August 15, 1896
On the 25th of July there died in Greenville one whose life contained much of the dramatic incident which clustered around the old time institutions of slavery—one who possessed many friends, and whose good deeds may well outweigh the faults that were her’s through the peculiar social conditions in which she lived. Aunt Eliza Keene was born a slave of the well-known Keene family of Louisiana about 70 years ago. The remarkable beauty of the young quadroon attracted the overseer, and her master gave him permission to buy her, on condition that, as far as law and custom would allow, he would make her his wife. He was faithful to his bargain, and after during all his life he lavished upon her every advantage in his power. When Greenville was a tiny village she made it her home, and her death removes one of the best known figures of the life of the city in the early days. No unfortunate, whether from fault or fortune, ever appealed for help to “Aunt Eliza” in vain. No complaint ever came from her because of the imposition on her charity. Her life may not have been a blameless one, but when the ledger is written up, there will be a safe balance to the credit of Aunt Eliza Keene.—Greenville Times.
Capt. W. B. Keene was a resident of our parish, having died many years ago, but his daughter, Mrs. Col. E. W. Constant and his grand-children are still living on part of the large estate. Mr. Keene was no doubt one of the largest land and slave owners in the South, and at the breaking out of the war owned thirteen plantations and it is said nearly fifteen thousand slaves. We have required late the above, and from what we could learn the part that refers to the overseer purchasing the woman is hardly a fact. She was like a great many other who were slaves, taking their master’s name.