Chapter 1

ARTHUR WALTER KEDDIE, FATHER OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC

Page 1

James Boyd Keddie (left) and Arthur Keddie (right), posed standing in the photographers studio, Circa 1880's. Photo courtesy of the Oshawa Community Museum.

Arthur Walter Keddie was the youngest son of Walter and Janet Keddie who were  married on August 24, 1834. Born in Errol, Perthshire, Scotland, on June 27, 1842, he had an older sister and brother, Margaret and James. When young Keddie was but one year old the family traveled to North America in 1843 settling in Ontario County, Canada. Being educated in the profession of land surveyor, the provincial laws required a three year apprenticeship be completed, which he performed under the guidance of a provincial land surveyor in the town of Whitby, the county seat of Ontario. After successfully passing his final examinations before the provincial board of examiners in the city of Toronto he immediately, on attaining his majority, left Canada for California in August 1863. Traveling via Panama he arrived on September 8, 1863 in the city by the bay, San Francisco. His first work in the state was assisting Julius H. von Schmidt and C.D. Gibbes in compiling Holt’s map of California.

Leaving San Francisco in 1864 he traveled north where he eventually found the small mountain town of Quincy, county seat of Plumas County, to his liking and settled there, opening up shop as a surveyor. By this time the gold diggers that had briefly overrun the Feather River country following Bidwell’s celebrated discovery of gold on July 4, 1848, had departed and the many pronged turbulent river flowed once again in solitude through its deep gorges.

Always accurate in his surveying duties, Keddie prided himself on the care with which he prepared his reports. The story is told by a man who actually saw the event of how Keddie walked right to a spot where he stooped and dug away the earth, to reveal a marker which he had placed there years before.

When he immigrated to the United States in 1863 his sweetheart, Margaret “Maggie” Barnes, stayed in Canada. His writings in his diaries and letters to her revealed the times in which he now struggled. New words such as "two bits", "grub" and "pack", among many others had become a part of his daily vocabulary which, in his writings and correspondence to Margaret, he explained the meanings of.

Having now resided in California for five years Mr. Keddie was entitled to his naturalization papers and he obtained his U.S. citizenship in 1868. Shortly afterward he was nominated and elected surveyor of Plumas County. In 1869 he was appointed as a United States Deputy Surveyor, a position he held for many years. During his early career as a surveyor he made a map of Plumas County for the use of the supervisors before the government surveys had been made, and later Mr. Keddie's survey was accepted for government use.

Arthur Keddie with wife Margaret, Circa 1880's. Photo courtesy of the Oshawa Community Museum.

It was also in 1869 that Keddie traveled back to Canada in order to marry the eldest daughter of William Barnes, Esq. of Whitby. On June 9, 1869, he and Margaret Douglas Barnes where married in Whitby, Ontario, after which they returned to California, and their home in Quincy. Together they had four children, Margaret, Helen, William and Mary.

The couple’s first child, Margaret, was born in Quincy, California on December 15, 1873. She married artist Charles H. Kahrs in 1900 and lived in San Francisco. Charles was born in Canada in 1870. He was a resident of San Francisco in the 1890s until 1901 and while there drew political cartoons for the San Francisco Call. He and Margaret then moved to Canada and he continued in newspaper work in Ottawa until his death in Mt. Vernon on April 7, 1904 of tuberculosis. While living in Canada Margaret attended a prestigious art college where as a student she specialized in landscapes, mastering watercolor, pen & ink, and charcoal. As a widow, Margaret returned to California and taught school in Plumas County until her death at home on October 27, 1944. Her artistic works included landscapes of Plumas County and still life’s.

Keddie’s second child Helen was born in Quincy, California in April 1876 and graduated from Nevada State University on June 21, 1898 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Teaching. She then went on to teach at the North Arm School, Plumas County from 1898-99; in Quincy from 1899-1900; at East Butterfly School, Plumas County from 1900-01; in the East from 1902-03. She married Gilbert Palmer in 1905. Helen passed away in December 1944.

Keddie’s only son, William Arthur, was born in March 4, 1878 following in his father’s footsteps and was very proficient as a surveyor, having graduated from the University of Nevada with the highest honors. After leaving the University, he engaged in survey work under contract with the Government, later becoming an engineer in the reclamation work at Fallen, Nevada.

