Jacob and Barbara Keithley have a long line of descendants, lived long lives and made a long journey late in their lives.  One of their grandsons, Jacob Carter Keithley, in his autobiography described their long journey as retold from the stories he heard from his older siblings.


About 1824, when Grandfather was 70 years old, he and Grandmother concluded to visit their children in Missouri.  It was a long journey for the old people, fully two hundred and sixty miles, and through a sparsely settled wilderness.  But their children and other pioneers had gone before and blazed the way.  They had braved the dangers of high waters, rough roads, wild animals and Indians.  After many misgivings the old people made up their minds to make the venture to see the loved ones who had gone through hardships and toils to hew out for themselves homes in anew country.  They would leave behind the several children, – John, Obediah and perhaps Daniel to take charge of the place till their return.  So after their packs were made ready and their good horses saddles, they mounted and bade farewell to the children and home for a long journey of two hundred and sixty miles to see once more their loved ones in a far country.

They would travel over hills, through valleys, across creeks and rivers without bridges, and always keeping a sharp lookout for blazed trees of the pioneers who had preceded them.  At night they would stop at log cabins or inns by the way for entertainment.  And the next morning, after purchasing some provisions for their dinners, would move on to the next stopping place.  And so they proceeded day after day on their weary way until they came to the Mississippi River, two hundred and forty miles on their journey.  They crossed this river on a ferry boat to St. Louis, then a small French town, but now the metropolis of the state of Missouri.  They were now on the soil of the new country which they sought, with only about thirty-five or forty miles to travel before their journey ended at the homes of their long, absent children.  With hearts full of emotion and gratitude to God for His kind protection during their travels, pursued their way joyfully till they reached the banks of the big Missouri River opposite the little town of St. Charles.  Here they were ferried over on a flat boat.  No doubt they then renewed their thankfulness to the Giver of all good.  After traveling few miles further they were at their destination, and were received with joyful acclamations from their children

Thus a journey of two hundred and sixty miles was made on horseback by these old people; a greater achievement than it would be to go to the Pacific Coast.  They were now entertained by their children in a wilderness country, lately vacated by the Indians at whose hands their oldest son, Abraham, had fallen a victim near the Fort of Femme Osage.  They visited his grave and mourned the loss of their first born son; they smote on their breasts and returned to their living children who comforted them in their sorrow.  They went to see all their children and grandchildren in St. Charles and Pike counties.  My father then lived near Elk Springs in Pike county, seventy-five miles from the town of St. Charles.  My oldest sisters always remembered the visit of their grandparents.  After a joyful visit of some weeks in the new country of their children’s adoption, no doubt accompanying them in some of their hunting excursions after wild game or in fishing they prepared for their return journey.  Their packs were made ready and provisions put up for the comfort and after a sad farewell, for they expected to see their faces no more, they mounted their horses, and probably with an escort of some of their children, they turned their faces homeward.  After crossing the two great rivers at St. Charles and St. Louis, the escort bade them farewell and left then to pursue their homeward journey alone.  The roughness of the road and the weary way to their home was doubtless relieved by the reflection that they had been permitted to see their children and grandchildren once more before they died.

Grandfather and Grandmother lived many years after their visit; Grandfather to about ninety years of age.  He died of old age sitting in his chair.  Grandmother outlived his some time, and grew fleshy and almost helpless.  She was taken care of by her son, Daniel, until she finally passed beyond the river and joined her partner in life who had gone before.  Thus these old people “came to their graves in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season.” – Job 5:26.  They were the ancestors of numerous progeny, counted by thousands and spread over Missouri and the Western states.  Thus we see one generation passes away and another takes its place as the world moves on.  And so it shall continue to be “until the Angel Gabriel shall descend from heaven and put one foot upon the land and the other upon the sea and swear by Him who liveth forever that time shall be no longer.” – Revelation 10:5,6.

It will be observed that the history of only thirteen of the brothers and sisters is here given.  The names of the other five have not been handed down to this generation.  We do not know whether they died in infancy or after they were grown.  But I have the testimony of my father there were eighteen children, thirteen sons and five daughters.  There were 83 grandchildren, making 101 descendants of the first two generations.  We will resume the history of Levi Keithley and his descendants.1

Travel in 1824 was so different from today and I find it difficult to comprehend ever choosing to make a journey such as the one my seventh great grandparents made. Do you have stories of your ancestors taking journeys?


1Keithley, Jacob Carter. 1910. History of the Keithley Family. Vers. 47 digital images. Accessed January 17, 2020. http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~carolmiller/family/Information%20and%20photos/information_and_photos.htm

Amy Johnson Crow offers weekly prompts to get us thinking about an ancestor and to share something about that person. She calls it 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 3 Long Line prompt: “Is there a trait or an occupation that seems to have been in your family tree for generations? Is there a line in your genealogy that’s been in a particular place for a long, long time? Maybe you have Long as a surname. Be creative! Remember, there is no right or wrong way to interpret the prompt.”

Each of my posts using one of her prompts will have the tag of “52Ancestors” and I’ll share them on the thread she’s started for that week in her Generations Cafe Facebook Group.