JAMES WASHINGTON MCKEEHAN
Born December 29, 1870 in GrantCo, Arkansas
Died August 14, 1956 CassCo, Texas
Married 24 March 1900 in MillerCo, Arkansas
Born April 29, 1882 in FranklinCo, Arkansas
Died November 9, 1950 CassCo, Texas
We know little of the first thirty years of James Washington McKeehan, known as Jim by many, prior to his marriage to 18 year-old Josephine Moore (April 29, 1882-Nov. 1950) in Miller County, Arkansas in 1900. At the time of his fathers death in 1877, he was a boy of seven.
Only in recent years has some information come to light concerning his first marriage on 31 Jan 1893 in MillerCo, AR to Pearl Lomax (b. 1876) and his first son, Leon Lomax McKeehan (1893-1975). According to his children, James Washington never spoke of his former marriage which ended in divorce or about his son Leon with whom he had little, if any, contact. According to descendants, Leon did not get along with his stepfather and left home to make it on his own at an early age. Leon lived around Fayetteville, AR and ran a store called "McKeehan's Fabric Shoppe."
Old and New Place, Miller County, Arkansas. Although not the youngest, Jim was the last of the third generation of his line beginning with Landon C. McKeehan of Greene County, Tennessee. He was a restless person always looking for something better. He listened closely to friends and kin for advice, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Jim and Josephine, who was known as Josie or Aunt Josie, began what was to be a large family early in their marriage. A child was born every 18 months to two years of their union. The family story begins at what was called the Old Place southeast of Texarkana in Miller County, Arkansas. A few years later, they bought another farm a few miles down the road. Jim with the help of Uncle Pat (Braxton Bragg McKeehan) built a new house for the growing family which was called the New Place. Eleven of thirteen children were born to Jim and Josie at the Old Place and New Place in Miller County, Arkansas.
The Red River Valley, Bowie County, Texas. Probably similar to the first and second generations as indicated by their movement and proximity from one county to another in various county records in Tennessee, the third generation in Arkansas and Texas kept in touch through family visits, hog-killing celebrations, picnics, church meetings and socials. At one of the meetings Jim McKeehan met Mark Jackson, a son-in-law to Ginnie and Josh Gray. Noting the three stout teenage boys in the family, the conversation went something like this: "Jim, no matter how hard you work, you will never get ahead here in Miller County, Arkansas. I know where you can rent a farm in the Red River delta north of DeKalb west of Texarkana that contains land that is rich as any on earth. Cotton, corn and pumpkins grow so big and lush you can walk across the field and never touch the ground. In the nearby hills is a house for rent less than a mile from the delta farm." Mark Jackson lit a fuse under Jim McKeehan that day. Everything he said was true, it was what he did not say that was most important. True, together with those strong healthy boys and supported by their sisters and mother, Uncle Jim could make a fortune there in the rich Red River delta bottomland.
However, the risks and downsides that were not discussed was what later shattered the dream, wore them down and brought on disappointment. What they were not told about the Red River Delta was that the same flooding that over the centuries made the fertile delta land superior often as not comes early in the fall just at the time when crops are ready for harvest. In those days preceding the twenties, the flood waters would come all the way from the Palo Duro country in west Texas to empty into the Mississippi. Just as predicted, the first year Jim and sons, Jimmy, Ray and Paul, looked across cotton fields producing a bale to the acre and corn with several giant ears per stalk. However, just at harvest time, word came that the water was rising. The whole family frantically organized including men, women and children to work from sunup into the night to salvage the harvest before it went under. This may have been the time and period when cotton picking methods switched from pulling the cotton out of the boll clean to pulling everything boll and all because there was no time for the former. Furiously harvesting both cotton and corn, everyone learned to start first at the bottom of the stalks, move upward as the water rose while wading in ankle, then knee-deep water and finally from out of boats and canoes with lanterns on the bow as the water climbed higher and higher. From dawn and into the night using lanterns, boatload by boatload of corn and cotton was loaded and paddled over to dry high ground where the wagons were parked. I witnessed all these events in the fall of 1918 as a five year old boy whose duty was to bring lunch prepared by Mama Josie to the field workers in a gallon molasses bucket. One time when rushing down the hill to bring lunch, my barefeet tripped and all over the ground went the lunch from the bucket. As best I could, I furiously rushed to clean and repack the food since the boys were waiting for lunch. Afraid to relate the event to Mama or anyone, I was greatly relieved when the event passed with nothing more than a comment from brother Paul to Mama Josie that whatever she had used in that lunch that day was a little gritty.
