Jacob Carter Keithley
b. 4 March 1831, d. 24 July 1934
- Father: Levi Keithley b. 15 May 1794, d. 28 October 1875
- Mother: Fannie White b. 23 January 1796, d. 12 October 1835
- Jacob Carter Keithley was born on 4 March 1831 in Ralls County, Missouri.
- Levi Keithley and Drucilla America Thompson appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1850 in Ralls County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Jacob Carter Keithley, Zerelda Keithley, John William Keithly, Joseph Bell Keithley, Frances Ann Keithley and Levi T. Keithley.
- He married Jane Neave Vawter, daughter of William Vawter and Sarah Neave, on 27 October 1857 in Monroe County, Missouri.
- Jacob Carter Keithley and Jane Neave Vawter appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1860 in Grand Pass, Saline County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Irving W. Keithley.
- Jacob Carter Keithley and Jane Neave Vawter appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1870 in Elmwood Township, Saline County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Irving W. Keithley, Herbert R. Keithley, Flora Neave Keithley, Ella R. Keithley and George Eugene Keithley. Also in the household were two young farmers, James Barr and Franklin Gish.
- He was a farmer, according to the 1870 census.
- Jacob Carter Keithley and Jane Neave Vawter appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1880 in Salt Springs, Saline County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Irving W. Keithley, Herbert R. Keithley, Flora Neave Keithley, Ella R. Keithley, George Eugene Keithley and Roland Hill Keithley.
- He was a farmer, according to the 1880 census.
- Jacob Carter Keithley and Jane Neave Vawter appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1900 in Elmwood Township, Saline County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Flora Neave Keithley, George Eugene Keithley and Roland Hill Keithley. Also boarding in the household was one young male farm laborer.
- He was a farmer, according to the 1900 census.
- Jacob Carter Keithley and Jane Neave Vawter appeared in the US federal census of 15 April 1910 in Elmwood Township, Saline County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Irving W. Keithley and Carl Percival Buchanan. Grandson Percy Buchanan also was enumerated with his mother in San Antonio.
- He was a farmer, according to the 1910 census.
- Jacob Carter Keithley and Jane Neave Vawter appeared in the US federal census of 1 January 1920 in Elmwood, Saline County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Irving W. Keithley and Flora Neave Keithley.
- He was a farmer, according to the 1920 census.
- Jacob Carter Keithley became a widower at the 16 September 1922 death of his wife Jane Neave Vawter.
- In 1923, Jacob Carter Keithley completed his Autobiography of Jacob Carter Keithley, and some history of the Keithley family (see transcription at the bottom of this page).
- Jacob Carter Keithley appeared in the US federal census of 1 April 1930 in Elmwood Township, Saline County, Missouri. Other members of the household included Irving W. Keithley and Flora Neave Keithley.
- Jacob Carter Keithley died on 24 July 1934 at age 103 in Ralls County, Missouri.
- He was buried at Ridge Park Cemetery in Marshall, Saline County, Missouri.
In 1923, Jacob Carter Keithley completed his Autobiography of Jacob Carter Keithley, and some history of the Keithley family. Because the volume is not readily accessible in print, a complete, searchable transcription of the text is presented here, precisely as typeset in the published version, with links to the pages of family members mentioned.
The following pages are written by a father for his children and posterity in order that they may form some idea of the trials and tribulations they are liable to meet with in the world when they are thrown on their own resources at the age of eighteen or twenty,—and especially for those who may think that this world owes them a living because they were brought into it without any choice on their own part. They will find that there is something for them to do; and whatever it is, they must do it with their might. For “the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” (Prov. 10:4) And now, while on the journey to the next world, is the time to work. Therefore it is important to understand that God made the world for a wise purpose and put man here to do his will for his own glory; and that he will call him to account for his words and actions at the end of his life. Therefore he should ask God to keep him in the straight and narrow way that leads to life eternal, where there are pleasures forever more.
- CHAPTER I
I was born March 4, 1831, in Ralls County, Missouri. My father was from Kentucky, coming to Missouri in 1817. He was of German descent. My mother, also from Kentucky in 1817, was of English descent. They were early pioneers of St. Charles County, Missouri, where nine of the Keithley brothers settled while the Indians were still there. From St. Charles County my father moved to Elk Lick in Pike County in 1818; and thence to Salt River in Ralls County in 1827. There the writer of this autobiography was born in a neighborhood settled by pioneers from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virgiia, many of whom had slaves. This was fifty-five years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, fifty years after the close of the Revolutionary War, seventeen years after the close of the second war with Great Britain, and ten years after Missouri was admitted as a State into the Union. The population of the United States was then 12,866,020. General Jackson was President. He had great natural powers of mind; but was uneducated and had violent passions, though honest and sincere. There were giants in mind in the United States in those days: Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun, statesmen; William Cullen Bryant, Washington Irving, Henry W. Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorn, James Fenimore Cooper, and Edgar Allen Poe, historians and poets; and many more great Americans.
The year 1831 witnessed the operation of the first successful grain-cutting machine. It was invented by Cyrus Hall McCormick, then only twenty-two years of age, and was first employed in the late harvest of that year. William H. Seward has said of McCormick’s invention, that owing to it ‘the line of civilization moves westward thirty miles each year.” Numerous prizes and medals were awarded for his reaper, and he was elected a corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences, “as having done more for the cause of agriculture than any other living man.”
A historian says that in 1881 a wonderful prosperity took possession of the American people, due to the introduction of the locomotive, a machine which changed the whole life of the people at a single step. Poor roads had compelled them to move slowly; but no, with the coming of the railroads, they could move quickly. Before 1835 there were nineteen railroads built, their length being twice that of Great Britain. The steamboat had been invented by Robert Fulton in 1807, and by 1831 was on all important rivers. My first sight of one was on the Mississippi River at Hannibal about the year 1837. Its name was Dr. Franklin. This town was seventeen miles north of our home and was our nearest market. Salt River was to cross and was often past fording. But it is now spanned by a splendid bridge at the Asher Ford. A bridge is also across it at the Norton Ford.
The pioneers had but few roads, and often traveled without any; and children would sometimes get bewildered and lost in the woods. Hunters would often follow their game until night came on, and they would have to camp for the night.
My school days had now come; and my first teacher was Captain Barker, who taught me the multiplication table. The second was Butler Brown; the third Mr. Kelso, the fourth Nimrod Waters; the fifth Louis Coontz; the sixth Lloyd Redman, who taught one week when the school house burned down. I was then nineteen years old; and after working on the farm all summer, I concluded to go to Levi Turner’s in Calhoun County, Ill., to spend the winter. He had married my oldest sister, Nancy, and they had raised four children: George, Margaret, Levi, and Edwin. So I boarded a steamboat at Hannibal in the evening and at midnight was at Turner’s landing. During the sixty miles down the River, the boat stopped for wood. The deck hands were all negroes, about twelve in number. As they went to work to load the wood, the foreman took up his song, and all followed until the boat was loaded and went on her course. Where I was put off was a cabin occupied by two men. I slept there till morning; and then was directed to the Turner residence two miles up the river, where I was received by my relatives and given breakfast, after which the boys showed me over the bottom which was covered with heavy timber of various kinds.
Calhoun County is long and narrow, lying between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and coming to a point near Alton. Levi Turner moved there from Missouri about 1834, bought land from the Government, kept a woodyard, sold cord wood, and got wealthy. He owned a large tract of land in the bottom and all of an island in the Mississippi River. He hired many wood choppers who lived in shanties and chopped and corded through the winter. This wood he sold to steamboats for many years. The bottom was thinly settled though the land was very rich; for some seasons it was overflowed by the river, driving the inhabitants to the hills two or three miles from their homes for several weeks, and scattering the cord wood over the bottom.
After looking the situation over, I concluded to stay and help haul cord wood with George, the oldest son, who was about my size. Levi had two yoke of oxen and two wagons. So we took them and went to hauling wood and cording it on the bank of the river in long ricks convenient for the steamboats. And it kept us busy to keep them supplied. During the winter we kept fifteen or twenty men chopping cord wood and saw longs. The logs would be put into rafts and floated down the river to St. Louise and sold to be sawed into lumber. He owned a flatboat seventy-five feet long, twenty feet wide, and four feet deep, which was used to carry wood, barrel staves and headings to St. Louis, there to be sold to coopers to make into barrels. That fall the boat was loaded, and six men put on board to row and steer it down the river to St. Louis. A cabin with a cook stove and beds was at one end of the boat, and there was a man to do the cooking. It was sixty-five miles to the city, and it took two days to get there. We tied the boat to the shore at night, and started early next morning. We soon passed Alton, and met steamers whose waves rocked our boat fearfully. But we held our course, and soon hove in sight of the city, where we arrived after dark. We fastened our boat to the shore and waited for the morning. We could see the lights of the city and could hear the fire bells ringing; but we did not dare to leave our boat. Next morning we ate an early breakfast and then wended our way to the city to see the sights we had long wished to see.
St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede in 1764, and at the time of our visit in 1849 was eighty-five years old, and was the largest city in the State. It was quite a sight to a boy who had never before been away from home. We spent two days seeing the city while Levi was selling the contents of his boat. And as he was not yet through, we boarded a steamboat at dark and at midnight were back at Turner’s landing. Four days afterwards we were warned by a steamboat whistle that the flatboat was coming,—it being towed by the steamer. So five men took the skiff and brought it ashore. It was now ready for another trip. After a few days George and I dropt it down to the woodyard and loaded it ready for a steamer. That night we went to bed, and at daylight a steamer whistled, and by the time we were ready, it had drawn up to the landing, and then took us in tow and went on upstream, and soon we were unloaded and our boat was let loose and we drifted back down to the woodyard. Steamboats were plentiful in those days on the Mississippi. The river was very beautiful and its water was very clear. It was a mile in width. Two Packets, the Lucy Bertram and the Kate Carney, passed every day, loaded with passengers and also with mail. The Mississippi in connection with the Missouri is the longest river in the world. And steamboats had fine cabins and luxurious tables and were patronized by wealthy people, and their owners got rich. There were no railroads to compete with them, and it was very seldom that one of them was sunk. Pilots commanded high wages. The celebrated Mark Twain was a pilot on this river, and made his home at Hannibal, where a monument is built to his memory. He was born at Florida, Monroe County, Missouri, where the cabin in which he was born is still pointed out; and is kept as a memento of his achievements as one of the greatest writers of the age. And his name has been chosen to be placed in the Hall of Fame in New York City.
