|Birth: ||Jul. 13, 1842|
|Death: ||Apr. 5, 1909|
From "HISTORY OF BROCKTON, PLYMOUTH COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS 1656-1894" BY BRADFORD KINGMAN:
HON. ZIBA CARY KEITH.
Among many of the fine mansions in the city of Brockton, some of the most elegant are in the southerly portion of the city, which formerly bore the euphonious name of "Salisbury Plain," now Campello. As the stranger pauses to admire the elegant abodes he naturally desires to learn something of those who reared them. Noticeable among these fine homes is one which is located at the junction of Main and Plain streets. Standing, as it does, in a commanding position, it is a beautiful picture. From its grounds fine views of the city and surrounding country may be had. To the many friends of the occu]>ant and to the great body of his fellow citizens who knew him well his history may appear almost too familiar to need recapitulation. It is in this beautiful abode, surrounded by its many objects of refinement, taste and wealth, that the subject of our sketch resides.
He was born on the opposite side of the street to the lot on which his dwelling is located, on the homestead of his father, Captain Ziba Keith, and his grandfather, Benjamin Keith, July 13, 1842.
Mr. Keith early learned that his success in life depended largely upon his own exertion, and he soon addressed himself to the work before him. From the time he was able to wneld the hammer and drive pegs in the " old red shop," and the rake and hoe upon the farm he was improving his opportunities, afforded by the district schools of his native village and an attendance at the " Pierce Academy" in getting an education, until he arrived to the age of eighteen years, when he engaged in the shoe manufactory of his brothers, Martin L. Keith & Co., then doing a large business in their line. He was alterward bookkeeper and salesman for the same firm in Boston until July, 1863, when he returned to Campello and engaged in the dry goods and variety store trade with Embert Howard, under the firm name of Howard & Keith, which partnership continued for two years, when the business was sold to Jonas Reynolds, and the partnership was dissolved. At the end of six months Mr. Keith bought the business, which he continued till 1882. For a year or two H. N. P. Hubbard conducted the dry goods department, and then Mr. Keith purchased the entire business interests. He afterward disposed of his entire business to Messrs. Pitts & Hayward, and Thayer A; Whitman in 1882. While not a graduate of any college he had a good education, which has been found sufficient for a foundation upon which to build the superstructure, reared day by day by reflection, association with people of culture, much intelligence and elevated thought.
He is not a seeker of office, but has been largely honored with the confidence of his fellow citizens, and has filled such as have come to him without the sacrifice of his sturdy self respect and characteristic devotion to his own principles of life and conduct.
In 1875 and 1876 he was elected representative to the General Court from the town of Brockton. In 1879 he was elected one of the Board of Selectmen, In 1881 he was a member of the committee for drafting the city charter. When the town was changed to a city form of government in 1881 Mr. Keith was elected as their first mayor and again has served in the years 1884, 1885, 1891, 1892 and 1893. Not only has he served the town and city of his nativity, but he has been called to serve the citizens of the Second Plymouth Senatorial District in the Massachusetts Legislature in 1887-88, and was tax collector in 1887, '88, '89. He was largely instrumental in organizing the Campello Co-operative Bank, which has been of great service in building the southerly wards of the city and stimulating the workmen in the many large factories to own and occupy their own homes. He is also director and first vice-president of the Brockton Savings Bank, director of the Brockton National Bank. He was one of the incorporators of the Plymouth County Safe Deposit and Trust Company, and is now its president. In 1890 Mr. Keith was appointed by Governor Ames on the " State Commission of Health, Lunacy and Charity" January 1, 1890. He is also a justice of the peace and was elected in the fall of 1882, member of the Governor's Council for Massachusetts, which office he has held to 1891 He has ever had the interests of Campello in mind, having done much to promote its growth and prosperity, was a member of the Parish Committee several years, and when the society remodelled and enlarged their building in 1888 he was one of the committee to forward the same.
Mr. Keith is prominently identified with the commandery, chapter and lodge of the local Masonic fraternity.
In politics he is a staunch Republican, and in religion his affiliations are of the Trinitarian Congregational order and has been for years prominently identified with the South Congregational Church and society in Campello.
