John Keith, civil engineer and formerly county surveyor
of Allen County, now lives in a beautiful home at Lima, and owns one of
the finest farms in Perry township. Mr. Keith was born August 27,
1844, in Van Wert County, Ohio, and is a son of Johnzey Keith and a
grandson of John Keith.
The Keith name has been one of prominence in Northwestern Ohio
for many years. John Keith, the paternal grandfather, migrated from
Maryland to Van Wert County, Ohio, among the early pioneers in 1833, and
became one of the prominent men of his day. Johnzey Keith, the father
of our subject, was born at Baltimore, Maryland, and accompanied his
parents to Van Wert County. With his father he entered government land,
which was long known as "Keith Island," because of the fact that then
the land was covered or surrounded by water. He became a leader in
public affairs and served in many responsible positions, holding local
offices and serving two terms as county commissioner. Hs name was
given to localities, streets and buildings, and it has been one which
has been held in esteem in all this part of the State.
When John Keith, our immediate subject, was seven years of age,
his parents moved to Mercer County, where they lived until the fall of
1854 when they settled in Allen County, at a time when Lima was but a
village. The father owned a farm and reared his son to agricultural
pursuits, but the latter early turned his attention to civil
engineering, and subsequently became so thorough and competent a
surveyor that, in 1879, he was elected county surveyor of Allen County.
In 1882 he was reelected to the office and on one occasion polled the
second highest vote on the Democratic ticket. It was during this term
of his public service that many important public improvements were made,
one of these being the inauguration of an extended system of ditching.
He was civil engineer of the work, while the Court House was being
built. When it became a subject of vital import that Hog Creek, should
be ditched, it was Mr. Keith who drew the designs for this important
work. After his term of office expired, he returned to the farm, where
he resided, with the exception of two years' residence in Spencerville,
until he retired to Lima in 1902.
On December 23, 1869, Mr. Keith was married to Mary Partello, a
daughter of Washington R. Partello, who located at Lima in 1860, and
later was elected for two terms as treasurer of Allen County. They
have three children, viz.: Albert G., who is one of the chief clerks for
the Hollingsworth & Whitney Paper Company, of Boston, Massachusetts;
Lillie, who is the wife of Harry R. Post, of Laflin & Rand, of Haskell
New Jersey; and Donald Roscoe, who is a civil engineer in the county
surveyor's office of Allen County.
In politics, Mr. Keith is a Democrat. In 1900, while a
resident of Amanda Township, where he owned 500 acres of land, he served
as land appraiser. In 1902 he sold his property there and bought the
old Ross Crossley farm of 340 acres in Perry township. For over 30
years he has been a member of the Masonic lodge at Spencerville.