Biography of John Henry Keith

John Henry Keith. From his native state of Kentucky, where his ancestors had lived for generations, and where he was admitted to the bar, John Henry Keith came west about twenty-five years ago, and the greater part of the time has been in active practice as a lawyer at Coffeyville. Along with a large clientage he has developed many interests that connect him with the oil and gas industry of the Mid-Continent field, and he long since reached that position where he can be properly spoken of as a successful and prosperous man.

His birth occurred in Warren County, Kentucky, December 3, 1867. The Keith family originated in Scotland, and in colonial days was transplanted to Pennsylvania. One of the early governors of the Province of Pennsylvania was Sir William Keith. The old home built by Governor Keith in Bucks County twenty miles northeast of Philadelphia is still standing. Mr. Keith had one ancestor, Alexander Keith, who served with a Virginia regiment in the Continental line during the Revolution. Mr. Keith’s grandfather, Rev. John Keith, was born in Kentucky in 1816, was for many years an active Baptist minister, and died in Warren County of that state in 1891. He married Mary Edwards, who was born in Virginia, and the Edwards family also furnished soldiers to the Revolution from Virginia.

Ivey Keith, father of John H. Keith of Coffeyville, was born in Kentucky in 1846, and spent his life in that state as a farmer and stockman. During the war he served in the Union army, enlisting in 1863 in Company I of the Fifty-second Regiment of Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, and remained in the service until the close of the war. He was several times wounded, and took part in a number of battles and skirmishes. He was a republican in politics, and an active member of the Baptist Church. His death occurred in Butler County, Kentucky, in 1913, Ivey Keith married. Jennie Finney, who was born in Warren County, Kentucky, in 1846, and died on the old farm homestead in that state in April, 1915. Her father was Jack Finney, who was born in Kentucky in 1814, was a farmer, and died at Allen Springs, Kentucky, in 1854. Jack Finney married Lucinda Thomas, a cousin of Gen. George H. Thomas of Chickamanga fame. She represented a Virginia family and some of her ancestors were soldiers in the Revolution. Jack Finney was a son of Morgan Finney, who was also a Virginia volunteer in the Revolutionary army.

Mr. and Mrs. Ivey Keith had a large family of children, briefly noted as follows: John Henry; Addie, wife of R. B. Lawrence, a farmer and stockman in Butler County, Kentucky; Clay, who was in the oil and cattle business and also a banker and merchant at Lenape, Oklahoma, and was killed in an automobile accident south of Coffeyville in 1914; Euclid, who is a farmer in Butler and Warren counties, Kentucky, and resides in the former county; Emmett, a farmer and cattle man at Lenape, Oklahoma; S. E. Keith, in the oil business at Lenape; William, who resides at Lenape, Oklahoma, and has been engaged in the oil business and also has served as clerk of court.

Reared in Kentucky, John H. Keith attended school at Bowling Green and also Ogden College. He took up the study of law privately in an office at Bowling Green, and in November, 1889, was admitted to the Kentucky bar. After three years of practice at Bowling Green, he moved to Oklahoma, spent some time at Muskogee and Nowata, but on October 1, 1893, established his home and office at Coffeyville, where he has since enjoyed a large civil and criminal practice. His offices are in the McCoy Building at the corner of Eighth and Walnut streets. He is an active member of the County and State Bar associations, and has participated to some extent, chiefly in the line of his profession, in politics, being a democrat. He served as city attorney for Coffeyville for a number of years, and in 1903 represented Montgomery County in the Kansas Legislature. He served on the judiciary, corporations and several other committees. Fraternally Mr. Keith is affiliated with Coffeyville Camp No. 665, Modern Woodmen of America.

Like many successful lawyers he has acquired some very influential and important connections in the business field. Mr. Keith is now president of the Southern Oil and Gas Company, president of the Shufeldt Oil and Gas Company, president of the Emma Oil Company, president of the Cherokee Water Company; secretary of the Dewey Portland Cement Company in Oklahoma; president of the Calumet Mining Company; and a director of the Coffeyville Brick and Tile Company. Besides his home at 814 West Ninth Street, he owns considerable other real estate in Coffeyville, and has about 3,000 acres of farm land situated in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kentucky.

Mr. Keith married Miss Elizabeth M. McCoy, a daughter of the late William McCoy, who was one of the pioneer business men of Southeastern Kansas, and whose extensive lumber operations extended into the states of Louisiana and Arkansas.

Mr. Keith has two sons. Walter S., who graduated from the University of Cincinnati with his degree of Bachelor of Laws, is now in active practice at Coffeyville, associated with his father. Paul G., who finished his technical education in the Ohio Mechanical Institute at Cincinnati, is now an oil and gas operator living at Coffeyville.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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