Introduction Mary Iantha Castlio wrote her book, "Some Missouri Pioneers," in 1923 ("Some Missouri Pioneers, their Ancestors, Descendants, and Kindred from other States"). She contacted and interviewed countless relatives, and untangled their relationships. The book is hard to find these days. I took a typed copy of the chapter in the book that deals with the Keithley family, and scanned it with OCR software. I then edited it and put it into HTML so that I could make it visible over the Web. I hope lots of people find it useful. There are comments in the texts marked with FHD, my initials.
Despite Ms. Castlio's learned treatise below, the "Keithley" name as applied to this family seems to have a fairly simple origin. The family was German, and the original name was "Kichele" or something like that. Castlio has an idea that the German Keithleys originated in England, and Dr. Sandy Keathley presents the same idea on his website. I have written a document, called "Retrograde Keithleys?" which questions this theory. Our best piece of evidence of the German spelling is the marriage bond of Polly Keithley, daughter of Jacob Sr., who married Isaac Hostetter -- see note below in this section. A book about this family, La Famille Kuchly by Louis Kuchly, is available online from Brigham Young University (click on "Printing Version" at the bottom to download the entire book). Keithley was the nearest sounding English name, so they switched to that. Some have said that the family came from the area near Koblenz, but we have spent a lot of effort without being able to prove that. One change that I made was to respell Keithly as Keithley -- I recently finished proofreading this document and I believe that throughout Keithly is spelled correctly. -- Nov. 22 2003. I also caught a few typos. I have not corrected the computer files like jackeit1.html mentioned above.
My own Keithleys are from Maryland and appear not to be related to the Missouri Keithleys. I have some files posted on the web about that family, look at mdkeith.html for example.
This file is posted in five parts. This is part one, and the parts are
Frank Deis - email Frank Deis
I regret having no definite information of the European homeland of our immigrant ancestors, and also not being able to trace a close connection between the original name and the English variant as used by us. A name passed from one race to another, would of necessity undergo alterations in the course of several centuries. The name is unquestionably English, having passed through many variants.
From the College of Arms, London, England, we have the following extract from a work on the origin of names "This family derive their descent from the Chatti, or Catti, now Hesse, a tribe of Germans, who dwelt in what is now called Hesse-Cassel, and whose name (which may have been taken from the animal sacred to Freya) is preserved in Katzenfort, Katzenburgh, etc., Germany.
About B. C. 100, a part of this tribe descended the Rhine, and settled in Batavia or Holland, where the name is also maintained in Katwijk aan Zee, Katswoulde, etc.
During the reign of Corbred the second, King of Scotland, circa A. D. 76, a part of these Catti emigrated to Britain, some of whom, called Fordun, "Catti Meliboci," were driven to the northern parts of Scotland and landed in that part called Kateness, or Caithness; i.e. Catti's promontory. The Celtic name for that district is "Catt taobh," Catti's side; and the inhabitants are styled "Cattich." Caithness is also called "gall taobh," "Stranger's side, way, or shore."
The first of the tribe named by the Senachies is Gilli Chattan Noir, chief of the Catti, temp. King Alpine (A.D. 831-834), from whom descend the Kethi, Keychts, Keths, or Keiths; and also the MacPhersons, Sutherlands, etc., known under the general name of Chattan Clan. The ancient title (Celtic) of the Earls of Sutherland is "Morfhear chat," Lord Cat; literally Greatman Cat.
Robert Keth, chief of the tribe, was, it is said, created Hereditary Grand Marshal of Scotland by King Malcolm II A. D. 1010. . . From him descended the Hervens de Keth . . about 1161 to 1178 . . . His descendant, Sir William Keith . . . was created Earl Marischal in 1458."
The Visitations mention two families, one Thomas Keightley of Hartford, in 1669. Also a family by name of Keightley living in London in the 17th century.
From Bradsley's Surnames: "Keighley, a well known city in West Riding, or Yorkshire, England, locally pronounced Keithley." Many variants are to be seen in the epitaphs of the Parish church, among them, Keithley. English friends say there are many Keithley families in Yorkshire, England.
