The Abandoned Home

I found this article recently in The Iuka Vidette, April 31, 1910 – it’s not very long, but in very few words the writer paints a vivid picture:

The Abandoned Home

Some three miles east of Iuka, surrounded by a forest of second growth timber, is an abandoned farm. There is a dim, old road that leads to the place, and there are ruins of old chimneys where there once stood a happy home, some half a century ago. Briers grown in the old garden place and choke up the way to the spring from whence came the supply of water for the family years ago. This is the McKeown old place. From this home a stalwart son, Isaac by name, went forth to the great Confederate war and followed the stars and bars till on the bloody field of the Wilderness fight he yielded up his life’s blood. From here went forth two other sons, J. T. and L. A. McKeown, both of whom are Methodist ministers – one in the Mississippi Delta and the other in the wind-swept plains of Texas. Meanwhile silence reigns round the site of the old homestead unbroken save by the owl or the cry of other wild denizens of the forest.

I did a little research, and found that the McKeown family was living in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, when the 1860 United States Census was taken. Thomas and Mary McKeown had a small farm where they lived with their children: Isaac, James, Margaret, Elizabeth, Christopher, Joseph, and Luther. When the Civil War started, the two eldest boys, Isaac and James, enlisted in Company K, “Iuka Rifles,” 2nd Mississippi Infantry.

Looking up the service records of Isaac and James told me the grim story: James, who was 20 when he enlisted in the army, was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gaines Mill, Virginia, on June 27, 1862, and he died at Richmond, Virginia, on July 5, 1862. His older brother Isaac, who was 29 when he enlisted, was wounded in action and captured at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Taken to Point Lookout prisoner of war camp, he was exchanged on March 3, 1864. Returning to the ranks of the 2nd Mississippi, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness, and died on May 8, 1864, while being transported to the hospital.

The Confederate government never had the means to award medals of valor to its soldiers, but the Southern congress did authorize its soldiers to vote on which of their members should have their names added to a roll of honor for each battle in which they participated. After the Battle of the Wilderness, the men of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry voted, and one of the names added to the roll of honor was that of Private Isaac McKeown.

In time the war ended, and the surviving members of the McKeown family went on with their lives. Patriarch Thomas McKeown died in 1870, and he was followed to the grave five years later by his wife Mary. The couple are buried in Snowdown Cemetery in Tishomingo County. The McKeown children must have moved off as they married and started their own lives, leaving the family farm to fall to ruin.

Photograph of a ruined house taken during the Civil War. This particular image was taken on the Gaines Mill Battlefield, where James McKeown was mortally wounded - Library of Congress
Photograph of a ruined house taken during the Civil War. This particular image was taken on the Gaines Mill Battlefield, where James McKeown was mortally wounded – Library of Congress

8 thoughts on “The Abandoned Home

    1. JoAnn and I have spoken. Thomas McKeown would have been my ggg uncle. I have written more regarding this family. If you would like more information, please contact me.

      1. It is now a year later and I have found out about the McKeowns in Northern Ireland and Scotland. I am still stumped with location information about my great grandmother Florence Alabama Roan McKeown. If you have any suggestions as to how to describers her family I would appreciate the suggestions. I am in the process of getting information from the Methodist Church of Pleasant Hill outside of Luka,MS.

  1. This is my great, great grandfather and grandmother’s house in Mississippi. It is great to find this information.

      1. I am just starting my family genealogy but in the last 10 days I have gotten a lot of information about them. The one problem that I am running into is that my Great Grandmother, Florence Alabama Roan, was a half breed Indian who I believe came from the Chickasaw Tribe in Mississippi, but I am having problems running it down. She married JT McKeown and then moved to Texas where they are both buried. I have all of that information. I have also taken JT back to Tenn and then to James Smiley McKeown who came over from Ireland. I have also been in contact with a distant cousin in Texas who has done over 35 years of research on the McKeowns. What type of information are you looking for? I also am very interested in how you do your research since for now I am limited to the internet. I live in KY and plan at some time to make the trip to both Tenn and Mississippi to view the various sites and talk to these new found relatives. Please contact me with any questions and information that may help me. I look forward to your contact since I am a history nut and am very excited to speak with someone with similar interests.

      2. I have spoken with JoAnn. We are distant cousins. Thomas would have been my ggg uncle. He was a brother to my gg grandfather, Isaac Lollar McKeown.

  2. I am the Texas relative. Thomas’ son, Isaac, is named after his great grandfather, Isaac Lollar of Rutherford County, NC. Thomas’ parents were James Smiley McKeown & his wife Casannah Lollar. Thomas was named after his grandfather from Ireland, Thomas McKeown. The family is said to have arrived in 1782 after a dangerous voyage. The ship is said to have docked in Charleston, SC. The family is said to have stayed with family & eventually traveled up the Broad River into NC. There are letters written by Thomas D McKeown in the Archives Department of the Iowa State University Library. They are written to Henry & Nancy McKeown VanZandt of Agency, Iowa. I think one is dated as early as 1842. Nancy is a sister to Thomas.

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