The Mississippi sometimes overflows and spreads over the bottom. At such times the inhabitants would take their families and stock to the hills three or four miles away, and camp for several weeks. If it came in June, it would destroy the crops, and gardens, and wash away the cord wood or scatter it, and make the bottom unhealthy for a time.
In the fall of 1849 we took a trip to St. Charles County, Missouri. George, Martha, and I got in the skiff and paddled down the river about twenty miles till we got opposite St. Charles County. We tied the boat to the bank near a big warehouse, and walked four miles to Uncle Absolom Keithley’s, where we spent the night. The next day we visited his cooper shop and saw five of his boys making barrels, and some others farming. Mack, Hiram, and Carter I had seen before. The name of the others were John, Jacob, Abram, Wiltshire, Franklin, Harrison, Henry, William, Mary, and Jane. The second night we staid at Uncle Samuel Keithley’s and saw a number of his children. Uncle Samuel was then sixty years old. He emigrated from Warren County, Kentucky, to St. Charles County, Missouri, in 1812; and was a soldier in the War of 1812 with Great Britain. He lived like a Patriarch surrounded by his children, and had a large number of slaves. He had the largest and one of the best farms in St. Charles County. He seemed to be highly respected and revered by all. He was unassuming and genial in his ways and conversation. He was a strict Methodist and fond of going to camp meeting and was liberal in its support.
Besides these two uncles, there were two others in the neighborhood, Uncle William and Uncle Daniel Keithley; but we did not have time to go to see them. The third day we started home. We found our skiff where we had left it, and started up the river against the current. This required more work and skill than coming down with the current; but we made the trip in time, and learned to be experts in rowing. We were now read to take up our wood hauling, which we followed all winter.
Capogray was a town five miles down the river on the Missouri side where we often got our supplies. Also on the Missouri side six or eight miles up the river was a grist mill where we went to get corn ground. We rigged the boat with a sail and went upstream before the wind, and then came back with ease with the current. Gilead was a small town up the river on the Illinois side where we got the mail and supplies. A few miles opposite, on the Illinois River was the town of Harding, where I went to get young apple trees for an orchard. Here I stayed all night and took a wagon load home the next day, and set them out in a young orchard.
In the spring of 1850 I was sent in Levi’s place a few miles away to help raise a log school house. When I arrived at the place and made it known that I was sent to help raise the building, they told me that they lacked a man to take up a corner. I told them I would try. So I got on the corner with an ax and cut saddles and notches and fitted them together until the house was raised and completed to the roof to their satisfaction. I do not know whether this school house was ever completed, or whether any school was ever taught in it, for I soon left Illinois for Missouri. The winter was now over, and the wood-choppers had measured their cord-wood and received their money, and were on their way home. But a great deal of the wood was yet to be hauled to the landing. So we continued our work for several weeks delivering wood and hauling saw-logs to the river to be rafted to St. Louis. When this was done we plowed some new ground, and planted some corn, and worked in the garden until the latter part of June.
When I told Levi that I wanted to go home to attend school, he said that if I would stay he would give me a job that would not be hard work and would be more remunerative. But I told him that I was determined to get an education. He said that was right; so he concluded to send George and me to go to school. So we boarded a boat for Hannibal and arrived there the next day. After eating breakfast we started on a walk of seventeen miles, crossed Salt River at the Asher ford, and were soon welcomed home after an absence of nine months. I brought home fifty dollars I had saved from my wages. This I determined to use in going to school. Mrs. Elliott was teaching at the school house, and I went to her for three months and completed Kirkcum’s Grammar and Pike’s Arithmetic. Then I started to High School at West Ely to Daniel Emerson. I attended this school for five months, completed algebra and grammar, commenced geometry and some other studies, and practiced declamation, writing and rhetoric till the first of March, 1851, when I arranged to teach school in Shelby County, Missouri.
West Ely was a small town of pioneers from New England. I boarded at Uncle Bill Lear’s,—who had married my mother’s sister. There was a Presbyterian church in the town, with Rev. Mr. Dickson as pastor. He had a large congregation. Daniel Emerson, the teacher, was from New England, and was a cousin to Ralph Waldo Emerson. The school consisted of seventeen male and eight female pupils. It was opened with reading of the scriptures and prayer. We had declamations once a week and debates on Saturday nights. At the end of five months I was qualified to teach school, and was employed in the western part of Shelby County,—near Jack Hagar’s, who had married my third sister. They had six children. After a trip of sixty miles in the mail hack through a sparsely settled country, we arrived at Hagar’s Grove post office. Jack Hagar had settled one mile from the North Fork of Salt River. This river has its source in Schuyler County, near the Iowa line, and runs through Adair, Macon, and Monroe counties, and partly through Shelby County, and finally connects with other forks near the town of Florida in the edge of Monroe County. There it forms a large stream and continues on through Ralls County, draining a large scope of Missouri territory and after many miles of meandering, empties into the Mississippi near Louisiana in Pike County. Disappointed candidates, after an election, are rowed up Salt River, by a myth, until they recover a normal mood from their adversity. From the earliest pioneer times this myth has stuck to Salt River.
Hagar’s Grove was on the outskirts of a large grove of oak timber, and was a stopping place for travelers where they got lodging. This was a beautiful landscape. It was settled by pioneers from Kentucky, Virginia, and the Emerald Isle. A few days after my arrival, I met the directors and a teacher who was to examine me as to my qualifications to teach school. After the examination, he pronounced me qualified. I commenced in a round-log school house with fifteen or twenty pupils for an eight months school,—which ended December 20th, and gave satisfaction. During the summer and fall we had preaching at different times, once in the school house. The Methodists held a big camp meeting, and it was well attended for three or four weeks. They built camps and held services day and night. Thus religion kept pace with civilization in pioneer days.
Hagar’s Grove is nine miles west of Shelbyville. At this latter town I once met Captain Barker, my first teacher; he was now quite old. He was delighted to know that I was teaching school. After receiving his congratulations, I parted from him and never saw him again. Besides Jack Hagar there were some other pioneers who came west from Ralls County: Wm. Hawkins, Wm. Huston, John and Mike Hornback. Jack had a splendid prairie farm, and also plenty of timber land. He kept the post office for many years after the civil war, but finally sold it and moved to Monroe County, Missouri, where he died about the year 1885, ata seventy-five years of age.
My school closed December 20th, and I started for home on foot, the ground being covered with snow. The distance was seventy-five miles, which I made in three days and ate my Christmas dinner at home; after which I got ready to start to the High School at Big Creek. This was the first High School in Ralls County, and was started by the Presbyterians. The Rev. J. P. Finley was the principal. The building was not completed, and the school was taught in the Big Creek church till the following spring. The Presbyterians had a flourishing church and Mr. Cochran was the pastor. He was a good man, an able preacher, and beloved by his people. “His delight was in the law of the Lord, and in his law did ne meditate day and night.” He was a farmer as well as a preacher. He owned a large prairie farm with a large residence, and was the principal man in establishing the High School at Big Creek. He reared a family of three sons and four daughters, and was gathered to his fathers in a good old age.
The Academy building was finished by the first of March and the school moved in; the females being put in the second story. The Academy was called Vanrensalaer, after a rich descendant of Holland living in New York. Miss Penny took charge of the female department. Both departments were well attended, and the school was a great success. I secured board at John P. B. Forman’s; and his wife was an excellent woman. They had no children. They treated me kindly. Neel Moss from Hannibal was my chum. We boarded there two years without a single misunderstanding. And I will never forget their kindness to me. My studies were Latin, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, surveying, navigation, grammar, rhetoric, reading, declamation, natural philosopyy, the Bible, and the Westminster Catechism. I walked one and a half miles to school and returned by dinner and studied till ten p. m. Thus passed the first five months, and our examinations and declamations were the first of June. We were honorably dismissed; and on our way home, Mr. Finley asked me if I would return in the fall. I told him my funds were getting low, and I must do something for myself. He said I ought to return and finish my course. Mr. Forman said if I would return he would board me, and I could pay him when it suited me after I got through. So I took him at his word, and told Mr. Finley I would come back and finish my course. And I never have regretted the conclusion I then made. My father had given me a horse, which I sold for eighty dollars. This, added to the wages I had saved while teaching in Shelby County, kept me going through the High School and paid for the books I was obliged to buy while going through High School in 1852 and 1858.
Vacation extended through July and August, which I spent at Mr. Forman’s harvesting, stacking, and threshing wheat. When that was done, I joined a staff of surveyors who were laying out a State road from Hannibal through Ralls County by way of Judge Forman’s to the Monroe County line, westward thirty miles. It was to be a plank road. A saw-mill was hired to saw oak trees into plank, fourteen feet long, twelve inches wide, and two inches thick. These planks were laid on a smooth bed of earth, well rolled and tamped, for a foundation to lay the planks on, so they would not rock. This made a road nice to look at; but when it rained, the horses would slip; and it had to be changed into a gravel road. The pioneers had their troubles in making roads.
The young people had good times going to picnics and protracted meetings. The Methodists had theirs in a large grove at Hidesburg. The Presbyterians in the Big Creek church, conducted by Messrs Cochran and Robinson, from Fulton, Missouri, in October, 1852. This meeting was well attended and resulted in a large addition to the church. The writer was one of the new number, and has never regretted the step taken.
The first of September, 1852, both departments of the Academy opened with a good attendance. A number from a distance boarded in the neighborhood, and the friends of the school were encouraged at the prospect of the success of the first high school in the county. The students were so well pleased with Mr. Finley that they presented him a silk hat which he always wore to his preaching appointments at Hannibal. While both schools were quietly pursuing their studies, spirit rappings appeared in the neighborhood and found their way into the school, and produced such disturbande that one of the girl students’ mind became unbalanced, and she had to be sent home. Mr. Finley called the students together, and after a good lecture, told them to keep away from the seances that were a delusion, and that it was wrong to practice such things. At Christmas time we had a week’s vacation.
