I would really like to learn more about W.R. Keithley. I first heard of him when I saw in the Carterville, Missouri 1900 census that he was living with my great grandfather Joseph Keithley. The census indicates that W.R. Keithley was born in September 1825 in Missouri and that he was Joseph’s single uncle who was a lawyer. Joseph’s brother was also an attorney living in Peoria, Illinois.
I have found several interesting entries for a W. R. Keithley who was living in Utah, Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, California and Canada during the 1800’s. The W.R. Keithley living in Utah, Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri and California was an attorney but I don’t know if it is the same person.
For now, this is a pdf that has some of the various entries in a timeline format that I’ve found that mention.What do you think about it being the same person? It sure seems, if this is all one person, like a lot of moving. As a single man he would have been more likely to do. It doesn’t seem that there would have been many attorney’s named Keithley during this time period. If I can find more about him maybe something will confirm who his parents were. Any suggestions on how some next steps?
Which Keithley Line? – post with overview of W.R. Keithley’s parents and siblings.
I’ve been searching and looking this morning. Elizabeth Gordon was born in North Carolina as was the mother of Wm R of 1900 and 1880 censuses. The 1870 census in Utah lists only for the person but he is an atty. I’ve found a number of IRS or State Tax files where a W.R. or William owed taxes (CO, ID & CA); he was listed as attorney or teamster (there was also J Ross Keithley, atty, who owed taxes in Idaho). In Utah, he’s living in a hotel and one of the others in the hotel is a teamster.
CA (Sacramento and San Francisco) 1863 taxes also have a W.R. listed but this one is a stock broker. There is also a Seth Keithley listed as owing taxes for stallion. The 1860 census has a W or Ab & Seth Keithley living together in Putah, CA, which is in the Sacramento area – they were both born in Indiana (it looks as though the occupation is Sheep broker and Sheep ?). The W.R. Keithley’s taxes were for income and he lived in Willow Slough in 1863. There was also, by the way, a stock broker in the Utah housing near W.R.
All this makes me wonder if W.R. was an attorney who worked for labor unions and traveled. In Utah, there were also a lot of RR people in the same hotel – perhaps he was an attorney working on behalf of railroad unions. If he was constantly traveling, he may have been paying taxes for monies earned in multiple states.
Leo was 17 during WR’s stay with them; stories of all the places WR was going could have prompted Leo to go to California and then Oregon and Canada.
I don’t know how complex it would be but looking into Teamster activities from 1865 to 1875 or so might yield some clues as to how an attorney might have been utilized.
If our WR was the stock broker in California, would he have gone there as a 25 year old in search of gold and ended up in stocks; or were stocks just something an attorney dabbled in? Someone who would travel to California in search of gold, also might go to Canada for the same purpose – although with the amount of US taxes and travel, I doubt in remained in Canada – but Doc Keithley may have been a relative he visited and/or funded. Again, such stories could have inspired Leo.
Certainly, the RR was a huge factor in the settlement of the whole western part of the US. Looking at the ways in which an attorney might have been a part of that may yield some clues. Also, was any education or licensing required for attorneys in 1850, 1860, 1870?
It’s interesting that, if the W.R. who struck the Mormon is our W.R., both Arthur and Giles were attorneys who were either sued or disbarred for striking or slandering people they disagreed with – a family trait for either anger management issues or for a strict adherence to principles no matter the cost.
We obviously have way too many brick walls in all our family lines.
Well, even though we have many brick walls, we have some leads. I agree with you that there may be more than coincidence that Leo went to California then Canada.
I’ll have to play around with some of your ideas.
Brian Giesbrecht said:
Good news! I’ve found verification that your W. R. Keithley did in fact come here to Canada (Cariboo Gold Rush). I recently came across an article from the Daily Alta California newspaper (24th February 1862) in which it states “At this time, Keithley — formerly a lawyer of Sacramento city— started up the river, and prospected the stream now known as Keithley’s Creek.”
At that time the nickname “Doc” was given a variety of learned men, Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Veterinarians etc.
You can search for him further by finding the ‘Caifornia Digital Newspaper Collection’.
Good luck with your research!
Good to know about the California Digital Newspaper Collection. I found that article you mentioned and will read it more thoroughly. I thought that I had previously found some information indicating that the Keithley in Canada is thought to have died there before the time frame that I know the W.R. I’m looking for died. However, I’ll have to reconstruct my research on that. It’s great to know that the Keithley who was an attorney in Sacramento was most probably the same one that went to Canada. Now, I just need to figure out if that is ‘my’ W.R. Keithley. Thank you for this lead. Are you connected to the Keithley’s?
