Much of the early history of Leonard Keeling and his family (of Elbert and Habersham counties in GA) comes from oral history passed down though multiple lines of his family. Most of these stories are very similar, except for the earliest parts, which aren't consistent. Many parts of this oral history are consistent with existing records, although some details will never be proven. I give below my synthesis of these stories, picking up the thread when Leonard arrives in Georgia from Halifax County, VA. The Moses Monroe Keeling version of the story is well constructed and was written by Willie Mae KEELING Beaver in the "History of Freestone County Texas", published in 1978.
In all of these stories Leonard is referred to as "Leonard III", being the third in a consecutive line of Leonards. In most Internet accounts he is also called Leonard Sanford Keeling. I have never seen his middle name or initial in a document and strongly doubt that he had one (others have expressed similar doubts). Leonard III's son George Washington Keeling had a son named L. Sanford Keeling, and I suspect that this was the source. Although I have little doubt that the latter Keeling's first name was Leonard, I have never seen a record to this effect, although a reported transcription of the G. W. Keeling family bible lists that name.
Leonard Keeling of Halifax County, VA was born on 13 Jul in either 1770 or 1775, according to lists of information passed down through at least 4 different branches of his family. I suspect that 1775 is correct, but have no proof [see msg # 799 on this forum for more details]. According to the Freestone account he moved ABT 1792 with his brother William to Putnam County, GA, where William died unmarried and intestate, probably in 1812. Letters of Administration were issued to Leonard Keeling (who had previously moved to Elbert County in GA ABT 1798) and Thomas Worthy (probably Leonard's brother-in-law). Leonard owned land in Elbert County on Beaverdam and Cedar Creeks. My direct ancestor Littleton Madison Keeling was said by a son to have been born in 1819 "near Baskersville" (location unknown) "in Elbert now Hart County Georgia within a quarter mile of county line on a Savannah River farm." Cedar Creek does empty into the Savannah River very near the present Elbert County border.
Leonard married Elizabeth HAYNES on 1 Apr 1799, according to several accounts (but I have not located any record). She was the daughter of Moses Haynes and Sarah Elizabeth SCALES. Most accounts have Elizabeth's birth on 25 Oct 1783, but two have the date as 25 Dec 1783. All four of her children alive in 1880 list her place of birth as GA, while 3 of the 4 list Leonard's place of birth as VA. Leonard and Elizabeth moved to Habersham County, GA in Feb 1837 to a farm on Eastanollee Creek that lay on both sides of the Elberton Railroad at a place called Keeling's Crossing. This description would correspond to land just south of Toccoa in what is now Stephens County. Leonard died 3 Jun 1843, and Elizabeth married Hubbard Partain on 22 Dec 1845 [see msgs # 470 and 491 on the Partain family forum]. An old account simply states: "His widow married Hubbard Parting of Elbert County ..." Hubbard died in Anderson District SC in 1849, and the 1850 Habersham County census shows Elizabeth "Partin" living with (her son) George Washington Keeling. She died either in 1850 or 1854 and is buried with her husband at Zebulon Baptist Church in what is now Toccoa (which didn't exist at that time). No marked grave is known for them at Zebulon. Many of the descendants of Leonard and Elizabeth are also buried there.
Below is my best guess for correct names and birth dates of the children of Leonard (III) and Elizabeth Keeling based on the 4 lists [see msg # 799 on this forum for more details on names and dates]. Dates of death are based on other information that will be posted later. Family names in caps for women are their married names. I regret that my table of dates below was mangled by GenForum's software - extra spaces are deleted and a variable-width font is standard, making a tabular arrangement impossible.
Leonard13 Jul 17753 Jun 1843 Elizabeth (Haynes) KEELING25 Oct 1783ABT 1854
William Haynes27 Apr 1800AFT 1850 Sarah Worthy PATTERSON27 Sep 1801AFT 1850 Thomas Jefferson20 May 18031850-1860 Leonard Worthy3 Aug 18051872 Jane Spencer JENNINGS16 May 1807AFT 1870 James Alfred31 May 1809BEF 1820 Elizabeth Hawkins JENNINGS ADDISON1 Apr 18111874-5 George Washington9 Sep 181316 Jan 1888 Moses Monroe6 Dec 1815BEF 1894 Mary Ann C. "Polly" SCOTT27 Dec 18171850-1860 Littleton Madison26 Dec 181914 Dec 1905 Susan Adeline SCOTT9 Sep 182120 Sep 1887 Nancy Ursley WARMACK6 Apr 18241847-8
I have made an effort to piece together as many descendants of this (my) Georgia family as possible. In the coming months I intend to post my information (with sources) on each of these families through the great grandchildren of Leonard and Elizabeth. These are CONSTRUCTED families (based on my attempts to follow the above family members primarily through census and other records, but with the generous help of many Keeling descendants), and undoubtedly there will be errors. Some guesswork is required, and records are often inconsistent. I would greatly appreciate emails if errors or omissions are spotted.
The number of descendants of Leonard and Elizabeth (through the great grandchildren) is so large (more than 600) that I have regrettably been forced to spend less time on their spouses. Hopefully others will be able to fill in missing details.
In the past few years I have traced and contacted dozens of living descendants of these families. Few of them had information older than their grandparents or great grandparents. Much of my motivation stems from the hope that other descendants (unknown to me) have information about the founders of these lines and will be willing to share it with us. The great grandchildren of Leonard and Elizabeth typically lived well into the twentieth century, if they survived childhood. Descendants working backwards in time to determine their ancestry should have little trouble linking up to these lists. None of these great grandchildren that I have identified are living today, although 6 died in the 1990s. As surprising as that may seem, my mother's family currently has 5 living descendants (she is one of them) of her paternal grandfather, who was born in 1831.
The completeness of my information and other considerations will determine the order of posting. The format will attempt to emphasize sources, rather than a prescribed visual format. Except for my direct line I haven't had the time to enter the information into a standard genealogy program, so no GEDCOM file exists.
I would especially like to thank Ruth Hemmingway for information about this early Keeling family.