Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by Veda DeBusk

From A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission

Peter Keller was born in Virginia in 1812.  The family migrated to Missouri, then to Texas in 1877.  He married Julia Welsh Freils, a second wife, in 1841 in Missouri when she was 39, and he was 61.  Peter had five children (by his first wife), who came to Texas with the family after his marriage to Julia.  The older set of children were: Annie, who married Alfred Mills, lived at Byrds and operated the only store there on the Pecan Bayou until their deaths; Load and Fannie, whom I know nothing about; Jim farmed at Pioneer; John lived and farmed at Cross Cut; and Walter went West, I believe the Plainview area.

Peter and family settled on a 398 acre farm, 3 miles east of Burkett, in 1877 and lived there until his death in 1895.  Peter and Julia had five children, all born in Missouri, and all married local mates living in the community.  They are:

(1) Effie Jane, born 1867, married W. C. Henderson and they bought land about six miles west of Burkett and reared their family there.  This property is now owned by a son, Willie, who lives there.

(2) Granville Beverley, February 12, 1868, married Orah Henderson on March 3, 1889.  (They owned one-half of the Peter Keller estate and George owned the other half.  They paid their sisters cash for their interest in the estate.)  In 1912, Granville and Orah built a house on their own land nearer school and Burkett.  This big house is quite a landmark at the present time.  Their children:

(2a) Lyda, born December 21, 1890 (see James M. Harris); (2b) Earnest, July 21, 1893, (deceased), and his wife, Alice, have a daughter, Lucille Lancaster, who lives in Goldsmith;

(2c) Verna, April 7,1897, married Lee Swan.  They had no family;

(2d) Veda Cowan DeBusk, May 29, 1902, was a classroom teacher of 43 years and retired in 1972.  My only son, Bill Cowan, volunteered for the United States Naval Air Force.  He reported for duty on December 4, three days before Pearl Harbor.  He was lost in WW II while bombing Japan on August 10, 1945, four days before peace was declared.  Bill married Geneva Byles, November 1, 1942.  They had one son, Phil Ray, of Los Angeles, California (see Eljah DeBusk);

(2e) Eula Georgia Webb, December 24, 1905, married Hugh Burns (see T. A. Burns).  Children: (a) Jackie Gale, who served with the Marines on the Korean-Russian Border in 1952 and 1954.  He drowned in a boating accident on Brownwood Lake in 1955; (b) Tony of Burkett, a breeder of quarter horses.

We lived about one and a half miles from school and always walked to school.  We had a three room, three teacher school when I started to school.  There was only one teacher when Lyda (now 93) started in grade 1 about 1897.  Life on the farm was quiet and busy.  Each one shared in the tasks of every day living and in growing a garden as well as work in the field.  Life was harder after the death of my father in November 1913.  We continued to rent the farm and raise a few cattle and grow cotton and grain for money crops. My mother was a good nranager to be able to continue on the farm with four girls to raise. She died in October, 1966.

(3) Laura M., 1871, married Bid DeBusk.  They had five children: Claude and L. D., both of Coleman, deceased, a surviving daughter, Maude (Byrd) of Cross Cut, Luther and Ellie (Koenig), deceased.

(4) Mary Mercie (twin), 1873, married Jasper Helms.  They moved to Rotan and surviving children reside there.

(5) George H. (twin), 1873, deceased, has two surviving daughters, Lillian (Harris) of Burkett and Lottie (Campbell) of Odessa.

Peter and Julia were baptized into the Presbyterian Church at Campbellite Bend on the Pecan Bayou east of Burkett.  It is bordered by the Patonn Helms or Julia Knight land.  My grandfather, Peter Keller, is the oldest person buried in the Burkett Cemetery.  My Grandmother, Julia died in 1935.

(Images to be added)

Granville and Orah Keller Family: children, back row, Verna, Lyda, and Earnest-front row, Veda and Erda.

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This page last updated February 6, 2006
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