Biography of J. Warren Keifer
Springfield, Clark County, OH Biographies





J. WARREN KEIFER, lawyer and Congressman, Springfield. Considered in all the relations of life, Gen. Joseph Warren Keifer is today the foremost man of Clark County, having made a brilliant record and won a reputation reaching beyond his county and State, and, although yet comparatively a young man, he has been prominent in national affairs for nearly a score of years, and is still manifestly on the rear side of the zenith of his public career. The meager limits of this department of our history will not admit of our doing so illustrious a subject full justice; hence we will not attempt more than a chronological enumeration of the more important events of his life. Gen. Keifer is the son of Joseph and Mary (Smith) Keifer, his father being a native of Washington Co., Md., being an early poineer (1811) of Clark County, where he was a civil engineer and farmer. His mother was of Hamilton Co., Ohio. He was born Jan. 30, 1836, in Bethel Township, this county, was reared on the paternal farm; his education was had in public schools and at Antioch College. In 1855, he commenced the study of law with Gen. Charles Anthony, in Springfield; was admitted to the bar Jan. 12, 1858, practicing his profession thereafter. Upon the inauguration of hostilities in 1861, he volunteered (April 19); was commissioned Major of the 3d O. V. I., and mustered into service on April 27. On the 12th of June the regiment reenlisted for three years; was assigned to McClellan's command, and participated in the battles of Rich Mountain, Cheat Mountain and Elk Water. In November, 1861, it was transferred to Buell's command, in Kentucky. In February, 1862, Maj. Keifer was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and as such was engaged in the campaign against Bowling Green, Nashville and Huntsville. On Sept. 30, 1862, he was appointed to the Colonelcy of the 110th O. V. I., joining Milroy's command in Virginia, and, in the winter of 1862-63, commanded the post at Moorefield, was slightly wounded in the battle of Winchester in June, 1863, while commanding a brigade; he was severely wounded (having his left arm shattered) at the battle of the Wilderness May 5, 1864, and thus quite disabled, but was not thereby prevented from joining Sheridan's army at Harper's Ferry with his arm still in a sling. In this maimed condition he was engaged in the battles of Opequon, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek, receiving in the former engagement a shell wound in the thigh, which did not deter him from leading a brigade successfully in the battles occurring almost immediately thereafter. "For gallant and meritorious services" in these battles, he was brevetted Brigadier General, and, as such, assigned by President Lincoln Dec. 29, 1864, and joined the army in front of Petersburg, taking prominent part in the important engagements just preceding. In 1865, Gen. Keifer was brevetted Major General for "gallant and distinguished services," and was mustered out of services on the 27th of June of that year, after a military service of four years and two months. Returning to Springfield, he resumed the practice of his profession in July, 1865. On Nov. 30, 1866, he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 26th Regular United States Infantry, which he declined. In 1867, he was elected to the Ohio Senate. In 1868, while commander of the "Grand Army of the Republic," he organized the "Board of Control" for the establishment of the "Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home" at Xenia, of which the State assumed control in 1870, making Gen. Keifer one of its Trustees. In 1876, he was elected to the Forty fifth Congress from the Eighth Congressional District of Ohio, by a handsome Republican majority of 3,716 votes; being two years later reelected in the Fourth District over W. Vance Marquis by 5,090 votes, receiving three fifths of the whole vote cast. In the October State election of the year 1880, he received as representative of the Eighth District 5,918 majority, the largest ever polled by any candidate in this district. In the Forty fifth Congress he served on the Committee on "War Claims," and in the Forty sixth on the "Elections" Committee. He has taken a very prominent and important part in the recent Presidential canvass, and much of the signal success of his party in Ohio, being due to his well directed and able efforts. Among the General's notable speeches may be mentioned his oration of Jan. 22, 1878, at Newark, Ohio, before a "State Reunion of Soldiers and Sailors," on the anniversary of the death of that gallant and noble chieftain Gen. James B. McPherson, its title being " Ohio's Contribution, Sacrifice and Service in the War." The law firm of which the General is senior partner (Keifer, White & IRabbitts), do a large and lucrative practice. On March. 22, 1860, Gen. Keifer married Miss Eliza S. Stout, of Clark County. who has borne him four children - James W., Jr., William White, Horace Charles and Margaret E., all of whom are now at school, the two oldest being at Antioch College. The General is a member of Clark Lodge, No. 101; of F. & A. Masons; he is a man of the people, his career has been a splendid one, and with his robust health, iron constitution, excellent habits and mental and physical vigor, he is doubtless destined to occupy yet more exalted places in the service of his admiring constituency. He is a man of great personal magnetism, a ponderous, earnest, deliberate and pointed speaker, sincere and firm in his convictions, pronounced in his views, a devoted friend and generous enemy: a man of strong home and local attachments and loyal to his friends. and whose fullest confidence he enjoys.

From:
History of Clark County, Ohio
W. H. Beers & Co.
Chicago 1881


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