Although 100 percent of the crop was not salvaged, the highly productive land and hard and frantic work resulted in salvage of a large part of both corn and cotton crops. Nevertheless, Papa Jim and the older boys were worn out while the fuse that was lit back in Miller County, Arkansas was burned out. After the salvaged crop was sold, they began to consider that this was not the place to build their fortune, the risk and price to pay was to high. They began to dream of a place where with patience and constant hardwork year by year they could live reasonably and happily without fighting the floods of the Red River Valley. Despite the bad luck and hardship in Bowie County, Texas, there were pleasant events for the family. The youngest girl of the family, Jesse Rebecca (May 1919), was born there. It was there that Jim kept an old shotgun hanging over his bed. I was nearly six years old and I had never seen him shoot it. Near our Bowie County house was a big red oak tree in which hundreds, maybe thousands of big fat black birds roosted in the fall. In some places, they were so thick it looked like a solid black ball. There I finally saw the old long Tom shotgun in action. Jim shot up into the tree and birds literally rained down. There was blackbird pie for supper and many other times that fall.
The Jim Davis Place in Miller County, Arkansas. Whether fate or answer to prayers, while selling his salvaged crop in the fall of 1918, Jim met another Jim in the wagonyards. Jim Davis lit no torch as had Mark Jackson, but told him of a farm he owned in lower Miller County with some orchards and good farmland. He was willing to rent it and with good management and hard work it could support his large family. The offer was accepted and plans were made to move. Jim and Josie accepted the Jim Davis offer and returned to Miller County, Arkansas. The nearest trading post was Bloomburg, Texas about a mile from the Arkansas line and about five miles from the Jim Davis place. The community was called Concord. Although there only one year, the family met and made many lifetime friends which included the McKellers, the Veaths and others. I went to my first funeral at the old Concord graveyard. Though only a boy of six in 1920, I felt total grief. Standing by mother Josie, I watched a young man literally throwing himself across the grave of his young bride of a very short time who was killed in an accident.
The Cass County, Texas Farm. The Davis place was productive, however, Jim had the longing for a place of his own. After checking around the trading post at Bloomburg, Texas, he heard of a place two miles northwest of town in Cass County that seemed just what he was longing for. The place had seventy acres, composed of some good farmland and some pasture with year round springs on various parts of the acreage. It was owned by a Dutchman. Jim obtained a long term loan with the land bank and bid farewell to Miller County, Arkansas. It seemed to be what he was looking for. A place to grow up for the large family of kids and with a large amount of hard work by everyone, it became a home for many years. Jim and Josie McKeehan had 13 children.
James W. McKeehan Dies at Queen City. James Washington McKeehan, 85, died at 2:35 p.m. Saturday at his home in Queen City, Texas Mr. McKeehan was a retired farmer and had lived in Queen City for the past six years. He is survived by eight daughters, Mrs. Laura Rhea and Mrs. Mabel Wise, both of Dallas, Tex., Mrs. Deen Patterson and Mrs. Jessie Golden, both of Atlanta, Texas, Mrs. Glenn Hazel of Doddridge, Ark., Mrs. Florence Lee of Queen City, Texas, Mrs. Marge Trent of Ontario, Ore. and Mrs. Millie White of Maud, Texas; and six sons, James P. and Paul McKeehan of Texarkana, Wallace McKeehan of Friona, Texas, J.B. McKeehan of the U.S. Air Force, and Leon McKeehan of Fayetteville, Ark. Funeral services were held at 4:00 p.m. Monday at the Harmony Grove Church. The Rev. C.V. Kemp and Rev. Homer Nowell officiated. Burial in Harmony Grove cemetery. Active pallbearers were Luther Swanger, Oscar Connant, Cleve Dunnagan, Joe McKeehan, Harley Gray, Raymond Swanger and Fred Lurry. [The above is a typescript from the original newspaper article. Listed sons and daughters were from marriage with Josephine Moore who died in 1950 except Leon McKeehan who was a son from a former marriage. A sixth son Ray W. McKeehan who was somewhere in West Texas was omitted in the article. Pallbearers were nephews and greatnephews]
James W. McKeehan was at one time a member of Woodmen of the World.
