RUDD - KEY


The third member of the Rudd family to locate in Cannelton was Hester Ann Rudd, born 1828 in Springfield, KY. On 18 April 1849 in Jessamine County, KY., she had become the second wife of John James Key, born 1817 in Mason County, Ky. They were in Cannelton by early 1853. In June 1853 he purchased a lot in the village of Fulton; also at this time he purchased 102 acres from his brother-in-law, Judge E. M. Huntington, from the northwestern part of the Fulton Tract between the Plank Road and the River.

He was one of 6 known children of Marshall Key of Mason County, Ky.: John James, Thomas M., Elizabeth (Nelson), Marshall, Jr., Selleman and Harriet S. (Mrs. Robert C. Palmer). Marshall Key, Sr., had become very wealthy with large property holdings at several locations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana . It is very probable that he provided the capital for each of his children to become established in their areas of residence. At least such seems to have been the case for John James Key in Cannelton. Marshall Key died by November 1860 and in his will, left all his Perry County property which included $5,000 in Coal Company bonds to John J. Key.

When Harriet and John J. Key married, he had a son who had been born in 1844/45. DeLaHunt wrote that this son was named Joseph Rudd Key. The 1860 census records him as "James R. - 15 years." Keeping in view the custom of perpetuating the maiden name of the mother as a second name for a child, it could have been that John J. Key's first wife was another daughter, or possibly a niece, of Dr. Christopher Rudd who died in the late 1840s.

There is another coincidence in the Key-Rudd family relationship: The husband of Key's sister, Harriet S., Dr. Robert C. Palmer, was a relative of Mrs. Christopher (Ann Palmer) Rudd. Incomplete data suggests that he may have been a nephew of Mrs. Ann Rudd. Both Ann Palmer Rudd and Dr. Robert C. Palmer II had a cousin, John C. Calhoun.

John J. Key was active in business affairs in Cannelton from the first. He formed a partnership briefly with James C. Porter and purchased what was later to be Mozart Hall. (Marshall Key was the owner of record.) They dissolved this partnership in June 1854. In January 1854 he was a member of the Cliff Cemetery Association. In 1855 and 1856 he was one of the town trustees. He made some attempts in business as in a partnership with John Wall and James Lees in a batting factory. He took an active part in arranging for the removal of the county seat from Rome. He was a member of the committee appointed on 8 March 1859 to make the final payment for the transfer.

He was admitted to the bar in 1856. (Goodspeed): "John James Key was a lawyer of average ability, and was fairly successful. He was energetic and skillful high-tempered, but affable and pleasant." He was commissioned prosecuting attorney for the Court of Common Pleas on 28 October 1856 but "did not qualify." In 1860 he was elected to succeed Lemuel Q. DeBruler as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas beginning in January 1861.

On Tuesday after, 1 January 1861, the infamous mass meeting at Mozart Hall to "consider the state of the Union" became an undeserved albatross for John J. Key for at least the following 2 years. (Goodspeed, p. 686-687; DeLaHunt, p. 207-208.) In the light of indecisive and conflicting views among those in attendance, Key moved that an ad hoc committee be appointed to draft resolutions for consideration later in the same meeting; Key was not one of the 7 members of the committee. The last of 6 resolutions ended with "if a line is to be drawn between the North and the South that line shall be found north of us." The committee was sharply divided on this resolution as was the entire assembly. John James Key's views were not recorded. The final vote, though, not representative of the entire group, was 99-55 for adoption.

(DeLaHunt) -- "Thus, the famous Sixth Resolution, adopted at Cannelton on New Year's Day, 1861, led to the resignation, by request, of Major John James Key, a lofty patriot, commissioned by President Lincoln but forced out under pressure, because -- forsooth -- he had been present at the convention and had moved that a committee (of which he was never a member) be appointed to frame resolutions of whose terms he, like every one else, was necessarily in complete ignorance until they were offered by such committee before the meeting for consideration."

After less than a year as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Key resigned in late 1861 in order to accept a commission of Lt.-Colonel and was succeeded by Cannelton attorney and former Editor of The Economist, Charles H. Mason. The "forced" resignation noted by DeLaHunt with his reference to a commission from President Lincoln is not this resignation from the bench. Rather, it refers to the circumstances concerned in this item from the Cincinnati Commercial in May 1862. (Newspaper reporters were ordered away from General Halleck's headquarters at St. Louis because of suspected security leaks. Major J. J. Key was in charge of enforcing this order.)

"Foremost among these (in Gen. Halleck's staff) is the Provost Marshal General, Major Key, who is thus spoken of by the Evansville, Ind., Journal: 'If this Major Key is the same who figured for a brief season as Lieutenant Colonel of the 60th Indiana, he is a nice bird for Gen. Halleck to appoint censor over newspaper correspondents. At the outbreak of the war he was almost an avowed Secessionist, being an active participant, if we are not misinformed, in the celebrated Convention at Cannelton, which passed resolutions declaring that the boundary line between Northern and Southern States should extend along the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, so as to place Southern Indiana and Illinois in the Southern Confederacy."

At the New Year's Day meeting and for a few months following, J. B. Maynard had supported that resolution. Within a few weeks after the fall of Fort Sumter on 12 April 1861, as Editor of the Cannelton Reporter he began changing his published views of "preserve the Union of the South and Southern Indiana" to "preserve the Union at all costs."

In referring to the Cincinnati Commercial item in the Reporter of 20 May 1862, Democrat Maynard laid the troubles to "black Republican" journals attacking Democrats at all levels in connection with the war. "To say that Major Key was at any time a secessionist is a lie which should blister the throat of anybody but a black Republican. Major Key promptly resigned a lucrative and honorable office" (the bench) "when his country demanded his service, for the trials and hardships of the camp" (the army commission).

"The 60th Indiana Regiment was privately organized under Lieut.-Col. Richard Owen at Evansville during November 1861, and perfected at Camp Morton during March 1862." Its first assignment was guarding rebel prisoners at Camp Morton. The Evansville Journal and DeLaHunt seem to refer to Key's forced resignation from this regiment. Possibly through influential connections he became Provost Marshal under Gen. Halleck at the reduced rank of Major. In May 1862 General Henry W. Halleck was in command of one of two Union armies west of the Appalachians headquartered at St. Louis, Mo. He was appointed General-in-chief at Washington in June; further news of Key's record is not here known.

At the battle of Perryville, Ky., (8 October 1862) Key's 18-year-old son, (Capt., according to DeLaHunt) Joseph Rudd Key was killed.

Three daughters are known to have been born to the Keys in Cannelton:

Anna C. (1858), Harriet (April/May 1860) and Louisa (21 July 1863). The baptism of the last named at St. Michael's Church on 25 August 1863 is the last documented presence of the John James Key family in Cannelton found thus far. Rev. Albert Kleber in History of St. Meinrad noted that John James Key was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church after 1862.

Records of real estate sales in Perry County document that John J. and Hettie Am Key were residents of Terre Haute between 11 May 1872 and 20 November 1877. Between 7 November 1878 and 30 April 1883 they were residents of Georgetown, D.C. By 10 March 1888 Hettie Ann Key, widow of John J. Key, was resident of Washington, D.C. The will of John James Key was probated in the Supreme Court of District of Columbia.

It is possible, perhaps likely, that Hester Rudd Key and her niece, Gertrude Huntington May, continued to reside in Washington, D.C. until their deaths, or at least for several years after 1888.