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                                     ELBRIDGE G. KEITH
                                    Cook County, Illinois


Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.


Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 53-55.

ELBRIDGE GERRY KEITH is not only conspicuous as a financier,
but he has come to be one of the best known among Chicago's
many prominent reformers and philanthropists.  While
displaying the sagacity and tenacity of purpose so essential
to a successful business career, he has simultaneously been
identified with so many movements of a public nature, that
the modern history of Chicago would be but incompletely told
without some allusion to his character and deeds.  Though he
has exerted no small influence in shaping measures of public
policy, and in placing capable and trustworthy men in
positions of profit and honor, he has scrupulously avoided
any personal connection with places of political preferment,
and has given no one an opportunity to traduce his motives
or question the sincerity of his purposes.

Mr. Keith is the youngest son of Martin Keith and Betsey
French, extended mention of whom is made elsewhere in this
volume.  He was born at Barre, Washington County, Vermont,
July 16, 1840, and enjoyed excellent educational advantages.
After a course at Newbury Seminary he attended Barre
Academy, which was then under the charge of Dr. J. S.
Spaulding, one of the leading educators of his day.  At an
early age he began to display a marked tendency for literary
and political pursuits, but these proclivities were somewhat
obscured by the commercial surroundings in which he was
placed.  Upon leaving school, at the age of sixteen years,
he began his business career in the capacity of clerk in a
country store, and later, in 1857, he came to Chicago,
whither his brothers, Edson and O. R. Keith, had preceded
him.  He at once became connected with the house of Keith
Brothers & Faxon, and upon the retirement of Mr. Faxon in
1865, he became a partner in the firm of Keith Brothers,
wholesale dealers and jobbers in hats, caps, furs and
millinery.  This firm is still known as one of the foremost
in its line.

In 1884 Mr. Keith helped to organize the Metropolitan
National Bank, and was immediately elected its President, a
position which he has continuously filled to the present
time.  Under his thorough and capable management this
corporation has come to be recognized as one of the most
substantial banking institutions in the West.  It now
occupies the magnificent banking floor of the Temple, at La
Salle and Monroe Streets, and employs about fifty people in
the regular transaction of its immense business.
Mr. Keith has ever been an earnest advocate of the cause of
education, and served seven years as a member of the Board
of Education of Chicago.  The Keith School, at the corner of
Thirty-fourth and Dearborn Streets, was so named in
recognition of his able and disinterested services in behalf
of the youth of the city.  He is also a Trustee of Beloit
College, one of the foremost institutions of higher
education in the West.

At an early date Mr. Keith began to ally himself with
social, benevolent, literary and commercial organizations,
for the number and character of which Chicago is famous.
Among those in whose work he has been most conspicuous may
be mentioned the Union League, Commercial and Bankers'
Clubs, each of which has honored him with the position of
President.  He is also identified with the Chicago, Literary
and Twentieth Century Clubs.  He has served as presiding
officer of the Young Men's Christian Association and the
Chicago Orphan Asylum.

When the Civic Federation was formed for the purpose of
introducing much-needed reforms into the social and
municipal conduct of the city, he became one of its most
earnest and influential members, and as one of its Directors
is doing much to forward the good work inaugurated by this
beneficent organization.  As a Director of the World's
Columbian Exposition, he was active and potent in securing
its location in Chicago and its unprecedented success.
In December, 1860, Mr. Keith was married to Miss Harriet S.
Hall, of Dayton, La Salle County, Illinois, and a daughter
of Joseph Hall, one of the pioneers of this state.  The
family of Mr. and Mrs. Keith comprised four sons and two
daughters until the twenty-eighth day of November, 1891,
when they were called upon to mourn the death of the
first-born daughter, Susie, an accomplished young woman.
The names of the others are: Elbridge B., Carl, Stanley,
Harold H. and Bessie.

For over twenty years Mr. Keith has been identified with
Christ Reformed Episcopal Church, of which Bishop Cheney is
pastor.  At the age of fourteen years he walked twelve miles
in order to attend the first Republican State Convention in
Vermont, and has ever since been an interested participant
in the councils of that party.  He has seen and been a
factor in its accomplishment of the emancipation of the
slave, the establishment of a sound financial system, and
the promotion and development of the arts of peace.  He has
frequently served as a delegate in state conventions, and
was a member of the National Convention which nominated
James A. Garfield for the presidency.  Throughout all these
years, however, he has consistently refused to allow the use
of his name as a candidate for any political office.  By
this steadfast course, he is pointing out to his
fellow-citizens the way to true civil-service reform, which
can never be fully accomplished without the active
participation in political affairs of those who are not
themselves office-seekers.

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