Lawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana (Unive.

In memorian Elbridge Gerry Keith : born at Barre, Vermont, July 16, 1840, died at Chicago, Illinois, May 17, 1905 online

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Online LibraryLawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana (UniveIn memorian Elbridge Gerry Keith : born at Barre, Vermont, July 16, 1840, died at Chicago, Illinois, May 17, 1905 → online text (page 1 of 1)
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LAWRENCE J. GUTTER

Collection of Chicogoono

THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
AT CHICAGO

The University Library



Digitized by tine Internet Arcliive

in 2010 witli funding from

CARLI: Consortium of Academic and Researcli Libraries in Illinois



http://www.archive.org/details/inmemorianelbridOOIawr



KEITH MEMORIAL



In Memoriam



Elbridge Gerry Keith



Born at Barre, Vermont,
July 1 6, 1840

Died at Chicago, Illinois,
May 17, 1905



SEMPER FIDELIS



^



CHICAGO

PRIVATELY PRINTED

MDCCCCVI



The Directors of the Chicago Title
and Trust Company present this testimonial
of their appreciation of the life and charac-
ter of the late president of the company,
Elbridge G. Keith.



GEORGE BIRKHOFF, JR.
IRA M. COBE
BERNARD A. ECKHART
OTTO C. BUTZ
HELGE A. HAUGAN
MARVIN A. FARR
DAVID B. LYMAN
J. LEWIS COCHRAN



JAMES B. FORGAN
EDMUND A. CUMMINGS
A. R. MARRIOTT
WILLIAM C. NIBLACK
GEORGE E. RICKCORDS
EDWARD A. SHEDD
JOHN G. SHORTALL
CHARLES H. WACKER



31n jHemortam



ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH was the
youngest son of Martin and Betsey Keith,
and was a direct descendant of James Keith,
a Scotch Presbyterian clergyman, who gradu-
ated at Aberdeen College, came to America
about 1650, and settled in Bridgewater,
Mass.

His early years were spent on a farm.
After completing a course of study in his
native town and in Newbury Seminary, he
became a clerk in a general store at Barre.
At the age of seventeen years, Mr. Keith
came to Chicago, where his two brothers,
Edson and Osborne R., had preceded him.
During the first eighteen months of his resi-
dence in Chicago he had several occupations,
and in 1859 he became a clerk in the store
of his brothers. They were associated with

7



IN MEMORIAM

a Mr. Faxon, under the name of Keith
Brothers and Faxon, dealers in hats and
caps. In 1865, when Mr. Faxon retired, he
was admitted as a partner, and the firm name
was changed to Keith Brothers. In 1885
the business was incorporated under the
name of Edson Keith & Co., and, though he
was president of the corporation until his
death, he did not specially devote his time
to its afifairs. In 1881 he was elected presi-
dent of the Livingston County State Bank of
Pontiac, Illinois, and divided his time be-
tween his interests in Chicago and that bank.
He was one of the organizers of the Met-
ropolitan National Bank of Chicago in 1884,
and was the president of the bank from that
time until its consolidation with the First
National Bank of Chicago in 1902. Imme-
diately after the consolidation of the banks
he was elected president of the Chicago
Title and Trust Company, and held that
position when he died.

8



ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH

He was always interested in public and
political affairs. When about fourteen years
of age, he walked twelve miles to attend the
first state convention of the Republican
party in Vermont. Though not yet a voter
in 1858 and 1860, he went to political meet-
ings and took great interest in the cause of
the Republican party. At the University
of Illinois he recently delivered an address
on the Republican National Convention of
1860. He was so calm and courteous in the
expression of his political opinions that few
persons realized how fixed and settled they
really were. He was active in ward, city,
county and state politics, and was a factor in
nominating conventions. He was a delegate
to the national convention in which Garfield
was nominated in 1880. Though often
urged to accept positions of high political
importance, he repeatedly declined. He,
however, took great interest in the public
schools, and served on the board of educa-



IN MEMORIAM

tion from 1887 to 1894. Afterward the
board named one of its schools the "Keith
School." At the time of his death he was
one of the trustees of Beloit College and
treasurer of the University of Illinois.

He was one of the incorporators of the
Union League Club. At different times he
was president of the Union League (1883),
the Commercial (1892) , and the Bankers'
Club (1890), the Chicago Clearing-House
(1888) , the Young Men's Christian Associa-
tion, and the Chicago Orphan Asylum, and
treasurer of the Chicago Bible Society, the
Bureau of Charities, the Home of the
Friendless, and the University of Illinois.

He was a director of the World's Colum-
bian Exposition and an active worker in that
great enterprise.

During his life in Chicago he took an
active part in all movements tending to the
welfare of the city, the state and the nation.
He was a firm believer in philanthropic

10



ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH

work, and was a generous giver to many
charities. For more than thirty years he
was a member of Christ Reform Episcopal
Church, and for many years he was its senior
warden. He gave Hberally both in time and
money to reHgious work, and was well known
as a worker in missions of the church. The
devotion between him and his brothers was
one of the marked characteristics of their
lives, and the death of each of them made a
profound impression on him.

In December, 1865, he was married to
Miss Harriet S. Hall of La Salle, Illinois,
who survives him. He left three sons, Carl,
Stanley and Harold, and one daughter. Miss
Bessie.



IN MEMORIAM



The Chicago Daily Tribune of May 18,
1905, contained the following editorial com-
ment:

ELBRIDGE G. KEITH

For nearly half a century Elbridge G.
Keith was in business life in Chicago. Dur-
ing the greater part of that time he was
pominently before the public as a leading
merchant, as the head of great corporations,
and as an active politician. In these different
fields of activity he so conducted himself as
to win the respect and confidence of all who
came in contact with him.

As a business man Mr. Keith was shrewd
and long-headed, but he was not grasping
or avaricious. He was scrupulously honest,
and would not take an unfair advantage of
any one. He had a kindly generous nature
which manifested itself in his intercourse with

12



ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH

men of all conditions. This combination of
qualities, not to be found in every business
man, gained for him a comfortable fortune
and an enviable reputation.

Mr. Keith entertained the old-fashioned
idea that it was the duty of a man who had
a stake in the community to take an active
interest in its general welfare. So he did
not shut himself up in his store or bank, but
endeavored to be in fact, and not by brevet,
a "public-spirited citizen." The last valu-
able work he did for the city was as presi-
dent of the New Charter Committee, which
succeeded in securing the submission and rati-
fication of the charter constitutional amend-
ment. Mr. Keith did not think it undignified
for him to go into politics and to "run his
ward," but not to get offices for himself.
He was for a time the " beneficent boss" of
his bailiwick. When he stepped out, other
bosses who had few of his good qualities, and
whose rule was not so good-naturedly sub-

13



IN MEMORIAM

mitted to, succeeded him. The successful,
high-minded business man would be a leader
whom the people would gladly follow were
he to turn his attention to practical politics,
but Chicago, which once had leaders of that
kind, has none now.

Chicago has lost a broad-minded, philan-
thropic and energetic citizen, always ready
to give time and money for the public good.
The business community has lost one of its
ablest and most upright members, whose
advice was eagerly sought and confidently
followed.

The Chicago Evening Post of May 18,
1905, gave this estimate of him:

ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH
Elbridge G. Keith was a conspicuous ex-
ample of that very useful citizen, the busi-
ness man who takes an active and intelligent
interest in the general welfare of the commu-
nity in which he lives. He was not slothful
U



ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH

in business; therefore he prospered. He
was fervent in the spirit which entered into
all that concerned his fellows; he could be in
practical politics without being a "practical
politician."

Some men there are who can be nothing
but honest in their business dealings and
anything but honest in politics. These men
cannot be called good citizens, no matter
how much public spirit they show. Mr.
Keith did not belong to this class. He
carried his business honesty into the ward-
meeting, into everything he undertook for
the betterment of the city and of his fellow-
citizens.

If Mr. Keith did not think the chosen
officials of the people were managing public
affairs as they should be managed, he did
not sit in his bank or in his library and rail at
dishonesty and corruption in politics; he got
into the caucus and the primary and forced
the dishonest and the corrupt and the in-

15



IN MEMORIAM

competent to retreat. He believed that a
good citizen meant an active citizen, and he
acted on this beHef.

