Please see Cemetery Prowler Sebastian Keese for part one of this story.
Sebastian Conducts Ancestral Research
With several books of his own and one from the library, Sebastian began his ancestral research on the Keser family and found more than he really wanted to. The library book was an extensive history and biographies of early New York prominent families. The Kesers were one of the most prominent and wealthy. Joshua Keser arrived in New York in 1805 with his parents and his bride Elsebeth. They settled in a small house where they remained till Joshua and his father had a much larger home built where they took up residence in 1807. In 1809, Joshua never returned from his law practice office. A search by police and private investigators lasted for almost three years and no evidence was found of Joshua’s whereabouts. No body was found. After seven years Joshua W. Keser was declared dead by court order. The family had a tombstone placed in their plot for Joshua. Elsebeth never re-married and spent her days wandering on the estate and in the cemetery. She died in 1819, from broken heart.
Sebastian did the ancestral research thoroughly. He traced the family line down to his own great grandfather then to Joshua P. Keser and his family, the last ones listed in the family history. So, Joshua was his ancestor. There were several pages of daguerreotypes of the Keser family and more modern photographs of the estate in the library book. Three images of Joshua shook Sebastian to the core, for he thought he was staring at his own image. The wedding image of Joshua and Elsebeth proved to Sebastian that the apparition of the woman he saw last night was indeed Elsebeth Keser. She was wearing the same clothes she appeared in at the graveyard.
Sebastian was near tears when he finished reading the history. He had the strangest feeling, which he just could not grasp. He decided to pay a visit to the Keser estate which was in another county. When he arrived at the mansion he saw it was now The Keser Family Estate and Museum. He was amazed! All his life he lived this close to his ancestors home and never knew it. He paid the admission fee at the front desk and spoke a few minutes with the curator who told him that the house was restored to its original state when the Keser’s lived there. She studied Sebastian closely and asked, “Are you by any chance a descendant of the Keser’s. There is a remarkable family resemblance between you and Joshua Keser. You will see what I mean when you view the family portraits in the Great Hall.” She pointed the way for him, but Sebastian was not quite ready for that. The moment he stepped in the front door he felt a very strong familiarity come over him and he could hardly hold back the tears.
He explored every room and knew what was inside before he opened a door- he knew it was not just from the ancestral research, but an uncanny knowing within him. The emotions that came over him were so overwhelming he could hardly walk and leaned heavily on his cane. The last place he visited was the Great Hall. He stood there gazing at the painting of Joshua then the one of Elsebeth next to it. The love that welled up in his heart for Elsebeth was too much for him and he turned to leave, doubting very much he would be able to drive back home.
The curator came down the hall and told him they would be closing in a few minutes. He asked if he could stroll around the grounds and she told him he was welcome to.
Sebastian was not aware of the time or how long he walked through the gardens. He came to the rose garden and saw several benches, so sat down on one to rest and gain some composure. Not too far away he saw a young lady in a beautiful day gown, white with tiny flowers and trimmed in delicate lace. She held a matching parasol over her raven dark hair, which was pulled up with long ringlets cascading down the back. His heart jumped and he knew he had to go speak to her. When he approached her she looked up. The sadness in her eyes tore through his whole being. When she looked up at his face she rose quickly and hugged him.
“Joshua, my beloved darling. You came home at last. I have waited so very long.” He held her tightly, both of them crying and clinging to each other. “Elsebeth, my dearest, I am so sorry. But I could not come home. My kidnappers buried me in some woods far far away from here. I am home now my dear Elsebeth.”
About an hour later one of the gardeners found the body of a visitor lying by a bench in the rose garden. A doctor and ambulance was called and Sebastian Keese was pronounced dead of a heart attack.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns
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