Marshall County

KEEDY, John Allen

John Allen KEEDY, residing on section 10, Richland township, Marshall county, is one of the very few pioneers of the township now living. A residence here of over sixty-two years has made him familiar with the history of the county, and given him a wide knowledge of the grand men and women who, like himself, came here in poverty and endured the trials and hardships that tested the character of each and brought out the old in them as by a refiner’s fire. One by one he has seen them drop by the wayside “when life’s fitful dream was over,” until he begins to feel as did Elijah of old that he alone is left.

John A. KEEDY is of German descent. His grandfather, John KEEDY, being a native of Germany, who, with a widowed mother and two brothers, came to this country when he was but sixteen years of age. The family located in Tennessee, and the brothers of John enlisted in the service of their adopted country in the revolutionary war, and were never afterward heard from. John grew to manhood, married and reared a family, of whom one son, Abraham, born in Tennessee, in 1798, married Patsy GRAY, born in 1799, and a daughter of John GRAY, a native of Scotland, who came to this country in 1812, and located within seven miles of the great mammoth cave of Kentucky, and later moved to Orange county, Indiana, where the marriage of Abraham KEEDY and Patsy GRAY was consummated. Her father, after having moved to Martinsville, Indiana, and there assisting in laying out the town, came to Marshall county, Illinois, about 1836. He purchased the farm now owned by William J. RAMSAY, in Richland township, resided there a short time and then returned to Indiana, where his wife died. After the death of his wife he again came back to Marshall county, where he died some years later.

Abraham KEEDY and his wife lived in Orange county, Indiana, until 1821, when they moved to Martinsville, in the same state, at a time when the Indians were still numerous in that locality. Here they remained until 1834, when they came to Marshall county, locating on the southeast quarter of section 16, Richland township. At that time there were but few settlers in this locality and the country was in almost its primitive state. A rail pen was first erected, in which the family lived until a more substantial structure of logs could be erected. Abraham KEEDY was by trade a blacksmith, at which he worked in connection with farming during his entire life. He built a shop on his farm and had the patronage of the settlers for many miles around. The first season here he worked in the harvest field for Colonel John STRAWN for which he received two bushels of wheat for each day’s work. He resided on the farm until 1858. His wife dying the previous year, he concluded to move to Minonk, Illinois, where he subsequently died.

Abraham and Patsy KEEDY were the parents of ten children, two of them dying in infancy before leaving Indiana. Nine grew to maturity, as follows: John Allen, our subject; Polly, who married George BELL, both being now deceased; Sarah, deceased wife of Zachariah PERRY, also deceased; Helen, who married George HARPER, and both are now deceased; Virginia, who became the wife of Samuel JONES, but both are now deceased; Louis who entered the service of his country with the rank of captain, and died in the discharge of his duty; Abraham and Martha, twins, both deceased, and Wesley, the youngest. The parents were both consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church in which he served as class leader and trustee for many years. In politics he was originally a whig, but became a republican on the organization of the party.

John Allen KEEDY, our subject, was born in Orange county, Indiana, April 25, 1820, and was but one year old when his parents removed to Martinsville, Indiana. In his childhood he was frequently held in the arms of Indian men and women and played with the little papooses. He was fourteen years old when the family moved to Marshall county, and well remembers the journey by ox team. Here he attended the first school in the township in what was known as the Bird schoolhouse. It was a very rude affair, and the instructions imparted therein were almost as rude as the structure. He remained at home, assisting his father in the shop and upon the farm until June 30, 1841, when he married Caroline Matilda Thair FOSTER, a native of Kentucky, born October 10, 1820, and daughter of Rev. John C. FOSTER, a Methodist preacher, who came to this county in 18 38, and died here.

After marriage our subject settled upon a farm of thirty acres given him by his father, his entire cash capital being fourteen dollars. But what of that; he had good health, a loving wife, great hope for the future, and why should he not be happy? On that farm he remained eight years, then moved to Lacon, where he lived one year; then went to Indiana by team, railroads then being yet in the future so far as this section was concerned. He, however, soon returned, located on section 10, Richland township, where he still lives. The home farm comprises eighty acres of fine, well improved land, in addition to which he owns one hundred and sixty-five acres of timber land.

Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. KEEDY, a son, Ambrose Dudley, who married Jemima RAMSEY, a woman of good Christian character, a member of the Presbyterian church, who died in 1877, leaving two children, Luella M. and Margaret C., both of whom grew to womanhood. They are members of our subject’s household. The daughter, Luella V., was unmarried and died at the age of nineteen, having been born on the 25th of September, 1850.

John Allen KEEDY is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which body his wife was also a devout and loyal member. In the teachings of that church she spent her entire life, dying April 23, 1894, having an abiding faith in the promises of the Master and the desire to be at rest over there. Mr. KEEDY has always taken a somewhat active part in the work of the church, and has served as trustee ever since the chapel was erected in his neighborhood. He is the only survivor of those originally forming the church on section 14. The work of the Sunday school has always enlisted his most earnest efforts and he has given much of his time as teacher and superintendent, in each capacity serving faithfully and well.

Politically, Mr. KEEDY was originally a whig, but unlike his father, on the dissolution of the whig party, he drifted into the democratic party, with which he has since been identified. Officially he has served his township as assessor, collector and treasurer. His son Ambrose Dudley was assessor of the township seven years, and has also served as school trustee. The father and son make their home together and both are highly respected citizens of the county. The father has passed his three score and ten years, and is a well preserved man with many friends throughout Marshall and adjoining counties.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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