The name Keith has been a conspicuous one in the history of this Commonwealth since the first interior settlement was made, and the descendants of this time-honored family have been prominently identified with the development and growth of this community from the time of the ordination of the first minister of the settlement – Rev. James Keith, in 1664 – down to the present time, covering a period of nearly 250 years. This article is to treat particularly of the branch of descendants of Rev. James Keith to which belonged the late Simeon Cary Keith, who was an honored citizen of West Bridgewater, and his three sons, Warren R. Keith, who is president of the Independent Oil Company, of Brockton; Edward H. Keith, who is ex-mayor of the city of Brockton, and general inspector of the George E. Keith Company’s shoe factories; and S. Elliott Keith, who was a foreman in the extensive shoe manufacturing plant of the George E. Keith Company for a number of years and is now secretary of the Independent Oil Company. The ancestry of this branch of the family follows in chronological order.
Rev. James Keith, the first minister in Bridgewater, was a Scotchman, and was educated in Aberdeen, Scotland. He came to America in 1662, when about eighteen years of age, and was ordained in February, 1664. His first sermon was preached from a rock in Mill Pasture, so called, in West Bridgewater. He married Susanna, a daughter of his deacon, Samuel Edson, and had six sons and three daughters:
- James Keith
- Joseph Keith
- Samuel Keith
- Timothy Keith
- John Keith
- Josiah Keith
- Margaret Keith
- Mary Keith
- Susanna Keith
He died July 23, 1719, aged seventy-six years, having labored in the town fifty-six years. He married a second wife, Mary, widow of Thomas Williams, of Taunton, Massachusetts.
Timothy Keith, son of Rev. James, married Hannah, daughter of Deacon Edward Fobes, in 1710, and had three sons and one daughter:
- Timothy Keith, born in 1711
- Abiah Keith, born in 1712
- Nathan Keith, born in 1714
- Hannah Keith, born in 1718
Timothy Keith died Nov. 8, 1767, aged eighty-three years, and his wife died May 23, 1765.
Nathan Keith, son of Timothy, married Hannah, daughter of Joseph Snell, in 1746, and their children were:
- Mehitable Keith, born in 1747
- Simeon Keith, born in 1749
- Damaris Keith, born in 1751
- Isaac Keith, born in 1753
- Jonathan Keith, born in 1754
- Hannah Keith, born in 1756
- Martha Keith, born in 1761
- Nathan Keith, born in 1764
Nathan Keith died in 1786, aged seventy-two years.
Simeon Keith, son of Nathan, born in 1749, married in 1775 Molly, daughter of Col. Simeon Cary. Col. Simeon Cary was a captain in the French war, 1758 and 1759, and was a colonel in the Revolutionary war in 1776. The children of Simeon and Molly Keith were born as follows:
- Hampden Keith, 1776
- Hannah Keith, 1777
- Molly Keith, 1779
- Austin Keith, 1781
- Sidney Keith, 1783
- Martha Keith, 1785
- Pardon Keith, 1787
- Rhoda Keith, 1790
- Silvia Keith, 1792
- Keziah Keith, 1794
Simeon Keith died June 24, 1828, aged seventy-nine years, and his wife, Molly, died Sept. 25, 1832, aged seventy-eight.
Simeon Keith was engaged in farming, and in connection with his agricultural pursuits made frequent trips to Boston by team, returning with hides for the shoemakers, and also collected the hair therefrom, which he disposed of to masons to be used in mixing mortar, etc. In this business he was succeeded by his son Pardon, who followed the same for a number of years, until better shipping facilities came into vogue.
Pardon Keith, son of Simeon, was born Dec. 4, 1787, in West Bridgewater, and there spent his life engaged in agricultural pursuits. He owned a large tract of land, which he kept well cultivated and improved. In early life he allied himself with the old-line Whigs, joining the Republican party upon its organization, in 1856, and thereafter identified himself with that party, to the principles of which he was a very stanch adherent. He affiliated with the South Congregational Church of Campello, and in early life was a regular attendant at its services. During the war of 1812 he was a member of the Horse Company, and received a pension for his services. He was of a genial, whole-souled nature, and as a kind and generous neighbor was esteemed by all who knew him. In 1809 he married Abigail Thayer Wild, daughter of Silas (Jr.) and Abigail (Thayer) Wild, of Braintree, Mass., and granddaughter of James Thayer, of Braintree, who was a great-grandson of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, of the “Mayflower” company. Pardon and Abigail T. Keith had nine children, as follows:
- Willard Keith, born June 26, 1812, married (first) Minerva Jane Pruit, of Little Rock, Ark., and (second) Cynthia Bacon, of Walpole, Mass., and is mentioned elsewhere in these volumes.
- Nathan Keith, born Feb. 11, 1814, married Elizabeth Copeland Perkins, and is mentioned elsewhere in these volumes.
- Hannah Haskell Keith, born Nov. 30, 1815, married March 2, 1837, Thomas Packard, and died April 30, 1895.
- Mary Wild Keith, born Feb. 10, 1818, married Oct. 20, 1846, Abraham Miller Clark. The father died Feb. 11, 1856, and the mother died Aug. 4, 1873. Their children were:
- Mary Abbie Clark, born Sept. 27, 1847, who died April 30, 1876
- Pardon Keith Clark, born March 19, 1849, who died Sept. 7, 1852
- Annie Maria Clark, born Jan. 14, 1851, now deceased.
- Betsey Ann Keith, born March 31, 1820, married Dec. 7, 1845, Samuel Kimball, and they had children:
- Edward Pardon Kimball, born Feb. 27, 1847, who died Aug. 19, 1847
- Lizzie Putnam Kimball, born July 2, 1848, who married Aug. 11, 1876, Barzillai Field (they have an adopted daughter)
- Flavella Louise
- Fannie Sawyer Kimball, born April 25, 1852, who married Nov. 9, 1882, William Brown, and had
- Annie K. Brown (born Sept. 21, 1883, died July 17, 1887)
- Arthur K. Brown (born Oct. 27, 1890)
- Ella Maria Kimball, born May 19, 1856, who married June 18, 1884, George E. Goodall, whom she survived, he dying Nov. 30, 1896, and she Jan. 20, 1906. They had
- Harry Goodall, born May 2, 1885
- George A. Goodall, born Aug. 26, 1887
- Charles G.Goodall, born Dec. 19, 1890, who died Aug. 17, 1891
- Charlotte Lemist Kimball, born June 2, 1858
- Edith Kimball, born Jan. 10, 1861, who died Sept. 24, 1861. The father, Samuel Kimball, died Aug. 30, 1862, having been killed at the battle of Bull Run. The mother died March 15, 1885.
- Simeon Cary Keith, born Sept. 1, 1822, is mentioned below.
- Abigail Thayer Keith, born July 18, 1826, married April 24, 1851, Charles Willard Bacon, and died Jan. 24, 1865, the mother of these children:
- Eliza Clapp Bacon, born Feb. 27, 1852, died May 1, 1869
- Abigail Thayer Bacon, born July 26, 1854, married Dr. Waldo Hodges Stone Dec. 25, 1903
- Pardon Keith Bacon, born Dec. 20, 1857, married Mrs. Emma Romaine
- Sarah Bacon, born Dec. 23, 1864, died July 23, 1865. The father married (second) Caroline Bond Keith, sister of his first wife, on May 28, 1874. He died Feb. 8, 1894, and she died Nov. 4, 1905, aged sixty-nine years, two months, five days.
- Howard Pardon Keith, born June 13, 1831, married Sept. 15, 1858, Sarah Alden, who died Feb. 8, 1905, without issue, and he married (second) April 2, 1906, Mrs. S. Helen (Hyde) Hyde. He is mentioned elsewhere in these volumes.
- Caroline Bond Keith, born Aug. 30, 1836, became the second wife of Charles W. Bacon.
The mother of the above children died Oct. 19, 1836, and Pardon Keith married (second) Sarah Snell, daughter of Caleb Snell. She died Oct. 5, 1863. He died June 25, 1880, aged ninety-two years, six months.
The Keiths are related by marriage to many of the old New England families. We give the following emigrant ancestors, and the lines to their connection with the Keith family.
(I) John Wild (who came from England about the year 1690), (II) Jonathan Wild, (III) Silas Wild, (IV) Silas Wild, Jr., (V) Abigail Thayer Wild, who married Pardon Keith.
(I) John Alden (who married Priscilla Mullins), (II) Ruth Alden (who married John Bass), (III) Sarah Bass (who married Ephraim Thayer), (IV) James Thayer, (V) Abigail Thayer (who married Silas Wild), (VI) Abigail Thayer Wild, who married Pardon Keith.
(I) John Faunce, (II) Thomas Faunce, (III) John Faunce, (IV) James Faunce, (V) Lucy Faunce (married Jonathan Harden), (VI) Eunice Benson Harden (married Charles Briggs Reed), (VII) Susan Frances Reed, who married Simeon Cary Keith.
(I) Dr. Samuel Fuller, (II) Rev. Samuel Fuller, (III) Samuel Fuller, (IV) Jabez Fuller, (V) Joanna Fuller (married James Faunce), (VI) Lucy Faunce (married Jonathan Harden), (VII) Eunice Benson Harden (married Charles Briggs Reed), (VIII) Susan Frances Reed, who married Simeon Cary Keith.
(I) Samuel Packard, (II) Samuel Packard, (III) Mary Packard (married Amos Snell), (IV) Martha Snell (married Jonathan Benson), (V) Eunice Benson (married John Harden), (VI) Jonathan Harden, (VII) Eunice Benson Harden (married Charles Briggs Reed), (VIII) Susan Frances Reed, who married Simeon Cary Keith.
(I) John Cary, (II) Francis Cary, (III) Lydia Cary (married Joseph Edson), (IV) Jesse Edson, (V) Rebecca Edson (married Ezekiel Reed), (VI) Charles Briggs Reed (married Eunice Benson Harden), (VII) Susan Frances Reed, who married Simeon Cary Keith.
(I) William Latham, (II) Robert Latham, (III) James Latham, (IV) Annie Latham (married Nicholas Wade), (V) Elizabeth Wade (married Samuel Harden), (VI) John Harden, (VII) Jonathan Harden, (VIII) Eunice Benson Harden (married Charles Briggs Reed), (IX) Susan Frances Reed, who married Simeon Cary Keith.
(I) James Chilton, (II) Mary Chilton (married John Winslow, brother of Gov. Edward Winslow), (III) Susanna Winslow (married Robert Latham), (IV) James Latham, (V) Annie Latham (married Nicholas Wade), (VI) Elizabeth Wade (married Samuel Harden), (VII) John Harden, (VIII) Jonathan Harden, (IX) Eunice Benson Harden (married Charles Briggs Reed), (X) Susan Frances Reed, who married Simeon Cary Keith.
(I) William Reed, (II) William Reed, (III) John Reed, (IV) Ezekiel Reed, (V) Ezekiel Reed, (VI) Ezekiel Reed, (VII) Charles Briggs Reed, (VIII) Susan Frances Reed, who married Simeon Cary Keith.
Simeon Gary Keith, son of Pardon and Abigail Thayer (Wild) Keith, was born Sept. 1, 1822, in West Bridgewater, Mass., and in his native town passed his life, dying there Feb. 5, 1876. In early life he followed agricultural pursuits, which he pursued in connection with shoemaking the greater part of his life. As was the custom in the early days of boot and shoe making, he received the stock for the shoes cut ready to be made up from the factories, and after finishing the shoes returned them to the factory ready for the market. Later in life he took up sole leather cutting and for a period of years was thus employed in the factory of his brother, Willard Keith. Although not possessing a strong, rugged constitution, he was industrious. In political views he was unflinching in his support of the principles of the Republican party. He was an attendant of the South Congregational Church, of Campello, of which his wife was a devoted member, and contributed of his means to all religious objects. He was kindly in nature, and being of a companionable disposition he won and held the friendship of all who knew him; as a neighbor he was considerate and obliging. He married May 7, 1851, Susan Frances Reed, who was born June 13, 1832, the eldest daughter of Charles Briggs and Eunice Benson (Harden) Reed. Mrs. Keith survived her husband, and lived to see her sons established in business and holding positions of responsibility in the community in which her long and useful life had been spent; she passed away in Brockton April 10, 1908, after a short illness, aged seventy-six years, after many years of devotion as a wife and mother. To Mr. and Mrs. Simeon Cary Keith were born the following children:
- Howard Cary Keith, born March 30, 1852, died Aug. 28, 1852
- Harriette Louise Keith, born May 24, 1854, died Dec. 21, 1855
- Warren Reed Keith, born Jan. 27, 1857, is mentioned below
- Edward Herman Keith, born Oct. 23, 1859, is mentioned below
- Evelyn Forest Keith, born Oct. 28, 1863, died Aug. 29, 1864
- Charles Francis Keith, born April 15, 1867, died Sept. 16, 1867
- Simeon Elliot Keitht, born April 10, 1870, is mentioned below
- Nathan Everett Keith, born Oct. 13, 1873, died Oct. 3, 1874
Warren Reed Keith, the eldest living son of the late Simeon Cary and Susan Frances (Reed) Keith, was born Jan. 27, 1857, in that part of West Bridgewater which has since become a part of the city of Brockton, and in which section of the city he still resides, occupying a part of the land which originally was included in the farm of his grandfather, Pardon Keith. After attending the district schools of his native town he furthered his education as a student for several terms at the Bridgewater Academy. At the age of about nineteen years he had left the schoolroom and at once took up his labors at farming. After a few years he added thereto the ice business, and after having built up the ice business on an extensive scale he disposed of the business, and for a time gave his attention to a general store, which for several years he continued at the corner of Brookside avenue and Main street, Campello, finally disposing of this business also. Upon the annexation of that part of the town of West Bridgewater in which Mr. Keith was born, to the city of Brockton, in 1893, he became connected with the highway department of the city, and in 1897 was elected superintendent of streets of the city of Brockton, and continued to fill this office with efficiency for a period of six years. In 1903, owing to impaired health, he made a trip to California and the West, where he spent several months, during which time he combined business with pleasure in representing Warren Brothers, of Boston, who were introducing a new kind of street pavement. Returning home, in 1904, Mr. Keith then engaged in road building, purchasing a stone crusher, etc., and during the several years he was thus engaged built the road in Bridgewater from the Taunton river toward Middleboro, and from the Bridgewater town line toward Bridgewater Centre, thus completing a continuous macadam road from Brockton to Middleboro, and the following year he built the macadam roadway from the “Hotel Pilgrim” in Plymouth into the town proper, and a stretch of road in the town of Duxbury. Mr. Keith then set up a stone crushing machine and apparatus, and for some time was engaged in selling crushed stone, and among the buildings furnished with crushed stone during this time was the James Edgar Company’s large department store in Brockton, which is constructed of concrete reinforced. In 1907 Mr. Keith established the Independent Oil Company, which is incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts, with a capital stock of $15,000, and engaged in the selling of oil of all kinds manufactured by the independent refiners, and although he has met with many obstacles and much opposition in this venture he has built up a steadily increasing business, enjoying a large trade throughout Plymouth county. Upon the incorporation of this company Mr. Keith became president and general manager of the same, in which capacity he has since continued. This company has erected large tanks, run a side track into its yards, and is thoroughly equipped to handle a steadily increasing business.
Fraternally Mr. Keith is a member of various Masonic bodies, holding membership in St. George Lodge, A. P. & A. M., of Campello, of which he is past master; Satucket Chapter, E. A. M., and Bay State Commandery, Knights Templar, of Brockton. He is also a member of the Massachusetts Highway Association. In political faith he is a stanch supporter of the principles of the Republican party in national affairs, but in municipal affairs takes a neutral stand. He was also active in the movement to annex the part of West Bridgewater in which he was born and. lived to the city of Brockton. Mr. Keith affiliates with the South Congregational Church of Campello, to the support of which he contributes.
On Nov. 3, 1890, Mr. Keith was united in marriage with Lizzie St. John Dow, who was born in East Machias, Maine, daughter of James E. and Clarissa (Sherman) Dow, now of Brooks, Maine, and to this union have been born children as follows:
- Warren Sherman Keith, born June 12, 1892
- Lillian Reed Keith, born May 25, 1895
- Robert Dow Keith, born April 6, 1901
- Howard Cary Keith, born July 5, 1903
Mr. Keith is a member of the South Congregational Church of Campello, has served as a member of the parish committee of the church for several years, and in all work in connection with the church he is found taking an active interest. In political faith Mr. Keith is a stalwart Republican, and while a resident of West Bridgewater served his native town as registrar of voters for several years, and was also a member of the Republican town committee for a term of years, always taking an active interest in the welfare of his party. During the movement in connection with the annexation of that part of his native town which in 1893 became a part of the city of Brockton, Mr. Keith was very active in the advancement of the project, and was chairman of the committee on annexation, and devoted much of his time and energies in the advancement of the cause, which for a time was subject to much opposition on the part of those not in favor of the annexation. Upon this annexation being carried he became a resident of the city of Brockton, and has since been active in the affairs of the city. For several years he served as a member of the Republican city committee. In 1898 he was elected a member of the common council from Ward Four, and the following year was reelected to that body, serving as a member of the Finance committee. In 1899 he was elected to the General Court of the State as representative from the Ninth Plymouth district, and was re-elected to the same office the two succeeding years, and during this service was a member of the committee on Liquor Laws and on Cities, being chairman of the former committee the last year he served as a member of the General Court. In 1903 Mr. Keith was the unanimous choice of his party for the office of mayor of the city, and at the following election was elected to that office, and the following year was reelected, serving the city in the capacity of mayor for a period of two years.
For a number of years Mr. Keith has been a director of the Campello Cooperative Bank, and in 1901 he was elected president of the bank, in which capacity he has since remained. He is an active member of the Bridgewater Historical Society, in which he is much interested, and in which he is always found taking an earnest interest. For several years he has also been a trustee of the Brockton hospital.
On Sept. 29, 1885, Mr. Keith was united in marriage with Victorine Stoddard Dow, daughter of Capt. George W. and Hannah (Stewart) Dow, of Machias, Maine, and this union has been blessed with children as follows:
- Helen Stuart Keith, born Oct. 5, 1886
- Evelyn Reed Keith, born June 15, 1889
- Lawrence Fuller Keith, born Dec. 9, 1891
- Frances Marion Keith, born Oct. 2, 1893
Simeon Elliott Keith, the youngest living son of the late Simeon Cary and Susan Frances (Reed) Keith, was born April 10, 1870, in West Bridgewater, at the Keith homestead, on land which had been the property of his ancestors for several generations, and in which house he now resides, it being located on what was formerly a part of his grandfather Pardon Keith’s large farm, which part of West Bridgewater in 1893, by annexation, became a part of the city of Brockton. After attending the district schools of his native town he entered the Bridgewater Academy, where he remained a student until about seventeen years of age. After his attendance at school ended he entered the shoe factory of George E. Keith, going to work in the cloth or lining cutting department, and after serving continuously for a period of about seventeen years in that department, in February, 1905, he was promoted to the position of foreman of the cloth department of the George E. Keith Company’s plant at Campello, in which department he had supervision over about twenty hands. Mr. Keith continued to fill this position until May 28, 1910, when he resigned to become secretary of the Independent Oil Company, of Brockton, with which company he has since been connected.
Mr. Keith, like his father and brothers, is a supporter of the principles of the Republican party. He affiliates with the South Congregational Church of Campello, with which church his family has for several generations been actively identified.
On Dec. 24, 1896, Mr. Keith was united in marriage with Miss Florence Thomas, daughter of George William and Viella C. (Larder) Thomas, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and to Mr. and Mrs. Keith have been born two children, as follows:
- Verna Louise Keith, born Jan. 12, 1900
- Stanley Thomas Keith, born April 16, 1902