Interview and Obit. for William Hardy Key
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Obituary For William Hardy Key , Feb., 1936- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
William H. Key age 96 (seated) William (l to r) John James George
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This article appeared in a Carroll County, Missouri newspaper. It is an
interview given when he was 93 years old. Mr Key was born March 15,
1836 in Shelby county, Tennessee and died on Feburary 3, 1936 in Carroll
County, Missouri. Mr. Key is buried at the Coloma Cemetery.
Wm. H. Key, Age 93, is one of the oldest residents in Carroll County; Born
Wm. H. Key, one of the oldest Carroll county residents, was a visitor in the
city Wednesday. He is at present making his home at Bogard.
With a mind that works like a person many years his junior and with a
readiness in recalling dates, Mr. Key spoke with precision and interest as he
reviewed his life's history for a representative of this paper. In fact his
appearance was of a man at least ten years younger and he is yet reasonably
active regardless of the 93 years he has had the pleasure of living a useful
Born in Shelby county, Tenn., March 15, 1836, he spent eight years of his
life there. At that age he accompanied his father and mother to Carroll
county, Missouri, and has since resided here. The family located on a farm
near Mandeville. The trip was made up the Mississippi River and down the
Missouri in a steamboat; the family landing at DeWitt. After spending a
week at that place they started overland through the beautiful wooded
valleys and rolling prairies of the county in a wagon drawn by a team of
oxen. They had no roads in those days, Mr. Key explained, and our trip to
Mandeville was made over the ridges. He recalled that the neighbors of the
family were at that time were: Chas. Isom, William Brown, Elihu Standley.
"These were all good people." he remarked. "and they aided us in making
our start in the wooded sections of the hills in Mandeville."
Mr. Key remembers a way back when:
Andrew Jackson was President of the United States.
Timber and rattlesnakes were thick and one's live was endangered unless
close vigilance was kept for their presence.
Indians roamed the country.
Deer, wild turkey, and animals of many description populated the county.
Wagons were equipped with only two wheels.
Oxen were used in farming and drawing the wagons.
Wild Moss Mill was in full operation.
Carrollton was merely a trading post and the old log cabin was the court
Such things as wire fences had never been heard of.
In face, William Key remembers a way back when other people now living
in the county cannot recall.
He was married to Julia Ann Street in June 1888. This family consisted of
five children, but two daughters with their Mother, have been called to their
eternal reward. The sons are John of Bogard, and George W. and James
both of Tina. Mr. Key was the oldest member of a family of thirteen
children, eleven boys and two girls. Of this number only he and his sister,
Pheobe Ann Briley of Iowa are living. His sister who was born in 1854,
was the youngest member of the family.
During the Civil War Mr. Key was a member of the Carroll county militia.
He was taken prisoner and served three months and three days, when he was
released to return to his family and loved ones. "Those were trying days"
Mr. Key said, "we left our families to shift for themselves and took our guns
to meet the enemy. It might have been death, crippled for life or endangered
health. It was all considered but we took our positions at the side of those
who made like sacrifices." Mr. Key is now drawing a pension.
In his reminiscent mood this venerable citizen recalled the period when he
frequently battled with tattle snakes. "We had two kinds to deal with," he
said, "timber and the prairie rattlers. The largest one I ever killed measured
about five feet in length and in circumference was about as big around as an
average stove pipe."
"About my education, well it is like this, you see. We had subscription
schools in those days and I attended one of them. I was never a scholar and I
studied the customary reading and writing with an occasional spelling
lesson. I was a good speller. I only attended school about three months our
of the year and that was where I obtained my meager education.
"Indians? why I should say, plenty of them; but you know they never harmed
us. They would ride through the woods, especially in the winter time, camp
near our home, but we never had any trouble with them.
During my life I have worked over 100 teams of oxen. Some of them were
mighty contrary and detested their work in their rude way, but we handled
them without much trouble. They traveled slow and the trips to the mill
required a great amount of time. You know about how fast an old cow can
walk? Well that is about how fast we traveled on these long trips.
Mr. Key has always been a republican. His first vote was cast for Stephen
A. Douglas, who was then candidate for President. Since that date until the
present time he has never failed to cast his vote but one time. That was a day
when rain poured down in torrents and I was unable to reach the voting
In religion, he early in life united with the Church of Christ and has since
been faithful to this conviction. He has never held a church nor public office
but has taken a reasonable active part in both. "I remember one time when
they prevailed on me to run for Judge of the Western District. I never even
considered such a thing. Neighbors and friends came to me but I waived
them away with the expression that I was not a scholar.
Thus, in a limited way, did an aged citizen recall his life, Wednesday. In
crowning the facts of a long and useful life into a small apace is an
impossibility. William Key is enjoying the fruits of an active career and his
conversations today are along such lines that lend to improve the position of
the honored pioneer, as they are looked upon by citizens. He has always
taken much interest in the busy world and has kept well informed. His
creditable career has given him a name which his children and friends
delight to honor.
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