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the youngest son. His grandfather Keesey, who was
born in Ireland and married a Miss Miller, a native
of Germany, after coming to America settled in Penn-
sylvania and from that place in 1804 emigrated to Ohio.
There is a record that grandfather Keesey took out
his naturalization papers in 1806. Grandfather and
grandmother Thomas were both natives of Scotland,
the latter 's maiden name being Eufner and they emi-
grated from Virginia to Ohio in 1812.

Whitaker Keesey, partly as a result of the compara-
tive poverty of his widowed mother and partly from
the circumstances of the times, had an extremely limited
schooling, although his native abilities and intelligence
have proved a good substitute for some of the book
knowledge which he otherwise might have acquired.
His attendance at school was limited to two years, for
one year and four months he was in the schools of
Steubenville, during his seventh and eighth year. Al-
most as soon as his strength permitted he was put to
work on a farm for his board and clothes, and during
the two years thus employed he attended school three
months of each winter. Following that he began earn-
ing regular wages, being employed on an adjoining
farm for eighteen months at five dollars a month for the
first year and five dollars and a half a month for the
succeeding six months. With such variety of work
and with experience that contained many hardships he
went on to the age of sixteen. At that time he began
learning the trade of baker, and followed that business
for a number of years. To those who know the kindly
traits and character of this Fort Davis citizen, it will
increase the respect and esteem in which he is held to
record the fact that in his early life, in additoin to
the hardships of poverty, he had to endure severe treat-
ment from supposedly christian people in whose homes
he lived or for whom he was employed. The prejudices
thus aroused and deep set in his mind he has never
succeeded in entirely overcoming. In his earlier years
he was exceedingly devoted to a kindly Sunday school
teacher, whose kindness to the little boys of her
class will never be forgotten, but his own rugged bat-
tles and struggles with the world made it impossible
for him to retain his belief in many of the rules of
christian conduct which he learned from tbat teacher.

Mr. Keesey was still a youth when the war broke
out between the North and the South. At the second
call for three months' volunteers he enlisted and was
with the Eighty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and
later served twenty months in the Fifth Ohio Volun-
teer Cavalry in Company F, being discharged with
the rank of sergeant.

Not long after the war Mr. Keesey set out for the
Southwest. Leaving his old home at Steubenville, Ohio,
February 5, 1867, he found employment under General
J. S. Mason in the care of his two small boys as they
were then, and also three horses. The little party ar-
rived at San Antonio March 6, and on May 25, 1867,
there being no railroads in that section of Texas, Gen-
eral Mason secured for young Keesey a position as
baker to accompany the troops to Fort Davis, then
under command of General Wesley Merritt. The dis-
tance of four hundred and seventy-five miles from San
Antonio to Fort Davis was accomplished in a journey
by wagon roads in thirty-one days. When he arrived
Mr. Keesev had travelled sixty-two days between Steu-




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1769



benville and Fort Davis. It is a matter of interest
to recall the fact that this trip, though a long one,
can now be accomplished in four days, and that is a
graphic illustration of the remarkable advance made in
transportation and in all other living conditions during
modern times. Mr. Keesey's early years in and about
Fort Davis were of the real frontier life, with all its
pleasures and hardships, and after some years of that
experience he and a brother engaged in merchandising
in 1S73. Their stock of goods was one of the first
opened for trade at a military post, which was in the
midst of a great wilderness occupied only by the range
cattlemen. The brother finally withdrew from the busi-
ness, and Mr. Keesey continued it alone until 1907, in
the meantime establishing and building up one of the
oldest and most successful commercial houses in all West
Texas. When he retired in 1907 from the active cares
of life it was with a satisfying degree of success, and
now at the age of seventy-one he enjoys and deserves
to enjoy the contentment and prosperity of a career
that has brought him material good and has resulted
in encouragement and support for so many others.
His career seems to illustrate the truth of the aphorism
that to the one who is least regardful of his selfish pros-
perity shall be returned the greatest abundance, and
it is certain that Mr. Keesey prospered beyond all his
expectations, and he affords the credit for that to his
Divine Father, and as a result of reliance upon the
virtues of prudence, truthfulness and honesty in all
his business relations.

