Frederick W. Keene was born at Charles Place, Kentish Town, London, England, March 28, 1856. In 1870, he with his parents set sail for America, and settled in London, Ontario, Canada. He entered Woodstock College, but owing to ill health, left before he completed his course. In 1876, he married Miss Ellen Wright, a teacher of music and fine arts in Canada. They were blessed with five children.
When a young boy, he was deeply exercised regarding his soul's salvation. In London, England, (before coming to America), he attended the Zion Strict Baptist Church with his parents, but after reaching America, he went among various denominations and finally joined the Regular Baptist Church and preached in Lobo, Ontario, Canada. Later, the division came in the Baptist Churches in the area, and he and Mrs. Keene united with the Covenanted (Primitive) Baptist Church, and were baptized in the River Sydenham, a hole being cut in the ice to admit of the ordinance. They were baptized by Elder William L. Beebe, elder son of Elder Gilbert Beebe. Elder Wm. L. Beebe was pastor of the (Canadian) Covenanted Old School Baptist Church at that time. His father, Elder Gilbert Beebe, founded the Signs Of The Times in the year 1832.
For many years, he preached in the Covenanted (Primitive) Baptist Church and the nearby Beulah Baptist Church in Brook, Ontario. In January, 1892, he moved to Kelly Corners, New York, where he was ordained in the Second Roxbury Meeting House early that year. He served as associate pastor with Elder Hubbell until October, 1893, when he moved to Maine to become pastor of the Oak Woods Church at North Berwick. Here, he spent the greater part of his life and often remarked that his days with the church in Maine were the dearest, happiest, and the most peaceful of his life. In December, 1919, he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, and placed his letter from the Maine Conference of churches with Gilliam's Church in the Upper Country Line Association in North Carolina.
His biographer has said of him: "Elder Keene began preaching at the tender age of 18, and spent about 63 years in the ministry among the churches. He was well known among the Old School or Predestinarian Baptists in this country, the USA., and through his writings in several foreign countries. He traveled in many of the states of the Union, preaching the pure Gospel of the Son of God and His grace. He wrote for most of the Primitive Baptist paper or periodicals of our country that he regarded as sound in the faith. His writings were extensive, showing forth his deep experimental knowledge of the things about which he wrote. His deep understanding of the scriptures showed that he was a student of the Bible, as he often said, giving clear, comprehensive expositions of the inspired Word of God, and his preaching and writings manifested most clearly his gift, which the Lord had given him in demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. His preaching and his writings were sound, and could not be gainsayed. They were deeply appreciated and enjoyed by those taught in the School of God's grace.
"Too much cannot be said of this wonderful servant of God. His life was exemplary, and from the beginning of his ministry, he was always in the truth. Very conversant with the Bible, he was said to be one of the most able sciptorians of his day among the Old Baptists. In closing, the doctrine of God our Saviour was in his experience, and his experience was in the doctrine. He was fearless, but humble, preaching the truth in its simplicity; he was greatly loved by his brethren, far and near, who abode in the truth." (End of quote.)
He departed this life in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 12, 1937, at the age of 81 years, where his body is sleeping today beside the resting place of his wife in Oakwood Cemetery, with his soul resting in the Paradise of God, according to his hope, as written above, awaiting for the final reunification of both his body, soul and spirit (See 1st Thessalonians 5:23) to be glorified at the last day with the Church of the Living God at the first resurrection of the just. In that happy land above, there will be no more death, sin, pain and sorrow, where all but love is done away.
(NOTE: This little biographical sketch was taken from the November 15, 1937 issue of Zion's Landmark, pages 15 & 16 – reissued in May-June 2001 issue.)