Keen Family

Jim Keen

Jim Keen moved some time after 1900 to Burke from Colita in Polk County where Jim's father B. L. Keen and family lived at the time.

After arriving in Burke Jim Keen married Cora Arrington, daughter of Arthur Arrington.

Earl Keen

Jim and Cora's son Earl married Atma Pate, daughter of George Pate. For a time Earl and Atma lived just north of Frank Johnson on what later became the Kinley property. In later years they lived at Hoshall on FM 324 not far south of Hurricane Creek.

As a young single man, the author's father, Elroy Murrah, lived with the Keens and worked as a hand on Earl's farm. Earl was a big, tall man who had a legendary appetite. Elroy related how one day at dinner (the midday meal) Earl took a whole lemon pie that Atma had baked and cut it down the middle, putting one half on Elroy's plate and other half on his own plate. Earl had physical strength to match his size, and the author once heard someone joke that on a fishing trip a boat paddle in Earl's hands was more effective than an outboard motor. The Murrah's visited each other fairly often when the author was a child. Among the author's most vivid memories of Earl are his big, hearty laugh and his big, smelly cigars.

The Keens had twin daughters, Billie and Bettie. Elroy Murrah, whom the girls called "Iroy," related how when he was courting Gertrude Johnson that Billie and Bettie would tease him when he was getting ready for a date, calling him "honey bunk (i.e., bunch)." Billie married Linwood Smith and lived near Alvin, Texas. Bettie married Jack Goins and lived on McFaddin Ranch near Victoria, where Jack was teacher.

The author has heard Earl Keen say that he was a cousin of famed Houston defense attorney Percy Foreman. No family connection has been found but R. P. Foreman, Percy's father, and B. L. Keen, Earl's grandfather, lived one house apart at Colita in Polk County in 1900.


  1. 1860 Census, Simpson Co., Mississippi, Fourth Beat, Page 4, Dwelling 156 ( Allen J. Keen)
  2. 1880 Census, Polk Co., Texas, Page 22, Dwelling 153 (Fayette Keen)
  3. 1900 Census, Polk Co., Texas, Colita, Precinct No. 2, Page 1, Dwelling 5 (B. L. Keen)
  4. 1910 Census, Angelina Co., Texas, Precinct 4, Page 13, Dwelling 118 (James M. Keen)
  5. 1920 Census, Angelina Co., Texas, Precinct 4, Page 10, Dwelling 95 (James M. Keen)
  6. Personal Recollectioins, M. Lee Murrah.