99. MARTHA4 P (PARLEE OR PARALEE) JOHNSTON (LEWIS BURTON3, GEORGE GREGORY ("G.G." OR "GREG")2, LEWIS1) (#860) was born in Randolph County, Arkansas, September 22, 1853. MARTHA died July 10, 1940 in Maryneal, Nolan County, Texas, at 86 years of age. Her body was interred in Harpersville, Stephens County, Texas, Harpersville Cemetery.

She married JOHN "JACK" GRAVES KEEL in Ripley County, Missouri, October 24, 1872.  (JOHN "JACK" GRAVES KEEL is #861.) JOHN was born in Ripley County, Missouri December 15, 1851. JOHN died March 26, 1928 in Abilene, Texas, at 76 years of age. His body was interred in Harpersville, Stephens County, Texas, Harpersville Cemetery.

 Notes: Records show that Martha P. Johnston and Jack Keel were married by her uncle, the Reverend Jesse Robinson. It is my guess that the wedding probably took place in Johnston Chapel Methodist Church. Although Jack already had his own farm in Ripley County at the time of their marriage, and they started their life together there, something kept pushing, or pulling them toward Texas. It is known that they left for Texas the first time in August or September of 1876. Their first two children, a boy named William Walter and a girl named Mary Tennessee, never made it to Texas. The boy died before they could leave Ripley County, Missouri, in July 1876. The little girl died on the trail, just before they reached Ft. Smith, AR. The first trip took them to Hamilton County, TX, where an uncle of Jack's had established a farm. Jack sharecropped 40 acres of cotton that year, and was ready to go back to Missouri. Since Martha was expecting another child, instead of leaving right away, they went to Johnson County to pick cotton along the banks of the Nolan River, south of Cleburne. Another son, John Lewis Keel, was born in their covered wagon, in Johnson County, TX on Nov... 22, 1877. The boy was named for his two grandfathers, John L. Keel and Lewis Burton Johnston. However, Martha apparently thought that her father's name was spelled "Louis." When the boy was 2 weeks old, they started back to Missouri.

During the 1930's, when Martha P. Keel was in her 80's, she recalled that she and Jack Keel moved back and forth between Texas and either Missouri or northern Arkansas at least 5 times, in their covered wagon. I have found records of only 4 such trips but there well could have been more. The second move, or maybe it was the third, puts them in Hood County, TX, somewhere near the community of Thorp Spring, not much more than a trading post with a fresh-water spring, near a crossing of the Brazos River. It was there, at the age of about 18 months, that John Louis choked on a piece of hard candy and nearly died. A doctor from Thorp Spring came to treat him daily for quite sometime. It was there also, that Sarah Parmelia Keel was born, on February 28, 1881. Thorp Spring almost ceased to exist over the years but now, with the urban sprawl of Ft. Worth, and the development of Lake Granbury on the Brazos, Thorp Spring is a thriving bedroom/resort lakeside community. We know that the Keels went back to Arkansas and Missouri after Sarah P. was born. The next three children were born in Arkansas. Lillie Magdaline was born in Middlebrook, near Martha P's parents' Randolph County home, in June 1884; Almus Larkin Keel was born on a ranch near Tennessee Creek, in Randolph Co., in September 1886 (that's near Ingram); and Eulalia May Keel was born in Hoxie, Lawrence Co., AR in April of 1889. Whether or not there were any moves to Texas and back between those children is not recorded. Shortly after the birth of Eulalia "Eula," the Keels went back to Texas for good. This time, they settled in Comanche County, in or near the community of Newburg on the South Leon River. Lillian Dockins, a granddaughter of Martha P Keel's brother, James Perry Johnston, has copies of several old letters which were exchanged between Martha P. Keel and/or James Perry Johnston (who was staying with them) and their father, Lewis B. Johnston, that are addressed to, or postmarked from, the post office in Newburg.

It seems that in January of 1890, James Perry's young wife died in Ripley Co., MO, leaving him with two small baby boy's and a broken heart. Apparently, he went into a deep depression and, unable to cope, he left his babies with his parents and just drifted away. Some months later, he showed up at the door of the Keels in Comanche County, TX. They took him in and provided him with food and a place to sleep. He would help Jack around the farm, doing what he was told, but just going through the motions. After a couple of years, he apparently snapped out of his depression, went home to reclaim his sons, married again, and lived to be just a few months shy of 100 years old.

We know that the Keels later lived for a while in Jewel, Eastland County, TX; in Harpersville, Stephens County, TX - they and several of their children are buried in the family cemetery lot at Harpersville Cemetery, all that is left of the original community; and, probably, in Breckenridge, the county seat of Stephens Co. About 1916, the Keels moved to Maryneal, Nolan County, TX, just a few miles south of Sweetwater. During part of that time Jack Keel carted mail between the railroad depot and the Maryneal Post Office, and vice versa. About 1918, Jack bought the Drug Store and the Post Office that was within it, and became the Postmaster, although their granddaughter, Willie Henry, who had lived with them since infancy, actually ran the drug Store and Post Office. About 1927, Jack and Martha Keel moved to Abilene, TX, where Jack died in March of 1928. He was taken back to Harpersville for burial. Martha died in 1940, while living with her daughter, Lillie Adams, in Maryneal. She also was buried at Harpersville Cemetery. A great granddaughter of Martha P. Keel, Virginia Adams Muncy, a widow, still lives on the Adams family ranch outside Maryneal. She has collected much more information about the Keel family than I could possibly record here. Thanks Virginia.


child 202 i. WILLIAM WALTER5 KEEL (#1873) was born in Ripley County, Missouri November 8, 1873. His body was interred date unknown in Ripley County, Missouri, Old Towell Cemetery. William died July 24, 1876 in Ripley County, Missouri, at 2 years of age.

child 203 ii. MARY TENNESSEE KEEL (#1874) was born in Ripley County, Missouri November 4, 1875. Mary died October 6, 1876 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, at less than one year of age. Mary Tennessee Keel died beside a road east of Fort Smith, Arkansas and was buried in an unmarked grave beside the Wagon Road in Arkansas.

child 204 iii. JOHN LEWIS (or LOUIS)  KEEL (#1875) was born November 22, 1877 and died January 18, 1929.

child 205 iv. SARAH PARMELIA KEEL (#1876) was born February 28, 1881 and died January 19, 1905.

child 206 v. LILLIE MAGDALINE KEEL (#1879)was born in Middlebrook, Randolph County, Arkansas June 21, 1884. 

child 207 vi. ALMUS LARKIN KEEL (#1881) was born in Randolph County, Arkansas (near Ingram) September 24, 1886. His body was interred date unknown in Stephens County, Texas, Harpersville Cemetery. Larkin died December 7, 1911 in Roswell, Chaves County, New Mexico, at 25 years of age.

child 208 vii. EULALIA MAY KEEL (#1882) was born in Hoxie, Lawrence County, Arkansas April 15, 1889. 

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