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
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
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.
History of Nebraska, Vol. I, 1911