Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Family Tree Of The Author Frances Parkinson Keyes

The autobiography of Frances Parkinson (Wheeler) Keyes, Roses in December, is not only an interesting account of the author's life, but also provides a glimpse of the lives of some of the wealthy and influential people in New England.

This blog post has excerpts from the book; Ms. Keyes was her great-grandmother's first cousin.  How nice to have such a detailed account of one's relatives!

Mrs. Keyes' father, John Henry Wheeler, was an intelligent and accomplished man who died  at the age of 36 when Frances Parkinson Wheeler was 2 years old.

From "The Wheeler Family In America..":

11254. JOHN HENRY WHEELER, born Sept. 25, 1851; d. Oct. 10, 1887;
m. [Mrs.] Louise Underhill. Ch: 1. Frances Parkinson W , b. July
21, 1885; m. at Newbury, Vt., June 8, 1904, Henry Wilder Keyes.

From the Harvard Register

Dr John H Wheeler now holding one of the Parker fellowships abroad has given occasional instruction since graduation.

The last line in this excerpt of the Annual Report of the President (Johns Hopkins University) lists John Henry Wheeler, Phd, Professor of Greek, University of Virginia, 1882-1887 (with an asterisk denoting that he was deceased):  

In 1900 Frances and her mother, Louise (Johnson) Underhill Wheeler Pillsbury, were living in Newbury, Orange Co., Vermont.  Louise was divorced from her 3rd husband (Albert E. Pillsbury).  Roses In December told how one of Frances' ancestors, Thomas Johnson*, a Revolutionary War hero. was a founder of Newbury and built the house where they lived.

*Thomas Johnson married Abigail Carleton, a relative of Canadian's Governor General, Guy Carleton.  A photograph of Abigail's purse can be seen here.

 Edward Carleton JOHNSON, (Louise Johnson Underhill Wheeler Pillsbury's father) of Montpelier, son of David and Lucy (TOWNE) JOHNSON, was born at Newbury, September 30, 1816, graduated at Dartmouth 1840, read law with L. B. PECK from 1841 to April 25, 1843, when he was undoubtedly admitted to the bar in this county, but as it was in the day of Mr. CHURCHILL's clerkship it did not happen to get recorded. He formed a partnership with Lucas M. MILLER and began practice in Montpelier. He removed to New York city in 1845 and went into mercantile pursuits, and has been trustee of several estates that required business management. He married Delia Maria SMITH, of Hamilton, N. Y., August 31, 1847.

A lawsuit in the Smith family exhibited a truncated family tree, which included Delia and Louise (Frances Parkinson Keyes' grandmother and mother):

Frances Parkinson Keyes' beloved half-brother, James Underhill, became a mining engineer in Colorado.  The home where James and his wife, Lucy, lived is now the Underhill Museum in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Mrs. Keyes owned the Beauregard-Keyes house in New Orleans.  Many of her novels are set in Louisiana.  The house itself is key (no pun intended!) to her novel, Madame Castel's Lodger.  In Roses In December Mrs. Keyes described the floor plans and other features of various houses where Mrs. Keyes spent time.

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