This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s prompt is Workin’ for a Living.
I have at least six nurses, one doctor, two cops, a seamstress, a school teacher, and a bunch of farmers in my family, but the one that comes to mind is my 2nd great grandfather, the treasurer of Lauderdale County, Mississippi 1904-1907, Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene.
TGL Keene was born 20 Apr 1859. It took me years to find information about his family and I had to piece it together through other family names, but the 1860 census shows TGL living with his father Green, his mother Sarah, his aunt Elizabeth (dad’s sister), his other aunt Catherine (dad’s other sister) and his seventy-year-old grandpa Gilbert Keene. TGL’s older siblings include John, Martha, Minerva Ellen, and Mary. TGL was the baby at only a year or so old.
Sometime before the 1870 census, his mom and dad died. The 1870 census shows Minerva Ellen, Mary, and TGL (now 11) living with their 50-year-old aunt Elizabeth. Not only are his parents noticeably absent, but grandpa isn’t listed either.
The 1880 census shows TGL at the age of 21 living with his eldest sister Martha and her husband Charles Pierce and their children and working as an assistant on their farm. I assume old aunt Elizabeth was dead by this time. This poor boy just keeps losing the adults in his life.
In Aug 1890, TGL married Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown, and over the next ten years, they had seven children, one being my great grandmother Eula Ouida Keene Pickett, whom I loved dearly. Too bad she never spoke to me of her family. All of TGL’s children survived him except for a boy who died as an infant.
Records show TGL worked in the county system since at least 1900, becoming the county treasurer 1904-1907, and the marble plaque above still stands in the Lauderdale County Courthouse in Meridian, Mississippi. In 1910, TGL was listed on the census as a Justice of the Peace. In 1918, he returned to his roots and is listed in the Mississippi census as a farmer. Upon his death in 1921 at the age of 62, he was a member of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.
Strangely, with all of his public service, there are very few records of him, and his parents are not listed on his death certificate. Perhaps the Keene family never spoke of those who came before. Or perhaps, TGL was a private man. How could his wife and his grown children not know the names of his parents to list on the certificate? His wife outlived him by five years, and they are both buried at Oak Grove Baptist Cemetery in the Bonita Community, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.