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                                    DR. JOHN G. KEENON
                                         Biography
                                    Cook County, Illinois

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Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.



DR. JOHN G. KEENON


Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 29-30

DR. JOHN GRACEN KEENON, one of the most loyal Kentuckians,
who was for many years a resident of Chicago, was born at
Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1827, and died while in the service
of his country at Memphis, Tennessee, on the 12th of August,
1864.  He was at that time Medical Director of the Sixteenth
United States Army Corps, and Post Surgeon in charge of
hospitals at Memphis.

The Keenon family was early planted in Virginia.  His
father, Adam C. Keenon, was born at Paris, Kentucky, and his
mother, Elizabeth Clark, was a native of Frankfort, in the
same state.  The latter was a relative of Governor Clark, of
Kentucky, of a very old and prominent family in that state.
Adam C. Keenon was a very pure-minded and upright gentleman,
who never drank liquor or handled cards, something
exceptional in his day and locality.  He was a large planter
and slave-holder, and was for many years State Binder of the
state.  He was thoroughly loyal, though nearly all his
friends espoused the cause of the southern confederacy in
the Civil War.  He said he would rather lose all his slaves
than be disloyal to his whole country.

John G. Keenon was educated at Center College, Danville,
Kentucky, attended medical lectures at Louisville, and was
graduated from the celebrated Meigs Medical College of
Philadelphia.  At the age of twenty-two he began practice at
St. Joseph, Missouri, in partnership with his cousin, Dr.
Joseph Fox, who was afterward prominent in the service of
the Confederate army.  After a year and a-half he was called
to Frankfort, Kentucky, by the illness of his mother, and
remained there, giving some time to practice.  In 1852 he
visited Chicago for the first time and made investments in
real estate on Lake Street.  He kept an office at the corner
of Lake and La Salle Streets, then in the heart of the
business district, and gave some of his time to the
treatment of patients, though he was largely occupied with
the investment of his means and the care of his property.
When it became apparent that civil war was on, with all the
horrors of such a struggle, he went to Washington and
tendered his services to the Government.  Through the
influence of Hon. Frank Blair, he received the appointment
of Brigade-Surgeon, and was attached to the Army of the
Tennessee, under his old friend, Gen. Thomas Crittenden,
afterward Governor of Kentucky.  He was in active service at
the capture of Fort Donelson and the battles of Shiloh,
Corinth and Vicksburg, as well as others of that campaign.
Before its close he was promoted to the position of Medical
Director and was with Gen. Stephen A. Hurlbut, between whom
and himself existed the warmest friendship.  Mrs. Hurlbut is
also remembered with the most kindly sentiments by Mrs.
Keenon, who often visited her husband in the field.  A
handsome gold watch, which was presented to Dr. Keenon by
General Hurlbut, is still preserved by the Doctor’s
descendants.  Dr. Keenon adhered to the traditions of his
fathers in his support of the Democratic party, but included
among his most intimate and true friends many leaders of the
Republican party.  He was a member of the Presbyterian
Church from the age of seventeen years.  He also attained a
high degree in Free Masonry.

On the death of Dr. Keenon his remains were treated with the
highest military and Masonic honors, being temporarily
deposited in a vault at Winchester Cemetery at Memphis, with
an escort of the Eighth Iowa Infantry, and the pall-bearers
including, besides Generals Crittenden and Hurlbut, the
principal medical officers of the post.  The body was
finally deposited near Kentucky’s monument to her celebrated
sons, at Frankfort, near the remains of Henry Clay and other
distinguished civilians and soldiers of that state.
November 1, 1854, Dr. Keenon married, in Chicago, Miss
Eleanor Hamilton, daughter of Col. Richard J. Hamilton,
another distinguished Kentuckian, of whom extended mention
is made on other pages of this volume.  At the same time and
place, another daughter of Colonel Hamilton, Miss Diana, was
married to Breckenridge Blackburn, a member of the
celebrated Kentucky family of that name, and brother of the
subsequent Gov. Luke Blackburn and United States Senator
Joseph C. S. Blackburn, all of whom were among the most
active and loyal supporters of the Southern Confederacy.
Three children given to Dr. and Mrs. Keenon now occupy
prominent business or social positions.  Adam Hamilton, the
eldest, and John Harold are residents of Chicago, the latter
being connected with the city postoffice.  The daughter,
Florence Buckner, is the wife of Dr. Cyrus William Knight, a
leading physician of New Orleans, Louisiana.  The elder son
is a practicing attorney, and was three years Special
Assessment Attorney under Mayor Harrison’s second and third
terms.  He is an active member of the Masonic order.
Mrs. Keenon enjoys the distinction of being the oldest
person of pure white blood born in Chicago.  Her birth
occurred while Colonel Hamilton was living with his family
within Fort Dearborn, on St. Valentine’s Day of the year
1832.  She is a well-preserved lady, whose bright eye
glistens while relating her many interesting reminiscences
of early Chicago.  She attended the first school in Chicago,
which was temporarily located in Colonel Hamilton’s barn,
with boxes for seats and desks, and later in the basement of
St. James’ Episcopal Church.  The first Methodist religious
service was held in Colonel Hamilton’s parlor, and Mrs.
Hamilton made the pulpit cloth for the first Methodist
Church in the city.  The Old Settlers’ Society of Chicago
presented Mrs. Keenon, on a recent anniversary, with a
beautiful gold medal, on which is engraved a picture of Fort
Dearborn, in honor of her being the oldest woman living who
was born in Chicago.  The German Old Settlers’ Society also
presented her with a handsome medal, appropriately engraved.
She is an honored member of the Sons of Chicago, an
association devoted to the preservation of early memories.
		




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