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Among the representative men of Riverside who have been prominently connected with its horticultural and other industries, is the subject of this sketch. His long residence in Riverside, and association with the financial interests of the city, as well as San Bernardino County, are well known, and render such facts as are given regarding his life of interest in the annals of Riverside. Mr. Keith is a native of Massachusetts, dating his birth in Middletown, March 19, 1821. His father, Isaac Keith, was of Scotch descent, and inherited, as well as transmitted to his children, many of the well-known and admired characteristics of that hardy race. He died when the subject of this sketch was three years of age. The family then established their residence in Brockton, Massachusetts, where Mr. Keith was reared. He received the advantages of an attendance in the common schools until fourteen years of age, and was then placed at work in a nail factory, where he was employed for the next three years.
He then spent a season in a seafaring life. Not suited with that he returned to Brockton and entered an apprenticeship at the trade of a boot and shoemaker. He worked as a journeyman in that calling until 1856. In that year he established himself in business as a boot and shoe manufacturer, under the firm name of Keith & Packard. His limited capital, under his sound business principles and energetic prosecution of his business, gradually increased and enabled him to enlarge his industry and establishment, and he became one of the leading manufacturers of the city. This business was successfully conducted for more than twenty years.
In the spring of 1876 Mr. Keith came to Riverside and purchased sixty acres of wild and uncultivated land in Brockton Square, and in October of that year established his residence on the west side of Brockton avenue, about two miles south of Riverside. The next year he commenced horticultural pursuits, planting large areas of citrus fruits and deciduous trees, walnuts, grapes, etc. His capital and energy soon produced desirable results, and he established some of the finest groves in Brockton Square. His home place (the only lands he now owns in Brockton Square) is twenty acres in extent, and is nearly all devoted to oranges. His groves rank among the best in Riverside and attest the value of his sound and practical methods of horticulture. A large share of his trees are budded fruit, mostly Washington Navels, but he also has Mediterranean Sweets, Malta Bloods and seedlings. The improvements upon this model place are first-class in every respect. His beautiful two-story residence, erected in 1887, is of modern design and finish, well appointed and provided with the conveniences and luxuries of an agreeable and pleasant home. He has added much to the beauty and comfort of his home by the well-kept grounds surrounding his residence He has spared no expense that would tend to add to its attractions, and here may be seen some of the rarest and choicest ornamental trees and floral productions to be found in the colony.
Mr. Keith has ever been a strong supporter of any enterprise that tends to build up Riverside and advance the interests of the community. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Riverside Water Company, and was for years a director of the same, and also a large stockholder in the Riverside and Arlington Railway. He was one of the original incorporators of the Riverside Banking Company, and has been the president since their organization. Has been a stock-holder and a director in the First National Bank of San Bernardino. In April 1890, he was chosen one of the trustees of the city of Riverside, and elected president of the board. He is a man well schooled in business, and of sound business principles, straightforward and prompt in his dealings, and well merits the confidence and esteem awarded him by the community in which he resides. Since the organization of the Republican Party in 1856, Mr. Keith has been a supporter of their principles,. and may always be found allied with the best elements.
Mr. Keith was married in 1842, to Miss Mary H. Packard, a native of Massachusetts, and has only one child living from this marriage, his son, Walter E., who married Miss Ianthe Merritt, a native of England, and has one child, Clara M. He is a resident of Riverside.