I have been looking for my great, great grandfather for so long, my eyes are getting crossed from following crooked trails. I believe he was Richard C. Keele, a Baptist minister from Illinois, born in Tennessee and was the father of James Nathaniel Keele. I have found him in the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 census in various counties in Illinois, the last one being Salem, Marion County, married to a Susan or Susanna with his children…Rhoda, Nathaniel and Sarah. This was his second wife who had previously been married to an Isaac Dale. His first wife, at least the one I believe to be his first wife, was also a Susanna. The confusing part is; I have Nathaniel’s death certificate and it states his mother was Rhoda Huckaby. I cannot find a marriage certificate for Richard or any of his wives or his children. I have looked in vain for a marriage in Tennessee for a Huckaby since that was where Richard originated but I can find none. I have come to suspect that Nathaniel’s death certificate is incorrect but why did they say it was Rhoda Huckaby? Is that his sister and did she marry a Huckaby? I cannot find any record of Richard’s children marrying or where they might have moved or even if they died young.
I copied an excerpt from History and Families: Marion County, Illinois, c.1995, Salem Lions Club and I quote: "The oldest church in the township [Haines Township] is Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, organized in 1840...in the old log school northeast of Kell known as Hickory Hill School. Rev. James A. Keele was its first pastor. After a few years, they moved to a location in the Donoho Prairie area, and then in 1856, Martin and Lucinda Hall deeded them ground for a large log church building on Horse Creek in Section 27...Other early pastors besides Rev. James A. Keele, were...T.J. Burton...R.C. and J.R. Keele."
I believe the R.C. Keele to whom the above refers is the Richard C. Keele I am searching for. My main interest at the moment is proving his wife and the mother of Nathaniel. Further, I would love to find the direction his sisters took. It’s possible that Sarah married Green Merridith and died shortly after having two children, Susie and Charles but I cannot find a record of any of this….not marriage/divorce or death.
Is it possible that marriages and births/deaths were only recorded in the church and not with the state? Could there be something recorded in the church archives that makes reference to any of this? I have contacted Mrs. Marion Arnold---Church Clerk of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Iuka, IL but the information she gave was sparse and of little value. She did make mention of a family Bible floating around. In the possession of an elderly local gentleman but he would not allow viewing of it due to it’s condition.
I am at a virtual dead-end in my search for information and appeal to you for any other avenue that I could pursue. At my age, 70, I feel I have quite a few more years to do research but I have an uncle who is a direct descendant of Nathaniel and Richard and has a keen interest in this. He is still with a sharp mind and is reasonably healthy but 90 years old. I would love to resolve this so he could enjoy his family history.
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