Brian Giesbrecht said:
No relation. I’m a Cariboo Gold Rush historian currently compiling a database of the miners who came here.
Take what you read about ‘Doc’ Keithley with a grain of salt. There are no references to him ever dying at Soda Creek as well as no evidence that he’d ever been to Calgary. I also came across a reference that he tried to kill a woman in Victoria (B.C.) and fled the country. I’ve since verified that that man was a ‘Barry Keithley’.
I’ll dig through the information that I have about W.R. Keithley (the miner) and post it here for you. I’m extremely interested to know if this is the same man.
PS: You don’t happen to have a photo of him do you?
Cool! I’m so glad you found my site.
I do not have an image of W.R. Keithley. I do, however, have photos of 2 of his nephews (Arthur and Joseph) and am providing links to my other site below. I would imagine there may be some similarities if we ever find an image of W.R. for comparison.
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kayz/keithley/d0/trip.html– a photo Arthur Keithley is on this link, scroll down until you see it on the left hand side. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kayz/keithley/d0/photos.html– a photo of Joseph Keithley and his children.
Brian Giesbrecht said:
The Salt Lake Herald – March 21st, 1894, page 8
“Mayor Baskin yesterday received two letters of inquiry for lost relatives. One was from Catherine O’Toole, of Ravenswood, New York asking for information regarding her son Frank O’Toole who is said to have died at the Sisters hospital in 1892. He was a prospector and came here from Montana. The hospital people deny that any such man has ever died there and there seems to be something of a mystery surrounding the case .
The second letter came from Charles E. Greenwood of Kansas City, who wants to know where is his uncle ,William R. Keithley, who formerly practiced law in this city. The last heard of the man was in 1880 when he is said to have gone to South Dakota.”
Oh my gosh! Charles E. Greenwood’s mother was Elizabeth Keithley who was William and Enoch’s (my direct ancestor) sister. That is really, really interesting! By 1900 Wiliam was back with the family since he was living with one of his brother’s sons. Here’s the link to my database on Charles’ http://kbaumantreehouse.name/getperson.php?personID=I3987&tree=keithandkay My email is email@example.com, if that would be easier.
Brian Giesbrecht said:
Hello again Kay, I think that you’ll have to add Deadwood, South Dakota to the list of places he rambled:
From all accounts the following event took place in late August, 1876.
From “Deadwood: the Golden Years” by Watson Parker, University of Nebraska Press, 1981. p.221
“Deadwood’s early excesses of frenzied political activity were doubtless due in part to the presence of about fifty unemployed lawyers. All of them attended, in a bunch, the unsuccessful prosecution of Laughing Sam for the murder of poor Bummer Dan Baum, and each one felt free to frequently advise or correct “Judge” W. R. Keithly, who was presiding. Keithly was not a man well learned in legal technicalities, and indeed the Deadwood bar habitually referred to him as Old Necessity from the proverbial supposition that “necessity knows no law,” but the plethora of legal talent displayed even annoyed the jury, and their foreman felt obliged to point out to the court if that Deadwood’s lawyers felt that they really had to advertise themselves, the pages of the Pioneer were a better place for it than the proceedings of a court conducting murder trial.”
Also in 1876 “Real estate and mining entrepreneur E. B. Farnum was elected as Deadwood’s first Mayor September 1876, beating out W.G. Hollins and W.R. Keithly.” Preceding from: deadwoodebfarnum.blogspot.com
Deadwood, Lawrence Co., SD – 1878 Business Directory
This file contains the business directory for Deadwood, Dakota Territory taken from Wolfe’s Mercantile Guide, Gazetteer, and Business Directory of Cities…”, published in 1878.
Keithly W. R. – attorney at law
Kay, I think that you should see if you can get your hands on a copy of the “Report and Historical Collections”, Vol. 31, South Dakota Dept. of History, South Dakota State Historical Society, State Publishing Co., 1962.
I found a brief tantalizing excerpt while doing a Google book search: “Printed notices convening the miners were circulated the next morning and the court organized at the Langrishe theater by the selection of W. R. Keithly, a lawyer (whose boast was that he had walked into and out of all the mining states…”
Oh, by the way, I keep meaning to ask if you have any record on where he died or is buried.
