T. L. Dickerson
In our rambles through many parts of Henry County we find numerous families of the Keesling name. Originally the name was spelled Kisling, but all date their relationship back to the same parent tree, viz.: John Kisling and his wife who emigrated to Indiana at a very early period from Rockingham county, Virginia, shortly after the war of 1812.
This family was descendents of a prominent German people who originally lived in Saxony, but on account of religious persecutions in Europe fled to Holland in the sixteenth century finally found refuge in America.
We have found it somewhat difficult to obtain a complete history of the Keesling or Kisling ancestry but will tell what little we know of them and their relationship back a few generations, or since their arrival in Henry and Wayne counties, Indiana.
This old and well known family who were prominent citizens four score years ago, who founded homes in the great woods of Indiana, consisted of the following brothers, Jacob, John, Daniel, Peter and George. The sisters of these five brothers were Betsy, Katharine, Polly and Susan.
Betsy married John Raper; Katharine became the wife of Daniel Shafer, Polly united her fortunes with Benjamin Fisher and Susan took a pioneer farmer named Rice Price for better or worse.
Jacob, the eldest son, became the husband of Catharine Shafer; John followed suit and married Melinda Bulla; Daniel persuaded Katie Zeek to become his wife; Peter had two ventures in matrimony. His first wife's name was Boysworth and his second companion was Broombaugh. George, the fifth son, married Betsy Miller.
If we are rightly informed the parents of this illustrious family first settled in Fall Creek township in the big woods on a tract of land due north of the home of Uncle George Keesling. The old log cabin still stands in an orchard.
We failed to learn where all these pioneers found life partners, but it occurs they may have resided in Wayne county previous to locating in Henry county.
It appears from the old records they entered land in Henry county at the government price of $1.25 per acre, according to an act of congress dated April, 1820. Many of their descendants retain the parchment deeds known as patent deeds.
If our readers can trace the relationship that now exist that has originated from these nine families, they will be dandies.
Jacob the eldest son of the five brothers, was the venerable father of nine sons, whose names were as follows; John, Daniel, Jacob, Martin, Andrew, William, Samuel George and Robert. His daughters were Betsy, Ann, Polly and Margaret, making thirteen children.
John's family (of the original five sons) were, Thomas, William, James, Eli, Calvin, Benjamin, Isaac and John, making eight sons. His daughters were Mary, Susan, Elizabeth and Lutitia, making an even dozen to clothe and feed.
Daniel, the third son (of patriarch John) was the father of John, Adam, Polly and Mary.
Peter (the fourth of the five sons) used fourteen plates when all of their numerous family put their feet under the. The sons were Samuel, Harvey, Henry, Melburn, Calvin, Martin, Benjamin, Cornelius and John Quincy. His daughters were Jane, Coristina, Elizabeth and Barbara Ann.
George (the fifth son of the family) first mentioned, did not have to go to the mill on horseback so often. His family consisted of Rice Price, jr., John Anderson, Amos, Eve, Christina and Mary.
We failed to learn what luck the four sisters of the five brothers had in raising families. To tell the truth we became bewildered in tracing the genealogy. Therefore, if our friends will excuse us for a few minutes we will take a smoke break to keep off nervous prostration and finish afterwards, as it is impossible to give the complete lineage of the Keesling kindred in this article down to the present date.
I will close this tedious and uninteresting biography by stating that Andrew Keesling, a grandson of the patriarch John and wife Elizabeth, is 86 years old and quite deaf.
Thomas Keesling (oldest son of the late John Keesling) resides in San Jose, Cal. He was 78 years the 15th of last May
The eldest daughter of Daniel Keesling, sr. is Mary Letzhulz. She resides with her son-in-law, Daniel Rent, in the town of Mechanicsburg, Ind.
Milburn Keesling has passed three score and ten years. He lives two miles north of Mechanicsburg.
Uncle George (a son of Jacob and Catherine) lives about a mile southwest of Mechanicsburg and reads the Democrat and the State Sentinel, his age is 76 years old.
William, familiarly known as Uncle Billy, has a commodious home one half mile east of Mechanicsburg. He was working in his corncrib last week. He has seen 76 winters. His sons are, William H., the hardware merchant at Mechanicsburg, and Levi, at Middletown, Ind., who has a grocery store. The daughters of Uncle Billy are Lydia Ann Mitchell, Dora Greenley of Middletown and Martha Fatic of Mechanicsburg.
Ed W. and Samuel Keesling of Mechanicsburg and David Keesling of Cadiz and Webb Keesling, northwest of Kennard, are sons of John Daniel and grandsons of Daniel, one of the five sons of John, the grand-daddy of all.
Amos Kisling is the son of George, the youngest of the five sons and resides in Mechanicsburg, is nicely fixed. He is 63 years old and retains the original Kisling way of spelling the name. He married Rhoda M. Swain. They have no children. To him we are indebted for the history of the Kisling lineage, which embraces over 73 families and six generation, is allied by affinity or consanguinity.
NOTE: Nearly all of the Keesling - Kisling pioneer family members are buried in the following cemeteries in Fall Creek township, Henry county, IN; Keesling cemetery, Mechanicsburg cemetery, Fatic cemetery and Miller Baptist cemetery.