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George Keefer, grandson of a loyalist during the American revolution, and son of George Keefer, senior, who was from Essex County, N. Y., was born half a mile north of where he now lives, February 25, 1799. This country was then a dense forest, with here and there a small opening, where an enterprising frontiersman had begun to make a farm. The father of our subject received 300 acres of land from the British Government, and most of that land is now embraced in the corporation of Thorold. George Keefer, senior, was originally a carpenter by trade; became a merchant when Thorold was an embryonic village; traded here many years; was a captain in the war of 1812-14, taking part in the battles of Lundy’s Lane, and Chippawa; was a magistrate for a long period, and died at Thorold in 1858, aged 84 years.
His first wife, whose maiden name was Catharine Lampman, and who, like her husband, was of German descent, died in 1813. She was the mother of our subject, and several other children.
Young Keefer, after picking up what knowledge he could in a country school, learned the art of surveying by the aid of a private tutor; became a civil engineer; operated on the Welland Canal until it was completed; was subsequently an engineer on the Cornwall, Chambly, and Lachine Canals, and was on the Grand Trunk Railway three years while it was building, acting as contractor part of the time. Subsequently, for a few years, he was in the milling business in his native town.
Mr. Keefer has held the office of Magistrate between thirty and forty years; is Secretary and Treasurer of the High School Board, and since 1868 has been Clerk of the Division Court. He is also a Commissioner of the Queen’s Bench. Although past eighty years of age, he writes a steady, handsome hand, and his “Procedure Book” is a model of accuracy and neatness. It is doubtful if one person in a thousand, at his age, has the clearness of head, steadiness of nerves, and activity of limbs, of Mr. Keefer. His fund of experiences as well as observations, is extensive, and he is a very interesting converser. The history of the internal improvements of Canada, as well as its wars in this century, he has by heart.
Mr. Keefer belongs to the Church of England, and has been. Warden, off and on, half his years since reaching manhood, resigning, finally, a few years ago.
In 1833 he married Mrs. Margaret McGregor, widow of Alex. McGregor, of Amherstburgh, and has had four children, only one of them, George A. Keefer, now living. He is an engineer on the Canada Pacific Railway.
A younger brother of our subject, Jacob Keefer, born here in 1800, and dying June 12, 1874, was also a prominent and very worthy member of this community. He was a merchant in Thorold for a long time; shouldered his musket in 1837 to protect the province from rebels, but was in no battles; was Acting Magistrate of the county till 1868, and was a stirring, energetic, public spirited citizen, respected while living, and tenderly cherished in the memory of his old neighbors since his demise.