He has been honored with civic office as often as
he could spare the time, he held the position of hide
inspector four years, was treasurer of the county four
years, was county commissioner eight years, and has
always participated in matters for the benefit of the
locality. In politics he has voted with the Eepublican
party, but believes in independent action in such mat-
ters and supports the qualified honest man regardless
of the party label. Since his admission on December
2, 1891, Mr. Keesey has been affiliated with the Inde-
pendent Order of Odd Fellows He is a member of the
T. P. A., a commercial men 's accident insurance order,
and also with the Benevolent League, a branch of the
T. P. A. He is a member of the National Geographic
Society of Washington, a member of the Texas State
Historical Association, and an honorary member of the
Luther Burbank Society. Mr. Keesey has no regular
church membership and confesses to a variance with
the views expressed and held by many with church
memliership. He believes that all churches are good
regardless of denomination, and has steadfastly sup-
ported and endeavored to have some investment in all
new church buildings erected in his part of Texas. It
is his view that no one can predict the scope and
breadth of the influence for good that may result from
churches in after years. One improvement, he holds,
would do much to strengthen the churches and stop
the increase of membership in fraternal orders, and
that would be the estalilishment of a regular branch
of the church for the care of the poor, the sick and dis-
tressed members and for the upbringing of the father-
less orphans.

On April 14, 1892. at Wellsburg, West Virginia, Mr.
Keesey married Xannie J. Carmichael, daughter of J. W.
M. and Mary Carmichael of Wellsburg. Mrs. Keesey
became a member of the Presbyterian church at the
age of fourteen, and lived a devoted and active chris-
tian life, ever ready to assist the needy and distressed
and orphan children. She was an untiring worker in
the Bebekah branch of the Odd Fellows order, and on
the evening after completing a term of one year as
president of the Eebekah Assembly she was stricken
with paralysis. After three years of suffering she died
December 5, 1910, at the home of her parents in
Wellsburg.

In his earlier years Mr. Keesey had to struggle and
work hard for every advancement, and as a rule his

Vol. IV— 12



honest and truthful methods of dealing commended
him to the confidence of all who employed his services.
When he established a business of his own, he insisted
upon the same principles of incorruptible integrity,
and his business standing was from the first unques-
tionable. Thus he built solidly for himself, and was
also able to care for and protect the interests of many
poor cattlemen who needed his assistance from time to
time. Thus between his endeavors to gain for himself
sufficient means in the declining years, and accomplish-
ing his purpose of bringing a little sunshine into the
dark places for the more unfortunate, his career has
been an exceedingly busy and useful one, and there have
been few more beneficent lives although his deeds of
kindness must of very necessity go largely unrecorded
except in the hearts of those who will cherish gratitude
for his deeds as long as life lasts. Many men now
prominent in West Texas owe their start to Mr. Keesey,
and in the course of twenty years he has again and
again advised boys and young men in such manner as
to start them properly on worthy and useful careers.
It is for this influence of an upright christian life that
Mr. Keesey will deserve lasting memorial among the
citizenship of West Texas.

John Matthew Caetwright. It is an unusual dis-
tinction of a Texas family to have been represented
through five successive generations in the state, but
that distinction belongs to the Cartwrights. John Cart-
wrigKt the pioneer settler at what is now San Augustine
in the year 1819, two years before Stephen Austin
planted the flrst permanent American colony, and seven-
teen years before Texas gained her independence from
Mexico. In the family of John Matthew Cartwright,
the well known land owner and planter at San Augustine,
are two children, who represent the fifth generation of
the family. 'There are several collateral branches of the
Cartwright family in different sections of Texas, but
the descent of the one now under consideration is through
the original settler, John Cartwright, Matthew Cart-
wright, Columbus C. Cartwright, to John Matthew Cart-
wright, and the last named 's children.

