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Wagon Ruts West

By Ralph Ray Keeney

Published in 1983


    The following selection is taken from "Wagon Ruts West" written & published by Ralph Ray Keeney in 1983. The book  is currently out of print. This section is published with the kind permission of Ralph Ray Keeney. The book this selection is drawn from is under copyright and permission has been granted for educational purposes and it is not to be used in any way for any profit or commercial venture.

Click here to read letter of permission.

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The following is Section 3

John Blanden  Keeney


___John, Sr. (1750? - 1845?) Married Martha -
| Jonathan Anthony (1778  - 1850)
| ___ John Jr. (1780 - 1845) Married Mary Ramsey Buckhalter, 1805
| |   Mary (1806 - 1850-)
| |   Thomas (1808 - 1842)
| |   Isley (1811 - 1842)
| |   Jonathan (1813 - 1878)
| |   James (1816 - 1885) 
| |   Abraham (1818 - 1843)
| | ____Andrew Jackson (1819 - 1898) Married Elizabeth Mulholland, 1841
| | | Frances Ann - drowned with Mother in the Missouri Riv.
| | | 2. Married Hannah Daniels Cooper (daughter, Anna Cooper)
| | | Elias P. (1852 - 1857)
| | | James Madison ( 1853 - 1913)
| | | George R. (1856 - 1859)
| | | William Daniel (1857 - 1930)
| | | ____John Blanden (1859 - 1942) Married Ella Hurt, 1881
| | | |    Maude (1882 - 1958)
| | | |    Rhoda C. (1884 - 1884)
| | | |    Ira Marvin (1885 - 1945)
| | | | ___ Willard Warren (1888 - 1958)    Married Alice L. Crall, 1920
| | | | |      Jack LeRoy, 1921
| | | | |      Ralph Ray, 1923
| | | | |      Harold Blanding, (1925 - 1925)
| | | | |      Loa May, 1926
| | | | |      Ida Dee, 1929
| | | | |     Billie Fae, 1932
| | | | |      William Warren, 1933
| | | | |____Bessie Jo, 1935
| | | |______Glenn (1894 - 1954)
| | | 3 Married Amanda Jane Morse Matthews, 1861 (daughter, Rebecca)
| | |      Martha Ellen "Matty" (1862 - 1911)
| | |      Benjamin Franklin (1865 - 1935)
| | |      Andrew Alva (1866 - 1954)
| | |________Thomas Paine (1869 - 1947)
| | Rebecca (1821 - 1895)
| | Eli (twin) (1828 - 1878)
| |___________ Elias (twin) (1828 - 1910)
| Thomas (1782 - 1846)   
| Nancy ( 1786 - -- )
| James (- - - )
| Hiram (-- - )
|_________Others -


Son of Andrew Jackson and Hanna Keeney

    John Blanden Keeney was born October 20, 1859, in Lane County, Oregon, on his Fathers'  farm about one-half mile south of Goshen, Oregon. He was the son of Andrew Jackson and Hanna (Cooper) Keeney. His Mother died of heart disease when he was five months old. In December, 1861, his Father married Amanda Jane Morse Matthews, who raised him, his two brothers, his half-sister Ann, and her own daughter, Rebecca Ann Matthews by a previous marriage. As the years passed, four more children were born; Martha Ellen (Matty), Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Alvan, and Thomas Paine Keeney.

    Very little is known of .John's youth, but he grew to early manhood there on the Goshen farm.

    John married Ellen L. Hurt of Goshen, in 1881, and their first child, Maude, was born the following year. A second daughter, Rhoda C., was born January 10, 1884. In September of that year, she was to suffer a fall from a bed, and John B. rode a racehorse to death going after the doctor. But it was too late, and Rhoda died. A son, Ira Marvin, was born July 7, 1885.
    About 1887, John B. moved his family east to Gilliam County, Oregon. He was a farmer and owned several different ranches in this county; the latest located about one mile south of Gwendolen. It was on this ranch that Willard Warren was born February 10, 1888. Ellen gave birth to another son, Glenn D., October 3, 1894.

