in four battles during the American Revolution: Battle of Brier Creek in Georgia on March 3, 1779, Battle of Camden in South Carolina on August 16, 1780, the Battle of Guilford Court House in North Carolina on March 15, 1781, and the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill in South Carolina on April 25, 1781.

Which, if any, of these Joseph may have fought in, I don’t know, having no record of his dates of service.

He sold a part of his 300 acres to Stephen Bland on 14 February 178- (Martin County Deed Book B, p. 6). This deed is severely mangled, making it difficult to read. I can’t tell how much land he sold, or what he sold it for. What I do know is that Joseph and Ruth Keel and Stephen and Mary Bland sold the entire 300 acres to Thomas Holladay on 6 November 1786 (Martin County Deed Book A, p. 500). They received 60 pounds.

Joseph was not enumerated on the State Census of 1784-1787. Perhaps he’d already made the move to Beaufort County. He was certainly there in 1789. He was assessed taxes for 100 acres of land in Captain White’s District. No poll tax.

In 1790, Ruth was listed as head of household. There was one free white male of/over 16 and 3 free white females. Although probate on his Estate did not begin until 5 March 1791, Joseph probably died in late 1789 or early 1790. On 5 March 1791, Ruth drew up an inventory and ceded administration to her son, Hardy. That same day, Ruth Keel, Joshua Rawls, Taylor Stapleford, and Hardy Keel paid a 500-pound bond for letters of administration. This record is hard to read due to faded ink. Not to mention the chunk missing from the bottom right corner.

Ruth may have been alive as late as 1800. That year’s census shows a lady of/over 45 in the household of Hardy Keel.

The Parentage of Joseph Keel

Joseph Keel was born circa 1730, in Bertie County. His parentage is a matter of debate. Most researchers claim his mother was Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Thomas. Some say she married Nathaniel Keel. Others say Hardy Keel. My opinion? She married neither. Or, if she did, it was after 26 April 1752. On this date, Joseph Thomas wrote his will. Three bequests are of interest:

…I Give and Devise unto my son Josiah Thomas my Land and Plantation whereon Nathaniel Keel now lives, its being bounded & Joyning the Land I Gave to my son Michael and Thomas Blounts Land…I Give and Devise unto My daughter Mary Thomas My Land & Plantation lying and Joyning the Land that Now belonging to Jno Spivey a Minor (my sd Land I Now Give to my said Daughter Mary is Now in the Ocupation of Hardy Keel…I Give & Devise to my Daughter Elizabeth Thomas My Land and Plantation whereon Judith Thomas now lives its being the Land that fell to me by the Death of My Brother James Thomas….

Notice that Elizabeth did not inherit either Keel residence. Surely, if she’d been married to either, it would have been more logical. Presumably, Elizabeth would have been living there too. Plus, she is Elizabeth Thomas, not Elizabeth Keel.

The witnesses were Joseph Collins, Nathaniel Keel, Joseph Keel, and Richard Sparkman. On 28 April 1758, the Court summoned Nathaniel and Joseph, among others, to appear on 25 July to prove the will. This is, probably, where the idea of Joseph being the son of Nathaniel began.

Truthfully, I was more intrigued by the mention of Hardy Keel. The reasons are obvious, I should think.

I soon discovered a Hardy Keel Estate File in Bertie County. The administrator? Joseph Thomas! He submitted an Inventory in August 1753 and the estate sale took place on 29 September. Other purchasers were Hardy Keel, Elizabeth Keel, John Peircy, and Jonathan Kitterrell. Joseph submitted an account of sales in November. I can see the eyebrows of you eastern Pitt County folks going up.

Further research led me to an amazing blog called They Lived Along a Rocky River. Lots of in-depth Thomas family articles. In one of these, Our Family and Neighbors (Pt. 8), there’s a discussion of a court case between Hardy Keel and Joseph Thomas. Hardy claimed that on 18 March 1745, Joseph stole from him a gelding with saddle and halter. The Court of May 1746 awarded Hardy 10 pounds proclamation money in damages.

Another will to mention Hardy Keel is that of John Collins. Written 27 December 1749 and proven 18 March 1752, he bequeaths

…unto my Son Joseph Collins a plantation lying the north sid of Guy hall swamp purchased of hardy keele containing one hundred and fifty eakers at the beginn…unto my son Demsee Collins a plantation that henry Ballentin formerly lived on parte of the tracte of land that I bote of hardy keele lying Guys hall swamp by at the lower End of the said Land contain one hundred and fifty eakers….

How Hardy acquired this land, I have no clue. Nor have I found a record of his selling it to John Collins. Next, I found the will of Luke Thomas, brother of Joseph. Luke, living in Edgecombe County, wrote his will on 28 June 1751. At the very end, he leaves “ten pounds in monney Virginia currency” to Ezekiell Keele. One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Keele. That’s right. Ezekiel. Those Pitt County eyebrows just narrowed.