We held our debates every Saturday evening. They gave us an opportunity to develop our speaking faculties. Mr. Finley visited our society to hear the debates. He said that after the examination at the close of the school there would be an exhibition by the students at night. He appointed a certain number for orations, and told them to select their own subjects. But he wanted to debate also, and appointed Frank Hagan and the writer to debate the following question: “Is the Secular Press Productive of More Evil Than Good?” The writer was put on the affirmative and Hagan on the negative. He gave us several months to prepare our speeches; and called for our pieces frequently to criticise them; and when they were ready, he would hear us separately speak our pieces and criticise our efforts in manner and pronunciation. It was a big task and we devoted much time to it before the time for delivery. I was much encouraged when he told me that I had shown up the evils of the secular press in good style. The church was crowded, and our speeches were well received by the audience, and we were delighted. It was now July and our ten months school closed.
Thus my sixteen months at Vanrensalaer had passed with pleasure and profit. Mr. Finley gave me a good recommendation as qualified to teach school. Father was at the examination, and took dinner at Mr. Forman’s and was so well pleased with my success that he gave me fifty dollars to help pay for my board. So Mr. Forman did not have to wait for me to make the money. Mr. Forman and wife did what they could for my comfort and advancement while I was with them. So I acknowledged their kindness and bade them farewell, as I took my place in the ranks of men for the battle of life,—without any fortune but my education and a determination to succeed.
- CHAPTER II
After a short resting spell at home, I buckled on my armor and started westward, not knowing where I should land. But my pastor had told me to take the Bible for my guide through life; and Jesus had told me to “take his yoke upon me and learn of him; for (said He) I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Thus fortified, I started for Monroe County, forty miles away. Arriving there, I stopped at Mr. James Berry’s with whom I was acquainted. Mr. Berry took me to see Col. William Vawter, to whom I showed my recommendation. He told me that I was the kind of a teacher they wanted. He called the directors together, and they employed me to take their school the first of September. I returned home, and Father concluded to send brother Levi, who was twelve years old, to attend my school. I secured boarding for us at Major John Wright’s where we arrived by the first of September, and the school opened with a good attendance. But during the fall Levi took the chills and had to return home.
My school was in a hewed log house, with benches for seats, a long window in one side and a wide plank for the children to write on. It was considered a good school house for pioneer days, and was crowded with forty pupils of various sizes, including a few young men, who came two or three miles on horseback. They kept me busy from 8 a. m. to 5 p. m. The reputation of the school increased, so that some applicants had to be denied admittance; and my wages were soon increased from $25.00 to $30.00 per month. This looks very small now; but these were pioneer days, and money was scarce. Board was $1.50 per week. The school was well organized, and the advanced scholars strove with each other for the head of the class in the dictionary. Reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography and history were taught. A few were in algebra and geometry. There was always a better attendance in winter than in summer. Large boys and girls had to work on the farms in summer to support their families. The pioneers of western Monroe County were from Kentucky, and many of them owned slaves, who took the place of boys on the farm to their detriment; because they were often brought up in idleness, and when thrown on their own resources knew not how to work, and failed to progress on the farm when the slaves were set free. So slavery was a great detriment to the country in many ways.
There was a Presbyterian church one mile from the school house, built principally by James Berry, whose parents emigrated from Ireland at an early day. It was supplied by Mr. Cochran, Mr. Vanemmons, and Mr. Finley for several years. A Baptist preacher, Mr. Inlow, preached frequently. There was a Christian church at Middle Grove, with a large congregation. Middle Grove was a small country town with three stores and several hundered population. Here the Good Templars organized a temperance society led by John Conyers, a merchant, and a good leader. He built up a strong society which kept the men from the saloons and made them good citizens. It was made up of an equal number of men and women; and the society voted to have an open session and invite the citizens to attend. Brack Pollard and the writer were appointed to deliver temperance addresses. The church was filled, and the writer’s address came first; afterwards Pollard aroused the natives by a vociferous speech offhand. Both were well received. But the first, being written, was solicited by a committee of ladies to be published in the Paris Weekly Journal. This was considered a compliment to the writer. These Good Templars of this early day were endeavoring to snatch from the drunkard’s grave the youth of the country who were visiting saloons to their own destruction and the sorrow of many parents. They were thus casting their bread upon the waters, that after many days they might find it. (Eccl. 11:1). This society of Good Templars was never disgraced by having any of its members violating their pledge. All stood for the good of the order, and never countenanced saloons.
The first ten months of school in Monroe County were closed by an examination, and declamations of the pupils, at which the parents and friends were present. Mr. John Henderson, of Middle Grove, gave an address. He extolled the examination of the pupils and the mode of instruction, and congratulated the patrons on the progress of the children. Then Mr. John Conyers, of Middle Grove, gave his entire approval of the management of the school; all of which made a favorable impression. The audience was then dismissed. The directors at once engaged the teacher for another ten months school, to commence September 1, 1854. This school year passed without a jar to the teacher or pupils, as all had progressed with entire satisfaction. My boarding place was an ideal one; for Mr. and Mrs. Wright took a great deal of pains to make their home a pleasant place for me and always took me to church in their spring wagon, either to the Christian or the Presbyterian church.
It was now my vacation time. And as it was near the time for the closing exercises of school at Vanrensalaer Academy, I hurried to be there to hear the boys declamations. It was night when I entered the church. John Will Hagar took the stage and delivered a nice speech and was cheered. He was a schoolmate of mine in the district schools; and Mr. Finley said privately that he was one of the best students he ever taught. He was now through with school, and would cast his lot with the ranks of men ready for life’s journey. He was the favorite with his father and mother, who had brought up six children. He visited his cousin, Robert Kelly, who persuaded him to go with him to old Mexico to survey lands for the Mexican government. In a short time I was shocked to hear that both of them were killed by Mexicans. Their bodies were never returned to Missouri. Thus it is that many parents lavish their means on promising youths who never repay them for their trouble; nor are they a blessing to mankind and their country.
I was now in the neighborhood where I had been brought up; where I had gone to mill when a small boy, just large enough to ride on a sack of corn or wheat and take it to the old steam mill four miles from home to have it ground. I would go by Tribue’s Sulphur Spring, where salt was made by the pioneers, but now changed into a great watering place. On Sunday evenings the people would gather at the old steam mill to hear Mr. Cochran preach. This was a settlement of pioneers from Kentucky, and many of them owned slaves and were good farmers; but very few of them were able to send their sons to High School or college. Judge William Forman’s oldest son, Aaron, was sent to college and the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, and became a Presbyterian preacher. This was very unusual for Missouri. I heard him preach his first sermon after his return home. He was a good preacher, and labored in Ralls and Monroe counties, and afterwards in St. Joseph for several years, and finally went South where he died. He was married twice, but left no descendants. His brother John was also a preacher. He died young; but left two sons who became preachers in the Presbyterian church. In 1903, I met them at the Alumni banquet in Fulton at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Westminster College. I also met Thomas Marsh, my fellow speaker, who represented the Philologic Society at the commencement in 1858. He knew me at sight. He was now an old man, a Doctor of Physics. Dr. Laws also knew me, though I had not seen him for forty-six years. He was President of the College up to the civil war, when he espoused and defended the Southern cause, and was banished to England till the end of the war. At the close of the war he returned, and was elected President of the Missouri State University, and retained the position for a number of years. He married while President of Westminster, but left no descendants. I will leave it to an abler pen to pronounce an eulogy on the Doctor’s character and career.
July, 1854. This vacation was very acceptable after ten months’ confinement in the school room. I spent it in Ralls and Monroe counties: went to see former schoolmates, and relatives on my mother’s side. Her name was Fanny White, daughter of Carter White, who lives near Bowling Green, Kentucky, and owned many slaves. She married Levi Keithley in 1815, and came with him to Missouri in 1817. After nine children were born, she died in Ralls County in 1835. She had two sisters, Nancy and Jane, who married William and James Lear, who were pioneers in Missouri; and also one brother, John, who lived in Kentucky. He visited Father’s once. William Lear lived in Marion County, Missouri, near West Ely. James lived in Knox County, Missouri, near Edina, and raised three daughters. William Lear raised nine sons and four daughters. These were all pioneers of Missouri, and owned slaves, as others who emigrated from Kentucky and Virginia.
St. Charles, Lincoln, Pike, Ralls, Marion, Lewis, and Clark counties are bounded on the east by the Mississippi River, and were settled first. As the population increased, it spread to inland counties until all the best government lands were settled. Sometimes pioneers would sell to newcomers and go further west to get cheaper lands. Monroe, Shelby, Knox and other inland counties were settled by those who came afterwards. The pioneers usually took timbered lands, to enable them to build their cabins. Prairies were considered of less value, but easier put in cultivation. A heavy sod was formed by the prairie grass, which had to be broken with heavy plows and three or four yokes of oxen, which required no feed but the grass while they did the breaking. The first consideration was water; then good soil and timber. There were some fine walnut trees on Father’s land, ranging from three to five feet across at the butt.
Ralls County was well watered by Salt River and its branches, and had plenty of timber and some fine prairies. The pioneers soon settled the county, and made New London the county seat. Here they held their courts; and citizens were required to meet once a year to muster and hold themselves ready for duty as soldiers to defend their country from enemies or Indians who were disposed to encroach upon the white settlements. Col. Martin was one fo the officers and after the Mexican War in 1848, Col. John Ralls was ready for duty. During this vacation, I made a trip to cousin Billy Gilbert’s on the Mississippi River and while there his son and I took a man and horse across the river in a flatboat. I also went to see Aunt Lizzy Rolland in the eastern part of Ralls. She was blind; and father and his brothers gave her ten dollars each year; for Uncle Casper had a wooden leg and could not work.