In contributing his full share toward
building up the commercial interests of his
adopted city through nearly half a century of
activity, Mr. Keith did not slight other
interests. He took a directing hand in the
business of the board of education; he was
a leader in college affairs; religious and
philanthropic institutions and movements
received his hearty support; the broader field
of civic improvement and progress found
him an ever-ready worker; and he had time
in addition to play his part in the social life
of the city.

This broad-minded, energetic, kind-heart-
ed citizen leaves Chicago a legacy that can-
not be measured in terms of dollars and
cents. His life of active endeavor and con-
spicuous achievement is an encouragement
to every young man to make the best of his

16



ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH

opportunities; to slight neither business nor
pubhc Hfe; to be generous and charitable
toward all; to be faithful to his own place,
confident in his own powers, honest in all
his dealings and steadfast in his adherence
to what he believes to be right.

The Union League Club of Chicago, in
commending his life and deploring his death,
said in part:

Mr. Keith possessed the sterling virtues,
the unfaltering courage, the patient persist-
ence, the wise caution which always and
ever5rwhere insure success. Industry, in-
tegrity and a high standard of honor were
wrought into the very fiber of his being. He
was simply incapable of injustice. While he
had a quiet dignity which forbade undue
familiarity, his life was full of gentleness,
sweet courtesy and gracious deeds. His
heart was a perennial fountain of kindness
and his benefactions were abundant but un-

17



IN MEMORIAM

obtrusive. He was an ardent patriot, a true
and steadfast friend, and a devout Christian.
But his rugged uprightness, softened by his
transparent candor, simplicity and sincerity,
was the charm and crowning glory of his
character. He was not ambitious for place
or power, but he never shrank from duty or
responsibility. He never sought place or
preferment, but when, because of his emi-
nent fitness, they were accorded him, he
discharged their duties with conspicuous
fidelity. Self-poised and self-reliant, he
illustrated most admirably the beautiful epi-
gram of Bishop Hall: "Moderation is the
silken string running through the pearl chain
of all the virtues." Firm in his convictions
of right, brave enough to express his honest
sentiments on all occasions, he was yet so
frank, so fair, so considerate of the opinions
of others, that he won the highest esteem and
warm regard of all who knew him. He

was fond of books and their companion-
is



ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH

ship was the solace and joy of his leisure
hours.

Standing to-day in the somber shadow of
his tomb, we need not invoke the aid of the
friendly maxim, De mortuis nil nisi bonum,
as an excuse for discreet speech or more dis-
creet silence, for there was nothing in his
public career or private life which charity
would fain conceal. We can recall no un-
just act, no unkind word, no look which
could wound the most sensitive soul. His
life was an open book upon whose fair pages
are recorded only gracious words and worthy
deeds, whereon is found no disgraceful stain,
no careless blot. His character was the in-
carnation of the golden rule, his life its beauti-
ful exemplification. It is of such men that
Emerson says: ''The world is upheld by
the veracity of good men; they make the
earth wholesome. They who live with them
find life glad and nutritious." Having filled
the full measure of a noble and useful

19



IN MEMORIAM

life, "God's finger touched him and he
slept."

He will be greatly missed in the city he
has done so much to improve and beautify;
in the church where he has so long and faith-
fully wrought and sincerely worshiped; by
the friends to whom his companionship has
been so precious. The members of this Club
whose relations to him were so pleasant, and
who entertained for him such sincere respect,
will misshis genial greeting, his earnest words,
his responsive sympathy, and will sorrow
most of all that they shall see his face no more

"Till the sun grows cold
And the stars are old,
And the leaves of the judgment-book unfold."

On the shining heights beyond the river, in
the beautiful land,

" Whose skies are not like earthly skies,
With varying hues of shade and light,
Which hath no need of suns to rise
To dissipate the gloom of night,"

he has entered upon the immortal life.
There he awaits our tardier footsteps.

20



Privately printed by
C.L.Ricketts, Chicago



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1

Online LibraryLawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana (UniveIn memorian Elbridge Gerry Keith : born at Barre, Vermont, July 16, 1840, died at Chicago, Illinois, May 17, 1905 → online text (page 1 of 1)