Finally, I did a book search at FamilySearch and found this:

North Carolina Journal of Genealogy, Volume 11, No. 4, “Early Livestock Owners, 1722-1741”, p. 1572

Let me emphasize that. Joseph…son of Hardy. That raised my own eyebrows, let me tell you!

Based on the evidence I’ve been able to access, I believe that Elizabeth, who was not the daughter of Joseph Thomas, was the wife of Hardy Keel. Not Nathaniel, Hardy. In fact, I have yet to find proof that Nathaniel Keel married at all. More, I think Joseph Keel, Hardy Keel, Jr., and Ezekiel Keel were all sons of Hardy and Elizabeth.

As always, if you know of source documents that would prove otherwise, I beg of you, to share the wealth.

Another Look at the Ancestors of Penelope Keel Dixon

Many years ago, I wrote a series of articles focusing on the Dixon wives. Since then, I’ve done a lot more research, and learned many things. Some of these things disprove claims made in my original posts. Today, I’m taking another look at Penelope Keel, my 4th great-grandmother (original post).

Penelope’s father was Hardy Keel of Beaufort County. Proof of this comes from Beaufort County Deed Book 22, p. 576. On 19 Apr 1844, Rolin and Penina Dixon sell to Jeremiah G. Roe, for $10,

…a certain piece or Parcel of Land lying and being in the County of Beaufort and State aforesaid Situated on the South side of Pamptico River and East side of Durham’s Creek Mill Pond Containing Twenty acres being more or less the land inherited by us of our Father Hardy Keel whereon he lived and died, it being our part of the undivided piece or parcel of Land…

See also Beaufort County Deed Book 17, p. 330 for further heirs of Hardy Keel.

Who was Penelope’s mother? I still don’t know the answer to this question. But I know who she wasn’t.

Hannah Peed, daughter of Henry Peed and Tabitha Stringer. Henry Peed left a will, dated 17 Mar 1792. This document does not mention a daughter named Hannah. According to the will, their children were: Mary Webb, Fanny Adams, Martin Peed, William Peed, Nancy Peed, Elemuel Peed, Trigana “Gain” Peed, Milley Peed, and John Peed.

Hannah Taylor. Penelope’s father, Hardy, did, indeed, marry Hannah Taylor. Proof of her maiden name comes from the James T. Dowty Family Bible.

Debra Wright Stay shared this on 18 Sept 2020. Thank you.

She was not my 5th great-grandmother, however. How do I know, I hear you ask. Well, it doesn’t compute. Literally. On the 1850 census, Hannah Bland (see Beaufort County Deed Book 22, p. 388 and 389-90), living at South Creek in Beaufort County, is 55 years of age.

Do the math. 1850-55=1795. Even if you use 1795 as the guesstimate it probably was for Hannah’s age, she’d still have been too young to be Penelope’s mother.

Hardy was the son of Joseph and Ruth Keel of Martin, then Beaufort County. On 5 Mar 1791, Ruth promulgated an inventory of Joseph’s Estate. Below the inventory, she wrote a note appointing “my son Hardy Keel” to administer the Estate.

I don’t know who Nancy Keel was, or how she fits into this family. I’ve often wondered if she was Penelope’s mother. And, no, before you ask, this is not Nancy Peed! I checked. On 9 Oct 1802, Amos and Fanny Tuten and Ludovick and Nancy Dowty, gave up their rights as heirs of William Peed, decd., to a piece of land (Beaufort County, Deeds proven in Court, 1802-1805, p. 17 and 18). William had declared he wanted the land to go to their brother, John. This is the same Ludovick and Nancy Dowty mentioned in the bible above.

Next post, I’ll delve more deeply into Joseph and his parentage.

Speaking of geeking out…

This will air here in the US May 11 on PBS as a NOVA special

I am SO totally geeking out over this!

Bluebell & Sparkle!

Finally, the story we’ve all waited for!

Nalini Singh returns to the world of the Guild Hunters for the most highly anticipated novel of the beloved series—a love story so epic it’s been half a millennia in the making…

Illium and Aodhan. Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.

As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.

Space Hurricanes are an Actual Thing

Artistic rendering of a space hurricane by Qing-He Zhang. Institute of Space Sciences, Shandong University

I kid you not. According to recently analyzed satellite data, in August 2014, a “…1,000km-wide swirling mass of plasma” hovered “several hundred kilometers above the North Pole” for about 8 hours, raining electrons. Professor Mike Lockwood of the University of Reading, says the phenomenon “must be created by unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the Earth’s upper atmosphere.”

This may not be an unusual occurrance.

The fact the hurricane occurred during a period of low geomagnetic activity suggests they could be more relatively common within our solar system and beyond.

Articles: Space hurricane observed for the first time from the University of Reading and The first known space hurricane pours electron ‘rain’ in Nature