- CHAPTER III
My vacation was soon over, and I resumed my work in Monroe County, where I found my scholars ready for instruction, September 1, 1854. My second year promised success, for the school house was full of children anxious to learn. They commenced where
they left off; and as their minds developed they took in new studies and made greater progress than they did the first year. Two of them achieved considerable renown in subsequent years. They soon advanced to the Vanrensalaer Academy; and their course being completed there, they entered Westminster College at Fulton, Missouri, where they graduated with honor in due course of time. Their names were Charles C., and William Hersman, who were regular attendants and good students. After their graduation at Westminster College, they went to the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, where they were made Presbyterian preachers of good ability. Charles C. Hersman was elected professor of Greek in Westminister College, and afterwards President of the College. He became a Doctor of Divinity, and was called to a professorship in the Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia. William married, and emigrated to California. Charles and James Allen were fair students. Charles married Maj. John Wright’s only daughter; and James married Miss Sue Raglin, and at middle age was elected Judge of the County Court of Monroe County.
The fall of 1854 passed quietly all the students progressing with satisfaction. Winter came with its storms; and at Christmas they wanted to be treated with candy. I sent William Bassett to Middle Grove for $2.50 worth. He returned with a big bundle that was divided into as many small bundles as there were pupils, and there was joy in the little log school house, and they went home satisfied and told their parents they had a mighty good teacher. Christmas went by with a blizzard; and roads and woods were filled with snow, and it was hard work to keep the fire going. In play time they played ball, and the girls jumped the rope; and all went merrily on until the spring of 1855 made its appearance, and the birds with their songs enlivened the scene, and the best spellers vied with each other for the head of the class in the Dictionary; also at the spelling matches on Friday evenings, and the speeches afterwards.
The first of May, 1855, the Vawter boys were elated at the return of their sister Jane from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she had been at her Uncle Charles Neave’s for several years going to school. She was now about grown. So they gave me a pressing invitation to go home with them to stay all night. I excused myself, saying I would do so after a few days. Saturday, Mrs. Wright said she was going to see Miss Jane Vawter and she asked me to go along. We rode horseback; and after an introduction, I went on the the post office at Middle Grove and returned for dinner. After that I went several times with the boys. As the school would close the last of June, we commenced preparing for the examination and exhibition. And on the last day the patrons and friends were there, and it was a great success, and every one was well pleased. The writer was asked by the directors to continue for another year. But I told them that I had made up my mind to go to college and get better prepared for teaching. It was two months before college would open, and I concluded to go to Fulton to vacation by way of Columbia, in order to be at the commencement of the State University and hear the orations of the graduates. I went to Mr. James Arnold’s who was a brother of Mrs. Wright’s living near Columbia, I arrived there on Saturday and staid till Monday morning. Monday I went to the city and saw the college building which was afterwards burned down. There were many students at the door waiting for it to open. In the jam the crystal of my watch was broken. The orations of the graduating class were very commonplace. One called Professor Head, after of vociferous speech, was showered with dog fennel by the girls. He became a lawyer and married Miss Amanda Snell of Monroe County, a friend of mine. When the class orations were ended, the graduates were addressed by Dr. McDowell of St. Louis. After all was over, I thought Westminster would suit me better. The next day I continued my journey to Fulton. The commencement was over when I arrived. I went to Prof. Van Doran’s residence and got the information I wanted, and afterwards called on Miss Penny, who was a former teacher at Vanrensalaer Academy. She invited me to call the next morning, which was Sunday, and she would go with me to the Deaf and Dumb Asylum to hear the mutes recite. When we arrived, they were in line before their teacher, who was instructing them with his hands, fingers and lips, and they answered in the same way until they were thorough and seemed to understand their lessons.
I staid in Fulton three days. It was a small town of dilapidated houses, and not at all prepossessing; but I concluded to return in September, and take a two years’ course in college, as I had saved money enough for the purpose by teaching. Callaway County, where it borders on the Missouri River, is rough, though further back there are some prairies. I started on a dim road north towards Paris, fifty miles away, by way of Mexico, Adrain County. This town was just commencing building on a large prairie, and looked very lonely as houses and farms were scarce and far apart. As far as the eye could see, it was a flat prairie covered with tall grass, just as when the buffaloes had retreated from it to the far West when white men took possession. After leaving Mexico, I pursued a northerly course, crossed the South Fork of Salt River, and followed the dim road to Paris, and had a lonesome and dreary journey all the way. It was my lot to travel it many times afterwards.
The Good Templars of Monroe County held a celebration at Paris in July, 1855, and all the county was invited. We had our regalia, marched through the streets, and a big dinner was served which lasted till two o’clock, when the men gallanted the ladies home; and it was my first opportunity to go with Jane to her stopping place, for her father to take her home, twelve miles from Paris. And as she accepted my company with pleasure, I repeated my visits more frequently. So we spent many evenings together during my vacation. We took one trip to her Uncle John Poage’s and wife, who were my schoolmates in West Ely High School in 1850 and 1851. Other places were visited very pleasantly during my vacation in Monroe County in 1855. To make a long story short: We agreed to be married,—with the stipulation, that he was to wait two years while I was going to college to get more thoroly prepared for teaching. So the bargain was concluded. And the first of September, 1855, I was at Westminster. I obtained board with Hon. P. B. Reed and wife, one half mile in the country, together with five other students. This was a most excellent place, as three of the other students were preparing for the ministry; and each in turn was called upon to lead in family prayers every evening, and to attend chapel service every morning. And on Sunday mornings we had a Bible lesson with Professor Fisher, and he was an excellent teacher.
Dr. Laws had charge of Juniors and Seniors, in which classes I was placed, except as to Latin and Greek. The latter I had just commenced, as I was taking an irregular course. Professor Van Doren was my teacher in mathematics. A two-year course was before me and I wanted to make the most of it, as I was on my own hook and my time was limited. I joined the Philologic Debating Society, and was appointed one of the speakers to represent the society at the commencement in June, 1856. My subject was “Female Education”; and my effort was a success, and I was congratulated on it by the President of the Society. The other speakers were Denton Stonebraker and Thomas Marsh. The latter became a doctor of medicine, and after a lapse of forty-seven years, recognized me in 1808, at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of the College.
It was now the vacation of 1856, and I started for Paris, and spent the most of it in Monroe and Ralls counties, at my home, and in visiting Mr. John P. B. Forman and wife, where I boarded for two years while going to Vanrensalaer. My vacation ended, I started back to Fulton and on my way stopped in Mexico, where I saw my chum, Henry Corbet, building a cistern. He was a very small man, and was studying for the ministry, supporting himself while he did so. He boarded at Mr. Reed’s, got through college, also the Theological Seminary, and one of his first sermons was preached at Fulton, and it was said that it brought tears from Dr. Laws. His station was in Nebraska, and he soon died. Denton Stonebraker, a fellow boarder, studying for the ministry, and my fellow speaker representing the Philologic Society at the commencement in 1856, graduated with honor, studied for the ministry, but died before he got through. Alexander Mechett, son of our hostess and a good student, studied for the Presbyterian ministry; but after he got through the Theological Seminary, he married a Baptist girl and went over to her church and became a Baptist preacher.
My college course was interrupted this year by the sickness of my brother-in-law, Coleman D. Stone. His wife, Louise, sent for me, and it was decided by his physician to send him to the Insane Asylum at Fulton. He was fifty years old, and had ten children, and was a good farmer and well off. With the aid of the neighbors we took him to Asylum. The physician was Dr. Smith, a kind man. Coleman was there one year. I went to see him frequently, and reported his condition to Louise, who managed the farm with the aid of the children and the servants. She came to see him once; but the doctor declined to let her see him, as his condition would not allow him to see her. This was February, 1857. I went home with her and staid to the 15th of March. The doctor wrote that he was well and ready to go home. I brought him home, and he lived many ears after he returned and raised three more children, making thirteen in all,—ten sons and three daughters.
I did not return to college, but decided to go to teaching; but knew not what course to take. But remembering that “westward the Star of Empire takes its course,” I started in that direction, not knowing where I should go or where I should stop. A stage was running from Paris to Glasgow on the Missouri River. So I took the stage for Glasgow, fifty-one miles distant, and got there at night. I staid there over Sunday, and went down to Fayette Monday, and stayed two days, without getting a school. Then I went to Rocheport on the river, and took a boat for Boonville, which was Pofessor Kemper’s town. He was now President of Westminster College, and had given me a recommendation as qualified to teach school. But I found no vacancy in the town or country around. So I got on a steamboat going up the river and landed at Miami in Saline County, on Saturday. Monday morning I took the hack to Marshall. The road passed through a vast prairie covered with grass as it was in primeval times when the deer and buffalo roamed over the wastes. The buffalo had gone further west; but the deer was still here, and the hunter pursued him with his hounds and bugle, and brought home many a carcass to the delight of his family.
Saline County was only sparsely settled at this time, by Virginians and Kentuckians. It was a rich county in soil; but timber was so scarce that the pioneers could not build their cabins on the plains where no trees could be seen. Hence it was not settled as early as timber counties. Marshall had a court house, but a small population. I saw the school superintendent; he introduced me to Edward Garnett, who directed me to go and see James Jones and Dr. Garnett, twelve miles from Marshall. They were school trustees and wanted a school teacher. I walked the twelve miles through the prairie grass; got to Dr. Garnett’s by dinner the next day; showed them Prof. Kemper’s recommendation. They said they knew Prof. Kemper in Virginia and also in Booneville; and were satisfied to employ me on his recommendation. They employed me at once to teach a three month’s school, and gave me a log house belonging to Dr. Garnett to teach in, as they had no school house. My school was out in July. The Superintendent made a speech, which was well received. Mr. Laban Garrett, who taught the first school in Saline County in 1817, was there; also the trustees and others were present. They employed me for ten months, commencing September 1, 1857. They built me a new school house with desks, blackboard and other improvements. And I continued there for three years.
