NELSON KECK, a pioneer settler of Farmer’s Creek and a prominent farmer of Montague County, Texas, is a native of the “Hoosier State.”
Mr. Keck was born in Davis County, Indiana, December 16, 1842; son of Philip and Orpha (Cooch) Keck, the former a native of Tennessee, the latter of Indiana.
Philip Keck was a son of a Tennessee farmer. When a youth of eighteen, he went north to Indiana, where he subsequently married and settled on a farm, and where he carried on agricultural pursuits for many years. During the days of “general muster” he was captain of a company. Later in life he rented his farm and engaged in merchandising at Teck Church, and was thus occupied up to the time of his death. Politically he was first a Whig and afterward a Republican. While he filled several local positions, such as township trustee, etc., he never aspired to public or official life. He was a consistent member of the Christian church, as also was his wife; and both were highly esteemed by all who knew them. Some years after his death, she became the wife of A. Storms, a farmer. She died in 1895. The children of her first marriage are: Alford of Kansas, John and Christian of Oklahoma, Nelson Wilson of Oklahoma, and Amanda, Mary A., and Lurinda. By her second marriage there are two children: Alice and Laura.
Nelson Keck was reared to honest toil on the farm and had only limited educational advantages. In August 1862, he enlisted in Company C, Ninety-first Indiana Volunteer Infantry, under Colonel John Marion, and was assigned to the Army of the Cumberland for three years, or during the war, and he remained in the service until the war was over. While he was a participant in many hotly contested fights and endured many hardships incident to army life, he was never wounded or captured. At the time of General Lee’s surrender, Mr. Keck was at Raleigh, North Carolina, and July 3, 1865, he received an honorable discharge at Indianapolis, after which he returned home.
In 1867 he made a prospecting trip to some of the western country and to northern Texas, and so well pleased was he witht the latter place that he following year he returned and has since made it his home. He settled on school land, in true pioneer style began the making of a farm, and here he has since lived and labored, today being in the enjoyment of a competency as the result of his years of toil. When the land was placed on the market in 1886, he bought four hundred and forty acres, chiefly timber land. For some time after his settlement here, the Indians were hostile, making frequent raids through the country, stealing stock, but they never molested his property. As the Indians stole the horses, the early settlers were compelled to do their farming with ox teams, and some of their mills were run by oxen. Mr. Keck had his milling done at Marysville, twenty-five miles away, and Sherman and Denison, seventy miles distant, were his market places. There was a variety and abundance of game here then, including deer and turkeys, and the frontier life had its pleasures as well as its hardships. While his farming is now diversified, Mr. Keck makes a specialty of corn and cotton, and at present is experimenting with alfalfa.
Both Mr. Keck and his wife are worthy members of the Christian church. Politically he is a Republican.
Mr. Keck married, in 1867, Miss Catherine Woodruff, a native of Davis [Daviess] County, Indiana, born June 30, 1846, daughter of John and Anna (Holt) Woodruff. The Woodruff family went from North Carolina to Indiana at an early day and were among the pioneers of Davis County. John Woodruff, a prominent and highly respected farmer of Davis County, is still living, having reached a ripe old age. His children are: Mrs. Susan Mathews, Mrs. Catherine Keck, Sarah J., Mrs. Candiss Herrington and Hester. Mr. And Mrs. Keck have ten children, namely: Newton, the eldest, a native of Indiana, the others having been born in Texas; Lilburn and Oloway, farmers in Texas; Elbert, of Oklahoma; John W., of Indian Territory; Viola, wife of C. Hanson; Mrs. Pearly Kemp; Bessie and Keely, at home, and Armetta, who died in August, 1904, at the age of eleven years.[Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 124-125.]
Elaine Nall Bay