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Jacob S. Keith

JACOB S. KEITH, one of the oldest and most highly respected citizens of Mercer county, Ohio, was born in Baltimore county, Md., August 6, 1824, and is a son of John and Mary (Shafer) Keith, both natives of Maryland, who removed to Ohio in 1834, locating in Madison county, where they lived one year, and in 1835 removed to Van Wert county. In York township of that county John Keith entered upward of 1,000 acres of land, upon which he caused to be erected a log cabin without doors or windows or even floor, and into this rude abode he moved his family in this then new country, but which he improved and made habitable as soon as he could. There he lived and labored until his death, which occurred when he was eighty nine years of age. He was a man of much energy, industry and determination, as well as enterprise, as is indicated by the quantity of land entered by him. His family consisted of twelve children, as follows: Polly, deceased wife of John Frazier; Elizabeth, deceased wife of Moses Goodwin; Sarah, deceased wife of Joshua Goodwin; Delilah, deceased wife of Jacob Goodwin; Alice, deceased wife of Josiah Klink; Catherine, who died when she was eleven years of age; Johnzey, deceased, in his day one of the most enterprising young men of Spencerville, Ohio; Jacob S., the subject of this sketch; and four others, that all died in infancy.

Jacob S. Keith was but eleven years of age when his parents brought him to Van Wert county. Here he was reared on the farm and received such education as could then be obtained in the subscription schools, for that was before the day of common schools supported by means of taxation, and this education was therefore very limited; but after leaving school he studied by himself and thus acquired sufficient knowledge of the elementary branches to enable him to transact any business or perform any duty that has come to him, and to carry him through a long life of activity and usefulness. He remained at home with his father until his marriage, on September 10, 1847, to Miss Amanda A. Webb, and after that his father lived with him until he removed to Mercer county in the spring of 1849. Upon reaching Mercer county he purchased 110 acres of land in sections Nos. 35 and 36, Dublin township, where he lived until 1885, when he removed to Mercer village. In the meantime he increased his landed possessions to the extent of 300 acres, all of which he subsequently sold except the original 110 acres, which, in 1885, he gave to his son, Oscar F. While Mr. Keith was conducting his farm he gave considerable attention to raising and also to buying and selling stock, especially during the war, when he bought and shipped large numbers of cattle, hogs, etc., and in this way made a great deal of money.

Mr. Keith has all his life been more or less interested in politics, for the last twenty-seven years having held the office of justice of the peace. He has always adhered to the democratic party and been interested in its success and prosperity. He and his wife have had born to them two children--Harrison, born April 1, 1849, and died March 20, 1851, and Oscar F., born December 31, 1851. The latter now resides on the old home farm, which he is conducting with signal ability and great success.

Jacob S. Keith has done much to build up the county in which he has lived so long. While this country was new he endured many hardships for the sake of a future home, and labored faithfully to clear up his farm, to improve it, and to promote the general prosperity of the community. There was no pioneer difficulty that he did not encounter and overcome. Many a grist of corn meal has he ground in the hand mill familiar to the pioneer, but which probably few of younger generations have ever seen. He went to mill many a time through the woods with a sack of corn or wheat on horseback, and was gone from home two, three or more days at a time, in order that his family might have food. Packs of wolves and droves of deer and flocks of wild turkeys were for many years after his arrival here a familiar sight; and in all things pertaining to the progress of the country and its material advancement, Mr. Keith did not hesitate to take a hand. He is a man of the highest integrity and honor and has a large circle of warm and admiring friends, and all interests of the community, religious, educational, moral and social, as well as political, have ever found in him a strong and ready defense.

Page 377-378

Source: A Portrait and Biographical Record of Mercer and Van Wert Counties Ohio, Chicago, A. W. Bowen & Company, 1896

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