No descendant of the five brothers who came from Penna. to Kentucky, with whom I have communicated, know where these ancestors were born. If born in America it seems some family would have the fact recorded. Some of the descendants claim the Old Set or immigrants were German, others unhesitatingly claim to be Hollanders. My mother, Cordelia Keithly Castlio, said she was of Dutch, Holland, descent. I am satisfied that she knew. Most of the Missouri families say they are of Dutch descent. So we are led to believe that the European ancestor of the five brothers, possibly two or more centuries ago immigrated from England to Holland, and later the five brothers came to America. That the brothers spoke English, and German is generally understood. The one or the other may have been learned from association, for after coming to America some of them called themselves "Pennsylvania Dutch," others, "Maryland Dutch." "The name is on record on the eastern shore of Maryland before and during the Revolutionary time. Later several families moved to Western Maryland." The name is not on record in the Land Commissioner's Office of Md. nor is it on record in the War or Pension Dept. of Washington, D. C. Nor could it be found in Penna. or N. C. archives, Revolutionary soldier lists, tax, census, wills, deeds, assessments, or land grants. Genealogists of Mass. or Conn. do not know the name. Va. and Tenn. records have been searched and no record of an abiding place of the Keithley brothers found until they reached Bourbon County, Kentucky. However, tradition is strong that they were in Penna. and also in N. Car. So, we are led to conclude that they were of the many who after the American Revolution, left Penna. and trecking[sic] down the Shenandoah Valley, tarried along the way. The third generation recalled hearing their parents speak of their parents being in North Carolina. Some of these pioneers settled in Va., others in the Carolinas, and others still, among them the Keithley brothers, went further west into Kentucky. Griffin S. Keithly, of Midvale, Idaho, wrote me in 1922: "I have often heard my father (Samuel, son of Jacob Sr.) speak of grandfather and his brothers coming from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, when father was three years old. Grandfather Jacob dropped the e from his name after coming to Ky., uncle Daniel retained it." According to this statement the brothers came into Ky. in 1792.
The characteristics of the descendants of these Keithley brothers, so far as I have been able to get in touch with them, leads one to consider that these men were of the highest type of pioneers of "The Old South West." Industrious and thrifty, inspired with the home building instinct and attracted by the lure of cheap land and a longing for a more promising country than the war ridden territory east of the Alleghenys, they at the close of the War of Independence, sought new fields of enterprise.
They were possibly a year or more making the journey from Pa. to Ky. Prior to 1792 Jacob and John had both been married for several years. And possibly, as was customary, in the autumn time after the harvests were garnered they packed their belongings into wagons and onto beasts of burden and headed southwestward. Men, women, and children in the company, plodding slowly but purposefully, taking into consideration as a possible home, the country through which they passed.
The Keithley brothers pushing farther into "The Valley of the Gathering of Many Waters" reached the delightful Kentucky climate. Here some of the Old Set were content to live and die. Others still restlessly went north, others south and still others, especially the descendants of some of the five brothers, crossed the "Father of Waters" into Upper Louisiana, while it was under Spanish rule, for some came as early as 1790.
Others came into the "Territory of Louisiana" during the first decade of the 19th century. Now their descendants are scattered from the most northern states to the Gulf and as far west as the Pacific coast and even into the Islands of the Pacific Ocean -- Farmers.
The Keithleys may have been English for centuries but their fondness for the soil leads one to conclude that they have a strong Teutonic strain of blood. From the very earliest glimpses of the Teutonic race we find them to be a people who love to live apart, shunning the settlements, and cities, each jealously guarding his chosen acreage beside a woodland, a plain or spring. For in the earliest times with the Teutons to be a land owner was to be a free man and to be able to exercise his full rights in his community he must have possession of his holdings.
The love for the soil is also inherited from the English, who are descended from the German race, and whose basis of society was the freeman -- land holder. This recognition of land ownership carried with it the title of "Gentleman," even among those of English descent in America before the American Revolution.
Of record in Paris, Bourbon Co. Ky., is a deed from Jacob Keithly and his wife Barbara, of Fayette Co. Ky. to Joseph Keithley of Fayette Co. Ky. for 75 acres of land in Bourbon Co. Ky., Sept. 1802. Also, is recorded an inventory of Joseph Keithley made Jan 23, 1823. Rebecca and John B. Keathley administrators. These records were seen in 1922.
The five Keithley brothers, Jacob, Sr., John Sr. (1750-1835), Joseph Sr., Daniel Sr., and Samuel, Sr., came from Penna. and settled in Bourbon Co., Ky. in 1792.
Jacob Keithly was born about 1748 and married Barbara Roland (Roland is French) about 1777, presumably in Penna. They came from Penna. into Kentucky in the year 1792 and settled first in Bourbon County, Ky., then moved to Warren County Ky. Bowling Green is now the county seat. There they lived and passed away at the ripe old age of ninety years. They lived on a farm and also kept an Inn. Their son, Samuel, administered their estate. Their children, names and dates of birth, are copied from the Bible of Samuel Keithly, their son:
One time grandfather went from home on business and on the return trip late in the afternoon he became ill and decided to be asked to be allowed to spend the night in the home of a stranger. Being refused this hospitality he continued his way home, but, "then and there" made up his mind never to turn a stranger from his door without giving food and shelter if required. He had a room comfortably fitted up in one of the out dwellings for the use of strangers. In the years that passed this room was used by many wayfarers, who were thus ministered to in their need.
