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Week 4 (January 22-28): Invite to Dinner.

I’ve been working on my Keithley line for years and since my Keithley lines died young leaving little family traditions to go on, I would dearly love to connect all the Keithley dots.  I have many I would love to learn about and there is one in particular who was quite a character who I think would be fascinating to spend time with over dinner.

W.R. Keithley’s story is the most intriguing to me and I’ve been piecing it together for years.  He was an attorney & judge who lived in Illinois, Idaho, California, Canada, Utah, Colorado, Missouri, South Dakota.  He may be the Doc Keithley from the Keithley Creek in Canada during the Cariboo Gold Rush in 1862.  In 1876  he ran for mayor in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Below are excerpts from some of the newspaper articles and books to provide fascinating details about his character.

Mayor Keithly- Wonders never cease. “Judge” Keithly, the urbane and happy, limb of the law, who smiled upon everybody, and never had but one enemy in the world, shook the dust of Zion from the soles of his shoes some months ago and lit out for his old home to get a legacy which fell to him on the death of a near relative. Now he turns up in the Black Hills, smiling as ever, Mayor of Deadwood City. In his long sojourn in Zion he did one thing that pleased the god and of which he may every be proud. He gave the Bush-whacker of the Weber a nobly deserved and sound drubbing on Main street in this city and his exaltation to the mayorality of Deadwood may be looked upon as just reward for his good deeds done in the flesh to the Whacker. — Salt Lake Tribune, 1896

Excerpt says “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…” –“Report and Historical Collections”, Vol. 31, South Dakota Dept. of History, South Dakota State Historical Society, State Publishing Co., 1962.

“Mr. Keithley’s Feet.- They are No Miniatures, as Judge Newkirk Pointed Out Yesterday. Special Correspondence of the Standard. Butte, Oct. 10. – Attorney W.R. Keithley was arrested to-day for hoisting his feet up higher than his head at the police court. Lawyer Keithley has good-sized feet and has a practice of lifting them up on the court table where everybody could see them. This interfered with the court and the furtherance of justice, since it was impossible for the court to devote his attention to the case in hand. Officer Swanson finally arrested Mr. Keithley and the judge fined him $100, which was remitted during good behavior.” –The Anaconda standard., October 11, 1890

Inquiry for Attorney Keithley. Charles E. 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, 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. In 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 array of fortune-seekers, and report had it had at one time reported he had died there. If living, Keithley would be on the shady side of 70.” The Salt Lake Herald – March 21st, 1894

Spending time listening to W.R. Keithley would surely be entertaining as well as possibly filling in some gaps in his and my genealogy.

Further Reading: