IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

Lewis Keen
Mendon Twp.

Lewis Keen, machinest and assistant foreman of the C., M. & St. P. R. R., R. & N., McGregor, was born in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, Pa., Dec. 25, 1839, a son of Michael and Mary (Smith) Keen. His father was a blacksmith, machinist and engineer of locomotives, and helped build some of the first locomotives in the country, and set up the first stationary engine on the Alleghany Mountains. He made a machine that would run itself, but had no power to run anything else. He was a native of France, and came to America when a young man. His wife was born in Saxony, and they were married near Strasburg, France. They had a family of eleven children, four living -- Frank, a type manufacturer at Milwaukee, Wis.; George, a molder and machinist, who has a foundry in McGregor; Louisa, wife of John Loyd, and the subject of this sketch. He attended school in Pennsylvania until ten or eleven years of age, when he came with his parents to Elkader, Ia., and began to learn the machinist's trade in his brother's foundry. He remained here five or six years, when he went with his brother to Clayton, and worked two or three years; then came with him to McGregor and worked in the foundry here until 1861, when he enlisted in the First Iowa Cavalry, Company K, and was elected bugler of the company, and held that position two months, when he was transferred to the regimental band, and remained in the service eighteeen months; was mustered out, came home, and went to St. Louis, Mo., to re-enlist in a brigade band for General Warren, but failing to get a sufficient number for a band, he worked at his trade in St. Louis until 1863, when he returned to North McGregor and went into the fruit and grocery trade. Three months later he sold out and worked for the McGregor Western Railroad Company two years. Since then he has worked for the C., M. & St. P. R. R., Co., except three months in 1872, when he was R. N. foreman for the Lake Superior Company at St. Paul. He married Isabell Norris, Oct. 15, 1864. She was born in Hennpin, Putnam County, Ill., and was a daughter of Willard B. Norris and Louisa (Lyons) Norris. Mr. and Mrs. Keen have had a family of five children -- Isabell, Willard L., Louisa E., Edward F. and Robert P. Mr. Keene has held the offices of School Director and Councilman. In politics he is a Democrat, and is one of the old C., M. & St. P. Railroad men, and an old settler of Clayton County, and an enterprising representative man of North McGregor. He helped organize the first brass and string band of McGregor, and is at present a member of the band.

source: History of Clayton County, Iowa, 1882, p. 990-991


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