Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Keesling, Arthur L. mss., 1834-1969, contains correspondence, news clippings, a silk textile souvenir, photographs, postcards, deeds, government documents from the Civil War and related to later pension funds, contracts, and information from the family Bible. The bulk of the collection relates to Carol Gonzalez's step grandfather, (Matthew) Arthur Longfellow (Al) Keesling, and his mother, Elizabeth Emily Patton (Bessie).

Bessie Patton was born on March 11, 1866 to Matthew Lober Patton (11/26/1835-10/20/1908) and Gulielleria (Guliellma, Gulia, Julia) Augusta Rawlings (1/6/1841-8/8/1912). The family moved to Indiana in 1867. Bessie married Levi Lincoln Keesling on March 27, 1898. Their son, Matthew Arthur Longfellow Keesling, was born on March 27, 1899. After Levi Keesling died of tuberculosis on October 17, 1900, Bessie met and married Albert Lawrance Morris, a homesteader with a small ranch in Ricardo, New Mexico, on November 2, 1908. Albert Morris died on December 28, 1928.

Bessie's son, Matthew Arthur, now known as Arthur or Al, eventually left the ranch to find work as a telegraph operator on the railroad; he married and later divorced Perle. Subsequently, Al married Cora Pearl Hiatt (4/10/1889-7/23/1968) also known as Pearl, on March 8, 1928. Al and Pearl moved to El Paso, Texas where he worked with the Southern Pacific Railroad. Bessie lived on the ranch in Ricardo, NM until her death on June 1, 1954. She is buried in Ricardo with her parents; the ranch was sold with the stipulation that the new owners would maintain the graves. Al Keesling died on January 21, 1973.

Acquired: 2010

Collection size: 1,500 items

NOTE: Access to this collection requires advance notice. Please contact the Curator of Manuscripts for additional information.

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.