I have often looked upon my coming to Saline County as special providence. “God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.” As one of his creatures, I am under his government, and have a right to his protection. And as I now had a permanent school, I concluded to carry out my marriage contract of 1855. So on the 27th of October, 1857, I started for Monroe County. John M. Jones took me to Glasgow; where I hired a horse and buggy from a livery man, and started on a forty mile journey. Four miles from the town a hind wheel dropt off with a broken axle. I put the wheel in the buggy, with a fence rail under the axle, and led the horse, expecting to be helped in some way to get there. After going a few hundred yards, I was overtaken by a traveler with a two-horse buggy and driver from the same stable going to Mexico, Missouri. He recognized me, and proposed to swap buggies and he would take the broken one back. He directed that I take charge of the traveler and go on my way, and at my journey’s end hire a man to take the traveler on to Mexico the next day, and return the rig to me to return in Glasgow. This plan succeeded precisely as desired. I looked upon this incident as providential. This old adage was brought to mind, that “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”
The 27th day of October came, and I was there. And in due time the Rev. J. P. Finley and quite a company of witnesses were ready for the ceremony; after which all sat down to a well-filled table. After dinner was over the company left for their homes; and Jane bade her father good-by; for he had arranged to start to Fulton the next day, where he would locate in order to send his four sons to Westminster College. At the appointed time the driver returned from Mexico with the buggy; and on the 29th, we started on our journey to Saline County, which would be our home for many years. We have now been here sixty-four years; and we are still travelling on our journey home, at eighty-four and ninety years of age, and we will soon be there to walk the golden streets of the New Jerusalem. It is said that there are three important epochs in a man’s life, viz.: his birth, his marriage, and his death. Two of these we have passed, and the third one is near. “So let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us; looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
After crossing the river at Glasgow we soon arrived at Mr. James Jones’s and were congratulated on our successful trip; for “There is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip.” So we thanked the Lord for care and guidance, and were satisfied with our new surroundings. I resumed my duties in the school room, and all went on as smoothly as clock-work. The new school house was completed and every convenience furnished that was needed. For three years I continued to teach here without a jar or misunderstanding. By this time we had become attached to Saline County, and liked it better than any place we ever before had lived in. So when Jane’s uncle, Charles Neave, of Cincinnati, sent her money to buy us a home, we did not hesitate about buying it in this county. About the first of May, 1858, Jane went on a visit to Fulton. On her arrival, their father had been dead a few days, and she remained some time with her mother and brothers, who were attending college when their father died. He had rented out his farm in Monroe County, bought a house in Fulton on credit until he could sell his farm. I was appointed executor of his will, and had to sell the farm, collect sale debts, and pay for the house in Fulton and debts contracted there. This took several years; for the war commenced in 1861, and the country was in a turmoil. But I continued teaching while settling up the estate, which kept me busy during vacations. The war lasted four years and retarded business so much that I did not get through settling the estate till 1866. In the meantime I had bought one hundred and sixty acres of land with the money Jane’s uncle had given us, building a house in the summer of 1860, and we moved into it the first day of September. I taught school here eight months, and the war commenced in April, 1861,—when all country schools stopt till it was over. Many events transpired which I cannot relate here for want of time.
- CHAPTER IV
We made our home at Mr. Jones’s for three years, and could not have found a better place. They had four sons, who attended school. They were accommodating in every way. They were strict Baptists, had family prayers every night, took us to church on Sundays, often entertained preachers, and were very hospitable. Dr. Williams was pastor, and was a very good preacher. Nearly all of the people owned slaves, and were well off. When the war commenced, nearly all espoused the Southern cause. I have always thought it was providential that we moved to our new home before the war commenced; for we might have been forced into the Southern army against our judgment and inclination. After the war commenced the line was drawn between Southern sympathizers and Union men; and many arguments were used to draw Union men to Southern cause, and every one had to take sides. When they pressed my best horse for the First Battle at Boonville, where he was shot, I was neutral no longer, but for the Union. The war lasted four years, during which time it was difficult to live between bushwhackers and jayhawkers; and many innocent men were killed. But the dark cloud that hung over the country passed away; and I will not dwell upon the scenes of those dark days of our country, which have been portrayed by many writers; but will pass on to the times of peace and prosperity.
No progress had been made by way of improvement of farming during the war, and no country schools had been taught; but when the war closed I taught for one years. But the condition of the country was such that I could not teach and farm at the same time; so I gave my whole time to improving the farm and breaking more prairie. This had to be done with three or four yoke of oxen and a heavy plow, and in the summer when the team lived on the prairie grass. In the next four years I had the one hundred and sixty acres broke, and partly fenced. I raised a nursery of osage orange trees which were ready to transplant in one or two years. With these I fenced all the farm, and had many to sell to other farmers. These osage orange fences had to be protected by plank or pole fences and cultivated for five years; and had to be laid down to make a good fence to turn stock. They were planted fifty-five years ago, and I am now using and selling them for fence posts. The poles for fencing had to be hauled from the timber six miles to the south, from forty acres of timber I had bought. These forty acres also furnished building timber for my house, barn, cribs, granary and other out houses, and also fire wood for many years. This 160-acre farm I had bought on account of three perennial springs which are worth as much as the land; for without them I would have no water. They have been a great blessing to the family and neighborhood. They have furnished water for a large scope of country in time of drouth. Both houses and stock would have suffered without them; and farmers could not have threshed their wheat. In 1861 I planted an orchard of apple, peach, plum, and cherry trees which were a blessing to our home and neighbors. I now have my third orchard ready for bearing. in 1870 we enlarged our dwelling to its present proportions, with a basement and other convenient attachments.
The effects of the war were disappearing. The dark cloud that hung over our country was gone. The people were rejoicing that the country was safe from disruption, and that there was none to molest or make us afraid. Immigrants were coming from Northern States and buying the rich prairie lands at ten dollars per acre,—lands which had been entered by speculators and held for high prices. The broad prairies were dotted with houses around which the trees were springing up. In a few years lands advanced to twenty and thirty dollars per acre. Some Presbyterian families had settled in the neighborhood, and we began to think of building a church. In 1869, the Rev. Mr. Clark from Lexington, Missouri, organized a Presbyterian church at Malta Bend, and we decided to build a church near Salt Springs. We commenced the work in 1871. The church was completed May 1, 1872, and dedicated on the 12th by the Rev. Timothy Hill, D. D., of Kansas City, Missouri. The whole cost of the church when completed and dedicated was $2,763.6060. This included $500.00 received from the Board of Church Erection of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. and it was clear of debt. The church building is fifty years old; the organization is fifty-two years old; and but one of the organizers is living in 1921. Some are buried in the church cemetery, and some far away. The church building is standing with only a few members. The membership of the church during the fifrty years was over one hundred. The good it has accomplished can only be surmised! One minister and a number of Sunday school teachers and scholars have gone forth to work for Christ’s kingdom; and if there is “more joy with the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance,” then the church was not built in vain. It is now standing equipt for a minister and congregation; but they are not here. There is a rumor that the Kansas City Presbytery is in favor of getting permission from the Board od Church Erection to sell the church building and furniture, and send the proceeds to the Board of Church Erection, provided the Board will cancel the deed of trust on record in the Recorder’s Office holding the building for the payment of the $500.00,—should the building ever be used for other purposes. Whether this will work remains to be seen. (August 1921.)
In 1878 we built the rock spring house, which has been a great blessing to keep milk, butter, and fresh meat in warm weather. The spring house and improvements around it cost five hundred dollars, and it is worth more, for we do not have to use ice. In 1883 we bought the Langan forty acres at $47.50 per acre, a total of $1900.00. This was a great acquisition to the farm. Also the building of the big barn for stock and hay, at a cost of $800.00, was a great benefit. Likewise the big spring below the barn, which was walled up with rock in 1878 for the benefit of the builders of the Chicago and Alton Railroad. It has been a great blessing to the farm and the neighborhood in times of drouth, as the only place to get water for house use and for stock and threshing. Some of our neighbors have used it for many years, and still use it. The concrete tank near it cost $80.00. The corn crib with shed between, built in 1872, cost $200.00, and the long corn crib cost $150.00. The cow and calf barn built in 1900 to milk in, and feed cattle in in winter, cost about $400.00.
March 4, 1921. I am this day ninety years old. Our country has gone through four wars since I was born:—The Mexican War from 1846 to 1848; the Civil War from 1861 to 1865; the War with Spain in 1898; and the World War against Germany from August 1914 to November 11, 1918, when the armistice was signed. At the beginning of my life’s journey in 1831, the United States had a population of twelve millions. At my ninetieth anniversary in 1921, it had a population of 105 millions, a gain of 93 millions in 90 years; and it is now the richest, most powerful and enlightened country in the world. I have voted for twelve Presidents of the United States; and hope that President Harding may prove as great as any of them; as he will have more power than any king or potentate living. And my prayer is that he may prove a wise and just ruler over a united people.
On a preceding page I mentioned that there was a rumor that the Presbyterian church at Salt Springs would be sold by order of Kansas City Presbytery and the Board of Church Erection. On the 4th of November, 1921, the sale was made at the church at public auction to the highest bidder, as follows:—The furniture brought $111.95; the church building brought $330.00. The expense of the sale was $22.00, leaving $441.91 for the Board of Church Erection. The church lot of one half acre sold for $110.00, which went to the heirs of John W. Brown, who had been paid $50.00 for its use at the time the church was built in 1817. As a church building its existence of fifty years is ended, though still in good condition; the membership being too few to support a minister.
“I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The Church our blest Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.
“I love Thy Church, O God;
Her walls before Thee stand,
Dear as the apple of Thine eye,
And graven on Thy hand.”.
- CHAPTER V
There were two events in my life which contributed to widen my vision of this great country of ours, and which I shall never forget. These were two trips, one to the Eastern, and the other to the Western part of the United States. In August, 1899, I went on a trip to Niagara Falls, New York. The falls are situated on Niagara River, twenty-five miles below Buffalo, on Lake Erie; and the river continues thirty-two miles below the falls to Lake Ontario. The Niagara River is the dividing line between the United States and Canada. The river is a mile wide, and falls 164 feet over the precipice, and continues on through deep and narrow gorge with a very swift current. Its swiftness is such that it cannot be navigated with safety. Many people have committee suicide by casting themselves over the falls. A railway through the gorge has been constructed along the edge of the water in order that sight-seers may view the river as it plunges its way to Lake Ontario. Three bridges have been built across this wonderful stream for travel between the United States and Canada, by train, wagon and so forth.