The fourth generation through son James W. of Landon C. and Nancy Girdner McKeehan spreads out from the Texarkana hub like the spokes of a wheel. Called the ARK-LA-TEX area, the name Texarkana is derived from the three states Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. The city itself, the courthouse and post office, is split by a north-south line between Texas and Arkansas. South of Texarkana and southwest of Atlanta, Texas is a point that includes the borders of all three states. The Red River composes the northern border of Texas adjoining Arkansas and then Oklahoma which begins northwest of Texarkana. Across the Red River from the Bowie County farm was the state of Oklahoma (northeast of DeKalb). James and Josephine McKeehan had a total of 13 children born between 1901 and 1922 and raised two grandchildren. As of 2003, four children survive and those that have passed away lived an average of 85 years. (Photo: J.W. McKeehan's (left) sons-in-law Howard Lee, Jack Golden, Leon Patterson and Hosie White (left to right).
Children: James Patrick Jr. (m. Hazel); Margaret Ruth (m. Wendell Kratz); Roy Kenneth (m. Kathleen Harms)
James was known as Jimmy or Jimmie. His nickname was "Shoot". He was a versatile person and being firstborn son it became his responsibility to perform many tasks beside his father in the farming and ranch work. He was clearing woodlands for farm land at an early age. On the Miller County farm, he learned to handle livestock and plow fields behind a mule when he was barely tall enough to hold on to a plow. He helped dig the first good water well on the Old Place southeast of Texarkana. Jimmy moved with the family and shared the frustration of the farm venture to the Red River bottom of Bowie County, Texas. He was still with the family with the return to Miller County, Arkansas and made the move to the Cass County farm near Bloomburg, Texas. There he fell in love with Pauline McKnight who lived down the road whom he married soon after.
Jimmy moved to Texarkana, Arkansas and spent most of his life there. His skills progressed from farming to carpentry including the ability to make the tastiest homemade ice cream in the area out on the back porch of their home. He and Pauline are buried in Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Garden of Devotion, Hwy 67 N, Texarkana, MillerCo, AR.
As the oldest girl, Laura was helpful in helping to raise and care for the younger children that were born on an average of every 18 months. She claimed them as her children to the day she died. The best way to describe her was the girl who always said "I can do it." She left the old Cass County farm for Texarkana to work in the garment factories. A halt came to that with a spell of arthritis. She recovered and went right back to the garment factory where she soon became "Forms Mistress" (Floor Lady). Often seen on the back of a big Harley-Davidson motocycle with swashbuckling husband, Lawrence, when the second World War broke out, she answered the call for workers in the defense plants in Dallas, Texas. After the war she went to work with Sears and Roebuck and the "I can do it" girl retired with that attitude. She and Lawrence Rhea, a railroad man, lived in DeSoto, Texas until their deaths. They are buried in Restland Cemetery in Richardson, DallasCo, TX. Laura and Lawrence had no children.
