Caleb McKeever is a retired farmer now living in Gibson City. He was born near Brandywine, Delaware, on the 8th of May, 1825, and has therefore passed the eighty-third milestone on life's journey. A review of his record shows much that is commendable and indicates the value of energy and perseverance as factors in the acquirement of success. His parents were William and Sarah (Harlan) McKeever, both natives of Chester county, Pennsylvania, where they were married in 1812. The father was of Scotch extraction and when a lad of fifteen years was one day sent by his parents for a jug of molasses but he hid the jug and ran away to sea, remaining for four years. On his return he looked for the jug but failed to find it. His experience on the ocean, however, had satisfied him with that life and thereafter his time and energies were devoted to general agricultural pursuits. After his marriage he removed with his family to Delaware. About 1828 he returned to Chester county, Pennsylvania, where he resided until 1833, when he removed to Urbana, Ohio, where he spent one year. He next located on a farm east of Urbana and while living there his wife died, in 1842, at the age of forty-six years, her remains being interred in the cemetery near her home. The father remained in Champaign county until 1867, when he went to Iowa, residing with a daughter until 1870. In that year he came to Ford county and made his home with his son Caleb until his demise, which occurred November 23, 1874. His wife was a member of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. In political belief Mr. McKeever was a democrat. This worthy couple had a family of six children: John and Isaac, deceased; Margaret, the wife of D. Osborn; Caleb, of this review; Mary, the wife of William C. Buncutter; and Ruth A., the wife of J. Spain.
Caleb McKeever acquired his education by attending a district school for about three months in a year. The little "temple of learning" was a log building, the benches made out of slabs, while the desks were formed of slabs resting on wooden pins driven into the sides of the room. The curriculum was limited and the methods of instruction very primitive as compared with the modes of teaching at the present time. The school teacher, too, usually had a belief in the old adage, "Spare the rod and spoil the child." When not busy with his text-books Caleb McKeever worked upon the home farm and his training in the labors of the fields was not meager. On attaining his majority he started out in life on his own account. His mother had died when he was seventeen years of age. Early in manhood he began work by the month as a farm hand, working thus until twenty-seven years of age, when he married and established a home of his own.
It was on the 6th of November, 1851, that Caleb McKeever wedded Miss Sarah E. Thompson, who was born in Champaign county, Ohio, December 12, 1826, and died October 3, 1903. They had traveled life's journey happily together for fifty-two years. Mrs. McKeever was a daughter of John and Elizabeth (King) Thompson, the former born in Pennsylvania and of ScotchIrish ancestry, while the mother was a native of County Armagh, Ireland, and came to America with her parents when twelve years of age. They were married in Newville, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, and to them were born nine children, all of whom have now passed away. They continued residents of Pennsylvania until 1820, when they removed to Champaign county, Ohio, and Mr. Thompson became a very successful and wealthy citizen of that cominunity. He was also prominent and infiuential in public affairs, took an active part in matters relating to the general welfare and for twenty-one years acceptably filled the office of justice of the peace. In politics he was a whig and afterward a republican and both he and his wife were devoted members of the Presbyterian church.
Mr. and Mrs. McKeever were married in Champaign county, Ohio, and began their domestic life upon a farm in Logan county, where they made their home for ten years. They afterward removed to Sangamon county, Illinois, settling near Williamsville, where Mr. McKeever rented two hundred and sixty acres of land. This he cultivated until February, 1864, when he bought two hundred and sixty acres of land in Ford county, where he has since made his home. He now owns two hundred and twenty acres of good land, well tiled, having given forty acres to his youngest son, who sold it for two thousand dollars and then bought eighty acres near Gibson, for which he paid two thousand four hundred dollars, and to which he has added until his property interests now include three hundred and twenty acres. The father's farm is one mile north and three miles west of Gibson City and is divided into fields, which are well fenced. Two of his fields contain fifty acres each, two contain twenty-five acres and two others contain thirty-five acres each. He has placed all of the improvements upon his land and made it a rich and valuable farm, known as one of the model farm properties of the locality.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. McKeever were born six children: John, who is now engaged in the implement business in Urbana, Ohio; Samuel Alexander, who died at the age of eighteen months; Sarah Elizabeth, the wife of Dr. T. B. Stross, living with her father in Gibson; William, who resides upon a farm west of Gibson; and Stephen and James, both of whom died in infancy.
Mr. McKeever cast his first presidential vote in Ohio for Lewis Cass and has been a stalwart supporter of the republican party since the Civil war. He has served as supervisor for one term and as school director for a number of years. When he took up his abode in Drummer township there was no school within its borders, but the first year he and other public-spirited citizens built a good schoolhouse. They always employed the best teachers, paying seventy-five dollars per month — a very high wage at that time. There were no railroads through the district at that day and all the trading was done at Bloomington and at Paxton. Mr. McKeever relates many interesting incidents of the early days when this section of the state was largely undeveloped and unimproved. The farm machinery was very crude as compared with that in use at the present time and it is such citizens as Mr. McKeever who have made Ford county what it is today — one of the richest agricultural sections in this great state. His life has been well spent and in the evening of his days he can look back over the past without regret, for his many excellent traits of character have won for him the respect, good will and veneration of his fellowmen.

Extracted 19 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 1, pages 401-404.

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