    In the early 1890's, John's parents were aging and in need of help on the home place, and his step-mother, Amanda, died in 1892. Soon after Glenn's birth, John took his family back to the Andrew Jackson farm, near Goshen, where they lived for several years. His Father returned from Tacoma to live with them on the farm in 1895. After Andrew Jackson died in 1898, John was appointed U.S. Deputy Marshal and returned to Gilliam County in 1903, with the assignment to disperse the Vigilantes who had taken over during the cattle and sheep wars. He was responsible for establishing law and order, which he accomplished with little trouble, since he had previously lived in the area and had been well-known and liked. In gratitude, the people of Condon appointed him City Marshal. The Gilliam County History Books show that he was serving as Chief of Police in March of 1911.. He was on the force for several years, and even as late as 1927, was still being called to serve as an extra officer, whenever one was needed, such as Rodeo and Fair Time. His old handcuffs and star are now in the possession of his grandson, Ralph R. Keeney.

    After becoming City Marshal in the early 1900's, John had a large, two-story home built in the northwest section of the city. He filled it with some of the heirlooms and furniture of the Andrew Jackson estate. This included many books, photo albums and the Family Bible. There was also an old musket, that hung in the attic, perhaps the very one made and given to Andrew Jackson by his Father, John, Jr., which was carried across the plains in 1857.

On Sundays and Holidays, his wife Ellen would spread the best tablecloth and dinner would be served. She was truly one of the finest cooks in the county. An invitation to her table was indeed a pleasure and an honor. Friends and family gathered there, and while the women were getting the meal on the table, the men would sit out on the front porch and smoke, spin yarns, and pitch pennies. After the meal was over, the women would start to clear the table. The kids retired to the back yard to play in the barn or sail a pea husk boat in the water trough, and the menfolk slowly drifted away to the downtown saloons, until finally only one was left, the Uncle who preferred to snooze on the front porch with his old dog asleep at his feet.

    While John was Marshal, a murder was committed. The suspected murderer fled the scene of the crime and returned to work, herding a band of sheep in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Marshal Keeney took up his trail and arrived at the sheep camp. Not wishing to spook the suspect before he could make an arrest, John acted the part of a prospective sheep buyer, until he was close enough to his quarry to arrest the man in a swift and decisive manner.

    One 4th of July, Marshal Keeney was called to a barroom because one of the cowhands had indulged in too much rye whiskey and was loud and rampageous, and occasionally shooting his pistol into the floor or ceiling. Officer Keeney came in the door and walked directly up to the drunken wrangler.

    "Put up your gun and come with me," the Marshal said.

    "Go to Hell!" was the reply of the cowboy. Without another word, Marshal Keeney quickly landed a blow with the barrel of his pistol alongside the head of the cowpuncher. Little John Keeney and one of the bar patrons dragged him off to the city calaboose, where he bandaged his head, locked him in a cell and left him to cool off until morning.

    Another time, the boys got to whooping it up in the streets of Condon. When the Marshal arrived, to insist that law and order prevail, they saw the Marshal coming so they ran for their ponies and rode off in all different directions. One poor fellow got scared and a little confused, so he scampered up an electric light pole that happened to be handy.

    This was the one and only hombre that the Marshal could catch! Standing at the foot of the pole, looking up at the treed trouble-maker, he said,

    "You are under arrest for distrubing the peace. Come down."
    The fellow shook his head, "No!"
    Marshall Keeney drew his revolver and aimed it at the mans' head.
    "Come down or I'll bring you down."
    The man did not hesitate to come down then and was led off to the City Jail. Would the Marshal have taken that shot- Anyone that knew John B. would have answered,
    "Damn Right"

On April 27, 1929, his wife Ella died, and she was buried at the cemetary in Condon. John continued to live in the old house with his son Marvin (Sam), as he was nick-named from the character of "Sambo", that he played in the local minstral shows. Marvin never married.