Children: Margaret; Esther
As the second son, Rays experience on the home farms and ranches were similar to older brother James Patrick. Ray was known for being blessed with personality. He was referred to as the "man with a million friends." Ray left the farm in Cass County in his teens and joined the Navy. He returned to Cass County and to farming for one year in the depths of the great depression. He spent some time at various trades as cotton ginning and running other types of machinery. Ray was one of the converts in the brush arbor revival held by L.W. Hosch on Lon Allens place in northeast Cass County. Ray was baptized in the pond in Charlie Browns cow pasture along with his younger brother, Wallace Clark McKeehan. Soon after he felt the call to preach the gospel for several years. Later, he was employed by the US Soil Conversation Service living in various places in central Texas until he retired in Coleman. The author (WCM) assisted with his farewell memorial service when he died in Coleman. He is buried in the Santa Anna Cemetery near Coleman. Ray gave nicknames to members of the fourth generation including the name "Viceroy" for himself.
(Photo: Paul with sisters Florence and Mabel) Pauls early years also involved participating in the chores of farm and ranch life. He was a force in developing and maintaining both the Old and New Place in Miller County as well as the adventure in the Red River Valley of Bowie County. He was nicknamed "Fuzzy". Paul could do more hard work in a short period of time than anyone (see The Strongest Man).
He left the old Cass County farm and worked in sheet metal and food processing plants in Texarkana. His smile was infectious. Paul was proud of his relatives and was always quick to point out their achievements however modest they were. Like most of the fourth generation, Paul was fiercely independent even in the years that his get up and go "got up and went." Paul was known as being exceptionally frugal especially in his attachment to his old car and black and white television. Up until his death, he insisted on driving everywhere himself despite his failing eyesight and reaction times. The dents and cracks in the old car made us wonder which was older, Paul or the car, when he passed on at age 85. Both he and Nora are buried on the west side of Texarkana. They had no children.
GLENN MARIE MCKEEHAN
Glenn survived the ups and downs of lifes roller coaster ride and outlived three husbands. Like most of her generation and parents, she came through smiling with hope and without bitterness. Glenn, like all the daughters of Josephine Moore McKeehan, learned from her the art of cooking. Glenn could create a tasty meal from the barest of raw materials. At one time, Glenn was one of those who "knew most about what was going on in the neighborhood". She was one of those early regional telephone operators operating out a closet-like space in her own home, earphones and in front of dozens of wires and plugs.
Glenn was a skilled quiltmaker, her quilting frame which hung out of the way on the ceiling when not in use, was a landmark of her living room. She provided quilts which reflect the handicrafts of early Cass and Miller Counties to many of her relatives. She was a constant presence along with daughter Ina Marie at all family gatherings until her death. Glenn was nicknamed Glab. Glenn and Alfred are buried in the Olive Branch Cemetery, lower Miller County, Arkansas. [Alfred Hazel had children Howard, James Alfred and Helen Louise with first wife Estelle who died of typhoid fever. Howard Hazel was raised by Glenn and Alfred Hazel.]
HENRIETTA FLORENCE MCKEEHAN
Children: Mary Josephine [m. William Seburn (Billy/Junior) Wilbanks Jr.]; Florence Gwendolyn (m. George Waller)
After Laura left home, Florence, nicknamed Splink, took over her place as an assistant mom to the fast growing family. There were so many kids around that it was impossible for mother Josephine to handle them all by herself. Whereas Laura was assistant mom for the first group, Florence was the same for the second group. Florence was still at home after many of the older children had left. Her beauty and talents were noticed by Howard Lee who was from a farm a few miles down the road. Howard caught glimpses of Florence and vice-versa while he was standing in the back of passing wagons to and from the Lee homeplace which was down the road. After courtship and marriage, Howard who was a farmer and later lumber salesman in Atlanta, and Florence moved to the Lee homeplace where they spent their steady, productive lives. Florence exercised her talents to make the rural area around her in Cass County a better place. She was a blessing to all who crossed her path and very active in churchwork in the Cass community. Relatives who lived in cities and towns found the Lee farm a refreshing place to visit and be reminded of the home country. It was Florence and Howard Lee who took on the responsibility, which they viewed as a privilege, of providing a peaceful rural setting and care for widowed Papa James Washington McKeehan several years before his death in 1950. Florence and Howard Lee are buried in the Cass Cemetery, CassCo, TX
Children: Gerald H. Wise (m. Lois Scott)
Mabel, who was nicknamed Gib, was a girl with a vision and throughout her years on the farm, her thoughts were on things far beyond. With advise from Roy Glass, a teacher at the old Rock Springs School, and a loan from her Uncle Pat (Braxton Bragg McKeehan), she was able to go to business college in Dallas. Love and marriage to Add Wise, a Dallas police officer, called for a decision----career in business or homemaker? Knowing that she would succeed with either, dedication to home, family, community service and churchwork prevailed which continued long after husband Adds death.
