Originally published by Lewis Publishing Co., 1896.
James Harvey Keith
J.H. Keith is the oldest settler on Alarm Creek, having been connected with this section of the state since 1859. The region in which he located was wild and unimproved. Vast stretches of prairie offered excellent opportunity to the agriculturist, but as yet were in the primitive condition. Few homes had been established in the surrounding country and along the banks of alarm creek no settlement had been effected. From that time forward Mr. Keith has been active in the development of the neighborhood and belongs to that class of honored pioneers to whom the county owes a debt of gratitude for what they have accomplished.
Mr. Keith was born in McNairy County, Tennessee, on the 21st of February, 1829, a son of Stephen and Rebecca (Crane) Keith, who removed to Arkansas in 1830 and came to Texas in 1839. Our subject resided in Titus County, this state, until after had had attained his majority and then took up his abode in Hunt County. He was married in the former county, in 1848, to Miss Jane O’Neal, a native of McNairy County, Tennessee, born in 1829, a daughter of George W. and Mary (Major) O’Neal, who reached Titus County, Texas, on the 2nd of January 1846.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Keith removed to Hunt County, where he followed farming and stock-raising until 1859, when he came to Erath County, then on the every border of civilization. Locating on his present farm he began to clear and improve the place and continued this work until the breaking out of the war. In august, 1862, he enlisted in Colonel Gurley’s regiment, which was attached to General Gano’s division and served in the western army, participating the many skirmishes and the battle of Cabin Creek, where three hundred wagons were captured by the Confederate forces.
At the close of the war the regiment with which Mr. Keith was connected was disbanded, and he returned home to find that all his transportable property had been stolen and he was forced to begin business life anew. His family had during the struggle between the north and the south removed to Dublin, Texas, in order to escape the treachery of the savage Indians, who were committing so many depredations on the frontier. Locating upon his farm out subject once more began the work of development and improvement and now has a valuable place, comprising seven hundred and twenty acres, all of which is fenced, while one hundred and fifteen acres is under a high state of cultivation and yields to him a golden tribute in return for his care and cultivation. Mr. Keith has won that success that results from enterprise, capable management, and unfaltering industry, and is to day numbered among the substantial citizens of the community.
Mr. and Mrs. Keith are the parents of eleven children, seven of whom are still living, namely: Wilson W., born June 25, 1849, and after attaining to years of maturity engaged in the stock-raising business. While following this pursuit on the Pecos River, August 3, 1873, he was wounded by the Indians at Horse Shoe Bend, and after being removed to Seven Rivers he died. W.G. is married and resides near the old homestead. Nicodemus is married and makes his home in Eastland County, Texas. Ellen died at the age of eight years. Stephen is married and resides on the homestead farm. The next, a daughter, died in infancy. Robert E. is married and lives in Erath County. Elba is the wife of Frank Ham, of Erath County. Walter is at home. Emma is the wife of J.H. Boyd of Erath County. The youngest child also died in infancy.
Mr. and Mrs. Keith are members of the Missionary Baptist church and are people whose many excellencies of character have endeared them to a large circle of friends. In his political views our subject is a Democrat and warmly advocates the principles of his party, although he has never sought or desired office, preferring to give his time and attention to his business interests.
EDITOR’S NOTES: Seven Rivers where the son Wilson S. Keith is buried is located between the towns of Carlsbad and Artesia in New Mexico. At one point a few years ago, the Federal Government was looking to move those graves as noted by Roy T. Mitchell of Eagle Lake, Texas, in his excellent book "Descendants of Nichodemus Keith and Margaret Borden", published 1987.
W.G. as above is George Washington "Wash" Keith, born 9 April 1851 and died 8 April 1926 and is buried at Johnson Cemetery which is located on highway 847 a few miles west of the intersection of that highway and highway 914 which is the Stephenville-Alexander paved highway. Nicodemus, born 23 Aug 1853 and died 25 June 1925. He is buried at Roswell, New Mexico. Ellen, born 25 March 1856 and died 3 March 1864, and is buried at Johnson Cemetery. Stephen N. Keith (1858-1938) is buried at Johnson; an infant girl, b & d ca. 1860; Robert Erwin Keith (1862-1935), at Johnson; Elba (1866-1953) lived at Hondo; Walter, (1868-1949), at Johnson; Rose Emma "Mona" (1871-1956); and an infant girl ca. 1880 are the others. James Harvey Keith, our biography subject (1829-1901), and his wife Jane O’Neal Keith (1829-1915) are both also buried at Johnson.