One evening, in 1931, Marvin, who had been downtown, came home to find the house in flames. He rushed in and found his Father laying on the bed. Marvin had just time enough to carry John out before the smoke and flames consumed the building. The house burned to the ground, and the entire Keeney estate was gone. Nothing but their lives had been saved. The only things that were left were Johns' old star and handcuffs, which happened to be at the home of a friend.

JBK.jpg (233747 bytes)

John B. still owned a herd of sheep, which he traded for another house in Condon. His son, Marvin, stayed on and took care of him. Except for an occasional hemorage from his nose, or a bad coughing spell, from asthma, John was fairly active until the last days of his life. Once or twice a week, he would walk with a cane, some four city blocks to downtown, drink a few beers and play cards. At the first of each month, he would bathe, shave, put on a clean shirt and tie, and go see a lady friend for a chicken dinner.

Later in life, when John was near his 78th year, he was sitting in his rockingchair at home, when an old friend of the mamily came staggering in after having too much to drink. He was a big, massive hull of a man, weighing easily over 200 lbs. Not a bad fellow, when sober, but under the influence of the spirits, he would get mean and very ornery. On this day, a disagreement soon issued between him and John.

"Get out of my house, Bill," ordered John, still sitting in his chair. The big man replied;

"Who the hell is going to make me?"

"I will, by God!" shouted Keeney, and raised himself up from his chair and hit Bill square on the chin with a swinging left. Bill lay flat-out cold on the floor. It took both John's grandson and the boarder next door, to drag Bill out the door and place him in a sitting position against the tree trunk in the back yard. He came to later, and probably wondered what had happened. But he never ventured to come back into the house again. John B. nursed a bruised and swollen hand for several weeks, but anyone who looked into his cool, blue eyes would have had to notice the burning embers of fiery spirit not yet dead.


I was always very close to Grandfather Keeney, and I stayed at his home to help care for him when I was in high school, 1940-1942.

He told me many stories about our family, and I only wish that I had paid closer attention then, so I could remember more of those tales now. He spoke of his Fathers' farm down near Goshen, Oregon, and of his younger brother, Tom, and his sister, Ann, (Anna Isabella (Cooper) Keeney). She was the daughter of John B.'s Mother (by a previous marriage).

As a lad, he had been a scout for General Miles and had chased renegade Indians all over Oregon, Washington and Idaho. He had been a U.S. Deputy Marshal, and later, City Marshal of Condon. He seemed to know every Indian who came through Condon in those days. Such an interesting life he had led, and I spent many evenings listening to his stories.

At that time, the Indians came through Gilliam County on their way to dig wild onions (Indian Potato), which grew on the hillsides of the canyons. The squaws also picked the wool from the barb wire fences they found after the sheep has passed through. Later the tribe would journey on into the foothills of the Blue Mountains to hunt the deer and elk. They traveled in wagons or hacks (light wagons), and riding on fine looking cayuse ponies. Theyalso drove a large herd of ponies, which were followed by a large number of mongrel dogs. They camped on the banks at the south end of Main Street, in Condon, near the old concrete watering trough and gravel pit. (This area is now the City Park) They would raise the poles of their teepees covered with canvas, and the squaws would soon have the cooking fires going and the stew pots would begin to simmeer and boil.

Grandfather saved all of the deer hides he could gather, to trade with the Indians. In the spring and fall when the Indians came through, he would send me to tell them that John Keeney had hides to trade. He could speak the Indian jargon with them, and also used their sign language. These pow-wows usually ended with Grandfather giving up his hides for a couple of pair of fringed buckskin gloves and several pair of moccasins, which he like to wear as bedroom slippers. Then the Bucks would have a long swig or two from Grandfathers' jug of moonshine (firewater), and that would end the trade council.