Think deeply; Speak Gently; Love much; Laugh often
Mabel loved to travel was known for her ability to enjoy all the stops and scenes along the way despite Adds impatience and hurry to get to the next place and home. Mabel stood out as one who kept in touch with diverse members of the McKeehan and Moore extended families more than her own and until her later years knew where most still lived. She was outspoken, but never condescending, in her enthusiasm for her religious faith and unhesitant in sharing her experiences with others up until her death. Her style is illustrated by her classic piece on the Life and Testimony of her mother, Josephine Moore McKeehan. Mable and Add are buried in Restland Cemetery, Richardson, TX near her sister Laura and her husband.
WALLACE CLARK MCKEEHAN
Children: Wallace Lee (m. Kerstin Dahlberg), Richard Kent (m. Janice Goff), Stephen Douglas (m. Donna Johnson), Kevin Apollos
W.C. McKeehan, the original author of The McKeehan Story, was born between four older and three younger girls. Brother Ray provided the nickname Slick. Although the girls contributed to farm and ranch duties, many chores were a mans work and those fell to me. I was plowing when I was ten, pulled one end of a two man crosscut saw, felled trees and cleared land for crops. I harvested In the fall and took care of stock year round. Our school was in Rock Springs, four miles northwest of Bloomburg, Texas. The years 1923-1933 seemed like the good old days with mostly memories of fellowship of many friends and the festivities that went with each season. The hard times were also impressed on us forever. I never had more than one pair of overalls and shoes at a time and in between washings the front of the one pair got slick with droppings of homemade butter and syrup. The syrup was from sugar cane that we grew, harvested and took to the syrup mill which was run by a black man near Cypress Creek. One year metal buckets were scarce. To find something in which to put our winter syrup supply, Papa James Washington found a wooden barrel at the drugstore in Bloomburg which originally contained Coca-Cola syrup. The Coke syrup had soaked into the wood of the barrel. We had Coca-Cola-flavored cane syrup all winter. Although times were hard, the big family cooperatively cared for each other under the influence of the loving parents who taught by example. In northeast Cass County in the 20s and 30s there were no paved roads, a cloud of dust in summer announced a vehicle was coming. In the wet winter, the roads became a muddy mess in which wagons sunk down to the axles and cars were mired to the hubcaps.
In the winter of 1931, a couple of the Pentecostal faith, Lon and Hattie Allen, lived just down the road from the farm. Despite the mud, a group of the same faith from around Atlanta came out and held a series of prayer and revival meetings in the Allen home. Many neighbors attended the meetings including myself who was converted to the faith in November 1931. The following summer another minister, Lonnie Hosch, conducted a revival at the Allens home and was carrying a new variant of the Pentecostal message according to New Testament Bible Acts 2:38. Several of us from around Rock Springs, including my brother Ray, responded to the new message and were baptized in Charlie Browns pond in the name of Jesus Christ by Brother Lonnie Hosch. Motivated by the call to carry that message to others, I preached that gospel over 30 years across various parts of the country. In the single years, travel was by foot, wagon, car and train (freight trains for free and passenger trains for fare), sometimes with my brother Ray and later alone. We preached on street corners, in tents, under brush arbors, sheds, rented buildings and regular churches to anyone who showed interest. At age 30 in Boling, Texas, I met and married Dorothy Lee Patterson, who was an essential partner in the ministry from then on. With the family, I pastored churches or ministered in Texas at Zavala, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charleston, Seabrook (near Houston), Iago/Boling (WhartonCo), Friona (near Amarillo) and Texarkana. In other states, we ministered in Pauls Valley, OK, Las Cruces, NM, Hood River, OR and Bellevue, FL. Spreading the gospel could not always provide full support for a growing family, therefore, the lean times were supplemented with railroading, food processing, farm and ranching, carpentry and housepainting. In Fort Worth, Texas, the tools of the gospel trade (Bible and guitar) were exchanged for the tools (hammer, saw and paintbrush) of the carpentry/housepainting trade.
