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Frank McKeen

Wabash Valley profiles : a series of tributes to hometown heroes who have made a difference

Description: One typed page including photograph; biography of Frank McKeen, local banker and business leader.
ABASH VALLEY WP R O F I L E SA series of tributes to hometown heroes who have made a difference.Frank McKeenhe oldest child of one of Terre Haute's most esteemed businessmen, Frank McKeen was a dynamic community leader for 35 years. McKeen was literally a "born banker," first seeing the light of day on May 24, 1853, on the second floor of the Terre Haute District Branch of the Second State Bank of Indiana (the earliest ancestor of First Financial Bank), where his parents William Riley and Eliza (Johnston) McKeen resided. Frank's father, later founder of McKeen Bank, was the bank's cashier. Frank's mother died on Christmas Day 1855, so his stepmother, Ann (Crawford) McKeen, who wed Riley McKeen on March 3, 1857, helped raise him. Upon graduating from Terre Haute High School in 1870, Frank became an office boy at McKeen & Minshall Bank and worked his way up the ranks as a clerk, department manager and partner. When McKeen State Bank became McKeen National Bank (also a forerunner of First Financial Bank) in 1905, Frank was elected vice president and general manager. Shortly before his father's death in February 1913, Frank succeeded him as president, a position he held until his death. Young McKeen toured Europe in 1876 and, while in Italy, helped Terre Haute architect Charles Eppinghousen select a statue of Mercury as an ornament to perch on top of new McKeen Bank at the northwest corner of Sixth and Wabash. Frank also worked in the paymaster's office of the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad for a year. On Nov. 11, 1880, he wed Mary McGregor, a daughter of distiller Alexander McGregor. A director of the Terre Haute Business Men's Association and other predecessors of the Terre Haute Area Chamber of Commerce, McKeen, Herman Hulman and William B. Tuell were the largest initial investors in Terre Haute Telephone Exchange Co., the first local telephone enterprise which evolved into the Central Union Telephone Co. In 1890 McKeen, Harry B. Townley, Anton Hulman Sr. and Willard Kidder organized the Citizen's Gas & Fuel Co., which became the surviving company of a merger with the Terre Haute Gas Light Co. McKeen also was president of the Terre Haute Water Works Co. For several years McKeen helped manage race meetings at the Four-Cornered Track, serving as a director of the Terre Haute Trotting Association and the Vigo Agricultural Association. As president of the agricultural association, he organized a weeklong program in October 1894 with prizes exceeding $93,000, the highest stakes ever offered on the Grand Circuit. That profitable meeting rescued the track from financial difficulty after inclement weather and a national recession inflicted losses in 1893. Residing at 655 Cherry St. and 705 S. Fifth St.--two of the city's finest homes--the McKeens were active in St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Frank, who served one term on the Terre Haute City Council, was a member of Terre Haute Commandery No. 16 of the Knights Templar. On May 20, 1916, four days before his 63rd birthday, he died of a heart attack while his chauffeur-driven automobile was in front of the YWCA building at 121 N. Seventh St. Mary McKeen died at age 73 on Oct. 11, 1925.TMEMBER FDICAlways Close to HomeHO HO HO! Join ourMember FDICChr ist mas Club for Holiday DoughOpen your account today at any First banking center -- and have more dough for holiday spending next year!File name: McKeen, Frank 2005 profileDate Published: Dec. 22, 2005
Origin: 2006-01-03
Created By: McCormick, Mike
Publisher: Terre Haute Tribune-Star
Collection: Vigo County Historical Society
Copyright: Copyright Undetermined
Subjects: McKeen, Frank, 1853-1916
Business people
Business & Industry

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