I took a sixty-mile trip across Lake Ontario to Toronto, which is the largest city in Canada. I staid all night there, and went to many of the interesting places, including the Parliament Building, which was very fine. I was told that children of all colors, white, black, Chinese and Japanese, attend the schools together. There were in Toronto 35 Presbyterian churches, 32 Methodist, 30 Roman Catholic, and also some Baptist Churches. The next day, with many other people, I took an excursion down Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to Alexander Bay, and stopt at the town of Kingston. I saw the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River, and many other interesting sights. The round trip took two days and two nights, and we had plenty to eat all the time. I got acquainted with many Canadians, who spoke very good English. Some of them were from England or Scotland, and a few from Ireland. We had an ideal trip, pleasant weather and moonlight nights. Irving and Roland were on the trip and we enjoyed the outing very much.
Mr. Moul, a New Yorker, and formerly a navigator on Lake Ontario, was with us and told us many interesting incidents that he witnessed while he was captain of a ship. After we returned to Toronto, he took me on a tour through Canada. We passed across the lake to St. Catherines, which is on the Welland Canal,—constructed as a ship canal from Buffalo around Niagara Falls to Lake Ontario. It consists of dams and locks over the mountain, and serves as a passage way for vessels navigating the lakes. From St. Catherines we went to the town of Jordine where Mr. Moul’s brother lived. This region was claimed to be the best part of Canada. After two days we returned to Niagara Falls, when I took an extended view of the Falls from the Canadian side. I went up the Niagara River a mile to the seven Dufferin Islands in the river. There islands are connected by bridges and are visited by many people on account of their beauty and picturesque situation above the Falls. The water separating the islands can be waded, so shallow it is.
I returned to the Falls and stopt at a hotel where a bar was kept for dispensing liquor. Two young ladies appeared and called for drinks, which so shocked me that I left and went to another and took supper; after which I took a trolley car and visited Lundy’s Lane where a battle was fought in the War of 1812-1814, between the Americans and British. The battle began at sunset and lasted till midnight, July 25, 1814, and was one of the most stubbornly contested of the war. About 1700 men were killed, and buried at a mound which can now be seen. The next day day I visited General Brock’s monument situated on the mountain where he was killed by a sharp shooter. The monument, built by the British to his memory, is 300 feet high. From this mountain the City of Toronto can be seen across the lake sixty miles away. It was a wonderful scene to behold, far surpassing many grand outlooks of the Alps and Apennines in Europe. This was verified by a traveler whom I met on the mountain, who said that he was just from Europe and that he had seen no view to equal it. I wandered along the mountain above Niagara River where the British had erected an extensive fort during the War of 1812, the remains of which could be plainly seen, with large sugar maple trees growing over the ruins. Some Canadians were having a picnic just below the Falls; men, women and children were eating dinner and enjoying themselves in various ways. I could see quite a contrast to an American picnic. They were subjects of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, while the Americans are citizens of a free country. And there is a long step between subjects and citizens. It took a Revolutionary War of seven years to obtain our freedom from the kingly crown, and make the Americans citizens of a free country. And Americans should rejoice and be glad for the freedom they enjoy.
Lake Ontario was a constant wonder to me. Lewiston and Queenstown, towns on opposite sides of Niagara River at the foot of the gorge, where is a swinging bridge which I crossed on a street car, are picturesque places. From here the river takes a straight course to Lake Ontario, where there is a fort built by the Americans during the Indian wars; and there are United States soldiers stationed there now. This place is called Niagara on the Lake. I traveled from the town of Wilson along the lake to this fort in a hack, and saw constantly scenes of great beauty. I went down the lake to a town and heard Governor Roosevelt speak, who was afterwards President of the United States. At this town the people were bathing in the lake, and there were a number of Indians here, who had become civilized. They were of a copper color and were dressed like white people. They had been taught by missionaries the ways of civilization and were able to support themselves and their children.
I took a train at Wilson, N. Y., and went by way of Rochester to Palmyra, and Marion, Wayne County, N. Y. Here I stopt with Mr. Sweezy, who had visited Saline County, Missouri, and had evaporated apples at Marshall, and to whom I had sold a thousand bushels of apples in 1890. I felt at home at his house. He took me in his buggy through the country and to many towns in Wayne County. We visited the cottage where spirit rappings were invented by the Fox girls in 1850. We went also to Palmyra, where Joe Smith started the Mormon church; and where Admiral Sampson was born. He achieved notoriety in the War with Spain when the Spanish fleet was destroyed in Cuba by the Americans, and the Cuban people set free and given their independence by the American government. The Spanish ships that escaped destruction were saved as trophies of the War with Spain. Rochester, N. Y., where I stopt for some time, is on the Genisee River, at the falls, and is a large manufacturing city with several hundred thousand population. They have a great watering place on Lake Ontario, where the people resort to bathe; also a Park, where many amusements are invented to entertain the visitors, and to gather in all the pennies the visitors are willing to part with. This trip took four days. The New York Central railroad runs through this region; and I was tempted to jump on a train and run into the city, as I was not far away. But time did not permit. So I lost the only chance to see the great American metropolis and the Atlantic Ocean. I returned to Wilson, and to Buffalo, which is a great city, and stopt at the Fillmore Hotel. So I got to see the former residence of one of our best Presidents. Buffalo is a large city, twenty-five miles from Niagara Falls, with an electric railway connecting the two cities. I took a trip by boat from Buffalo to Cleveland, Ohio, leaving at sundown and reaching Cleveland about six o’clock the next morning. Cleveland is a manufacturing city of great importance. Many ship loads of iron ore were strewn along the lake shore in high mounds, brought from Lake Superior. There are smelters and mills here which reduced the ore and convert the iron into steel rails. The furnaces become so hot that it is dangerous to go near them. Also I saw in Cleveland a large cannon taken as a memento from a Spanish ship during the Cuban War. I went to church on Sunday; and during four days saw much of the city and its suburbs. We boarded the ship at night and about nine o’clock the next morning we landed in Buffalo. It was a great trip on Lake Erie.
As my journey was over, I started from Buffalo on the Erie railroad and stopt at Jamestown, N. Y., and took and excursion boat on Lake Chautauqua for a twenty-mile ride. This lake is 30 feet higher than Lake Erie, and is fed by springs. We stopt at the town where the Chautauqua Assemblies are held. At this picturesque place 30,000 people of different denominations assemble in religious meetings during August. This lake is a clear body of water twenty miles long by one mile wide. We staid here two days, after which Roland, who was with me, mounted his bicycle for Wilson, and I took the train for Chicago. I staid over Sunday in Chicago, then took the train for Shackelford and arrived at home after one month’s absence.
I was urged to take this trip by Herbert, who had bought a farm at Wilson; and Irving and Roland were there for the summer. They had lately arrived from New York City, where Roland was attending Columbia University, after having gone three years to Westminster College. Herbert was receiving $10,000.00 a year as royalty on his patent, which was making him a fortune. And he persuaded Roland to leave Westminster and come to New York and he would pay his way through Columbia University; and Roland agreed to do so. So he and Irving were at Wilson with Herbert and his wife and two children and a nurse and cook, spending the month of August on Lake Ontario. There were there also a number of city folks, who had come for pleasure and bathing in the pure water of Lake Ontario. So the time passed pleasantly. The city folks dwelt in tents, and sailed over the beautiful lake in their boats from day to day. These city folks were people of wealth, and did not care for expense. They would get fish from the lake and chickens and beef from the farmers. It was an outing and holiday time for them,—as the cool wind wafted over the lake, and raised the whitecaps, which rolled from shore to shore.
The three sons had their bicycles and went from place to place on their wheels in short time with great pleasure. It seemed folly to interfere and warn them that the road they were traveling led to want. Herbert exhibited his many patents to me that he was studying on, railroad patents and others, on which his mind was bent; for his wife said he often staid up till midnight trying to get up something new. He thought he was destined to be a millionaire, as his first patent was bringing him more money than he could make use of. He got reckless in spending it, as though it would never get less. For a number of years he received as much as ten thousand dollars each year in royalties from the factory manufacturing his patent bonds. These bonds were used in the United States, England and France on electric railroads. But the manufacturing company was seeking to get possession of his patent right. After juggling for some time, they agreed to give him thirty-seven thousand and five hundred dollars ($37,500) for it, which he accepted. Of this amount he paid Irving W. Keithley eight thousand and five hundred fifty dollars ($8550) for his part of the patent right in England. So he had $28,950 left; which if spent right would have made him rich.
But, lo, and behold! in a few years Irving had squandered his part, and came home a physical wrecm, broken in spirit and morals, for his mother to cook for and wait on. This was in the beginning of winter, and he did not tell us that his money was gone till the next spring of 1903.
November 15, 1922. The thread of my history has been interrupted for more than a year by the sickness and death of my wife, which occurred September 1, 1922. I will now resume it at the place left off. Irving
has been at home since the spring of 1903; sick and unqualified to work a great deal of the time, and did not make a farm hand one half the time. He has much improved the last three years and is able to cultivate twenty-five acres of corn. And it would not be well to relate any thing further at this time concerning him.
I have written in the Family Bible this statement:—
“Jacob C. and Jane N. Keithley’s married life extended through the space of sixty-four years, ten months and four days. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.”—Rev. 13:14.
The following is taken from my History of the Keithley Family, as I think it suitable for this part of my present history (Page 29 in the History):
“Now, what shall I say more?” I am forbidden by the partner of my life to pass any econium upon herself. But I would be recreant to duty and to my trust to pass by in silence one “who hath done what she could,” not only for my own welfare, but for the welfare of her children. She denied herself many comforts for them; spent many hours watching, by day and night, their outgoings and their incomings; and taught them to shun the evil and to choose the good. She devoted her energies and spent her money for their education and happiness. And in her prayers she has commended them to Him who never sleeps,—to Him “Who so loved the world that He gave His Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” They can never repay her for the benefits she has conferred upon them. This much I am bound to say, and more is due; but let her children say the balance and give her due credit.