As the grandson of John Keeney, I was always welcome to sit by any Indian campfire. My buddy, Verne Hoffman (Butch) and I made friends with Indian lads our own age, and one I will always remember. His name was Jack, and he could run like a deer. His favorite sport was to run after an auto which was traveling down the highway past the Indian camp on its way to Fossil and points south. He would catch the auto and jump up on the runningboard or back bumper and ride for a ways. Then, he would jump off and come running back to camp. One spring he did this and slipped from the bumper and fell beneath the wheels of the auto. I did not see it happen, but do remember hearing about it later. The next year, when the tribe came through on its regular migration into the foothills, Jack wa hobbling around on a wooden crutch, with a lame foot. My buddy and I took him to the picture shows and bought him candy and popcorn. I will never be sure if he enjoyed the sweets more than he did the pictures, but sure did get an awful kick out of seeing the cowboys fight off the Indians. I think he truly wanted to be a cowboy, and I'm sure that my buddy and I wanted to be an Indian.

we came as close to this, as we could get, after seeing a certain movie where the hero was adopted into the Indian tribe. Jack, Butch and I agreed that we would become "Blood Brothers." None of us had a knife, and the courage was lacking by all concerned, to draw forth the blood needed by actually cutting ourselves. I remember the old needle used for sewing grain sacks, which was stck in the band of my father's hat on our back porch. We agreed that this would serve as teh sacred weapon for the ceremony. We did, finally, get a few drops of blood from our fingers, and then, each of us would press it together with Jacks' blood. He got the worst of the deal, because he had to draw forth blood "twice". Thus, I became a true "Blood Brother" of an Indian. The next spring, the Indians did not return to camp at Condon. Years later, on the streets of the Dalles, I saw Jack; but he was so drunk, he did not know his old Blood Brother, and I never saw him again.

Many times, when down at the Indian camps, we were asked by the squaws to sit with them and eat from the bubbling kettle on the fire, and we were tempted sometimes, because it may have been beyond our supper time and the aroma did smell inviting. Then, I would remember what my Grandfather had told me. "The reason Indians have such large packs of dogs is so they never will run short of stew meat." Since I couldnt tell if the Indians still had the samenumber of dogs they came to town with, or if any strays around town were missing, I played it on the safe side and ate when I got home. We never did have much meat in those days, but at least I was reasonably sure of what it was and where it came from if I ate it at home.

There was another location the Indians used as a campground near the farm where I lived as a small child. There was a little creek that came down from Sunshine Hollow and crossed the road. At this crossing was a large sandpile, and here was the site of a very old Indian campground. As children, we would dig in the sand and find many flint chips and arrow points. Along the road, especially after a rain, you could pick up many of them. Once I found a stone pestle tht was used to pound or grind up grain or corn, but I never could find the mortar bowl that went with it.

In the springtime, the Indians still came and camped there, and the squaws and the children would go up on the hillside to dig the camas root and strip the wool from the fences. These Indians never bothered us. I cannot recall even one Indian coming to the farmhouse for anything. One day we would find them camped at the crossing, then in a day or so they would be gone.

On down Snipshone Canyon, passed "Old John Graham's Cabin and Cave", the canyon joins into Thirty Mile Creek. Climbing to the first bench under the bluffs, on the right side of the road to the west, Indians of the past have made their recordings in picture writings on the side walls of the cliffs. Vandals have destroyed some of these crude paintings, but when I was last there, a few still remained.

My Grandfather also told me about an Indian burial place. He said it was located at the mouth of Rock Creek Canyon against the bluffs along the John Day River. There had been a battle with the whites near the place, and the dead had been placed under the cliffs and a wall of mud and willows had been erected in front of them to seal up the graves. When I learned of this place, I immediately wanted to go and investigate it. My Grandfather said "NO!" The Indians consider this a sacred place, and they still watch over it. Anyone caught entering or disturbing it would have to take the consequences. Years later, on a deer hunting trip, I came upon this very place, and my curiousity prompted me to take a look. At the cliff site, I found that there, now, was a huge pile of rocks and dirt at the base of the cliff, sealing off forever, the ancient resting place of the red man.

