AMONG the younger of our old-school
merchants of the past may very justly be classed the late Hon. George
Keck, who was for nearly twenty years so intimately connected with
mercantile and public life in Cincinnati. Mr. Keck was born in
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in the year 1810, where he received a
good common-school education, and then learned the trade of a tanner.
Being energetic, and not seeing the chance, for success at home, when he
arrived at maturity, or in 1831 Mr. Keck came West, and settled in our
little neighboring city, Hamilton, where he engaged in merchandising and
The latter branch brought him to this
city a great deal of his time, and having prospered beyond his brightest
expectations, and desirous of further enlarging his business, in 1845
Mr. Keck permanently settled in Cincinnati, which was afterward to be
his home till the day of his death, which occurred December 14, 1864,
when in the fifty-fourth year of his age.
Mr. Keck by nature was warm-hearted and
generous. No man had a greater love for his fellow-man than had George
Keck; and while always quiet and extremely unobtrusive in aiding those
who had been less fortunate than himself in stemming the stream of life,
yet he was always ready to render material and substantial aid wherever
deserving. As a merchant he was painstaking, careful, and exacting. With
him every thing was method, by which he always declared that "a man
who has method can do ten times as much business as one who has
Some time after removing to this city,
Mr. Keck was elected to the City Council from the old Fifth Ward, a ward
which had had as its representatives such well-known citizens as Hon.
John F. Torrence, Nathaniel Bartlett, John W. Messick, Judge Bellamy
Storer, N. W. Thomas, J. Stacey Hill, and Benjamin Eggleston. In that
body Mr. Keck was a working member, his influence and vote always being
felt in every measure of in), portance. In this line Mr. Keck never once
considered self, or what others would think ; he always acted and voted
from a conviction of right, from a desire to promote the interests of
the city and its citizens. After retiring from council, Mr. Keck
was at different times a director of .the House of Refuge, trustee of
the Board of Water-works, member of the Military Committee during the
war, and a representative in the Ohio Legislature from Hamilton County.
Mr. Keck was the president of the Second National Bank, from its
organization up till within a few weeks of his death.
While as free from dogmatism or the
niceties of creed as any man could be, Mr. Keck was withal an earnest
Christian, for many years being an active member of the Episcopal
Church, which faith was sufficient to sustain him through his last, a
most painful sickness.
During the last year of his life the
friends of Mr. Keck could not help noticing that he was failing in
health; and when spoken to in relation to his condition, he would
cheerfully reply, "Yes, I am far from well; the end is doubtlessly.
drawing nigh; but when a man has lived a correct life he surely has
nothing to fear from death."
Some weeks before the latter occurrence,
the family physician informed Mr. Keck that "his disease was cancer
of the stomach, which always baffled the greatest skill ;" to which
Mr. Keck smilingly responded, "Doctor, that means that I must
shortly die;" and he at once, in expectation of being soon called
away, went to work methodically arranging his business, dividing his
large property, and placing every thing in order.. There was no haste or
confusion—every thing was system.
Although dying in the midst of the civil
war, in which he was one of the strongest advocates of the Union cause,
when the papers, on Christmas morning, announced the death of Mr. Keck,
there was a universal feeling of sorrow. The community felt that we had
lost one of our best citizens and purest merchants and officers.
Everywhere the death of Mr. Keck was looked upon as a public loss.
Mr. Keck had four children: two daughters
(one, Mrs. C. W. Thomas, deceased), and two sons, Hon. J, L. Keck and
George W. Keck, well-known and highly esteemed business men, who were
sources of great solace to a most excellent mother.