Did Thaddeus Keeler die in 1830 or 1850? (inconsistent sources)

+2 votes

Picture of Thaddeus Keeler's tombstone at findagrave. One could read it either way, 1830 or 1850. However, if you look at his wife's tombstone, also @ FAG, she died in 1836 and the 3 is all-round, no corner on the upper right. The pictures are kind of small, and the stones are weathered. At any rate, the age at death on Thaddeus's tombstone is, clearly, 72.

So: What else have we got? The Hale Index of Cemetery Inscriptions (ancestry.com $$ link) lists death as 1830, as does an Connecticut death index on ancestry.com & familysearch (no images, just index, login required), likely drawn from Hale.

There's a St. John compilation which says he was born in 1768, which would mean he died in 1840, so long as 72 is accepted as age at death. The tombstone definitely does not say died 1840. So I'm ready to discard the birth in the St. John compilation as an error.

There's a Keeler compilation (ancestry $$ link) which has him born in 1778 and died in 1850, which corresponds with how I read the tombstone.

Of relevance: I found Thaddeus in the 1850 US Census (ancestry $$ link) living with daughter Elizabeth & son-in-law William Northrop Benedict in Ridgefield, CT. Elizabeth & her husband appear in both compilations, St. John & Keeler.

Elizabeth Benedict's tombstone includes her maiden name, Keeler.

Thaddeus's father Jeremiah, in his will (ancestry.com $$ link), bequeathed the eldest son's portion to son Jeremiah.  Beyond that, he makes certain provisions for son Thaddeus when he turns 14 years of age in a will dated 1780. Had Thaddeus been born in 1758, he would have been 21 or 22 at the time the will was drawn up.

Given all this, I put the dates 1778 & 1850 on the profile I created for Thaddeus, and the 1768 profile did not come up in searches. When I did identify the duplicate, despite birth year inconsistencies, I proposed a merge using 1778 & 1850. The merge was instead completed to 1758 & 1830, dates that did not appear on either profile of the proposed merge, but do correspond with FAG & Hale.

At this point, I'm hoping to enlarge the committee considering that profile. What do you think?

Bonus question: Wife Esther's last name is St. John. Or is it St John? What's the correct punctuation? They tended to use more of it back then than we do now. I don't have a definite poairion about this. Opinions from the peanut gallery?

WikiTree profile: Thaddeus Keeler
in Genealogy Help by Anonymous Winter G2G6 Mach 7 (71.1k points)
retagged by Anonymous Winter

1 Answer

+2 votes
It looks pretty clearly like "1850" to me! I wouldn't sweat the transcription too much. People can get in a hurry, and how a weathered headstone reads can change with the lighting conditions. There's also such a thing as a typo.

But while census records can be inaccurate, your Thaddeus wouldn't be appearing in the 1850 census if he had been dead for 20 years! Add to that the fact that the age given is nearly identical to the headstone, and it's pretty indisputable.

Age 72 backs out to abt 1778. Normally, you'd expect the wife to be about three years younger (or much more, for a second wife). This wife is about 2 years OLDER, which seems a little unusual, but not excessively so. Family genealogies can have inaccuracies, and they both say 28JUN - they only differ in one digit. 1778 makes him living & under 14 for his father's will, which as a legal document is strong evidence.

Another thing to look at is the earlier census records, if they exist. 1830 & 1840 should tell you which decade Thaddeus was born in, even though they don't give an exact date.

Just be sure there isn't another guy, with the same name, out there confusing things!

I would think it's "St.", being an abbreviation. Just look in that St. John book you referenced!

BTW, your question caught my attention because my Baxter line comes from nearby (North Salem, NY) and at least 3 of the relatives married Keelers. I'm not seeing a connection to yours, but undoubtedly there is one.
by Frank Stanley G2G6 Mach 6 (67.0k points)

In researching this, I learned about the zigzag border between CT & NY. Connecticut wanted more coast, which relates to why/how Greenwich is not part of New York. But they had to give up some territory, too, and the Keelers were amongst those whose lands in Ridgefield, CT got annexed to New York instead. One of those "the border crossed us" situations.

I am indeed finding I have to cast a wide net to make a good match with the Census. It definitely helps when they're listed in the will, but that's not always the case. I don't have the name yet, but I did find a slave in the 1790 Census owned by a man who died in 1805. His widow owned one slave in the 1810 & 1820 Census. She died in 1821, and their son Eliphalet (on the very next line to the widow in the 1820 Census) has one slave enumerated in 1830.

The Fairfield County, Connecticut, Slave Owners category has now grown to well over 200 entries. I'm finding that many/most slave owners fall in the following categories: clergy, doctors, ship captains, military officers, graduates of Yale College, and their widows.

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