John Blanden Keeney -- died Sept. 1st, 1942, at home in Condon. He was buried at the Condon cemetary, next to his wife Ella.

On Feb. 1st, 1945, his son, Ira Marvin, also passed away and was buried beside his parents.


Father and Mother of Ellen Leona Hurt, who married John B. Keeney
October 27th, 1881

Submitted by:
Sandra Tucker
Mill City, Oregon

Isaiah Hurt come to Oregon Territory in the early 1850's. He took up a land claim in Linn Co., Oregon in 1853. Isaiah married Sarah Miller in the year 1853. They later moved to Lane Co., Oregon. In 1884, Isaiah and Sarah moved east to Gilliam Co., Oregon, where both are buried.

      Isaiah Hurt b. 1825
      Sarah Miller
        James Franklin Hurt   b. 1854
        Elizabeth Hurt   b. 1856
        Amanda Hurt   b.1858
        Stephen Arnold Douglas Hurt   b. 1860
        Leah Jane Hurt   b. 1862
        Ellen Leona Hurt   b. 1865
        Eliel M. Hurt   b.1869
        William Thurston Hurt   b. 1871

      James Franklin Hurt   b.1854
      Alice Henry
        George Fredrich Hurt   b. 1877
        Douglas Henry Hurt   b. 1879
        Edrn Pearl Hurt   b. 1880
        Gracia Elenor Hurt   b. 1882
        Ivan Scott Hurt   b. 1885
        Josehpine Eva Hurt   b. 1889
        Frank Mason Hurt   b. 1891
        Faith Mary Hurt   b. 1895
        Thurston Dewey Hurt   b. 1898
        Velna Undine Hurt   b. 1902

      Thurston Dewey Hurt   b. 1898
            married #1
      Jessie Low
        Helen Elizabeth Hurt   b. 1920 d. 1920
        Joseph Scott Hurt   b. 1920 d. 1920
        James Frank Hurt   b. 1922
      Thurston Dewey Hurt   b. 1898
            married #2
      Leola Withrow
        Nadire Leola Hurt   b. 1928
        Gloria Jean Hurt   b. 1930
      Thurston Dewey Hurt   b. 1898
            married #3
      Lera Beoletto
        Sandra Lee Hurt   b. 1944
        Sanja Lou Hurt   b. 1945

      Nadire Leola Hurt   b. 1928
      Jack R. Duggan
        Sandra Jean Duggan   b. 1948
        Kathleen Sue Duggan   b. 1950
        Chris Melvin Duggan   b. 1957

      Sandra Jean Duggan   b. 1948
      Irvin C. Tucker
        Brody Irvin Tucker   b. 1970
        Jacquelyn Kris Tucker   b. 1971

Hurt Family

Bible record
Bible record
Bible record
Gertrude and Walter Keeney
Gertrude and Walter Keeney
Gertrude and Walter Keeney (Children of William Daniels(Bill) Keeney)

going to herd sheep
Packed up to go herding sheep. Bill Shaw, Merthi's Cousin is next to Grandpa Keeney. (Last trip).

Four Generation Keeneys
Four Generations:
Gertrude Keeney Fraley, Rebecca Williams Keeney, Martin Fraley, and Gertrude Hutchison Williams. (Taken in 1917). Gertrude was Rebecca's mother. Rebecca married Williams Daniel Keeney, son of Andrew Jackson and Hannah Daniels Cooper Keeney.

Bill and Walter Keeney
Bill Keeney buys Walter a new suit.

Walter and Merthi Keeney
Walter and Merthi Keeney

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A Keeney Family Genealogy was established in 1986 & has been online ever since under one name or another.
 This site is maintained as a hobby site, some information may not be accurate.