Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Estial Chapman Keister (1870-1955)

Estial C. Keister, from the 1930 Nebraska Blue Book.

  One term Nebraska state representative Estial Chapman Keister suffered the indignity of having his name incorrectly given as "Edward C. Keister" under his portrait in the 1930-31 Nebraska Blue Book. Despite this mistake, his brief biography in the latter portion of said book gives the correct spelling of his name, and these few brief lines remain one of the few sources of information on his life.
   Born and raised in Montgomery County, Virginia, Estial C. Keister's birth occurred in the town of Blacksburg on December 3 of either 1870 or 1871, being the son of John Henry and Nancy Heavner Keister. The first fifteen years of his life were spent in the state of his birth and in 1886 removed to Nebraska with his family. They settled in Richardson County, where Estial attended the "Stella High School, the Western Normal, and the Lincoln normal college."
  On  December 5, 1894 Keister married in Auburn, Nebraska to Lola Verdie Gilliland (1871-1955). The couple were married for over sixty years and were the parents of three childrenRobert Overton (1900-1954), Joseph Chapman (1903-1983) and Don DeForest (1908-1986).
   The majority of Estial C. Keister's life was spent in the private sector, as he was a farmer in Auburn for nearly all of his life. He had earlier taught school for a few years and during the First World War was described as being "active in all loan drives." In addition to farming in Auburn Keister is listed as being a district secretary for the Nemaha County Drainage District #3 beginning in the late 1910s.
  Prior to his election to the legislature, Keister's only foray into public office was his service on the local school board and the drainage board. Elected as one of Nemaha County's representatives to the Nebraska Bicameral Legislature in 1928, Keister served during the 1929-31 session and at the conclusion of his term returned to Auburn, where he resided until his death at age 83 on January 17, 1955. Lola Gilliland Keister survived her husband by only ten days, dying on January 27, 1955, also at age 83. Both were interred at the Bedford Cemetery in Howe, Nebraska. 

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