Daughter Margaret, Circa 1892. Photo courtesy of the Oshawa Community Museum. Daughter Helen, Circa 1885. Photo courtesy of the Oshawa Community Museum. Son William

Perhaps best known in Reno and all over the coast for his bicycle riding, William had been a member of the Wheelmen's Club of Reno almost ever since the club was organized and had taken a prominent part in all the relay races the club participated in. In more than one instance Keddie saved the Reno Wheelman’s Club from defeat in relay races by his phenomenal spurt at the wind-up of a race.

William and Miss Ada Williams, daughter of Senator W. W. Williams of Churchill county, were granted a marriage license on May 5, 1908, shortly after which they were married in San Francisco on May 13.

As an active Republican, William was a member of both state and county central committees. In 1915 he was elected to the State Senate and in that year he secured the State Fair for Fallon, where it has been held continuously ever since. He achieved the honorable position of President pro tem of the Senate. His name would also be mentioned for Governor later mainly because of his excellent executive ability, business training, and keen sense of honor. During his legislative tenure he was a true friend of the Nevada Historical Society. In 1920, when committees for more active work were organized in the various counties, he became a member of the building committee for his section of the State.

But the management of the estate of former Senator Warren Williams monopolized his time. With the hope of reducing the time consumed in traveling from one property to another and with the old athletic instinct strong within him, Mr. Keddie became the foremost aerial enthusiast in the State. Keddie had between 30,000 and 40,000 sheep in northern Elko County and with his headquarters in Fallen, he would travel by plane from Fallon to Elko and then make the trip to his grazing grounds by automobile. His wife, Ada Williams Keddie, was the first aviatrix in Nevada, having made several trips to San Francisco.

It was while on a trial run in a new plane that William met his tragic death near Elko, Nevada, July 17, 1921. On that fateful afternoon he was killed along with former Nevada State Senator Foster when the airplane crashed. The accident happened when Keddie was making a bank just prior to landing. He was about 150 feet in the air when one wing broke off. The plane immediately went out of control and crashed resulting in an explosion. Both bodies were badly burned in the resulting fire. He was survived by his wife Ada and their two children.

Daughter Mary Edith, Circa 1880's. Photo courtesy of the Oshawa Community Museum.

Keddie’s youngest child, daughter Mary Edith, was born on April 2, 1881. She went into nursing and became a California Certified Registered Nurse on June 6, 1914 after which she worked at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, California as a reservist in the United States Navy. She died on October 25, 1955 and is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery.

At the age of 58 Keddie’s wife Margaret died in Reno on November 16, 1901. Although she had been in poor health for some time, being afflicted with tuberculosis, it was not thought that the disease had made such progress that would result in such a sudden death. All of the family was with her when she died.

A few months later, on March 12, 1902, Arthur W. Keddie along with James M. Engle, a real estate operator at Quincy, surrendered themselves to United States Marshal Shine in San Francisco to answer indictments found against them by the grand jury. Keddie’s was an indictment for conspiracy; Engle’s an indictment charging subornation of perjury.

They were accused of being the leading spirits in connection with alleged frauds and conspiracy which resulted in obtaining from the United States for the Boca and Loyalton Railroad 18,000 acres of valuable timber lands in Plumas and Sierra counties. Surities for their appearance at trial were furnished, bonds in Engel’s case being set at $2000, while half that amount was required to effect Keddie's release.

Julian E. Pardee, an attorney, who resided in Susanville, had surrendered himself to United States Marshal Shine the day before. He having been indicted by the Federal Grand Jury for being concerned in the Lewis-Engle timber grab in Plumas and Sierra counties in the interest of the Boca and Loyalton Railroad, owned by J. H. Roberts of Sacramento. Pardee was indicted on two charges, one of subornation of perjury and the other of conspiracy to defraud the United States. He was released on furnishing $2000 bonds. Albert S. Parsons, John H. Engle, Richard H. Lewis and William S. Lewis had been arrested February 28 on an indictment charging subornation of perjury.

  Next Page Next Page

Copyright © 1996 - 2017 by Frank Brehm. All Rights Reserved.