I updated the transcription in the original post to say ‘Deadwood’.
It is all very exciting to me. I’m busy as we speak researching it. The OU Western History Collection has vol 31 of the Report and Historical Collections. I’ll try to get over there soon.
I do not know when or where W.R. died or might be buried. In 1900 he would have been about 74 and I haven’t found him in the 1910 census. I would imagine that is s likely 10 year period in which he died.
Brian Giesbrecht said:
Kay, the following is an ‘info dump’ about W.R. and his time here in the Cariboo (British Columbia) and Butte, Montana.
British Colonist, Victoria, Vancouver Island, November 30th, 1860, pg. 3
Two miners , named Diller and Keithley, have made a “big strike” lately on a high bluff about 18 miles above the Forks of Quesnelle . They washed 1100 buckets of dirt in a rocker and took out $1300 . The gold is scaly , and seems to come from a
mountain slide . The diggings are thought to be lasting.
British Colonist, Victoria, Vancouver Island, December 4th, 1860, pg. 3
The claim struck about 14 miles from Forks City (Quesnelle River) by Keithley and Diller, is supposed to be the richest yet found. It is on a bluff 40 feet above high water mark, and the dirt is conveyed to the river by means of a chute, where it is washed by rockers.
British Colonist, Victoria, Vancouver Island, August 21st, 1862, pg. 3
KEITHLEY’S HILL DIGGINGS ON THE N. F. OF QUESNELLE – These diggings, situated on the North Fork of Quesnelle River, twelve miles from Forks City, are turning out very richly – a claim owned by Gray & Co. having yielded last month from $100 to $150 a day to the hand. They were first struck by Keithley, Diller & Co., late in the fall of 1860, when $25 to the pan was obtained from the bed-rock. The company worked until the close of the mining season of ‘60 with rockers, and made from $100 to $150 a day to the hand, and recommenced work in the spring of the following year meeting with like success until the middle of June, when, supposed indications of the giving out of the lead being observed, the claim was sold to the present owners for a “song”. Gray & Co. have gone into the hill some thirty feet further than the original owners and found a new streak of pay-dirt which yields equally well with that first struck. The diggings will last for years… We understand that Mr. Keithley, (who is one of the earliest Cariboo pioneers,) having fully recovered his health, will return to Cariboo in a few days.”
From :Gold and Grand Dreams: Cariboo East in the Early Years” by Marie Elliott, Horsdal & Schubert, 2001, pgs. 52 – 53.
“After spending three winters in the Cariboo, pioneer miner William Ross Keithley traveled down to New Westminster in June (1862). The Columbian reported, “He took bilious fever in March last which has settled in something like dumb-ague accompanied by a distressing cough, giving the premonitory symptoms of consumption.” Despite the vast amount of gold attributed to his claims, Keithley neglected to pay Quesnel Forks hotel keepers A. J. Abbott and T. B. Handley £14 ($70) for board at Quesnel Forks and was taken to court. From a notice in the Columbian, he appears to have been in trouble with merchants Boas, Levi & Hamburger as well. The advertisement warned the public not to accept a note in their names from Keithley, worth $2,400. On May 27, 1862, Keithley had sold half his interest in the Peter Claim at Williams Creek to the three merchants for $3,000. Keithley escaped to Oregon in October after stabbing Jane Milner, alias Ashmore, on Esquimalt Road in Victoria (the woman recovered)*. He was not heard from again until he wrote to the BC Mining Journal in 1900 from a home for destitute men in Butte, Montana.”
Kay, I’ve met the author, Marie Elliott, but I have to get a copy of W.R.’s letter from Butte.
*Note: as previously stated this was not perpetrated by W. R. Keithley, but by a man named Harry (or Barry) Keithley, a gambler from Oregon. (British Colonist, Sept. 13, 1862, pg. 3)
According to “Reports of cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of Montana” by the Montana Supreme Court and Henry Nichols Blake, Volume 5, 1885, p. iv;
Keithley, Wm. R. was licensed and admitted to practice law since the August Term, 1883.
The following excerpt is of interest because it appears to place W. R. in Butte, Montana in 1891-92.
Database: Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana Directory, 1891-92
Surname Given Name Occupation or Address Miscellaneous Business Notes
Chapman Wm W – Keithly & Chapman Residence 319 E Broadway
Keithly Wm R – Keithly & Chapman rooms 39 N Main
Keithly & Chapman Lawyers Room 5, 39 N Main Wm R Keithly, Wm W
Sewell, Patricia, comp. Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana Directory, 1891-92. [database online]Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 2000-. Original data: R.L. & Counties Butte City Directory 1891-1892.
