Biography - Leroy G. Keith

LEROY G. KEITH. A man who is closely identified with the affairs of Union county and who has more than a material interest in the welfare of this section of the state is Leroy G. Keith. Born on the same farm where he now lives, of a father who also called Union county his birthplace, it has been Mr. Keith's aim to bring as much prosperity as possible to the land which holds him by such strong ties. Therefore he has warmly advocated and practised scientific farming in order that the land might be brought to the highest state of efficiency.

Mr. Keith was born in Union county, on the fourth of August, 1879, his parents being John J. and Elizabeth (Rendleman) Keith. His grandfather, Samson R. Keith, had settled in Union county in 1820, having previously lived in Kentucky. John J. Keith, born in 1828, grew to manhood on the old Keith homestead. Starting out in life practically penniless, he became an orchardist, soon devoting the larger part of his time to growing the peaches for which this section of Illinois is well known. He was thus one of the pioneers of the orchard industry. From this small beginning he gradually bought up the tracts adjoining his farm, until at the time of his death he had acquired seven hundred acres. This large property is now owned jointly by his sons Harry and Leroy. His wife, who was the daughter of John S. Rendleman, one of the pioneer settlers of Union county, was born in 1841, and died in 1903. Of their four children the daughter Bertha is the wife of Roy Rinehart, a merchant of Anna, one of his sons, B. F., is a merchant of Alto Pass, and the other two sons are farmers.

Leroy Keith received his early education in the schools of Union county, continuing his studies at the Anna Academy, from which he graduated in 1899. He then returned to the farm where he has since resided. Upon the death of his father he and his brother Harry took charge of the estate, selecting the farm as their share. Leroy received three hundred and thirty acres, to which he has since added the Joshua Lewis place of eighty acres, planted entirely in fruit trees. The larger part of his orchard consists of apple trees, covering about one hundred acres. From these trees he gathered in 1911 twenty-four hundred barrels of apples, selling them at an average price of two dollars and a half per barrel. Forty acres of his land is in Elberta peaches, principally young trees, in spite of which he had two thousand crates of peaches in 1911. This year he also shipped two thousand, fifty pound packages of rhubarb from twenty acres, and three thousand crates of tomatoes. He has in his employ five men in winter, but in the summer eight men are needed to handle the work of the farm. These men are all gaining a valuable knowledge of the best kind of farming from Mr. Keith, who realizes that in this industry science is taking a leading part. He not only has the most modern farm machinery, up-to-date buildings and accommodations for the live stock, but his beautiful residence is equipped with steam heat and acetylene lights. The contrast between this luxurious life of the modern farmer and the life of his grandfather, tilling practically the same soil, is too striking to pass over without comment.

Mr. Keith is much interested in fraternal organizations, believing that they are a great force for good and for advancing the cause of the brotherhood of man. He is a member of the Masonic order, affiliating with the Alto Pass Chapter. He is also a Modern Woodman of the World, as well as belonging to the order of the Eastern Star. His position as School Director is an example of the way in which he fulfills his duty toward his fellow citizens.

On the 30th of November, 1902, the successful young farmer married Myrtle A. Cauble, the daughter of Willis Cauble, of Alto Pass. Three children were born to Mr. Keith and his wife, namely: Ethel, Gordon and Virginia. Mrs. Keith is a member of the Congregational church.

Mr. Keith, being a man of sterling character, counting many of the influential men of the community his friends and able to exert a wide influence for good, must be regarded as an example of that type of man which makes the modern student of society point to the farm when looking for the highest and best type of American manhood.

Extracted 16 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 712-713.

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