Keene Family Genealogy Forum
James D. Scrape -- The name taken by Thomas Keene, when captured during the War of 1812 between England and the United States. Thomas Keene was born in the British Islands. His birth place is believed to be either London, England or Scotland, where his father and uncle had a whaling fleet. Legend says he was a member of the British Navy. Thomas Keene was his real name. He used the name James D. Scrape in the United States. All his descendants use the name "Scrape."
Thomas Keene's father and uncle owned a whaling business, owning a fleet of ships used for whaling. He was educated at the University of Edinborough, Scotland. His wish to quit school resulted in the change of his name to James D. Scrape. Rather than return to the University, he ran away to sea on one of the ships owned by his father and uncle. Three ships were together for the trip. When he ran away, he took a servant with him. The legend goes that when the Captain asked him his name he hesitated, knowing he would be sent back home. Seeing his hesitation his servant scraped his foot on the deck floor and he quickly said, "James D. Scrape."
When he ran away the ships were going on a whaling trip which usually lasted about three years. During this time the War of 1812 came up between England and the United States. The ships were captured by American Privateers. The men were given a choice - To fight against the English, thus gaining their freedom, or to be made prisoners of war. Thomas Keene, now going by the name James D. Scrape, refused to fight his country, England, so was thrown into prison on the Eastern Coast. He escaped on the Virginia Coast. As he was an escaped prisoner of war, he was afraid to use his real name. He began gradually working his way inland, intending to gradually work back north to the coast and England. He came to Murfreesboro, Tenn. There he met Sally Elder, fell in love with her and they were married. When it became safe to use his real name everyone was so used to calling him James D. Scrape, that he never used his real name in America, although all knew his story. He remained in the United States, making it his home, and later he became a pilot on the Mississippi River. He also owned a large plantation and many slaves. He was wealthy in this country so never got his money from England. After his death his son, my grnadfather, was also wealthy, owning a plantation in Trenton, Tennessee and many slaves. He also did not try to get his inheritance from England. Then great grandfather's (Thomas Keene, now called James D. Scrape) identification papers and a watch belonging to him were stolen from his son's desk (William Henry Scrape) and without these identification papers no one was able to get the money rightly belonging to them. The money was advertised in the English paper for "lost heirs" up until 1918, or at least I saw it last in that year. Several of the family have tried to get this money, but no one was living that knew that Thomas Keene and James D. Scrape was sone and the same man, and without the identifying papers nothing could be done. William Bartley McGee, a grandson of James D. Scrape, had a lawyer friend (Judge Bullock, of Tenn.) investigate the Keene Estate on a trip to England and he found that it had reverted to the English Crown in the early 1900's as there was no proven claimant.
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