Family Stories

J. E. Keith Narrowly Escapes Death by Drowning – Breckinridge County

I found an interesting newspaper article in the Messenger Inquirer, Wednesday, July 11, 1906, about J. E. Keith.  Mr. Keith lived in Cloverport, on the Ohio River, in Breckinridge County.  He and his wife, Mary Heist Keith, were married August 30, 1858, and celebrated 50 years together before their deaths.  Their children were their firstborn, a son F. J. (in the 1860 census), who died young, Virginia, Fannie (who died in 1890 at the age of 25), Samuel, Clarence and Proctor.

Narrow Escape

Of J. E. Keith, of Cloverport, From Drowning

J. E. Keith had a very harrowing experience in the river last Wednesday morning, which might have resulted in his death had it not been for his presence of mind, says the Cloverport correspondent of the Hardinsburg Democrat. As it is, Mr. Keith escaped without the slightest injury, and is none the worse for the occurrence. He had ridden his horse to water at the upper wharf as is his custom every morning.  Mr. Keith’s horse is in the habit of going out quite far into the river and he paid little attention when it walked rapidly through the water.  When the horse reached the stage it wished in the deep water it suddenly lay down; with presence of mind, he drew his feet from the stirrups and slid in the river with the water almost reaching his neck.  James Dugan, wharfmaster, saw the episode and went to his assistance, who was vainly trying to catch the floundering horse, when he himself was in danger of drowning.  Mr. Dugan assisted Mr. Keith from the water and succeeded in catching the animal.  Mr. Keith rode the horse home in a soaked condition, but otherwise unhurt.  Mr. Keith is seventy years of age.

John E. Keith was a seller of tombstones, producing some of the finest stones in the state or beyond.  He bought marble direct ‘from the quarries in Vermont and Marietta, Georgia, also some granite from the celebrated Concord quarries in New Hampshire.  They will sell you monuments cheaper than any firm in the state, and when you find a better workman than Clarence Keith you get a gold mine.’  Quite a testimonial.

Another interesting article told of two old church record books Mr. Keith owned.  One was of the business meetings of Otter Creek Baptist Church which was founded on November 17, 1812, in Meade County.  The other book is information of the Gilead Baptist Church, near Glendale, in Hardin County, from its foundation in 1824 until 1869.  Mr. Keith’s grandfather, Rev. Benjamin Keith, was for about fifty years pastor of Otter Creek Baptist, the first founded in Meade County.

One interesting article about an old French coin gives information about Mrs. Keith’s father.

The Breckinridge News, Cloverport, Breckinridge County, Kentucky

Wednesday, July 4, 1900

French Coin

An Heirloom Recovered By J. E. Keith After A Period of Thirty-three Years

Engraved by Sam Heist

J. E. Keith, senior member of the firm J. E. Keith & Sons, marble cutters, is happy at the recovery of an old French coin, an heirloom, which has been out of his possession for thirty-three years. This small piece of silver is dear to Mr. Keith on account of family associations and he would be glad to trace its whereabouts while out of his hands.

On Thursday of last week Mr. Emmett Gregory received from a small boy in payment for a few groceries a silver coin about the size of a half dollar, worn perfectly smooth and beautifully engraved with the name and date, M. E. Heist, July 14, 1841.  Mr. Gregory made inquiries and found that it was the long-lost property of Mrs. J. E. Keith which had disappeared from her home thirty-three years ago.  When interviewed Mr. Keith gladly gave the history of the coin.

It is a piece of French money, more than a hundred years old, worth about fifty-five cents and was found among the post office change by Sam Heist many years ago.  On account of his French parentage Mr. Heist kept it as a souvenir and at the birth of his daughter, Mrs. J. E. Keith, carved it with her name and birthday.  It is indented with the marks of baby teeth as both Mrs. Keith and her two oldest children made it useful during the teeth cutting period of their lives.

The letters on this charm are particularly graceful and are carved by an expert.  Mr. Heist was an ingenious and painstaking man which traits have been transmitted to a number of his descendants.  They are possessed to a high extent by his grandson, Clarence Keith, whose business gives ample scope for the development of his talents.  As engravers and workers in stone, the Keith’s stand at the head of their profession and Mr. Clarence Keith especially has been greatly complimented on the grace and beauty of his letters.

1 reply »

  1. Do you know the burial location of Samuel Heist ? I recently began following their trail from PA and although I am related to Heists this is not my line unless it was in pre germany his grandfather was a baker in Reading Pa and father a Burgess in Kutztown Pa and brother a post master there. Research Kutztown history with Heinrich Heist and the Find a Grave website for some additional info.

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