KEYS CREEK. Keys Creek rises two miles northeast of Jacksonville in north central Cherokee County (at 31°58' N, 95°16' W) and runs southeast for twelve miles to its mouth on Mud Creek (at 31°55' N, 95°09' W). The low-rolling to flat, locally dissected terrain is surfaced by sandy and clay loams that support mixed hardwoods and pines. Until the 1950s row crops of cotton, corn, and ribbon cane were raised in the narrow basin drained by Keys Creek. In the 1980s the exhausted fields, converted to pastures, supported herds of cattle. Since the early 1930s the creek has been damned in its middle reaches to form Pine Crest Lake. The elevation of the recreational lake's spillway is 337 feet above sea level; its surface area is approximately 60 acres. Keys Creek was named for a half-Cherokee Indian called Key, who lived nearby in the 1830s. Key was a headman in Chief Bowl's Texas Cherokee Indian band that arrived in Texas in 1830. Key was with Chief Bowl when the Cherokees were driven from the territory at the battle of the Neches, fought in Van Zandt County on July 16, 1839.
Mary Whatley Clarke, Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971). Bennett Lay, The Lives of Ellis P. Bean (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1960).