Concerning the original John Cartwright there is
little infoTmation at hand. Concerning his son Matthew,
however, it is known that he was born in Wilson county,
Tennessee, November 11, 1807, and came here when a
boy with slaves. He started a mercantile business and
traded with the Indians, also opened up a farm and
worked his slaves thereon. The farm was three miles
east of the present site of San Augustine, and there he
continued in farming and merchandising until 1833 or
1.S34. A short time after Matthew came his father and
family also came. Three miles northwest of San Augus-
tine at that time lived the family of Col. Isaac Holman,
who had come from Lincoln county, Tennessee about
1833. Matthew Cartwright was married in 1836 to
Amanda Holman and of their family of children two are
still living. Matthew Cartwright after his marriage be-
came a merchant in San Augustine, with his father as
a part'ner, later was in business by himself until 1847,
and then up to the time of the war was engaged in
locating and dealing in Texas land, for which work he
rode horseback throughout all the settled portions of the
state. He had one horse on which he rode over 20,000
miles. He was a man of great liberality and justice in
all his relations, and again and again granted extensions
to the families of settlers who were unable to meet the
strict terms of agreement, concerning their land pur-
chases. After the war he resumed merchandising, but
soon turned the business over to two of his sons. His
death occurred April 2, 1870. His wife survived him
twenty-four years, dying at San Augustine in her seventy-
seventh year.

Columbus C. Cartwright, son of Matthew, was born in
San Augustine in 1837, and died in 1902. He was en-
gaged in the real estate business for many years, was



1770



TEXAS AND TEXANS



a verj- worthy and highly respected citizen, and bore
the same honorable relations to the business and social
community which had characterized his father. Through-
out the period of the war he served as a soldier, and his
brothers A. P. and Leonidas were also in the army.
Columbus C. Cartwright married Sallie Lane, and of
their children, besides John Matthew, there are now liv-
ing Robert L. Cartwright of Waco; A. H. Cartwright
of San Augustine; Mrs. Mary Bewley; and Mrs. Ella
Sharp, the latter two of San Augustine.

John Matthew Cartwright was born at San Augustine,
in 1862. Beared in his native locality, with the excep-
tion of a few years spent in Central Texas, he has al-
wavs had his home here. At the present time he is the
owner of a fine farm of two hundred acres adjoining
San Augustine on the south. This is a historic place,
having been in possession of the Cartwright family since
the earliest days of settlement, and some of the land
has been in cultivation for nearly a hundred years. Mr.
Cartwright still raises splendid crops of cotton and corn,
and frcini his experience one may conclude that the fer-
Tilitv of Ti-xus soil in San Augustine county cannot be
t:isiiy ixliausted. Some twenty-five or thirty acres of the
Cartwright farm are devoted to pecan culture, and that
pecan orchard is one of the most valuable assets of the
farm. Mr. Cartwright is also owner of other valuable
farm property in the county.

John M. Cartwright married Miss Emma Massey, a
daughter of C. B. and Eliza (Jones) Massey, of Rusk,
Texas, pioneers of this commonwealth. The two children
of Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright are Holman L., and Baxter
Polk.

Judge Henry Kixsey Polk. Among the old fami-
lies of eastern Texas the Polks have had a prominent
place from the time when eastern Texas was the battle-
ground between the advancing American colonization and
the resisting forces of Mexico. In ante-bellum days
they were planters and slave owners and merchants,
served with the Confederacy, and gave more than ordi-
nary sacrifices of life and property during the war and
during the subsequent half century. Their lives have
been led along the paths of quiet industry and pros-
perity and as good citizens and oflScials they have done
their" full share for the enrichment of community life.

Henry Kinsey Polk, now county judge of San Augus-
tine county, was born at San Augustine in 1860, a son
of Charles I. and Victoria (Thomas) Polk, in whose
family were three sons — H. K., I. D., J. A'. The grand-
parents were Albert and Nancy (McKeever) Polk, who
came from Tennessee to San Augustine county in 1836.
The late Alfred Polk settled on a farm four miles south-
west of San Augustine. From the original stock of the
Polk family was also descended President James K.
Polk, and the history of the Polks goes back to the ear-
liest times in Scotland. Alfred Polk was born in Ten-
nessee, and for seventeen years was county judge of San
Augustine county, his records making a portion of the
early history of that county, as his graitdson 's does in
the later years. He married Xancy McKeever, whose
history proves that she was a remarkable woman. She
reared ten children of her own, two sets of orphan chil-
dren, kept house faithfully for sixty years, and her hus-
band 's death was the first that occurred in her f amilv.
Judge Alfred Polk died in 1889. Six of the sons of Al-
fred and Xancy Polk served in the Confederate army,
and one of them was killed in battle.

