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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Keck

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1775-1778 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The first of the Keck family of which there is record in Fulton county, New York, is George Keck, a farmer of the county. He married Catherine Coughnet and had twelve children Catherine, George, John, Jacob, Martin, Elizabeth, Isaac (see forward), Peter, Joseph, Margaret, Mary Ann and Albert.

(II) Isaac, fourth son and seventh child of George and Catherine (Coughnet) Keck, was born in Johnstown, New York, May 15, 1814, and died there. He was reared on the farm and given a good common school education. He remained with his parents on the farm until arriving at man's estate. He then settled on a farm of his own near Keck's Center, Fulton county, where he lived the remainder of his days. He married, October 15, 1836, Eliza A. Burns, born February 13, 1818, died February, 1857, daughter of Wendell and Eliza Burns, of Montgomery county, New York, a descendant of the Burns family of Scotland, and related to the poet, Robert Burns. Children:

  1. Timothy, born February 15, 1838 (q. v.).
  2. George Henry, born September 3, 1839; married, February 3, 1860, Mary Jane Martin, born December 20, 1843, daughter of John and Catherine (Davis) Martin; she was one of a family of eleven children; they had one son,
    1. Addison Keck, born July 6, 1862, married Alberta Stoller, and has
      1. Dora G. Stoller, born March 13, 1891.
  3. Leander, born October 2, 1841; married Nancy Bander; children: Elsie, Margaret and Hiram Keck, who reside at Montgomery, Illinois.
  4. Mary E.
  5. Jeremiah, born November 9, 1845 (see forward).
  6. Philip, born October 26, 1848 (see forward).
  7. Melissa, born April 16, 1853; married, December 28, 1879, William H. Meserve, born January 27, 1847, at Cherryfield, Maine, died in Albany, New York, October 6, 1909. He was attending a preparatory school in Matthias, Maine, fitting for college when the civil war broke out. Being unable to get parental permission, he left school secretly and went to Boston, Massachusetts, where he enlisted in 1862. He was connected with the signal corps, Department of the Gulf. After receiving an honorable discharge from the service he settled in New York state, where he engaged in teaching for several years, and for nine years was principal of Salmonsville, New York, Union school, and brought that institution to a high state of efficiency. In 1883 he located in Johnstown, New York, where he engaged in the insurance business until 1895. In that year he was appointed inspector of the State Land Survey and took up his residence in Albany. In 1905 he retired from office on account of ill health, and died October 6, 1909, in that city. He was a son of William Meserve, of Cherryfield, Maine. Children of William H. and Melissa (Keck) Meserve:
    1. Lora, born August 16, 1881; educated in public schools of Johnstown, high school at Albany, and State Normal College; is now a teacher in Schenectady public schools.
    2. Frank L., born June 12, 1887; educated in the common and high school at Albany; is connected with the drug firm of Walker and Gibson, of Albany.
    3. Earl, born February 23, 1889; educated at Albany common and high schools; is a bookkeeper with Walker & Gibson.
    4. William Keck, born August 22, 1890; died March 16, 1893.
    5. Alice Ethel, born July 3, 1893.
    6. Harlan Burns, born October 19, 1894.

    Mrs. Melissa (Keck) Meserve survives her husband and retains the family home at No. 165 Lancaster street, Albany.

(III) Timothy, eldest son of Isaac and Eliza A. (Burns) Keck, was born on the Keck homestead farm near Keck's Center, town of Johnstown, Fulton county, New York, February 15, 1838. He was educated in the public schools and grew up on the farm, where he remained as his father's valued assistant until 1863, when he assumed the sole charge and management. He was an early volunteer in answer to President Lincoln's third call for men, but owing to some slight physical defect his services were not accepted. He continued on the farm until 1874, when he located in Johnstown and began the manufacture of heavy gloves of sheep and buckskin. For a time he was his own traveling salesman, going on the road and disposing of his factory product. In the first years in business he was associated with the firm of Keck & Dudley. Later Mr. Van Alstyne succeeded Mr. Dudley, as Van Alstyne & Keck, and later the firm became Timothy Keck & Son, so continuing until 1907, when Mr. Keck, Sr., retired from active business, which was continued by his son William T. Keck until the factory was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1910. Mr. Keck was an energetic, capable man of business and stands high in the regard of his community. Politically he is a Republican, and is a member of the Lutheran church. He married, November 20, 1862, Charlotte, third daughter of Philip and Elizabeth Martin. Children:

  1. Elizabeth A., born April 4, 1865; married Ferdinand Fisher of Johnstown and has children:
    1. Charlotte E., who died in infancy.
    2. Victoria, born in 1893.
    3. Myrtle, born July 3, 1906.
  2. William T., born July 15, 1869; educated in Albany and common schools; he associated with his father in glove manufacturing until the fire of 1910; he married, July 11, 1890, Charlotte May Anthony, fourth daughter of Martin J. and Elizabeth M. Shear; children:
    1. Elsie May, died in infancy.
    2. Lillian Beatrice, born February, 1893.
    3. Theresa E., February, 1896.
    4. Viola M., May, 1899.

(III) Judge Jeremiah Keck, son of Isaac and Eliza Ann (Burns) Keck, was born near Keck's Center, town of Johnstown, Fulton county, New York, November 9, 1845. He attended the public schools of his town, and worked with his father on the farm until he was sixteen years of age. The civil war then broke out and he was among the first to volunteer for service. He enlisted in Company C, Seventy-seventh Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry, and with his regiment served at Yorktown, Malvern Hill, Gaines Mills and Fair Oaks, in the Peninsula campaign of the Army of the Potomac, then under command of General George B. McClellan. He was stricken with a fever which so disabled him that he was honorably discharged. He returned to Johnstown and began studies preparatory to the profession of law, which he had decided to follow. He attended Clinton Liberal Institute and Whitetown Seminary. After completing his preparatory studies he read law with Judge John Wells and James M. Dudley, entering their offices for that purpose in April, 1868. Having passed a successful examination he was admitted to the bar at the general term of the supreme court held at Schenectady, April 8, 1869. He was at once admitted to a partnership with his preceptors, becoming junior member of the law firm of Wells, Dudley & Keck. This firm continued in successful practice until the dissolution in 1877. He then entered into a partnership with his brother, and as J. & P. Keck transacted a successful legal business until 1883. He was elected district attorney of the county in 1874, and re-elected in 1877. In 1883 he was elected county judge and surrogate, and held those offices for eighteen years, until such offices were separated a little over nine years ago. He has held the office of surrogate ever since, with an unexpired term of three years to serve.

While prominent as a lawyer and successful in private practice, Judge Keck is best known in his public capacities as district attorney, county judge and surrogate, covering a public service of nearly thirty-six years. During this long term of service he has been many times before the voters of Fulton county as their candidate, and rarely had opposition from the opposing party. His nominations have nearly always been made by acclamation and re-election without opposition — a tribute rarely paid to any man. During his professional career he has been connected with most of the important litigation of the county, both civil and criminal. He has always been known as an able, upright and conscientious lawyer, taking rank with the ablest members of the Fulton county bar. As judge and surrogate he has been fair and impartial, rapidly transacting the business before him, ruling with such accuracy and fairness that there have been very few reversals of his decisions when reviewed by the higher courts. He is held in high esteem by his brethren of the profession as a jurist, and by the people generally as a good friend and neighbor. He has always been a student, and has a fine law library, including law works issued in London over two and a half centuries ago.

Judge Keck is known as a forcible speaker before a jury and in the argument of causes, and of very pleasing address on subjects outside of his professional work. When a young man he constantly received flattering press notices in their reports of Memorial Day addresses and other occasions of patriotic commemoration. In 1889 he delivered a brief address at the dedication of a monument to his old regiment at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which though impromptu was widely reported and greatly admired, and will be found in the work entitled "New York at Gettysburg" [i.e., Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg, R 973.7 N53 in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library] recently issued by the state of New York. This address shows his readiness and ability to speak without previous preparation. He said:

"Nothing new can be said and nothing new need be sought, for the greatness of the struggle and the grandeur of the victory are more appreciated as they are more studied and better understood. And so it will be while patriotism dwells in the hearts of the American people. What was done here was not done for that day and time, but for all days and for all times. When the martyred Lincoln here expressed the hope that the result of the great conflict might be 'that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth,' the dark clouds of war rolled over and enshrouded the land. That hope has been triumphantly fulfilled. Not only has this government been established, but before the eyes of all other nations has a grand proof been given of the permanence of free institutions and the power of an intelligent and devoted people to maintain the stability of their country in times of the greatest trial. Times of trial and danger may come upon the nation, very different from those we commemorate and yet very great, and when those times do come we believe it is not in vain to hope that the memory of this struggle will encourage and animate the hearts of her citizens to maintain that union which has been purchased with so much blood. We felt that our country was at stake, but the nations of the civilized world felt that something still greater was imperilled — the principle that a Republic could by the devotion of her citizens save her national life in the greatest struggle that has as yet been recorded in the history of the world. We, my comrades, who have done what we could, here in the time of our country's need, now do this, as the last permanent thing that we can do, for we shall soon pass away to join our comrades and our names will be forgotten, but the work we have done will live for us, and this monument will speak for us to the generations to come, and tell where the Bemis Heights battalion stood, in this harvest field of death."

His paper on the life of Sir William Johnson, prepared for and read before the State Historical Association in 1903, and afterwards published in its records, and his recent address on behalf of the members of the Grand Army of the Republic at the dedication of the Soldiers' Monument of Johnstown, October 5, 1910, in the presentation of such monument to the city, have been regarded as worthy of the occasions.

For fourteen years Judge Keck has been and still is a member of the executive committee of the State Bar Association, and also a member of the committee of that body on the selection of candidates for judicial offices. For nineteen years he was commander of Martin McMartin Post, No. 257, Grand Army of the Republic of Johnstown, and is still an interested member. He is prominent in the Masonic order, belonging to St. Patrick's Lodge, No. 4, Free and Accepted Masons; Johnstown Chapter, No. 78, Royal Arch Masons; Holy Cross Commandery, No. 52, Knights Templar. He is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Politically he has always been a Republican. His first presidential vote was cast for General Grant in 1868. His friends are not confined to his party associates, but are numerous and steadfast, regardless of party affiliation.

Judge Keck married (first) in June, 1874, Jennie A., daughter of Thompson P. Kibbie, a connection of the old de Fon Claire family of Johnstown, New York. She bore him a daugnter, Flore de Fon Claire. He married (second) in November, 1890, Sara R., daughter of Joseph Riggs, of Detroit, Michigan.

(III) Philip, fifth son and sixth child of Isaac and Eliza Ann (Burns) Keck, was born in Johnstown, Fulton county, New York, October 26, 1848. He was educated in the public schools, Clinton Liberal Institute, Whitestown Seminary, and attended Hamilton College two years. Leaving college in 1873, he began the study of law with Wells, Dudley & Keck of Johnstown, following this preparation by a course at Albany Law School, where he was graduated LL.B., class of 1876. In 1877 he associated with his brother Jeremiah (afterward Judge Keck), continuing as J. & P. Keck in a general legal practice until 1884, when they separated. Until 1890 Philip Keck conducted his business alone, but it became of such magnitude that in that year he admitted Clarence W. Smith as partner in Keck & Smith, a partnership that existed until it was dissolved by mutual consent. Mr. Keck has achieved an enviable success in his profession. He prepares his cases carefully, and presents them to judges and juries in a logical and impressive manner. He is learned and skillful in the law, painstaking and persevering in his clients' interests, and scrupulous in his integrity. He has always been a supporter of the Republican party; was deputy collector of revenue in 1882-83-84, and represented his district in the state legislature in 1893. He has always taken a deep interest in city, county and state politics and all matters pertaining to civic betterment. He is a prominent member of the Masonic order, being affiliated with St. Patrick Lodge, No. 4, F. and A. M.; Johnstown Chapter, No. 78, R. A. M.; Johnstown Council, No. 51, R. and S. M.; Holy Cross Commandery, K. T.; and Albany Consistory, A. A. S. R., where he has attained the thirty-second degree, and Cyprus Temple (Mystic Shrine). He is a member of the Presbyterian church, and of the Lotus and Colonial clubs. He married, October 8, 1879, Florence M. Mitchell, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Spraker) Mitchell, of Montgomery county. They have one child,

  1. Phillip Mitchell, born May 14, 1898.

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