"Uncle Sam" was not easily deceived. One winter his corn was going from his crib faster than his daily feedings justified. He bought a steel trap and the morning he was setting it a man who lived near was there and was very anxious the trap should be placed in a certain crack between the logs of which the crib was made. Grandfather was suspicious of this man, but put the trap as was suggested. Later he moved it to another place within the crib. The next morning he went to the crib and as he expected found the man whom he suspected with his hand caught in the trap. Without a word grandfather turned him loose. No more corn was missing that winter.
Including slaves, at one time there were about sixteen boys on Uncle Sam's farm. Some mischief was perpetrated by one or more of them that exasperated him to an unusual degree. He went into the yard and called, his voice had wonderful volume, was far reaching in its carrying qualities and very pleasant in tone, Mother said, "His laugh could be heard a quarter of a mile, so jovial and pleasant to hear." In trooped the boys from the fields, clearings, rail-splitting and shops, or from whatever the occupation in which they were engaged. Without a word Grandfather motioned them into line. When all were lined up he swiped at their legs with a long hoop-pole. Those who were nimble enough, jumped out of line, mostly Negroes, those who were too stubborn or conscientious stood still and received the lick, mostly white boys. Two or three swipes and it became too funny for Grandfather's dignity and the punishment was given up.
"Samuel Keithly was born March 1, 1789, settled in St. Charles Co. Mo. in 1808 and bought a large tract of land and became the richest of the brothers. He was married three times. His second wife owned a large number of slaves and other property, and in time he had one of the finest and best improved farms in the country. He lived in a large brick dwelling and had Negro quarters and out buildings. When I visited him in 1849 he was sixty years of age and lived like a Patriarch surrounded by children and dependents, and was highly respected and revered by all, while his venerable appearance commanded obedience, Yet he appeared unassuming and genial in his way and conversation. I was told that he was a consistent member of the Methodist church and was fond of going to camp meetings and was liberal in his gifts for its support. Like his brothers in appearance, some what fleshy, weighing two hundred pounds. His descendants are scattered from Missouri to California. After serving his country well as one of the pioneers of Missouri and supporting it with numerous progeny, Uncle Samuel like a shock of corn coming into its season passed away at the ripe old age of eighty and one-half years to that "Undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns." From J. C. Keithley's Family History.
"KEITHLY: Samuel Keithly, Sr., the subject of this brief sketch, was a man of noted qualities. Few men of St. Charles Co. were more extensively known or more favorably known than he. His name was a synonym of honesty and integrity. There was also a rich vein of spiciness in his conversation that made his company more than agreeable. And as the honored head of an unusually large family, he presided with such gentle firmness and impartial justice as made his home a "sweet home." By industry and economy he accumulated a very large estate, most of which he distributed among his many children some time before his death. On his eightieth birthday he gave a banquet, invited his posterity and kindred, and his pastor preached to the assembled multitude. Then and there it was ascertained that his posterity, living and dead, was one hundred and fifty, about one half of whom were present. He was one of the old Settlers of this county, coming here in 1808 from Kentucky. He served his country as a real soldier in the War of 1812, and settled permanently in 1815 on his place in St. Charles Co. Mo., where ever after he lived and where he died October 7, 1870.
His Christian life and character merit special notice. He joined the Methodist church in 1842-43 and never found fault with its doctrines, complained at its service nor tired in his devotion to its interests. For long years he was a faithful steward of Mount Zion Church (near now, O'Fallon, Mo,) as his success in collecting quarterage clearly proved. He never regarded his pastor as a pauper nor his duties as charity but as a steward of the church felt in duty bound to see to it that those who are faithful gospel ministers should live of the gospel, and should not suffer through his neglect.
He bid fair to live to a great old age, but paralysis made dreadful havoc of that once strong body and mind; its attack greatly damaged his sight and hearing and speech, and the once strong man was made to bow and tho ancient became a child, and so he quietly passed away to his Father in Heaven on the 7th day of October, 1870. We shall meet him again. His funeral was preached before interment to an immense concourse, from I Cor. 15:55, 56, 57, "O death where is thy sting." etc. and his body was deposited in the grave with Masonic Honors." By Rev. R. J. Loving, Flint Hill, Mo., April 22, 1871.
Census of his family taken on March 31, 1869, the anniversary of his 80 birthday:
Number of children living . . . . . . 14 dead 6 total 20Continued -- Keith_b.html
Number of grandchildren living . . . 83 dead 29 total 112
Number of Gr. grandchildren living . 26 dead 8 total 34
Number of sons & daughter-in-laws . . 27 dead 7 total 34