Biography of Judge William Keener

JUDGE WILLIAM KEENER. Success in professional life is cautiously bestowed upon people by the goddess, who, in a measure, guides and invariably decorates man’s efforts. And this success is more apt to come because of the pursuer’s genius or adaptability for his calling than from any other cause. This is particularly the case in law, a profession which Judge William Keener’s talents caused him to adopt when starting out for himself. He is now a prominent attorney at Lead Hill, Arkansas, and United States commissioner for the Western District of the State. Judge Keener came originally from the Keystone State; born in Slate Lick Armstrong County, November 30, 1833.

The son of John and Sarah (Hetselgeser) Keener, also natives of that State, the father born in 1804 and the mother in 1821. The grandfather, John Keener, was also a Pennsylvanian by birth and passed his entire life as a farmer in that State. He served his country in the War of 1812. His father, Christian Keener, also a native of Pennsylvania, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The Keener family originated in Switzerland, eleven brothers of that name having emigrated to America at an early day and located in Pennsylvania. Our subject’s maternal grandfather, William Hetselgeser, was a Pennsylvania Dutchman and a wealthy and influential farmer and stockman. He reared a family of fourteen children. His wife’s parents, William and Sarah Beatty, were natives of the Emerald Isle, but came with their parents to America and settled with them in Pennsylvania. The six children born to our subject’s parents, two sons and four daughters, were named as follows: John B., a farmer of Pennsylvania; Jane, wife of Joshua Galbraith; Sarah, wife of Abe Weaver; Lavina, wife of Linton Wilson, and Malinda, wife of Wilson Linton, of Missouri.

Judge William Keener, the eldest of the above-mentioned children, received a good common-school education and when twenty-two years of age began to read law, being admitted to the bar two years later. He practiced in his native county until 1865, when he emigrated to Missouri and practiced in that State until 1870. He then came to Yellville, Arkansas, and since 1876 has been a resident of Lead Hill, where he continues his practice and where he is well known as the best-posted attorney in northern Arkansas. He has been a notary public ever since he came to Arkansas. In 1874 the Judge was appointed United States commissioner of the Eastern District of Arkansas, but he now holds that position in the Western District, having held the office for twenty years. In the year 1884 he was the Republican candidate for Congress of the Fourth District and received 3,000 more votes than any other Republican ever received in the district. In 1890 he was a candidate for circuit judge and carried three Democratic townships in Boone County and also carried two out of the five counties in the district. He has always been a stanch Republican and an active worker for his party. Formerly he was an Odd Fellow, but has not affiliated with that order since living in Arkansas.

Judge Keenerwas married in 1856 to Miss Sarah Sarver, a native of Butler County, Penn., of which State her parents, Jacob and Leah Sarver, were natives also. To Judge Keener and wife were born eight children: Emma L., died in 1893 (she was the wife of Jack Smith, of Aurora, Missouri); Sarah A., a brilliant and accomplished young lady, died at Yellville, when sixteen years of age; Martha A., wife of E. J. Rhodes; Linnie, wife of James H. Gray (see sketch); Carrie; William J.; John E. and Milton M.



A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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