Montana: R.L. Polk and Co., 1903. Records extracted from the Butte, Silver Bow County Directory,1891 at the University of Montana, Mansfield Library Special Collections in Missoula, Montana.
Note: according to the aforementioned Chapman family history, William Warner Chapman died sometime after 1893, probably aftter 1902.
State of Montana)
County of Silverbow) s.s.
Be it remembered that on this eleventh day of Aug. In the year of Our Lord 1892 before me William R. Keithly a notary public of the county of Silverbow and State of Montana, James T. Graver. who being duly sworn upon his oath deposes and says that I was present and saw Michael Maloney sign the foregoing instrument, purporting to be the last will and testament of him the said Michael Maloney and heard him publish and declare the same to be his last will and testament, and that at the time of signing the same the said Michael Maloney was of sound and disposing mind, and memory and that deponent and Emanuel M. Newman the other attesting witness subscribed their names thereto as witnesses to the same in the presence of the testator, and of each other, and at the request of the said Michael Maloney.
Sworn to & subscribed before me at Butte City Mont.)
August 11″ day of and year first aforesaid)
W. R. Keithley)
It’s interesting how he dropped the proper spelling of his name for a while.
I’ll do another dump from his time in Idaho.
That’s great. This morning my Mom found a marriage record in Butte, Silver Bow, Montana for my W.R. Keithly. https://beta.familysearch.org/s/recordDetails/show?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fpilot.familysearch.org%2Frecords%2Ftrk%3A%2Ffsrs%2Frr_650881525%2Fp4&hash=HloWXpZgU9zB10k5M56iYku8TUc%253D
He seemed to give different birth years but this is the first record we’ve seen that identifies his parents, which matches what I previously concluded. They were John Keithley and Elizabeth Gordon.
Brian Giesbrecht said:
Neat to know about W.R. getting married and a positive link to his time in Montana.
I just found a trove of information about his time spent in Utah. This should keep you busy for a few days.
Of paricular interest is the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune and Ogden Standard. The site was a bit ‘clunky’ for me, hopefully just because I’m on dial-up. Remember to use both spellings of Keithley.
While most of them relate to his time spent there in the 1870’s, this one, I think , you’ll find particularly interesting.
Salt Lake Tribune 1894-03-21, page 7
“Inquiry for Attorney Keithley
Charles Greenwood of 1621 Olive street, Kansas City has written to Mayor Baskin for information of the whereabouts, if living, or the burial place, if dead, of his uncle William R. Keithley, an attorney. Keithley was a well-known and picturesque character of this city fifteen or twenty years ago and old-timers recall with merriment speeches he was wont to make in defending clients in the Police Court. ln 1880 (?) he had an office in the old Reese building, and there, at unholy hours congenial spirits were wont to congregate. Keithley is also remembered as a man who always kept his boots brilliantly polished and his shirt-front well-bespattered with tobacco juice, which flowed constantly in tiny rivulets from his mouth. When the
Black Hills excitement was at its zenith Keithley, with many other Salt Lakers, joined the army of fortune-seekers, and report had it at one time that he had died there. If living, Keithley would now be on the shady side of 70.”
My Mom and I spent the evening independently hunting through the newspaper articles. There were easily 21 or more that are helpful. Those were so much fun to read. I’ll be compiling all this and putting it into a more logical order, which I hope will help us figure out if these can all be the same man or help us figure out where to look next. You are a great help! Thank you so much.
Brian Giesbrecht said:
You know, that in your ‘heart of hearts’, that this is the same man..
But, the old addage “Assume Nothing, Verify Everything” still applies.
W.R. was a semi-mythical character in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s another great source:
The ‘Idaho Statesman’ is the paper of record to look for. You have to sign up and pay for the full record. But from the above free link, you get some pretty good ‘snippets’.
LOL, you’re right, I do think that in my heart of hearts.
BTW, I have requested a copy of the article from the Western History Collection but here is a bit more about the excerpt: It is in the Department of History Collections: South Dakota, vol. 31, and refers to a trial for Sam Young in a “miner’s court”, which W.R. Keithly presided over, for the murder of Meyer Baum. The excerpt appears in the chapter entitled: Deadwood and the Northern Black Hills, “An Account of Deadwood and the Northern Black Hills in 1876”, Edited by Harry H. Anderson.
