State of Nebraska - Genealogy Trails





Mary Manuel Lisa 





Wife of Manuel de Lisa, was a daughter of Stephen and Mary Lewis Hempstead, and was born in New London, Connecticut, on October 25, 1782.


She was descended from the vigorous and profoundly religious Puritan and Pilgrim stock.


He father took an active part in the Revolutionary War, serving under command of the brave but ill-fated Nathan Hale.


Born amid the closing scenes of this great struggle, her love of country and patriotic feelings were strong.  She was also reared in a Christian atmosphere and early became an active member of the Congregations Church of her native town. 


On June 2, 1806, she was married to John Keeny, a sea captain, who was a widower with several children.  She devoted herself to the care of these children.


In 1810 Mr. Keeny died, and the following year, in company with her parents, she set out for St. Louis to join four brothers who had made a home in the territory of Missouri. 


About 1816, Mrs. Keeny, with seven others, mostly members of her father’s family organized the first Presbyterian Church of St. Louis.


This was the first Protestant Church in St. Louis, and with but one exception the first west of the Mississippi River.  To the church she devoted many years of her life, being one of its most efficient and active members.


On August 5, 1818, Mrs. Keeny was married to Manuel Lisa, renowned as an Indian fur trader.


In 1819 Mrs. Lisa accompanied her husband to his trading post at Council Bluff, on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River, a few miles north of the present site of Omaha.  Here she spent the winter of 1819-20.  She is believed to have been the first woman to reside in Nebraska or to ascend the Missouri River.


Mrs. Lisa’s second husband died in August 1820; and her only son died at the age of twenty-two years.


While she lived in St. Louis, among her wide circle of friends and acquaintances, she was known as “Aunt Manuel,” and in houses of suffering and mourning few were as frequently found.


In 1851 she removed to Galena, Illinois, to take charge of her brother’s household, and there also se was distinguished for philanthropy.


She died September 3, 1869, in Galena, at the age of eighty-seven years. 


Mrs. Nicholas Stahl, a niece of “Aunt Manuel,” now resides in Galena, Illinois; Thomas H. Beebe, a brother of Mrs. Stahl, lives in Evanston, Illinois, while Mrs. Marcia Hempstead Corwith, whose father was a nephew of  Mrs. Lisa, lives in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago.


 Illustrated History of Nebraska, Vol. I, 1911