From the 1885 History of Steuben County, Indiana

pages 833-834


William H. Keyes, one of the prominent citizens of Steuben County, resided on section 23, Otsego Township.  He was born in Knox County, Ohio, Dec. 12, 1841, a son of Tolman and Mary (Richards) Keyes, his father a native of Rutland, Vt., and his mother of Connecticut.  He is the tenth of eleven children; only three beside himself are living --  Augustus, of Minnesota; Hiram, of Lagrange County, Ind., and Charles, of Branch County, Mich.  His father was a soldier in the war of 1812.  Shortly after his marriage he moved to Ohio and in 1844 to Richland Township, Steuben County, where the mother died in the spring of 1863, aged sixty-four years.  The father died at the age of eighty-four years.  They were firm believers in the faith of Wesley.  William H. was educated in the common-schools, making good use of his somewhat limited advantages.  He remained at home till after the breaking out of the Rebellion and in the fall of 1861 enlisted in Company A, Twenty-ninth Indiana Infantry.  His first engagement was at the battle of Pittsburg Landing.  He was taken sick soon after and sent home on a furlough; rejoined his regiment at Battle Creek, and later participated in the battle of Liberty Gap and Chickamauga.  His Colonel, John F. Miller, now United States Senator from California, was wounded in the battle of Liberty Gap.  Mr. Keyes has a letter from Senator Miller, dated Sept. 2, 1884, in which are kindly words of remembrance of Mr. Keyes and all the gallant men of the old Twenty-ninth, in whom he had the greatest pride.  The regiment after the battle of Chickamauga was stationed at Chattanooga on post duty and Mr. Keyes was detailed to duty at General Stanley's headquarters.  A few months later he was with the regiment a short time and then was detailed to duty in the postal department.  After the rebel General Wheeler had severed communications with Knoxville and the road again opened he was sent with a car load of mail and was also given charge of mail sent to Sherman after the capture of Atlanta.  He remained in that department till his discharge, early in November, 1864.  He was married Jan. 10, 1865, to Melvina Cary, a native of Knox County, Ohio, born Jan. 18, 1843, a daughter of William and Melissa Cary.  They were playmates in childhood and were rocked in the same cradle.  Mr. Keyes could not be an idle spectator of the struggle against rebellion and in 1865 again enlisted as a recruit and was assigned to Company B, Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania Infantry, and was present at the death of secession, and at the grand review at Washington.  After the war he resumed agricultural pursuits, making his home in Richland Township.  In October, 1878, he was elected Sheriff of Steuben County, and re-elected in 1880.  It is no disparagement to others to say that the county never had a more efficient officer.  He made for himself quite a reputation as a detective.  Lewis Schwartz, charged with burglary and larceny, was traced and captured by Mr. Keyes.  Dell Quin, a horse thief, was captured at North Manchester, Ind.  James Culver, charged with grand larceny, and Joseph Etting, a forger to the amount of $40,000 were captured through his co-operation.  Mr. and Mrs. Keyes have been from early youth members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and for several years he has been a local preacher.  He is an ardent Republican and in politics, as in all questions of public interest, always has an opinion and is very free to express it.  He is courteous and genial in his manners and never intentionally wrongs any one.  He is one of Steuben County's most prominent citizens and is popular with all classes.  While Sheriff of the county he sold his farm in Richland Township and about the close of his second term bought the one where he now lives, known as the Sander's place.  A daughter, Cora A., is their only child.


Submitted by Kim Davoli