- CHAPTER VI
My Trip to the State of Washington in 1906.
After Herbert had spent his fortune from the sale of his rail bond patent, which if properly invested would have made his family well-off for years, he left this country and went to Canada to recoup his fortunes, as he supposed, and rented a farm of 100 acres to raise wheat. He made a trip to me for the loan of money to equip it and give him a start in Queen Victoria’s land,—where he expected to take his family and become subjects of Great Britain, instead of citizens of the United States. I advised against it; but he persisted and would not hear me. He wanted his part of the estate to get a start in Canada, where he had rented a farm of 100 acres for one year. I finally gave him fifteen hundred dollars ($1500.00), and he returned and bought a team and farm implements, put in cultivation ten acres in the spring and went to Ohio after his family. But his wife wisely refused to go with him to Canada. Nonplused, he returned to me! It was now May, 1906. He knew not where to go. His wife was at Painesville, Ohio. I finally agreed to take the whole family to the State of Washington to take a pre-emption on government land.
The Grand Army of the Republic held its annual reunion in Minneapolis in August; so I got a cheap excursion ticket to St. Paul, and we all met there in August. We got excursion tickets from there to Walla Walla, Washington, by way of Spokane, and started on the Great Northern Railroad, which runs near the Canadian line all the way to Spokane. This was the longest journey of my life, over 3500 miles through a new country. I had Herbert and his wife and their four children for the journey. It took five days through a country largely unsettled except for the Indian Reservation in Montana, where the Indians lived in shanties built of poles. They were cutting prairie grass for hay. But there were no stopping places for the train in their country.
I wish now to say something about the State of Washington, and what I saw there. I traveled through six states,—Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. The evening of the fifth day we arrived at Spokane on the Spokane River. It is situated in a large valley surrounded by mountains. It has many thousands of population, many of them foreigners. It has good hotels and many good houses. We staid here Saturday evening and Sunday. Monday evening we took the train for Walla Walla, two hundred miles south and near the Columbia River, arriving there the next morning at nine o’clock. This is the oldest town in the State, and has many Missourians in it. It is surrounded by high mountains, with many large springs of pure water. We saw quite a number of Indians in the towns, and some of whom could speak English. The people live in the towns and go out to the country to sow and harvest their wheat, oats, barley and alfalfa. Only a few houses are seen in the country, and there are no schools there. The land is very rich with volcanic ash from the volcanoes, which were formed by internal combustion when the mountains were raised out of the sea.
It is a great wheat country, producing 80 bushels per acre, with 100 of oats, 60 of barley, and four cuttings of alfalfa. Apples and peaches are plentiful and watermelons the finest I ever saw. Many farms are irrigated. One near Walla Walla of 640 acres of apple trees was the largest I saw. Some fields of wheat are cut by headers pulled by 27 horses. The machine cuts the heads off, threshes and sacks the wheat at one operation. While I was there one big team of horses ran away with the machine, killed ten horses, tore the machine to pieces, and the cost of repairs was said to be $3,000. A young man from Kansas working in the harvest field, said he preferred Kansas to Washington. I was told that a renter had to have $3,000 to rent a farm there. Another man told me he used a gang plow run by steam or gasoline power and could plow 40 acres per day. It was evident that a small farmer could do nothing there unless he would run a garden and sell vegetables in the city. This was a good business and paid well.
We visited Prescott, eighteen miles north of Walla Walla; population 600; situated on a creek in a canon with high hills around it. Many Missourians were here. They liked the country and were well satisfied, getting good wages in the wheat fields. Ripe peaches were abundant and vegetables were plentiful. There were good schools and churches. Land was from $30 to $40. A Methodist preacher said we could not make a mistake in settling there.
We next visited Pendleton, Umatilla County, Oregon. It is on a railroad running to the Pacific Coast. A long train was resting here, which I could have boarded, and in a few hours been on the coast of the great Pacific Ocean. But I missed the chance, and have never seen that ocean yet. I was once on the New York Central Railroad on which I could have run into New York City in a few hours and would have seen the great Atlantic; but I missed the opportunity, and have never seen the Atlantic. So I never expect to see either ocean while in this world. So it often happens to men as the great poet has said:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
But I have digressed. To resume; Walla Walla had a population of 17,000, is 960 feet above sea level, and is the important city in this part of the State. The reader is referred to the history of the State of Washington, 1905, for further information. It is interesting reading.
After a stay of one week in Walla Walla and vicinity, I took the train for Spokane, and in the evening stopt at the town of Colfax, the county seat of Whitman County. Its population was 3,500; situated in a canon where the sun rises an hour later and sets an hour earlier than on the surrounding hills. The canon is a quarter to a half mile wide, with a creek flowing down the center, on one side of which is a railroad and on the other a wagon road, with houses from one end to the other. The people live in the town and farm in the country. I took a ride with a man over the steep hills to a garden for vegetables. A large orchard of apple trees was in the garden, and the ground was very rich. All kinds of garden truck were growing in profusion. The man was from Tennessee and said his family arrived there with very little money, and was now worth $30,000. The land they owned was worth $45 per acre. The land brought forth large crops of wheat, oats, barley and all kinds of vegetables and fruits. A reservoir on top of the hill supplied the town with water by gravity. The rooming house where I slept was kept by a lady from Kansas City. Whitman County is one of the best in the State, and is well supplied with railroads; but the land was too high in price for new-comers. So the next day we proceeded on our way to Spokane. This city had a population of 96,000. Four railroads run through it to the coast. The land is rich, and sugar beets are cultivated in many parts of the county, and a large factory for refining sugar is operated and sends to market 250 car loads of refined sugar every year. Many apple orchards are grown, and the fruit is of excellent flavor. Indeed, if you believe all you hear of Spokane Valley and its surrounding country, you would think it a Paradise. But it was evident they wanted money to keep the wheels moving; and that takes work, for man must live “by the sweat of his face.” The country needs immigrants to develop its resources. And if one has the money to start with, by industry and frugality he could accumulate property sufficient to keep his family in good circumstances. But Herbert had squandered his fortune, which he had made by a lucky hit, and wanted possession of what little I had to squander it. For he had no talent to manage or keep what he had accidentally made on his patent. I saw the situation, and decided to leave him in Spokane. After giving him and his wife $100 each, and with ten dollars left in my pocket to come home on, I left about the 3rd of September, 1906, for home while I had the strength to do so.
I had my return ticket in my pocket marked for St. Paul, Minnesota, 2,000 miles from Spokane, and boarded the morning train with a lunch in my satchel. A long run through the valleys and foot hills of Washington brought us to the Rocky Mountains. Here we had a long panorama of wonders to go through, sometimes following a considerable river of clearest water, going through a gorge between high peaks covered with small pine trees except the very tops on which a fine moss or grass was growing. The pine trees, the size of telephone poles, were on every side and numeraous enough to reach around the earth. Some large pines were growing in the valleys and gorges, large enough to saw into lumber or shingles; and frequently we passed saw mills converting them into lumber for the Eastern market. We passed along one river of considerable size on which were many log rafts ready to be floated to the mills to be sawed into lumber or shingles.
The pass we followed is one of the lowest in the Rocky Mountains and the train would sometimes double upon itself to find an outlet, and one would think we were passing another road. On every side we passed ledges of rock lying on their edges, as if they were heaved up from the bottom of the sea high into the air and were turned and fell on their edges,—which no doubt was the case. For the mountains were at the bottom of the sea, as we see from the sea shells found on their tops; and in the process of formation, the waters of the ocean came in contact with internal fire and heat, which produced a combustion that hurled the bottom of the ocean to the top of the mountains. As it was in the time of the Flood, when “Noah was 600 years,” “the same day” “the fountains of the great deep were broken up.” Genesis 7:11.
I was traveling on the Great Northern Railroad, no far from the Canadian line; and after passing the narrow neck of Idaho, entered Montana: a large State consisting of mountains and plains, and sparsely settled. It is a great grazing country for cattle and sheep, which get very fat through the summer and fall and brigh the highest price on the Chicago market. The mountains are wonderful! The plains are amazing! Great stretches of grand prairies as far as the eye can see; and but few stock could be seen from the railroad. We passed through the Indian Reservation, and wondered how they could get through the cold winters in their shacks made of poles with one small door and an opening in the roof for the exit of smoke. They were using mowing machines to cut the grass and ponies and wagons to haul it. The train never stopt going through the Reservation. It was a dull, monotonous ride through this vast winderness for several days, where even animals were not seen.
We entered North Dakota, a new State in 1906; and not thickly settled. In the dining car, where liquor was dispenses, a curtain was drawn over the bar, and a sign put up which said:
“No Liquor Sold While Going Through North Dakota”!
It was one of the first States to adopt the prohibition law; and it was interesting to see the Great Northern obey the law while going through a dry country. But now (1922) a curtain is drawn in front of all the bars in the United States. Who can say our country is not progressing?
We entered Minnesota in the northern part of the State, and traveled south to St. Paul, arriving there at sunset. The city was filled with people attending a political meeting. All the hotels were filled; but finally finding one bed at $1.50, I got a good rest from my travels. The next morning finding the ticket office, I got my return ticket signed by the railroad agent of the Great Western Railroad to Kansas City, and boarded the train at 10 o’clock for my home city. St. Paul is situated at the head of navigation of the Mississippi River at the Falls of St. Anthony, and is the twin city of Minneapolis. It deserves more notice than I am able to give it at this time. By way of the Great Western it is 500 miles from St. Paul to Kansas City. There was no sleeper nor dining car attached; so I had to sit in a chair all night by a woman traveling to Oklahoma. I got a sandwich and egg for dinner; and after a long journey through Minnesota and Iowa, I arrived at Kansas City at ten o’clock in the morning. Here I visited the stockyards, saw my commission merchant and acquaintance, and at 4 p. m. boarded the Plug for Salt Springs where I arrived after dark. Newman Newell brought me home, where I got my supper and had a good night’s sleep under my own vine and fig tree, and thanked the Lord for my safe arrival and for His care while on the greatest journey of my life.
