JOHN BAKER KEYS GRAVESTONE PHOTO
Neodesha Daily Sun, Thursday, Dec. 13, 1906, Pg. 1
Vol. VIII, No. 31
JOHN B. KEYS
John B. Keys, for years a prominent figure in the history of Neodesha, died at his residence on Third and Mill street yesterday, Dec. 12, 1906, at 6:50 p. m. Funeral arrangements have not been made as it is not known when absent members of the family will be able to get here. Funeral announcement tomorrow.
Neodesha Daily Sun, Thursday, Dec. 22, 1906, Pg. 3
Vol. VIII, No. 39
JOHN BAKER KEYS.
John B. Keys, one of the most widely known and highly respected citizens of Neodesha, is no more, having died at his home at the corner of 3d and Mill streets, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 1906, at 7:55 p. m. He had been in declining health for some months, his condition at times threatening the worst. Being quite sick for two or three weeks, a fatal culmination was regarded probable, but the sudden end which came was unexpected and produced a shock to relatives and friends. The funeral was held Saturday at the residence, conducted by Rev. C. P. Dubois, of the Presbyterian church and the attendance was large. Interment was made in the city cemetery. At the grave the old soldiers of Humphrey Post, of which the departed was a member, performed the last sad rites in a very solemn and impressive manner, the burial service being according to the ritual of that veteran organization.
John Baker Keys was born at Bladensburg, Knox county, Ohio, July 27, 1838, thus making him at his death 68 years, 4 months and 15 days of age. He came West in 1860, locating at LeRoy, Kansas, and August 3, 1861, at Leavenworth, he enlisted in Company E, Fifth Kansas Cavalry, in which he served until September 8, 1864, when he was honorably discharged from the army. October 7, 1867, Mr. Keys was married to Miss Belle John, who survive him, together with two sons and three daughters, as follows: Mrs. Minnie E. Lowder of Martinsville, Ind.; Frank W. Keys, Mrs. S. E. Stephens, John Earl Keys and Miss Besse Keys of Neodesha. Mr. and Mrs. Keys were the first white couple married in Neodesha township.
In the early history of Neodesha Mr. Keys figured quite conspicuously. In 1867 Dr. Allen McCartey formed a partnership with Alexander K. Phelon and they erected a large log cabin near the foot of Little Bear Mound, less than one mile from the present site of Neodesha, and opened a trading post, or supply depot, for the Osage Indians, on whose reservation the post was located. Recognizing the natural advantages of the Verdigris and Fall rivers—the two partners, with John B. Keys and Robert Futhey, who arrived at the trading post in October, 1868, formed a town company and purchased the original townsite of Neodesha, paying therefore $400.00. This was the signal for wild excitemet and all claims near that of Keys and Futhey were held at enormous figures. The survey of the townsite took place July 12 and 13, 1869. The town company gave away many lots to persons who would build thereon. Dr. McCartney still resides here and he is the only surviving member of the original townsite company.
Keys and Futhey erected a flouring mill on the Verdigris river north of the wagon bridge, just southeast of town in the spring of 1871, which they operated for a number of years, the mill finally burning down in 1888. Mr. Keys was mayor of Neodesha in 1886 and for one or two other terms. He was owner and manager of an extensive lumber yard here in the 80s. He had always been interested in various enterprises and at his death was president of the V. V. V. Brick & Tile Co. and the Neodesha Crystal Ice Co., being president of both since they were organized. Mr. Keys leaves to his devoted wife and children four or five hundred acres of valuable farm land within two miles of Neodesha, besides about thirty choice business and residence lots in this city. In 1903 he engaged in the oil business and developed his own farms, sinking 17 wells, of which 14 were paying producers. These wells are now being pumped.
In the death of Mr. Keys the community loses one of its very earliest settlers and most substantial citizens. He was an honest, conscientious man, true to his convictions, always advocating and standing up for what he believed to be just and right. As a husband and father to those left behind his memory will be cherished to the end.