The unusual and beautiful name Bradeen was shortened to Deen in early life. Ray nicknamed her Spig. Like most members of the family on the James McKeehan farm, Deen had dreams beyond it. Her dream was to pursue a career in health care and nursing and for that she went to school in Dallas. She met and married CassCo native Leon Patterson and supported his breadwinning activities as mother and homemaker. A familiar site at the Patterson home in Atlanta, Texas was Leons dumptruck in the driveway which was the tool of his trade before he took up yardwork in his later years. Deen fulfilled her nursing ambitions by caring for anyone around her who needed it, especially the elderly. This was reflected in her efforts on behalf of both parents, Josephine and James Washington McKeehan, in periods of illness preceding their deaths. Deen was known for her homemade biscuits which she made from scratch every day of the year and served with blackstrap molasses. For many years, housepainter and master fisherman, Earl Olive, was a boarder with the Pattersons, and was like a member of the McKeehan family.
Children: Betty Gail, Laura, Timothy and Glenda Katherine
Jessie Rebecca McKeehan Golden (center in photo) was born on the Red River delta farm place near DeKalb, Bowie County, Texas, where her parents, James W. and Josephine (Moore) McKeehan had moved in 1918 from their previous homesteads in Miller County, Arkansas. Jessie also nicknamed Jeck to her brothers and sisters was the 12th of 13 children, the baby sister of the family whose births extended from 1901 to 1922. Jessie married Jack Golden, she was a dedicated wife, mother and homemaker who had four children who all today are residents of the ARK-LA-TEX region. She has numerous grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. Jessie survived many hardships in her early married life with fortitude that according to brother W.C. McKeehan were inherited from her mother, Josephine Moore McKeehan. He related "she was a classic example of the old saying 'you can't keep a good person down.'"
Ray assigned J.B. as he was called by most the nickname Samp. He was a go-getter, went to school in the trading post village of Bloomburg, Texas and as others was eager to see the world outside Cass County. At age 17, he joined the Air Force, became a commissioned officer and served in World War II with flying colors. He served until retirement, then was trained as a meat inspector in the civil service until he retired again to western Arkansas north of Texarkana. J.B. died RVing which was his passion after retirement.
Marge whose nickname was Sull was a mixture of farm girl, tomboy and one who would tackle any task large or small. She was buddy to this writer (Wallace Clark McKeehan) in about everything except maybe possum and coon hunting in the creek bottoms of northeast Cass County. Marge served as a WAC (Womens Army Corp) in World War II. She met and married Walter Trent, a native and former peace officer from Medford, Oregon and farm/ranch worker in the Odell Community in the Hood River Valley of Oregon where they lived and worked for the Packer Ranch for over sixteen years. While ministering in the area the author (WCM) and family spent the summers and falls of two different years working and living with the Trents in the strawberry, cherry, pear and apple harvests. On weekends, Marge and Walt were a familiar sight on the high cliffs banks overlooking the Columbia River at Hood River fishing for sturgeon. After Walt's death, she returned to the Ft. Worth/Dallas area of Texas and eventually settled back in Atlanta, Cass County, Texas where she lived independently except for a short time preceding her death.
EMMA CAMILLA MCKEEHAN
James Washington and Josephine Moore McKeehan Family ca. 1938
Father James Washington McKeehan (r) and sons (r to l) Jimmy, Ray, Paul, Wallace, J.B.
Mother Josephine (L) and daughters (l to r) Laura, Glenn, Florence, Mabel, Marge, Deen, Millie, Jessie
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved