For the ancestry of Charles Keith, please see Descendants of Rev. James Keith of Bridgewater, Massachusetts
(VI) Charles Keith, son of Benjamin, was born Aug. 8, 1794, and married Dec. 8, 1817, Mehitable Perkins, born March 23, 1795, daughter of Josiah and Anna (Reynolds) Perkins, of North Bridgewater, both of whom were descendants of historic old New England families. To this union were born children as follows:
- Damaris Williams Keith, born Oct. 8, 1818, married Vinal Lyon, of North Bridgewater, where she died
- Charles Perkins Keith, born June 20, 1820, is mentioned below
- Anna Reynolds Keith, born Nov. 11, 1822, married Theodore Lilley, of North Bridgewater, and died Jan. 28, 1882
- Rhoda Perkins Keith, born Oct. 28, 1830, married Barnabas H. Gray, of Kingston, Mass.
- Sanford Keith, born Nov. 25, 1833, died in Boston, though he lived at Louisville, Ky., where he was engaged in the shoe business, and where he married Maggie J. Harvey
Charles Keith, the father, died July 29, 1859, and the mother passed away April 22, 1863. Naturally of a “bookish” turn of mind, outdoor occupations had little attraction for Mr. Keith, and in the gratification of his tastes and inclinations farming pursuits were neglected for the less severe physical occupation of the shop. In his younger days he was evidently quite an athlete, for it is related that at the “raising” of Sprague’s Mill, Factory Village, a wrestling match was planned for the occasion, and that he was pitted against several, all of whom he overcame, when, as a last resort, Lieut. Israel Packard was brought forward to contend for the honors; after a protracted struggle he, too, was thrown, it is said, “to the tearful grief of the lieutenant’s brothers.” By the death of his father, in 1814, Mr. Keith inherited the homestead at the corner of Main street and Keith avenue, and subsequently cared for his widowed mother until her death in 1852. His business pursuits, aside from some little attention to farming, were in the direction of shoe manufacturing, which he attempted in a small way as early as 1820. His principal markets were New Bedford and Nantucket, for which he produced a low-cut brogan, which was then called a “sailor’s pump,” and he was in the habit of carrying his products by team or stage, at regular intervals, to New Bedford. This business he followed for many years until, in advanced age, in 1855, he was succeeded by his son, Charles Perkins Keith. His intellectual tastes, as before intimated, inclined him to books, of which he was very fond and the study of which kept him thoroughly informed upon current topics and events. Upon these he was considered a neighborhood authority, and in argument on religious or other subjects he was clear, decided, forcible and convincing. He was a devoted member of the South Congregational Church of Campello, which he served as treasurer and member of the parish committee for several years. His wife, though a confirmed invalid for nearly forty years, endured her suffering with resignation.
(VII) Charles Perkins Keith, son of Charles, born June 20, 1820, married Dec. 4, 1843, Mary Keith Williams, daughter of Josiah and Sylvia (Keith) Williams, of West Bridgewater. To this union were born three children, as follows:
- Sarah Williams Keith, born March 31, 1845, married Jan. 8, 1873, Fred W. Park, and they have one son, Charles Milton Park, born June 19, 1874
- Preston Bond Keith, born Oct. 18, 1847
- Rufus Perkins Keith, born March 2, 1851, are mentioned below
The mother of the above children, a woman of strong convictions, of decision and force, who is remembered as a kind neighbor, a devoted and affectionate mother and a true and helpful Christian woman, whose memory is honored by her children and by all who knew her, passed away Sept. 19, 1884. Mr. Keith married (second) Dec. 8, 1885, Catherine Fitzgerald, who survived her husband, dying in Brockton, Oct. 23, 1900, in the sixty-third year of her age. Charles Perkins Keith was born in the homestead of his father, on the site now occupied by the residence of his son, Rufus P. Keith, and in the district schools of his neighborhood acquired his educational training. Previous to his marriage he built what later became his home at the corner of Main street and Keith avenue. His early life was spent engaged in shoemaking with his father and he continued thus until 1855, in which year he succeeded his father as a manufacturer of shoes, remaining successfully engaged as such until 1870 or 1871, at which time he retired from shoe manufacturing, and his eldest son, the present Preston Bond Keith, removed the old shop, building a new and larger factory upon its site. His career as a shoe manufacturer was in the days of the hand power outfits, before the advent of the improved machinery now being used, all the work on boots and shoes then being necessarily done by hand. After retiring from the business Mr. Keith was for a while employed in his son’s factory, but inclining to agricultural pursuits he continued thus engaged, together with looking after his extensive real estate interests, until his death, which occurred July 12, 1893, when he was aged seventy-three years. Upon the death of his father, and a division of his property, largely between his two sons, he purchased the rights of his brother, consisting of large tracts of undeveloped pasture lands. The subsequent rapid growth of the town and city made such demands upon these lands that it resulted in their occupation by numerous residences, and an avenue, since known as Keith avenue, perpetuates the name of the original owners.
Mr. Keith was always a resident of the town of his nativity and never lived outside the limits of the district of his boyhood. Honored and respected by his fellow citizens, never desiring public office, rather shunning the publicity of service, he was one of the most quiet and unpretending of men. To an unfamiliar observer he seemed indifferent to what was passing about him, but socially or in matters of business he was quick of hearing and a keen observer. He ever clung to his habits of social and domestic life as formed in his early years, and whether in public or in private all unnecessary or outward demonstration or show was always carefully avoided by him. He had great sincerity of motive and kindness of heart, and conveyed his meaning in a few words, while his honesty and faithfulness in all things were ever evident. Anyone who had knowledge of the antecedents of Mr. Keith would not wonder that he was a good citizen, and he lived up to the first measure of the high standards set by his forefathers. Beared as he was in a Christian home, he was early led to up-hold religious influences, and he was a devout and consistent member of the South Congregational Church.
(VIII) Prestos Bond Keith, eldest son of the late Charles Perkins and Mary Keith (Williams) Keith, was born Oct. 18, 1847, in the village of Campello, North Bridgewater (now the city of Brockton), Mass. His boyhood was passed in the settlement where had lived his forefathers for a century and more, amid the scenes of generation after generation before him, where stood the Keith home, built a hundred and more years prior to his time. He attended the common schools of the town and also the North Bridgewater high school. After his school days were ended, in 1866, at the age of eighteen, he went to Boston and entered the office of Martin L. Keith, who was then one of the leading shoe manufacturers of North Bridgewater, and who had an office and store in Boston. During his stay of between five and six years with his employer Mr. Keith became thoroughly acquainted with the business of boot and shoe manufacturing, and, returning to what is now Brockton, he there in 1871, in the village of Campello, began the business of shoe manufacturing on his own account. His first location was in a building which he erected on Main street, on the site formerly occupied by his father as a shoe factory. Some three years later he removed to a building on Clifton avenue, which later he enlarged, and after carrying on operations here for another three years in order to meet the growing demands of his business he leased his factory on Clifton avenue and erected his present plant on what is known as Eutland Square, Campello, which was completed and opened in July, 1878. When Mr. Keith first engaged in the manufacture of shoes no steam power was used, and very little machinery, and his output was only about two hundred pairs of shoes per day. His business has prospered from the start and has enjoyed a steady growth. The original portion of his present factory was 150×30 feet, four stories high, to which additions have since been made at various times, until it is now about four hundred feet long, together with additional L’s, all connecting with the one-story addition used as the office. Mr. Keith’s plant is modern in all its appliances, and one of the best appointed establishments in the State, being well lighted, and supplied with automatic sprinklers, fire alarm and every precaution against fire. Mr. Keith’s product at the commencement of his career as a shoe manufacturer amounted to about $90,000 per year, and has steadily increased until now it is valued at over $1,000,000 per year, while the number of persons employed, at first from thirty to forty, has increased until there are now over four hundred hands. In 1896 the business was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts, with a capital stock of $100,000, as the Preston B. Keith Shoe Company, with the following officers: Preston B. Keith, president; Rufus P. Keith, vice president, and Charles M. Park, secretary and treasurer. For several years the product of this concern has been known as the “Konqueror” shoe, which enjoys an enviable reputation for quality, style and durability.
Brockton, Mass., is widely known as a shoe manufacturing city, as was the town under its former name, North Bridgewater, for it was only in 1874 that the town assumed its present name and not until 1881 that it was made a city. It is worthy of note that the shoe industry there has for generations been largely and successfully carried on by members of the oldest and most prominent families of the town, among whom none have been more prominent and successful than the various members of the Keith family. Through industrious habits, careful management, rare good judgment and business qualities, Preston B. Keith has steadily forged his way to the front, made a success of his business and prospered abundantly, reaching that creditable standing in the business world and society that is every man’s ambition. His early experience, as a boy with his father, and afterward in Boston, gave him such an insight not only into the practical work of shoe-making, but into the financial end of the business as well, as to contribute largely to his success in later life. This, augmenting his natural ability, admirably fitted him for his subsequent career. As a man of business, he is quick to grasp commercial and financial problems and efficient in execution.
In political faith Mr. Keith is a stanch supporter of the principles of the Republican party but he is in no sense a politician, and being a man with extensive business interests to direct and care for he has found little time to devote to political affairs. His ability and manly character were, however, early recognized by his fellow citizens, who have in many ways shown their appreciation of and confidence in him. In 1883 and 1884 he served in the city government as a member of the board of aldermen from Ward Three, and was one of the board chosen by the city for the construction of the first public waterworks. Of a modest and unassuming nature, he not only shrinks from anything that might seem to partake of the spirit of self-seeking or desire for popular favor, but also from taking positions of public trust, though he is in every way qualified to fill them.
When the Home National Bank was organized, in 1874, Mr. Keith became an original incorporator and was chosen one of the first directors, in which capacity he has since continued. In February, 1894, upon the death of Rufus P. Kingman, the first president of the bank, Mr. Keith was elected to the presidency, and served efficiently in that capacity until 1906, when he declined a reelection to that office, accepting the vice presidency of the institution. Upon the organization of the Campello Cooperative Bank, in 1877, he was also one of the original incorporators, and for several years served in the capacity of vice president and president of the same. He is also an incorporator and a trustee of the Brockton Savings Bank. As is shown, Mr. Keith has been officially connected with national and savings banks for a number of years, and to his financial ability and conservative spirit is due in unusual proportion the strength and excellent standing, in the financial world, of the institutions with which he has been identified. He was one of the originators of the horse-car street railway in Brockton, in which he was a stockholder, and of which he was a director. Socially Mr. Keith is a valued member of the Commercial Club and the Country Club of Brockton. He is also a member of the Brockton Shoe Manufacturers’ Association, and a member of the board of directors of the same.
In religious affiliations Mr. Keith and his wife are Trinitarian Congregationalists, both being active and earnest members and workers of the South Congregational Church of Campello, and liberal contributors to the activities connected with the church and society, which he served for a period of ten years as superintendent of the Sunday school. Mr. Keith was also prominent in the organization of the Hope Chapel, which was established in 1891 as a mission of the South Congregational Church, and he was one of the building committee which had charge of the erection of the chapel on Warren avenue. He has always been actively interested in the growth and prosperity of the church and society, and ever ready and willing to bear his part of the burdens incidental thereto. He is not narrow or exclusive in his religious views and sympathies, but broad and tolerant, and respects the views of those differing from him in their beliefs, and has always shown a friendliness to all religious institutions. His charities and benevolences are always given unostentatiously and cheerfully, whenever it seems to be his duty to give. Mr. Keith is an active member of the Young Men’s Christian Association, was prominent in its organization, has served as a director of the same for a number of years, and for a period of years was also president of the association.
In 1885 Mr. Keith erected a substantial three-story brick block containing stores, hall, etc., at the corner of Main and Market streets, Campello, which is a valuable acquisition to that part of the city, being known as the Kingman block, so named in honor of his father-in-law, the late Josiah W. Kingman, who was one of the substantial business men of the city for many years.
On Dec. 8, 1869, Mr. Keith was united in marriage to Eldora Louise Kingman, daughter of the late Josiah Washburn and Margaret (Dunlap) Kingman, of North Bridgewater; she also is a descendant of several of New England’s historic old families. This union has been blessed with one daughter, Allie Louise, born April 2, 1877, who was, graduated from Dana Hall, Wellesley, and is now the wife of C. Ernest Perkins, D.D. S., one of the leading dentists of Brockton, who for several years was a professor at Harvard Dental School; they are the parents of three daughters
- Margaret Keith
- Katharine Keith
- Dorothy Keith
In private life Mr. Keith is retiring and unostentatious, a man whose success in life, or whose high standing as a citizen, is not evidenced by the slightest show or pretension. For many years he has been prominently identified with nearly all the improvements which have been made in the town and city. He is courteous, affable and always has a pleasant smile, never passing an acquaintance without speaking, seeming to have time to stop and chat, and yet never neglects the great volume of business which necessarily passes through his hands. A man of the strictest integrity, of refined tastes, a reader of good literature, popular with his fellow citizens, and with a perfect home life, Preston B. Keith is indeed a credit to an old and honorable ancestry.
(VIII) Rufus Perkins Keith, youngest son of the late Charles Perkins and Mary Keith (Williams). Keith, was born March 2, 1851, in the town of North Bridgewater, in that part of the town familiarly known as Campello, in which village the Keith family had been honored residents since its early settlement. Mr. Keith acquired his early educational training in the common schools of his neighborhood, finishing with a three years’ course in the North Bridgewater high school. Leaving school at the age of about eighteen years, he entered the shoe shop of his father, in whose employ he remained until the latter discontinued the manufacture of shoes in 1871. During this time he acquired a thorough knowledge of the rudiments and details of shoemaking. Upon his father’s retirement from business his brother, Preston B. Keith, continued the manufacture of shoes and Mr. Keith assumed charge of the workrooms in his brother’s shoe factory, continuing in that capacity until 1896, when the business was incorporated as the Preston B. Keith Shoe Company, under the laws of Massachusetts, with a capital stock of $100,000. Mr. Keith became vice president of this corporation, in which official capacity he has since remained, besides having general supervision of the manufacturing end of the business.
In his political affiliations Mr. Keith is a stalwart supporter of the principles of the Republican party, but he has never aspired to public office, although for several years he served as deputy warden of Ward Three. Fraternally he is a valued member of the Masonic organization, holding membership in St. George Lodge, A. F. & A. M., of Campello, of which he was worshipful master in 1883 and 1884, and in which he has filled the office of treasurer for a period of over twenty-five years. He is also a member of Satucket Chapter, R. A. M., of Brockton. Socially he is a member of the Brockton Country Club. Mr. Keith was one of the original incorporators of the Campello Cooperative Bank upon its organization, in 1877, was vice president for several years, and for a number of years served as a member of the board of directors of the same; he was also an incorporator of the Brockton Savings Bank.
Mr. Keith is a consistent and active member of the South Congregational Church of Campello, having been a member of the same since he was a boy in his teens, and for a period of over twenty years he has filled the office of clerk of the church, and has also been a member and chairman of the parish committee for a number of years; he has taken an active and prominent part in the work of the church and society, being liberal in his support of the same as well as of all charitable and benevolent objects.
On Oct. 26, 1880, Mr. Keith was united in marriage to Marion Foster Keith, only daughter of Jonathan and Lavina (Ames) Keith, of North Bridgewater, and a direct descendant in the eighth generation from Rev. James Keith. This union was blessed with one daughter, Clara May Keith, born April 2, 1887, who was graduated, from Smith College in 1909. Mrs. Keith passed away May 8, 1893, aged thirty-six years, and on April 14, 1896, Mr. Keith married (second) Mrs. Sarah Chessman (Reed) Blades, daughter of the late Hon. William Lincoln and Deborah W. (Chessman) Reed, of Abington, Mass., and widow of the Rev. John T. Blades, a former pastor of the South Congregational Church, at Campello. Mrs. Keith is also a descendant of historic old New England ancestry, being a direct descendant in the eighth generation from William Reade, who was born in 1605, and sailed from Gravesend, in the County of Kent, England, in the ship “Assurance de Lo,” in 1635, for America, settling at Weymouth, Mass., where he became one of the early settlers and a freeman on Sept. 2, 1635.
Although of a retiring and unassuming nature, and domestic in his habits, Mr. Keith possesses a pleasant, affable manner, and as a business man and citizen enjoys the respect and esteem of the community in which his whole life has been spent. He resides in a pleasant home at the corner of Main street and Keith avenue, which he erected in 1886, on the former site of his grandfather’s house, and he is much devoted to his home surroundings.