This obituary of Thomas J. Keys, the brother of John W. Keys, Joseph G. Keys, and William Keys, was printed in the Miami-Gazette newspaper on January 30, 1895. It was first published in the Stockton (Cal.) Daily Independent:
Ex Senator Thomas J. Keys, died this morning at a little before 2 o'clock, after an illness of less than two days.
The deceased was born in Waynesville, Warren county, Ohio, January 16, 1823. He was reared amid the wild life of that region, then the far West, as a Quaker. His father died when the subject of this sketch was but 7 years of age, and at 15 the boy went to work as a blacksmith's apprentice. Six years later, having been an (apprentice) of the trade three or four years, he went to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he worked at his trade several months and then went to Louisville, Kentucky. He started for California in 1850 with a party made up in that city. They went in a boat to Weston, Missouri, commencing the overland journey from that point. Upon reaching this state Mr. Keys went to mining at Hangtown, but soon gave it up and went to Sacramento where, failing to find work at his trade, he went to San Francisco. Meeting with little success there he made up a party of twenty-three men all went to Chinese Camp in Tuolumme county. A few months later Mr. Keys was at Fine Gold Gulch acting as the Alcalde (mayor) and Recorder. Becoming afflicted with the scurvy he took a mule team and started for San Francisco again and stopped at Stockton, where he went to work at his trade. Saving his wages he started a shop where Wolf's building now stands on Main street. He continued in the blacksmithing business in the city for eighteen years being located at various places in the town.
Mr. Keys became ( ? ) interested in teaming to the southern mines being, in partnership with William Hughes. When the mining boom suddenly burst he was left with sixty-seven head of miles on his hands with hay at $90 a ton and barley correspondingly high. He went to the lowlands and cut tules for the animals and then going to Stanislaus county commenced farming. He made $17,000 the first two years and lost $30,000 during the next four. When he left the ranch he had just $10. He then became interested in the manufacure of headers and threshers and in 1884 became steward of the Stockton Insane Asylum.
The deceased had led an active political life. He represented this county in the Assembly in 1855 and again in 1863. In 1872 he was elected as Senator from the District then composed of Stanislaus, Merced and Mariposa counties and was re-elected to serve a second term in 1874.
Mr. Keys was member of Charity Lodge, No. 61, I.O.O.F., and also of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers. He leaves a widow and several children, namely, Mrs. Oscar Atwood, Mrs. Reuter of the asylum, James C. Keys, the agent of the Southern Pacific depot in this city, John Milton, Thomas J., Jr. and Mrs. Eliza Stowell.
For more about the Keys family of Waynesville, Ohio see: