James Keefe took up his abode on his present farm on section 14, Brenton township, in 1892 and here owns two hundred acres of rich and productive land which is the visible evidence of a well spent, active and honorable life. He was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, May 1, 1843, his parents being James and Helen (Hennessey) Keefe, who were likewise natives of the Emerald isle. Crossing the Atlantic to the new world, their last days were spent in La Salle county, Illinois, where the father died at the age of seventy-eight years, while the mother passed away when about seventy-five years of age. In their family were five sons and six daughters, of whom James is the youngest and only three of the number are now living.
James Keefe spent the first thirteen years of his life in the land of his nativity and in the fall of 1856 arrived with his parents in Illinois. They did not tarry in the east but made their way direct to La Salle county after landing at New York from a sailing vessel on which they had spent nine weeks on the broad Atlantic. James Keefe resided in Ottawa, Illinois, for fifteen years and during most of that time worked at teaming. He then removed to a rented 1868. He then went to Chatsworth, where he rented a tract of land north of the town and began farming on his own account. He conducted the place for four or five years and then married. About that time he purchased eighty acres of land lying in Livingston county and spent fifteen years on that place, bringing the fields under a high state of cultivation, so that he gathered good harvests therefrom.
On the expiration of that period he sold his property in Livingston county and bought his present farm on section 14, Brenton township, on the 16th of February, 1892. It has since been his place of residence, covering a period of sixteen years. The tract comprises two hundred acres on section 14 and 23, Brenton township, and is an excellent property, well equipped with modern conveniences and lacking in none of the accessories found upon a model farm of the twentieth century. The fields return golden harvests as a reward for the care and labor he bestows upon them and he also raises good grades of stock. His home is a commodious and attractive dwelling and not far distant stands a fine barn, together with good sheds and other buildings for the shelter of grain and stock. The farm presents a well kept appearance and everything about the place is indicative of the careful supervision of the owner, whose methods are at once practical and progressive. His industry has ever been one of his salient characteristics and has been the measure of his success.
In 1872 Mr. Keefe was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Walrich, who was born in Hanover, Germany, April 9, 1853, and was brought to Illinois when three years of age by her parents. Otto and Margaret (Hempkin) Walrich, who settled in Woodford county and afterward removed to Livingston county, where they spent their remaining days. They crossed the Atlantic on a sailing vessel, being more than nine weeks upon the water. In their family were three sons and eight daughters and two sons and seven daughters are yet living. Mr. Walrich in 1857 purchased land in Charlotte township, Livingston county, for which he paid the usual government price of a dollar and a quarter per acre. It is now in possession of his son Thomas, having never passed from the family, but has been the property of father and son for more than a half century. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Keefe has been blessed with nine children: William, a resident farmer of Brenton township; James, who is living in Chicago; Jesse, at home; Lester, under the parental roof; Mae, the wife of Isaac Dancey, of Piper City; Josephine, the wife of Ely Cooper, of Indiana; Margaret and Bessie, at home; and Mrs. Ella Munson, who died at the age of twenty-six years, leaving a daughter, Edna, now twelve years of age, living with her grandparents.
Mr. Keefe's study of the political questions and issues of the day has led him to give his support to the democracy. He has been officially connected with the schools and has also served as road officer. He was reared in the Catholic faith, while his wife was reared in the Presbyterian church. They are both well known in this locality and enjoy in large measure the esteem of those with whom they have been brought in contact. Mr. Keefe is known as a substantial farmer and the methods which he has followed are such as insure success. His labors are well directed by sound judgment and realizing the fact that zeal and energy constitute the basis of success he has pursued his work diligently year after year and is now one of the substantial agriculturists of Brenton township.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 788-790.

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