Charles I. Polk, the father of Henry Kinsey, was born
in Tennessee in 1831, and was five years of age when
the family moved to east Texas. For many years he
was a merchant at San Augustine, where he died in
1890. He was reared on his father's farm, near San
Augustine, but at the age of nineteen became a resident
in the town and spent the remainder of his 3'ears there.
For seven years he was a clerk in the store of Thomas
Payne, and then engaged in business for himself. Dur-



ing the war he entered the Confederate service and bore
arms in the Southern cause for several years. He mar-
ried iliss Victoria Thomas, who was born in San Augus-
tine, a daughter of I. D. Thomas, one of the first set-
tle! s. I. D. Thomas buUt at San Augustine what is said
to have been the first two-story residence in Texas. He
settled in East Texas, in what is now San Augustine
county, in 1824, and established the first store on the
site of San Augustine when that became the site of the
city. For some years he held rank as one of the largest
merchants in the entire state. Mrs. Victoria Polk is
still living, and is an aunt of Seymour Thomas, the •
famous portrait artist of Paris, who came to America in
1913 to paint the portrait of President Woodrow Wil-
son, and several of his canvases have been hung in the
Paris Salon.

Henry K. Polk spent his boyhood in San Augus-
tine, attained his early education in the local schools,
and afterwards was a student in the Agricultural and
Mechanical College, at Bryan. In his business career he
has been very successful. He is the owner of valuable
land in the town of San Augustine, including a fine farm
of two hundred and eighty-seven acres within the city
limits, besides other town and country property.

Mr. Polk has given a number of years to the public
service of his country. To his present office, as county
judge, he was elected in Xovember, 1912, entering upon
his duties on the first of December of the same year. He
previously held the office of county judge, and for six
years was county commissioner, during most of which
time he performed the duties of judge. Mr. Polk is af-
filiated with Redland Lodge, Xo. 3, F. & A. M., and his
father before him was an active member of the same
fraternity.'

Judge Polk married Miss Ella Burleson, a native of
San Augustine county and a duughter of James Burleson.
She is a cousin of Ex ( 'i.iii;ieNsm:in Albert Burleson, who
is postmaster-general in the Wilson cabinet. Mrs. Polk
was educated at Baylor UuivtMsity. They are the parents
of seven children: Mrs. Jamie Gombert, Mrs. Hallie
McFarland, John Alfred Polk, Kate, Carlo, Mamie and
Henry.

J.\MES H. Hill. With its growing importance as a
railroad center, Galveston has become the home and
headquarters of many prominent railway officials, and
one of the best known members of railway circles in the
city is James H. Hdl, who recently became vice president,
treasurer, and general manager of the Galveston, Hous-
ton & Henderson Railway Company. Mr. Hill has been
a resident of Galveston for the past seventeen years,
and is a veteran railroad man, having taken up that
line of work about as soon as he left school. His career
has had all the interesting features of progress, from a
position as minor clerk to one of the highest officials of
the service, his ability and personal character having
won him a steady promotion from one grade to another

James H. Hill" is a native of New York City, where
he was born March 29. 1858. a son of Henry Hixon and
Sarah (Hamilton) Hill. His boyhood was spent in his
native cit.v, where he attended grammar school, and
when a yoiing man went west, and had his first experience
in railroading in Illinois, later going to Kansas, where
he held several positions as a railroad man. In 1896 Mr.
Hill came to Galveston to take the place of manager for
the Galveston. Houston & Henderson Railroad. Later he
was promoted to the place of secretary-treasurer and
manager, and in June, 1913, was made vice president,
treasurer, and general manaser of this old and impor-
tant Texas trunk line. Mr. Hill is also a director of the
First National Bank of Galveston. He is well known in
fraternal and social circles, is a thirty-second degree
Scottish Rite IMason, having affiliations with various
bodies of the order. He belongs to Lodge No. 6, A. F.
& A. M., at Lawrence, Kansas, being past master; with
Lawrence Chapter, No. 4, R. A. M.; with De Molay




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TEXAS AND TEXANS



1771



Commandery, K, 1'., at Lawienee; El Jlina Teinjile, at
Galveston; A. A. 1 1. X. .M. f:*.; and Texas L'ousistory,
Xo. 1, A. A: A. s. j;. ]i,. l,rloiiys to the Galvestou Ar-
tillery L'lub, til.' <il,Mihl,M Coiiiitry Hub, the Aziula Club,
and the (.ialvu^jiun i.:imii W-iein.

in 1SS4 occurred the marriage of Mr. Hill to Miss
Fanny Gillette ot Buffalo, Illinois. They have three
children: Marian, wife of L. M. Higgins; Gillette, a
student in the Culver Military Academy, m Indiana;
and Beatrice. Their home is at 1610 ISealy ave., Gal-
veston.

