Keener veterans from home in five wars, but only three remembered — until now

Veterans Memorial in my hometown.

My hometown erected a memorial some time back to honor the veterans of the area. My mom purchased bricks in the wall of remembrance for my father (WWII, Pacific War) and brother (Vietnam), and both of my dad’s brothers have bricks in the wall as well (Korea). Somewhat ironically, two other notable local Keener veterans of the American Revolution and Civil War do not. Moreover, I didn’t even know they existed until I started researching and writing my book.

My vierte Urgroßvater (fourth great grandfather), John E. Keener, was the grandson of an early German pioneer who owned land bordering an early grant to John Boyd — another early settler on whose land my hometown was partially built. In his birthday address for Peter Keener (a local Confederate soldier and slave owner) in 1908, Alfred Nixon references the early land grant to John Boyd on “Lockhardt’s creek” for a body of land including in its boundaries “the fork where Keener’s path crosses running up both sides of [Leeper’s] creek, including a deer lick.” John Keener would eventually inherit his grandfather’s plantation and owned slaves. He is buried in what was called the “old Keener burying ground” in the late 1800s, and the site would later become the home of a Union “Do as you please” Church after the Civil War.

Another descendant of John’s grandfather was Alexander L. Keener, a Confederate soldier* who served with the Catawba Braves during the Civil War but was on detached duty as an ambulance driver for most of 1862–64. He was ordered to rejoin his company on October 19, 1864 and was captured by Union forces at or near the Battle of Hatcher’s Run (Virginia) on April 2, 1865. He was confined for several months at Point Lookout prison (Maryland) where the Union rotated Black soldiers from the front to guard prisoners — which sometimes included their former masters. I’m certainly no military expert, but given how Civil War battles were fought, I would have been happy to hang back and drive the ambulance too. :)

YouTube: Discerning History

If there’s any return on investment on my book, I plan to look into adding a brick for Alexander, John, and John’s father (Abraham) who also fought in the American Revolution — for the British! :)

Keener vets.

*Alexander Keener’s name is on the Confederate memorial at the old Courthouse in Newton, now the county’s history museum.

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