Chapter VI is ended the last day of the year, December 31st, 1922.
- CHAPTER VII
After the Chicago & Alton Railroad was built through our county in 1878, I made a trip to Ralls County in 1880, where I had not been for twenty years. I was almost bewildered to see the changes made from the old to the new. Father had passed away. The war had wrecked many houses and the inhabitants were gone to their last resting place. After visiting my old home and the grave of Father and some of his children, I went forty miles to see Sister Malissa and Jack Hagar in Monroe County, and also to Coleman Stone’s. He was living, but Sister Louise had passed away, and her children had possession. I returned to brother Edwin
’s, and he took me to Vandalia, where I took the train for home.
After twenty-nine years more, in 1909, I made a second trip to the Keithley reunion near Center. Here I met the descendants of the second and third generations from the pioneers, about eighty of them, under the shade trees of Robert Keithley. We had a banquet, with rejoicing, singing, speeches, and a paper read by Jacob C. Keithley on man’s life and the historial facts and incidents of the Keithley family, which was well received. The reunion was a fine success.
In 1893, I was at the World’s Fair in Chicago to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus. And it was a grand sight, the description of which would take many pages. So I will refer the reader to the published history of this magnificent display. The same might be said of the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904, which was the 100th anniversary of President Jefferson’s purchase of the great Louisiana Country of 1,171,931 square miles, from which were formed about thirteen States of the American Union. A description of these fairs far transcends the bounds of this history.
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of” many important events in a life-time of ninety-three years duration. In writing this autobiography I have endeavored to recall the events and incidents connected with a long a busy life, and have passed by many things of less interest so as to abbreviate the history and thus make it more readable by the present as well as the future descendants of the pioneers.
But before I close I beg the attention of my readers to a few more important thoughts with regard to the present and future state of existence. Some may ask, “What advice have you to give from such an experience of long life?” This question might be answered by referring the reader to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the writings of his Apostles. Search the scriptres. Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist, said that a certain father whose son was leaving home to seek his fortune gave him a Bible with a mark under the 33d verse of the sixth chapter of Matthew: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Dr. Laws said that a certain mother, whose son was going to the war, gave him a Bible and told him to keep it near his heart. He put it in a pocket in his bosom and went into battle. A bullet from the enemy struck it and lodged at a verse that so attracted his attention that he gave his heart to God, and he was ever after a Christian. On March 3, 1921, Mr. Harding was required to take the oath of office as President of the United States. A Bible was handed to him. He opened it at the Prophet Micah, chapter six, verse eight, which reads: “And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” In his estimation, this covered his duty as President of the greatest country in the world. Here is one of our greatest men going to the greatest Book for knowledge to discharge the duties incumbent upon him. This example should show us the great value of the Book of God. And how great a blessing is this invitation to all men by the Prince of Peace: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Matt. 11:28-30.
This autobiography is now completed; and in saying farewell to my younger readers, I would leave this message with them:
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when though shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. . . . Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Eccl. 12:1,13.
The descendants of Levi Keithley in 1910 were 272. I hope many of them will read this history. So farewell to you all. And my prayer is that all may prove an honor to parents, a blessing to the country, an example to future generations, and finally all may be permitted to sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God.
On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
Oh, the transporting, rapturous scene,
That rises to my sight!
Sweet fields arrayed in living green,
And rivers of delight!
O’er all those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God, the Son, forever reigns,
And scatters night away.
No chilling winds, or poisonous breath,
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.
When shall I reach that happy place,
And be forever blest?
When shall I see my Father’s face,
And his bosom rest?
Filled with delight, my raptured soul
Can here no longer stay;
Though Jordon’s waves around me roll,
Fearless I’d launch away.(Samuel Stennett)
Yours very truly,
JACOB CARTER KEITHLEY
Mt. Leonard, Mo., R. F. D. 1.
- APPENDIX I
From The Center Herald, Center, Ralls County, Missouri, Thursday, November 22, 1823.
A LETTER FROM "UNCLE JACOB" Keithley
Mt. Leonard, Saline Co., Mo., Oct. 16th, 1923.—
To my nieces and daughters of Sister Frances Ann Little of Ralls County, Mo.:
This is to thank you all for your persevenance in bringing my aged sister to see me in my old age. We are both nearing the end of our journey on earth and will soon enter Paradise to meet our friends who have gone before to have a home in glory, there to spend the ceaseless ages of eternity.
It was a great pleasure to meet again before we go hence, and bring to mind events that occurred long ago; and the meeting will be remembered to the end of our journey. Therefore be glad that you encouraged her to come; and I know you will make the way comfortable to the end. “In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.” St. John 14:2.
Affectionately, your uncle,
JACOB C. Keithley.
P. S. Oct. 17.—After a delightful visit of four days your mother and sister bid us farewell and took the train for Mexico and will remain with Leo a few days. It was rainy and gloomy outside all the time, but the time passed pleasantly reviewing events that occurred sixty or seventy years ago. Our youthful life was lived over again when we remembered the friends and neighbors of long ago, but now passed to their reward. Your mother and I seem to be the only ones left to tell the tale. So we thank the Lord for our long life and take courage to travel patiently the balance of the journey, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” And when the end comes, he will receive us and assign us a place prepared for us and all that love Him. Now this letter is written to Susan, Mary and Opal for their kindness; but show it to others who may be interested. I would like to hear from you all any time. So write to your uncle, J. C. K.
- ADDENDA I
Activities and Services
I have been an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., since 1869.
A farmer in Saline County, Missouri, since 1860.
A reporter of crop statistics to the U. S. Department of Agriculture for 15 years.
A reporter to the Mo. Department of Agriculture for seven years.
Appointed a delegate to the International Farm Congress for four consecutive years.
A member of the State Historical Society of Missouri for two years.
Irving, never married, a farmer living on the home place.
Herbert, died February 19, 1921, leaving a widow, and five children:—Rudolph, Madeline, Franklin, Edward, Jane. Living at Michigan City, Indiana.
Flora, never married, keeps house for her father at the old home.
Ella, married George Buchanan. Three children: Evaline, Percy, Frances. Live at El Paso, Texas.
George, never married, Presbyterian minister, living at Catlin, Ill.
Roland, died October 24, 1919, leaving widow, and two children: Sue and Ralph; living at Denver, Colorado.
Fulton, Mo., December 10, 1923.
Rev. George Eugene Keithley, Catlin, Ill.
My Dear Mr. Keithley:
Would it be possible for you to give me anything concerning Jacob Carter Keithley, who attended Westminster in 1855-56 and whose address at that time was Shackelford, Mo. We are trying to revise our alumni directory and locate all former Westminster men.
Thanking you for any information,
Very truly yours,
A few days ago the college office received a letter from George E. Keithley, '90, in which he states that his father Jacob C. Keithley, who attended Westminster in 1855-56, is still active in mind and body in spite of his advanced age of 98 years. He is in active management of his farm at Mt. Leonard, Missouri, the farm on which he has lived since 1860. In all probability Mr. Keithley is the oldest living alumnus of Westminster.--From the Westminster "Alumni Quarterly".
- ADDENDA II
The Children of Jacob Keithly and his wife Barbara (Roland) Keithley Copied from the Bible of Samuel Keithley:
Abraham Keithley, born Febrbuary 20, 1778.
Mary M. Keithley, born September 26, 1870—Polly Keiley Hostetter, 1779.
Jacob Keithley, Jr., born August 2, 1781.
John Keithley, born December 19, 1783.
Elizabeth Keithley, born December 16, 1784.
Joseph Keithley, born March 30, 1786.
Samuel Keithley, born March 31, 1789.
Roland Keithley, born May, 1791.
William Keithley, born February 16, 1793.
Levi Keithley, born May 15, 1794.
Catherine Keithley, born August 18, 1795—Kate
Daniel Keithley, born December 22, 1796-1797.
Absalom Keithley, born May 22, 1799.
Obadiah Keithley, born December 12, 1803.
Patsey Keithley, born, 1792
Isaac Keithley, born.
Sally Keithley, born.
Tabitha Keithley, born.
The four last are not recorded in the Bible. You will find them listed in the photograpph copy of the leaf of “Pioneer Families of Missouri,” including St. Charles, Montgomery, Warren, Audrain and Callaway Counties.
Mother considered Pioneer Families good authority, altho you will see there are some mistakes in it, possibly typographical errors.
Grandfather married three times, (1) Polly Burkett, (2) Mrs. Polly (Gilbert) Stone, (3) Mrs. Nancy Pullium.
Uncle Griffin Keithley of Midvale, Idaho—76 years of age——wrote me “I well remember hearing my father tell of grand father Jacob and his brothers coming from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, when father was three years old.” That would be in 1792.
This establishes what is said on the first page of Chapter 1: Jacob, Isaac and Daniel were born in Germany or Pennsylvania to one Samuel Keithley. Woodford K., son of Uncle Daniel, told me this was so. Woodford was 76 when he told me, when I saw him in 1909.
Great Grand Father Samuel was eligible to be a Revolutionary soldier, as Washington was. Grand Father Jacob and brothers were eligible, but we have no evidence that they were soldiers of the American Revolution.
This revised family record of Keithley ancestors was furnished the writer by Miss Iantha Castlis, a granddaughter of Samuel Keithley, in 1922.
JACOB CARTER KEITHLEY,
Mt. Leonard, Mo.
- Last Edited: 7 Aug 2015
Family: Jane Neave Vawter b. 16 January 1837, d. 16 September 1922
- Irving W. Keithley b. 20 January 1858, d. 28 February 1937
- Herbert R. Keithley+ b. 2 June 1862, d. 19 February 1921
- Flora Neave Keithley b. 3 December 1863, d. 12 May 1958
- Ella R. Keithley+ b. 22 August 1866, d. 24 December 1956
- George Eugene Keithley b. 20 December 1868, d. 20 December 1950
- Joseph Clarence Keithley b. 14 January 1871, d. 6 February 1875
- Stanley Keithley b. 16 September 1874, d. 6 March 1876
- Roland Hill Keithley+ b. 1 June 1877, d. 24 October 1919