It will be seen by what has already been written that the life of Mr. Keith has been an eventful one, and such an one as those who have been more conspicuous in life might wish they had imitated. By example it attracts, and thus accomplishes a most worthy end. To such men it matters little whether or not the trumpet of fame sounds along their path in life, for they realize its keenest blast can never reach the other shore.
Mr. Keith's life from his birth to the present writing is an open record of an honorable and successful man, whose original stock in trade consisted chiefly in that old fashioned family legacy, personal industry, honesty and brains.
It is not strange that he has earned a large measure of success and an honorable recognition in the ranks of Brockton's substantial and reliable citizens. Mr. Keith was a corporate member of the original street railway corporation in Brockton, and treasurer of the same for several years ; also treasurer of the Monarch Rubber Company, of Campello.
Mr. Keith has been a figure of public and practical importance for twenty years. He was a valuable town officer and able legislator, and his repeated elections to the office of chief magistrate of the city show that he is regarded as an able administrator of the duties of that responsible office. Wherever he has served it has been to the satisfaction to the great mass of citizens, and thus with honor to himself.
In March, 1889, Mr. Keith published a complete memorial to the memory of Benjamin Keith, of Campello, and his descendants, a work on which Mr. Keith had bestowed a vast amount of time and expense, and is worthy of great commendation.
During the mayoralty of Mr. Keith, several large enterprises were consummated, as the laying out of a system of sewerage for the city of Brockton, which has just been completed under the superintendence of Mr. Snow, city engineer, and which is believed to be a great addition to the many benefits being derived to the city in the way of public improvements.
Another advance has been made by the city, and the Old Colony Division of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, by which sixteen grade crossings have been abolished, the agreements all having been made within two years time, a dispatch not usual in matters of this magnitude.
The new and elegant City Hall has also been constructed during the administration of Mayor Keith, and brought to a successful termination.
That a good share of the prosperity of the early history of tlie new city of Brockton was due to his able, honest and energetic administration of its municipal affairs is well known, and his wide knowledge of men and affairs added to a courteous personality has endeared him to his fellow citizens. Mr. Keith is a person universally beloved and esteemed, as any one whom it is our pleasure to know. Any one meeting him and know him could not be impressed with his sterling integrity of character, while admiring his frankness and kindly bearing towards every person irrespective of nationality or station. Being notably urbane and kindly in his intercourse with his associates and acquaintances he also possesses magnetic qualities which makes and keeps friends.
Mayor Keith has a fine ear for music and is a gentlemen of refined taste in such matters, and the writer well remembers seeing him at the eaily age of ten years playing the violin with all the enthusiasm of an adult person. For forty years he was a musician in the South Church choir, as organist, and has ever displayed an interest in the music at the church. He has also a high appreciation of life as demonstrated in his speeches upon all sorts of topics and occasions, and it is not saying too much that Brockton and Campello, in particular, is exceptionably fortunate in possessing a mayor such as they have in Hon. Ziba C. Keith.
Mr. Keith married Abbie Frances, born October 21, 1848, daughter of Oliver and Malvina Frances Packard Jackson, of North Bridgewater, now Brockton, December 31, 1865, and have one son.
I._Willie Clifton Keith, born August 31, 1866, married Eva M. Place April 28, 1877, and have one son.
1 - Ziba Cary Keith, born June 13, 1888.
Ziba Keith (1789 - 1862)
Polly Noyes Keith (1798 - 1882)
Abbie Frances Jackson Keith (1848 - 1924)
Willie Clifton Keith (1867 - 1925)*
Benjamin Keith (1814 - 1854)**
Franklin Keith (1816 - 1877)**
Martha Cary Keith Jackson (1817 - ____)**
Martin Keith (1819 - 1820)**
Nancy Cary Keith (1821 - 1838)**
David Keith (1826 - 1826)**
Jonathan Keith (1826 - 1893)**
Daniel Noyes Keith (1835 - 1904)*
Edwin Keith (1840 - 1910)*
Ziba Cary Keith (1842 - 1909)
Created by: family historian
Record added: Apr 09, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 108187199