Tonight, I’ll spend time on these other links.
Richard Wright said:
As a Cariboo historian (Hi Brian) I am fascinated by this discussion of our Doc Keithley. I am presently rewriting my book on Barkerville and am checking ref. and sources as I go so found this discussion on Doc., of whom little was known here. We often have the discussion of Barkerville as Deadwood and whether the two were the same, similarly with Tombstone. I now have two Deadwood characters in BV, Keithley and archvillan Hearst, as well as a link to Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. Great work you folks.
Kellen Funk said:
Do you know W.R. Keithley’s political affiliation or in what jurisdiction he became legally trained? Working on a database of western codifiers, and Keithley sat on the Idaho code commission in 1863-64 (Boise News, Feb. 13, 1864).
Sorry, I do not know his political affiliation. Can you tell us what the Idaho code commission is. This is one interesting fellow and will be the subject of one of our Bonepicker films soon. see http://www.bonepicker.ca or follow us on FB and Goldrush Backstories. I can be contacted at” firstname.lastname@example.org.
I completely agree that W.R. Keithley had to have been a very interesting fellow. Your film sounds awesome and I look forward to hearing more about it.
Richard Wright said:
I do not know his political affiliation or where he was trained, but his running for Mayor to Deadwood may give some information. What is the Idaho code commission? We are working on a film about Keithley for our Bonepicker series – see http://www.bonepicker.ca – and you can follow the progress of the project on FB at goldrushbackstories. I can be reached via email at: email@example.com
In the Oct 30, 1878 Black Hills Daily Times, pg 4, col 3 was an article indicating that Keithley was a converted democrat speaking at a republican rally. Then the next day in the same paper an article pg 4, col 1 quoting Keithley as saying that says he did not “convert” to republicanism, that he’d been republican since he was 21.
As far as what jurisdiction he was in when he received legal training, I do not know. If the Keithley in the timeline of data I’ve collected is the same person (and I have not proven this) then he was a constable in 1848 in Jo Daviess, Illinois and by 1854 in El Dorado County, California (listed as a delegate in the Whig State Convention) and then by 1857 in Sacramento was admitted to practice as an attorney in that court. Again, if this is all the same person his parents and siblings lived in the Jo Daviess, Illinois vicinity so I would consider that first as the likely jurisdiction where he received any legal training.
Please let me know how I might continue to be helpful with your search.
Kellen Funk said:
Thank you so much. Extremely helpful.
To the poster above, American jurisdictions reformed the practice of law from 1848 through the Reconstruction era, often by employing commissions or committees to adapt New York’s new code of practice. Keithley briefly sat on the code committee of Idaho in 1864 along with a territorial senator and a territorial judge. For more, see my introduction at http://kellenfunk.org/field-code/the-influence-of-the-field-code-an-introduction/
I read your introduction and your research sounds fascinating and some of it might help me understand the strong oppositions expressed about W.R. in various newspaper articles.
My response the other day was off the top of my head recalling the newspaper articles I have about W.R. Keithley. As I looked into what I have further this morning, I found another newspaper article with a letter from W.R. Keithley about his political affiliation. In the August 8, 1868 Idaho Statesman vol 5, issue 6, page 2 article titled “Another Lie”.
“Another falsehood is thrown into the teeth of the flimsy squibllers of the World and their hireling eaves-dropping straw catchers in the following letter received from Hon. W. R. Keithley, dated Idaho City, Aug. 6th, 1868:
Ed. Statesman: I find an article in the Idaho World of the 5th instr., to the effect that W. Ross Keithley, the eminent barrister and counsellor at law as well as being formerly from the Cariboo mines, had declared that he was going to vote the democratic ticket at the coming election. I have only to say that I am formerly from Cariboo is a matter of fact. As to the eminent lawyer, that is a matter of some judgement and nice discrimination for which I am unwilling to trust the writer of the article. I now deny that I ever said that I would support the democratic ticket at the coming election. My position I propose to define from the rostrum before the election in this place. I have further to say that I am an unqualified republican of the Lincoln school. Yours, etc. , W. R. Keithley.”
Would you share with me the source that indicates W.R. Keithley was on this Idaho code committee and point me to where I could read that source? I would greatly appreciate any other sources you may have that reference this Keithley.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if it would be easier to communicate that way.