The late Andrew Keithline enjoyed the distinction of being one of the oldest, if not the oldest living pioneer resident of Atchison. Fifty-six years of his four score and seven years of life were spent in Atchison and vicinity. In the fulness of his years and satisfied in the reflection concerning a long and useful life spent he lived a quiet, retired life in his comfortable home a 1121 Santa Fe Street until the Death Angel called him. He loved to meet his many friends and speak reminiscently of the days when Atchison was in the embryo state, and of the stirring scenes during the days when Kansas was in the throes of becoming an integral part of the great American Union. He was one of the city's grand old men who was universally loved and respected by all who knew him. He came of that sturdy Pennsylvania German stock, noted the country over for their sterling qualities of endurance and the ability to do their share in the transformation of a wilderness to a land of homes and plenty.
Andrew Keithline was born on a farm in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, a son of John and Mary (NEYHART) Keithline. The first Keithline to come to America was Colonel Keithline, who figures prominently in Revolutionary annals and who accompanied Baron DE KALB to this country in 1775. Andrew Keithline's grandfather, Joseph Keithline, was born in Northhampton County, Pennsylvania, served in the War of 1812 and died in 1850. He was a tailor by trade and contracted to make buckskin breeches for the government to be worn by the soldiers during the war. Joseph's children wore buckskin breeches made by their father. John Keithline, the father of Andrew, operated a wagon shop which also served as the family residence for some years, in fact, Andrew was born in his father's wagon shop. He prospered, in the course of time, and came west in 1863 and invested in eighty acres of land, south of Atchison and later owned 320 acres west of Atchison on the Parallel road. This tract was partly fenced at the time of purchase and cost John Keithline $25 per acre. He made his home thereon and was joined by his family in 1864. The mother of Andrew died in 1865 and John returned to the old home in Pennsylvania where he died in 1868. Nine children were born to John Keithline and wife: Samuel, Catherine, Andrew, Julia, Sarah, Priscilla, John, Peter and Mary E. Of these, Samuel, Sarah and Andrew came to Atchison County.
Andrew left the parental home in December of 1857, and went to Michigan, remaining until 1859, when he came to Atchison, where he resided until the fall of 1864. His first employment was with the firm of Walters & Roswell, who conducted a general store and wanted a clerk familiar with the German tongue. For the two years previous to his locating in Atchison he conducted a cooperative store in Michigan. His first trip to the far west was taken in 1860, when he went to Denver and disposed of a stock of goods for his firm. He made another trip across the plains later than this. In 1864 he was called out with the Kansas State Militia to repel the Price invasion. On October 31, 1864, he moved to his farm west of Atchison, and remained there tilling his acreage until September 1, 1898, and made his permanent home in Atchison until his death. His fine farm consisted originally of 220 acres and when he removed to Atchison he still owned 190 acres of the original farm. Mr. Keithline bought a handsome brick residence on Santa Fe Street and by wise investments and carefully husbanding his resources accumulated a comfortable competence for the support of his declining years. H was considered a well-to-do citizen. He was married on November 5, 1854, to Rose VARNER, born in 1832 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, a daughter of George Varner, whose father was a soldier in the Revolution. Two children were born to this well respected couple, namely: Gilbert, born 1855, died in Jackson County in the spring of 1913. He was the father of seven children, Herschell, Sydney, Rose, Emma, Mary Andrew and Laura. Mrs. Cora WARTERS, a daughter of Mr. Keithline, lives in Atchison, She is the mother of our children: Bessie, Andrew, Cora Willis and Lorene.
Mr. Keithline was one of the original Free State men of Kansas, and was induced to come here by the fact that men in favor of making Kansas a few state were needed in the Territory. He consistently espoused the principles of the Republican party, taking an active part in politics during his younger days and served for two years as justice of the peace. One of the bright spots in his memory of bygone days, was his warm friendship for Senator John J. INGALLS, which friendship was reciprocated by the illustrious senator. He always adhered to the Lutheran religious denomination, which was the faith of his fathers. The evening of life must come to us all and happy is the man who can calmly wait for the last call to summon him to his just reward in the world to come, at peace with all mankind and cared for by capable hands; such was the life of this fine old gentleman of whom it has been a pleasure to write this brief review.
Andrew Keithline departed this life December 14, 1915. The end came peacefully as he had wished. The worn-out body of this grand old patriarch ceased to be able to hold the immortal soul of one of the grandest and best loved men of the early pioneer days of Atchison County. Mr. Keithline was a good and honest citizen whose upright and sturdy character will long prove an inspiration and guidance for the present and future generations of Kansans who may peruse these pages. He was a prominent factor in the building up of Atchison County, and was intimate with the great men of his day and generation. When his time came and the Angel of Death called him to the long rest he was content to go and had no regrets. Death had no terrors for him as his life was unspotted and clean, and in keeping with the attributes of the man himself.
History of Atchison County, Kansas
by Sheffield Ingalls - 1916
Clemi Higley Blackburn, September 2003