Dixon Wives: Penelope Keel

From what I’ve been able to piece together, Penelope Keel was born in about 1797 in the Durham’s Creek area of Beaufort County.  She was the daughter of Hardy Keel and a woman named Hannah.  There seems to be a lively debate on the genealogy boards on whether that Hannah was Hannah Peed or Hannah Taylor.  Initially, I found conversations, like this one at GenForum, that led me to think it was Hannah Peed.  Ancestry.com says she was Hannah Peed, daughter of Henry Peed and Hannah.  But look at the dates.  It says she was born in 1806, but had children in 1796 and 1806.  Yeah.  So…

According to Visiting the Past, Hannah Taylor married three times.  First to Hardy Keel, then to Thomas Bland II sometime between 1834 and 1839, and, finally, to Spencer Wise April 3, 1856.  She was about 83 years old at the time of her last marriage and she died not long after, between 1857 and 1859.  I’ve yet to find anything on her parents.  Suzy Bennett lists the children of Hardy Keel and Hannah Taylor, with some of their marriages, in this post.

The children of Hardy Keel and Hannah Taylor were:

  • Hardy Keel (1794-1840) who married Susan Tuten
  • Penelope Keel (1797-between 1850 and 1860) who married Roland Chosewell Dixon
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Keel (1798-?)
  • Benjamin Keel (1799-?)
  • Frances “Fannie” Keel (1807-1860) who married Asa Rowe
  • Henry T. Keel (1810-?)
  • Matilda Keel (1811-?) who married Frances Delamar Mallison
  • Mary Keel (1812-?)
  • Sarah P. Keel (1813-1883) who married Thomas Didymus Dowdy
  • Ann “Anna” Keel (1817-1859) who married Joshua Rawls

Visiting the Past gives a different order, and there are a couple of “Unnamed Keels” in there.  Looking at the gap between Benjamin and Frances makes me wonder if there really was a first marriage to Hannah Peed.  Just not the Hannah Peed listed at Ancestry.  Which would make Penelope’s mother Hannah Peed instead of Hannah Taylor.  It’s something to think about.

Hardy Keel is just as difficult to figure out, maybe even more so, because there was more than one living in the same, general, time period.  One of these was Penelope’s brother who married Susan Tuten.  He and his family moved to Tennessee in the mid 1840s.  Another Hardy Keel, this one in Bertie County, was born around 1725/1730.  Here’s a list of some of his descendants I found at RootsWeb.  As you can see, there are two other Hardy Keels on that list.  One born in about 1745, the other in 1818.  There is a Hardy Keel who was the son of Frederick Keel and Elizabeth Gullett, but he was born in 1793.  None of these are my Hardy Keel, who was born in about 1770.  In this post at Genforum, Ron Keel says that Hardy was the son of Joseph Keel and Ruth, Joseph the son of Nathaniel, and Nathaniel the son of William.  These dates, at least, certainly fit.

Roland Dixon is the son of William Dixon and Lydia Caton.  He was born January 24, 1786 or 1789, I’ve seen both.  If it was 1786, then he was the oldest, if 1789 then his brother, William, was.  William was born in about 1787.

When Rollan Dickson married Penelope Keel in Craven County July 6, 1813 with James Martin as bondsman, their son, Pearce, was already a year old. In 1814, we find Rollin on the Muster Roll for the 2nd Regiment, 5th Company, detached from the Craven County Militia.  I’ve yet to find them in the 1820 census, but some of it is hard to read, so I could have missed them.  Or the census taker might have.  In 1830 (163A), Rowlin and Penelope live in Craven County next to Zachius and Nellie Paul.


I’ve also found them in the censuses for 1840 (39A), and 1850 (350A – Roland is listed, for some unknown reason, as Robert, and their youngest son, another Roland, as Robin).  Penelope does not appear in the 1860 census (166A) , where we find Roland living with a Lucy Dixon, aged 13.  I wonder if she’s the daughter of Pearce Dixon.  I haven’t been able to find anything about him beyond his birth.

In 1840, specifically August 10, Roland Dixon was among the commissioners appointed by the County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Craven County to lay off one year’s provision, what’s called the widow’s dower, for Patsy Scott, widow of John Scott.  If you’ll remember, Roland’s son, William, would marry their daughter.  He also purchased a few things at John Scott’s estate sale August 22.  This is according to John Scott’s probate papers.

I read somewhere, I can’t remember where at the moment, that Roland served, very briefly, in the Civil War, in the 31st North Carolina Infantry.  But, this record of military service says Rowland Dixon was 24 when he enlisted, so it must have been the son, not the father.  This is interesting, because, later in the War, young Roland was fighting for the Union.  Not an uncommon occurrence in this area after the Yankees captured New Bern, but, in April 1864, he requested a transfer to a New York regiment.  I don’t know if he got it, because he died of yellow fever September 30 of that year.  Roland, Sr. died  not long after, on November 26.  Probably also of yellow fever.  There was a major Yellow Fever Epidemic going on in the New Bern area at that time.

Roland and Penelope Dixon had the following children:


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