Lewis Fisher. Bearing an old and distinguished
name in Texas, Lewis Fisher, now the mayor-president
of the city of Galveston, has well performed the respon-
sibilities and creditably lived up to the expectations of
his family history. The history of modern Galveston
begins with the year 1900, and in the reforms and im-
provements which has rehabilitated and remade the
greatest port on the Gulf coast Lewis Fisher, first as
county judge of Galveston county and later as head of
the municipal commission, has been one of the greatest
individual factors. During his administration as county
judge the great sea wall, one of the most remarkable
constructive enterprises ever undertaken by any city, was
begun and completed, and during his administration as
mayor, Galveston has rapidly gone to the front, until it
is now the second largest port on the American conti-
nent, being exceeded in its commerce only by the port of
New York City. Mr. Fisher is by profession a lawyer,
and for a number of years has given all his ability as
an attorney and as a practical executive and adminis-
trator to his home city.

Lewis Fisher was born at Austin, Texas, October 28,
1872. It is only necessary to refer to the early pages of
Texas history, j.articuhniy hi the era which made an
independent repiiMM- ut «h;it had been a province of
Mexico, to pcrri iM' tlir curly prominence of the Fisher
name in Texas aiiinils. S. Klmads Fisher, grandfather of
Judge Fisher, was one of the delegates to the conven-
tion which met at Washington on the Brazos on the
first of March, 1836, and was one of the fifty-eight dele-
gates who adopted and signed the Declaration of Inde-
pendence for Texas on March 2, 1836. After Texas be-
came a Republic, he served as secretary of the navy
until his death, in 1838. The parents oif Lewis Fisher
were Rhoads and Sophia (Rollins) Fisher. His father
was born in Matagorda county, Texas, March 13, 1832,
and had a long career in the real estate business, and
for eighteen years served as chief clerk in the land ottice
at Austin, During the war between the states he saw-
service as a Confederate soldiei'. The mother of Judge
Fisher was a native of Mississippi and died February '^,
1889.

Lewis Fisher spent his boyhood and early youth in
Austin, where he attended the public schools, also St.
Edward 's College, and was graduated from the law de-
partment of the University of Texas in 1895 with the
degree of LL. B. In the same year he came to Galveston
and took up the practice of law. In 1900, the year in
which occurred the great disaster which nearly destroyed
Galveston, he liegaii his first important public service in
the oftin. of coinity attorney of Galveston county, and
served until I'.nii'. His term of county attorney was fol-
lowed by liis elei-tiou as county judge in 1902, and he
served nearly four years. As county judge, he was ex
officio chairman of the county oommissioners court and
had supervision of the construction of the sea wall,
which was completed during his administration, at a
cost of one and a half million dollars. On one of the
granite pillars marking the western end of the sea wall
are inscribed the nanus of the county officials and others
prominently identified with the construction of the en-
terprise, and the name of Judge Fisher appears at the
head of this list.

Judge Fieher resigned his office as county judge to ac-



cejit the appointment given by Governor Lanham as
judge of tue Tenth Judicial District, his name having
leceived the indorsement of the entire Galveston bar for
this oflice. As district judge, his services were performed
with credit until the year 1909. In the municipal elec-
tion held in May of that year he was the expressed
choice of many prominent citiiens of Galveston tor tue
office of mayor, or president of the commission. Dp to
that time there had been no changes in the personnel of
the commission from its inception, under the new char-
ter, and Judge Fisher became a candidate to succeed H.
A. Landes. Judge Fisher's individual name on the
municipal ticket proved stronger than the name of the
rival candidate, though the latter was supported by the
entire press of the city and by the exertions of the city
clubs. His campaign and election were a most note-
worthy feature of the year in municipal politics and
were a practical demonstration of the jiower of a popular
personality in any political contest. He was re-elected
in 1911, and again in 1913, without opposition.

Judge Fisher maintains his law offices in the Trust
Building, and there transacts a great deal of his duties



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 57 of 177)