JAMES F. McKEOWN. - Numbered among the respected and highly esteemed residents of Kansas City, Kansas, is James F. McKeown, who has had a varied experience in life, and during his active career has visited nearly every part of the globe. He was born June 2, 1856, in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, a son of John McKeown, on both sides of the house being of pure Irish ancestry.
John McKeown was born, bred and married in county Armagh, Ireland, the maiden name of his wife having been Elizabeth Ferguson. In 1849 he came with his bride to America, landing in New York city and traveling overland on the Philadelphia pike to Allegheny county, Pennsylvania. He was there engaged in business as a general merchant until 1865, when he entered the office of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, of which he was a stockholder. He afterwards became interested in the Westinghouse Electric Company, but from 1887 until his death, October 12, 1897, devoted his time to the care of his real estate interests in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He reared a family of ten children, of whom James F. was the second child in succession of birth.
At the age of thirteen years, having obtained the rudiments of his future education in the public schools of his native county, James F. McKeown began to be self supporting. Going to Cleveland, Ohio, he worked for six months for his board and fifty cents a week. The following year he received a dollar and a half a month for his labors, and the second year his wages amounted to three dollars a week. Returning to the parental roof tree when sixteen years old, he spent four years in learning the trade of candy maker, at which he subsequently worked in Chicago, Illinois. From there he went back to Pittsburg, and, having formed a partnership with Edward Hagen, embarked in the catering business. Two years later the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. McKeown went to Vera Cruz, Mexico, where, on January 5, 1881, he was united in marriage with Muzzeitte Pockitte, who was born in Vera Cruz, a daughter of Beiona Pockitte, an Indian and a lineal descendant of Pocahontas, the beautiful Indian girl of Jamestown, Virginia, who saved the life of Captain John Smith.
After his marriage Mr. McKeown took his wife to New York City, sailing in the "City of Cleveland," one of the large steamers of the Ward line, and was there employed as a cracker baker for seven months. Going then with his wife to England, he was for a year employed in the London Biscuit Works, after which he worked in a bakery at Reading, England, several months. From there Mr. and Mrs. McKeown proceeded to Belfast, Ireland, where their family circle was enlarged by the birth of twin daughters, Mary and Frances, neither of whom are now living. Returning from Ireland to the United States, Mr. McKeown located with his family in New Orleans, Louisana,[sic] being there during the epidemic of yellow fever, from November, 1883, until the following March.
Proceeding then to St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. McKeown was there employed in a bakery for two months, after which he visited his parents in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, for a time. Mr. and Mrs. McKeown came west from that city, traveling for a while, and in April, 1886, made a brief stop in Kansas City, Missouri. Going thence to San Francisco, he and his wife sailed for Australia, arriving in Sidney after a tedious voyage of sixty-three days. Disappointed at not finding the man with whom he expected to form a partnership, Mr. McKeown sailed with his wife to Cairo, Egypt, from there going to Paris. He subsequently once more returned to his native land, locating in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where, on October 19, 1888, his wife died.
Mr. McKeown again came westward, and after spending six months in Jackson county, Kansas, was for two years foreman in the shop of I. F. Peters, in Memphis, Tennessee. Going then to New York city, he worked in a bakery four weeks, but not content with his position returned to Memphis, and a little later made a trip to Jackson county, Kansas.
There, on April 19, 1891, Mr. McKeown married for his second wife Madeline Lasky, who was born in Pottawattomie county, Kansas, a daughter of John and Mary Ann Lasky, natives of Michigan. The following winter Mr. McKeown with his wife, visited his parents in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, from there going to Oklahoma, where he conducted a general store for eight months. Selling out, he visited old friends in Jackson county, Kansas, and in the spring of 1893 spent four weeks at the World's Fair in Chicago. Locating then in Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. McKeown was for a year an engineer on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Settling then in Cleveland, Ohio, he was there in the employ of a bakery company for a few months, after which he was similarly employed in Denver, Colorado, for a few weeks. His health becoming impaired, he spent awhile recuperating at Manitou Springs, Colorado, after which he returned to Kansas.
On August 5, 1898, at Leavenworth, Kansas, Mr. McKeown enlisted in Company K, Thirty-second Regiment, United States Volunteers, for service in the Philippines. While there he was for eleven months and nineteen days confined in the Second Reserve Hospital, being afflicted with rheumatism of the nervous system. Since his return Mr. McKeown has been a resident of Kansas, at the present time located in Kansas City. Politically he supports the principles of the Republican party by voice and vote.
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