Biography of Joseph B. Keeney

JOSEPH B. KEENEY. – The railroads have largely spoiled the big, old stage-line routes; but still a few of them remain. One of these is that between Pendleton and Heppner, Arlington, Fossil, and from The Dalles to Prineville. This route is conducted on the old style, and by a man fully up to the old-time requirements. This is Mr. Kenney. He was born in 1841, in Indiana, and came to California in 1852, and on a steamer which required sixty-six days from the Isthumus to San Francisco. In the spring of 1860 he went to Arizona and, with others, built Gila City. We now find him moving around rapidly, now in San José, now at Moroville, Nevada, and again at Alameda in California, variously in the hotel business, mining, and as deputy sheriff at the last place. In Nevada he began the peculiar but very accommodating business of driving over the country, taking orders for whatever the scattered ranchers needed, and filling them at Placerville; and upon such trips he frequently carried passengers. He subsequently conducted a stage line from Helena, Montana, to Fort Benton, following this by driving stage from Salt Lake to Provost, and on the road from Bear River Junction to Boise City.

In 1868 he took charge of Wells, Fargo & Co’s business as agent, and followed this until the Union Pacific Railroad was finished. He drove the last stage between the two roads, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific, the regular time for the nine miles being forty minutes. After this he had charge of the stage line from Kelton to Boise, and, in 1870, of that from Boise to Walla Walla and The Dalles. In 1878 he was elected clerk of Umatilla county, and served until 1882. He thereupon began stock-raising, and went into the livery business in connection therewith, until, in 1887, he put his horses upon the stage route mentioned at the beginning. This bare record presents but little of the hardihood, force and sagacity required for this business, and but little of the rough escapades and dangers met with by a stage driver, in a country overrun with Indians, and, much more, by the old-time Rocky Mountain “gentlemen of the road,” once so famous.

Mr. Keeney was married in California, to Miss Missouri F. White, in 1854. They have living two girls and two boys, now men and women. He makes his home at Pendleton, Oregon.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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