Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jessie Louise Keene of Waldoboro, Maine; photo taken while at college

c1900 photograph of a young woman identified on the reverse as Jessie Louise Keene.  The photograph was found with a collection of photographs of students at the University of Maine, many for the Class of 1904.

In order to make her signature more readable on the reverse, shown below, I tweaked the exposure to make the background lighter.

From online research, hopefully correct: [corrections welcome]

Jessie Louise Keene was born 21 October 1882 at Waldoboro, Maine, the daughter of Capt. Charles Trefethen Keene and Clara Margaret (Kaler) Keene, who were born at Bremen, Maine, and Waldoboro, Maine, respectively.

Jessie's paternal grandparents were Abdon and Eliza (Tolman) Keene.  Her maternal grandparents were Gardner and Lucy (Winchenbach) Kaler.

In addition to having apparently attended the University of Maine at some point, Jessie graduated from Wesleyan University at Middletown, Connecticut, in 1906 with a Ph.B. degree in Philosophy.  

Jessie's sister Faye Mildred Keene also attended Wesleyan University.  She worked in education field as well.

After graduation, Jessie taught school at Danvers, Massachusetts, and then accepted a position at Gorham Normal School at Gorham, Maine, where she became Dean of Women Students.

The 1920 Census of Waldoboro, Maine, found Jessie and Faye at home with their widowed mother Clara Margaret (Kaler) Keene, brother Sherman and maternal aunt Julia.

It's possible that Jessie was at Waldoboro only because the enumeration was taken after Gorham Normal School had closed for the term, as she was associated with the school for many years.

A reader left a comment that the 1927 "Green and White" of Gorham Normal School was dedicated to Jessie Louise Keene and contains a photograph of her.  The dedication and photograph are on page 6, at least of the digitized version, available here.

The 1930 Census of Waldoboro shows a household occupied by Jessie and Aunt Julia only.  Jessie's mother Clara had died in 1922 at Portland, Maine.

Interestingly, two years ago I featured a a program from the 1917 the Oxford County Teachers Convention at Rumford, Maine, at which Jessie L. Keene was a speaker.

Numerous references online indicate that she was an active bird watcher, who photographed birds and gave lectures on them, as well as lectures on education and other subjects.

I don't believe Jessie ever married.   She died in 1970 at Waldoboro, Maine.

If you have corrections to the information above or stories to share about the Keene and Kaler families of Bremen, Maine, and Waldoboro, Maine, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

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  1. hello, their is a large one page photo and dedication for her in the ''green and white 1927 Gorham normal school'' year book.

  2. Thank you very much for this information! I found where the book is available for viewing online and have linked to it, with credit to you.