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J.A. Keck


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 23:00:35

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties 1890
J.A. Keck who devotes his time and attention to farming and stock-raising, his home being on Section 32, Cedar Township, dates his residence in Van Buren County from 1846, in which year he immigrated westward from Westmoreland County Pennsylvania, the place of his nativity. The year of his birth was 1827, and he was the second child born unto Henry and Mary Hardin Keck, both of whom were natives of the Keystone State. The Keck family is of German origin, and was founded in America at an early day. The parents of our subject spent the days of their childhood in Pennsylvania, where there married, and made their home in Westmoreland County until the spring of 1846, when desiring to try his fortune in the West, Mr. Keck accompanied by his wife and children, made the journey to Van Buren County Iowa. They settled in Utica, but spent their last days in Bentonsport. The father died in 1862, and the mother in 1874. They were worthy and respected citizens and ranked among the prominent early settlers of the community.
Until eighteen years of age, J.A. Keck continued to reside in his native state, his time being devoted to farm labor during the summer months, while in the winter season he attended the public schools. It proved an important decision for him when the family determined to seek a home in the west, since in Van Buren County, he has been blessed with prosperity, and won for himself a foremost place among its citizens. He remained under the parental roof until the spring of 1852, when, bidding goodbye to home and friends, he crossed the plains to California, making the journey with an ox-team, and reaching his destination after four months of travel. For some time he engaged in mining on the American River, and in his operations met with a good degree of success. After several months he returned to his home by the way of the Isthmus of Panama and New York City, but during the voyage cholera broke out among the passengers, and the vessel was quarantined at Key West Florida. The greater part of the crew died of the disease, and the vessel was detained some time before a sufficient number could be obtained to replace them. To the homesick Californian this delay was very tedious and wearisome, but finally the vessel again started on its way to New York City, whence Mr. Keck proceeded by rail to Rockford, Illinois. Only a short time then elapsed before he was again at home, receiving the welcome greetings of family and friends.
A marriage ceremony performed in Van Buren County, in the spring of 1853 united the destinies of J.A. Keck and Miss Ingaba Ebbert, daughter of James and Eliza DeVecmon Ebbert. The lady is a native of Fayette County Pennsylvania, and in the Keystone State, her father was also born, but her mother was a native of Maryland. Twelve children graced this union, and with one exception all are yet living, namely: Mary, wife of Charles Dougherty, a resident farmer of Cedar Township, Van Buren County; Hugh G., who is married and is engaged in the transfer business in Dodge City Kansas; Catherine B., wife of Robert Ely of Harrisburg Township; Rose E., wife of Taylor Easter, of Sumner County Kansas; George C., who is married and devotes his attention to the insurance business in York Nebraska; Lida, wife of Delbert Jack, of Bentonsport; John H., is married, and is a conductor on the Burlington & Missouri Railroad, running in Nebraska; James E., who is married, and is school teaching in Harrisburg Township; Allie J., Charles R., and Robert R., are at home. William died in 1873, at the age of two years.
The first purchase of land, which Mr. Keck made, comprised two hundred acres, and became his property in 1851. After his marriage, he took up his residence thereon, and began the work of developing the same. So successful has he been in his operations, that he was enabled to extend its boundaries until it now contains three hundred and forty acres, three hundred and twenty of which is under a high state of cultivation. The land is divided into fields of convenient size, these are well tilled, a substantial and commodious residence has been erected, barns and other outbuildings have been built, and everything necessary to a well-regulated farm may there be found. He is also raising fine grades of all kinds of farm stock, and has several head of thoroughbred cattle. His farming interests are extensive, and no branch of the business is neglected; yet a man of great energy and enterprise, Mr. Keck has found time to devote to other interests. Since 1868, he has been connected with the Bentonsport Flouring Mills, and for a number of years operated a creamery at the same place. He was at one time one of the most extensive stock shippers in this section of the state, but increasing years have caused him to lay aside some of his business cares. Sagacious and far-sighted, he possesses excellent business ability and to his own efforts may be attributed his success in life. In political sentiment Mr. Keck is a stalwart Republican, having supported that party since its organization. He now holds the office of Justice of the Peace of Cedar Township, a position that he has filled at intervals in former years, and as Township Trustee he has also done effective service for the community. He is President of the County Agricultural Fair for two years, and has frequently been a member of the Board of Directors. During the late war although he could not enter the field, he served as captain of a company of home guards, and in many other ways displayed his patriotism and loyalty to the Government. Socially, he is a member of the Masonic order, belonging to Bentonsport Lodge, No. 47, A.F. & A.M., La Fayette Chapter, of Bonaparte, and Elchanan Commandery of Keosauqua. Himself and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Utica, and their friends and acquaintances in Van Buren County form an extensive circle. Many years they have here resided, and in the social world they are held in high regard, while the Keck household is the abode of hospitality.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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