F. E. McKENZIE is vice-president of the City National Bank at Colorado, Texas, and a man who has won an enviable position in financial circles. He is of Scotch descent, being descend from one of three brothers who emigrated from Scotland to New York and settled at Fort Henry, Essex county, in the Empire state, in the eighteenth century. One of these brothers went to the British possessions in the northwest and was the discoverer of the McKenzie river. The third brother emigrated southward and all trace of him was lost. The one who settled in the Empire state was William McKenzie. Among his grandsons was John McKenzie, the grandfather of our subject. John McKenzie served as a soldier in the war of 1812. He was a tavern keeper who conducted a “wayside inn” and became well known in his locality in New York.
One of his sons was D. Lafayette McKenzie, born in Essex county, New York, in 1827. When seventeen years of age he left home and went to Illinois to seek his fortune. He was a poor boy and worked by the month at farming. Settling in Whiteside county, his financial conditions were eventually improved and he was able to carry on farming on his own account, continuing his residence in that county, with a brief exception, up to the time of his death on the 19th of November, 1879. He was in Colorado in 1859 during the Pike’s Peak rush, and in the years 1870-74 he also lived in Colorado. In 1852 he had married Lucia W. Brewer, of Puritan descent, who was born in Massachusetts, December 23, 1835, and died in Colorado, Texas, November 13, 1905, having made her home with her son, F. E. McKenzie. She had four sons: Nathan L., who was born October 28, 1853,and is engaged in farming and the raising of Shorthorn cattle in Lebanon, Missouri; Fred E., of this review; J. Clesson who was born January 8, 1869, and is living in Vernon county, Missouri. All are well-to-do and pleasantly located in life.
Fred Egbert McKenzie was born in Whiteside county, Illinois, October 27, 1858, and spent his boyhood days on his father’s farm until ten years of age, when on account of the mother’s and his own ill health the family removed to the state of Colorado, locating at Las Animas, Bent county, where they remained for four years. During that time Fred McKenzie worked with cattle, his father being in the stock business. He thus regained his health and has never known what it is to be ill since. He was in the saddle and was outdoors day and night, and he thus gained a taste of the kind of life that proved the lodestone that drew him to Texas. Subsequently he returned to Illinois, where he worked on a farm and attended school, being mostly in a district school save for a period of six months spent in Edwards Seminary at Sterling, Illinois.
In March, 1881, Mr. McKenzie arrived in Texas and for eighteen months remained in Cooke county, after which he went to Tom Green county and was upon the range with herd cattle. He has a little money when he came here, which he invested in cattle in connection with Holloway & Fritz. He also worked for that firm, taking care of their cattle in connection with his own. For twelve months he occupied that position and then sold out his interests in connection with that firm and entered upon an independent business venture. He bought eastern cattle which he turned loose in Mitchell county and he has since been located there. He ran the cattle on the open range until the fall of 1884, when the country began to be claimed and fenced, and he therefore purchased and leased twenty sections of land. This he fenced and still controls it, the ranch lying in the southeast corner of Mitchell county. In 1899 he built a house in Colorado and in the spring of 1900 traded it to A. B. Robertson for a place comprising nineteen hundred and twenty acres about two miles from the town. Here he made his home until October, 1905, when he sold that residence and again took up his abode in Colorado. In his business affairs he has been very successful, manifesting untiring diligence and keen discrimination. His experience told him that the country needed a better grade of cattle, and recognizing the fact that improved short-horns are superior to all other breeds he began raising cattle of that kind and today has as good a bunch of registered shorthorn cattle as can be found in the country. He pays considerable attention to breeding and makes a close study of the needs of cattle and of the best kinds for the country. He is likewise a member of the Association of the National Live Stock Association. His entire business career has been marked by progress and he says this is as absolutely essential in the cattle industry as in any other line of business activity. In this matter of breeding it is impossible to stand still and the movement is either forward or backward. One should as constantly strive for the ideal in that respect as in any other to raise the grade of the range stock. This demand has been met and today Texas carries off the leading prizes at the principal live-stock shows of the country. This is the result of the intelligent introduction of registered stock upon the plains and Mr. McKenzie has done not a little toward producing this result.
The Mitchell County Fair Association was organized in May, 1903, with a capital stock of five thousand dollars. They purchased a tract of land near Colorado and the association has its affairs in good running order with F. E. McKenzie as president; D. W. Allen, vice-president; George B. Roots, secretary, and Brooks Bell, treasurer. These four gentlemen with the addition of Ben Van Tyle constitute the board of directors. The association has done much to stimulate a pride among stock-raisers in producing high-grade cattle. The short-horns are the oldest of pure-bred cattle in the world. They are cattle of greater size and when chose for the range are thick-meated and are equal, if not better, than any other breed. Mr. McKenzie has given a great deal of attention to all kinds of beef breeds and is well acquainted with their respective merits. It is his experience, however, that short-horns are best adapted for this country and he is regarded as authority upon the subject of shorthorn cattle. While recognized as a leading representative of the cattle industry of Mitchell county Mr. McKenzie has also extended his efforts to other lines and is now promised in financial circles. He was one of the organizers of the City National Bank in 1900 and for the past four years has been its vice-president. The institution has a capital stock of sixty thousand dollars, with a surplus twelve thousand dollars, and a general banking business is conducted, the institution being regarded as one of the safe and reliable financial concerns of this part of the state.
Mr. McKenzie was married in 1890 to Miss Celia Fletcher of Colorado, a daughter of J. D. Fletcher and a native of St. Charles, Missouri. They have an adopted daughter, Hazel, who was born January 13,1896.
For fifteen years Mr. McKenzie has been a Mason and has taken the Royal Arch degree, his membership being at Colorado. Widely recognized as a man of good business ability and unfailing enterprise, Mr. McKenzie has made for himself a notable place as a representative of the cattle dealing and financial interests of Mitchell county. He is, moreover, a gentleman of genial manner, whose unfailing courtesy and deference for the opinions of others have gained for him a high place in the public regard and won for him the friendship of many with whom he has come in contact.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 572-574.