20th Century Keiths

(listed chronologically)

WILLIAM KEITH (1838-1911), Painter and Conservationist

William Keith was the leading artist in San Francisco and perhaps California's most highly regarded painter at the end of the nineteenth century. A longtime friend of fellow Scot and California naturalist John Muir, the pair were instrumental in the foundation of the U.S. National Parks System and the Sierra Club.

Born Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire, he came to New York City in 1851, where he learned wood engraving and did illustrations for Harper's Weekly. He moved to San Francisco in 1860 and later turned to painting, studying in Düsseldorf in 1870 and in Munich in the 1880s. His Western landscapes evolved from early mountain epics to later intimate natural scenes. The Keith Memorial Gallery of the Oakland Art Museum is devoted entirely to his work, and another extensive collection is owned by Saint Mary's College of California.

Sources: Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2005 Painted Essays: William Keith's Landscapes of the West, Saint Mary's College of California

MINOR COOPER KEITH (1848-1929), American magnate and founder of the United Fruit Company

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Minor Cooper Keith arrived in Costa Rica in 1873, joining his three brothers who had a contract with the government to build a railroad between Puerto Limon and San José. The 103 mile railroad would cut through the swampy lowlands of the Caribbean coast and over the central plateau.

What did not at first seem to be a difficult project took 19 years to build and only succeeded because of Keith's perseverance. Four thousand workers, including Keith's brothers, died constructing just 25 miles of tracks. Disease, heavy rains and a lack of labor slowed down the process.

Costa Rica defaulted on the promised loans, and granted Keith ownership of the tracks and 80,000 acres of adjacent land for the renegotiation of loans with British bankers.

Keith turned to cultivating bananas on the land given to him by the Costa Rica and gave the fruit an important place in Costa Rican history. He established the first steamship service to bring these bananas to the United States. He gained control of other plantations in Panama and Colombia and dominated the banana trade. In 1899 he combined his plantation interests with those of the Boston Fruit Company in the West Indies to form the United Fruit Company. The company controlled 75 percent of banana sales in the United States.

110 thousand bunches of bananas were exported in 1883. Seven years later, exports reached 1.035 million. 1900 saw the number rise to 3.4 million, and 1907 more than ten million.

He returned to railroad building, organized (1912) the International Railways of Central America, and completed an 800-mile railway system, but died before realizing his dream of a line from Guatemala to the Panama Canal. His work profoundly altered the economic life of Central American countries.

Sources: The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed, 2005 http://www.facesofcostarica.com/history/keith.htm Keith and Costa Rica by W. Stewart, 1964

THOMAS RILEY MARSHALL (1854-1925), U.S. Vice President (1913-21)

Born North Manchester, Ind. A lawyer in Columbia City, Ind., he was Democratic governor of the state (1909-13) and sponsored much labor and social legislation before being elected Vice President on the ticket with Woodrow Wilson. His was the expression “What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar.”

Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2005.

SIR ARTHUR KEITH (1866-1955), British anatomist

Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, educated at the Univ. of Aberdeen, University College, London, and the Univ. of Leipzig. He became conservator of the museum and professor at the Royal College of Surgeons (1908), then professor of physiology at the Royal Institution, London (1917-23). From 1933 he carried out research on tuberculosis as master of the Buckston Browne Research Farm at Downe, Kent. He also applied his knowledge of anatomy to an influential study of human origins, reconstructing prehistoric man based on fossil remains from Europe and N Africa. His writings include Human Embryology and Morphology (1902, 6th ed. 1949), The Antiquity of Man (1915, 2d ed. 1925), and A New Theory of Human Evolution (1948).

Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2005.

GEORGE CATLETT MARSHALL (1880-1959), American general and cabinet member

Born Uniontown, Pa. A career army officer, Marshall graduated from the Virginia Military Institute. He first distinguished himself as a staff officer in World War I and later (1919-24) was aide to General Pershing . After varied tasks, including service in China (1924-27), he headed (1939-45) the army as Chief of Staff, becoming General of the Army (five-star general) in Dec., 1944. In this capacity, he reorganized and mobilized the military during World War II by coordinating training, planning for rearmament, supplying Great Britain with important material, and finally directing the war. Marshall influenced Congress to change the rules of promotion so that promising officers, regardless of seniority, could be promoted. Among his protégés were Dwight D. Eisenhower, H. H. Arnold, Omar Bradley, Mark Clark, and Joseph Stilwell. During World War II he developed and executed U.S. strategy. Marshall advocated the conquest of Germany through France, and his plan was finally adopted. Many of his wartime tasks were diplomatic. When he resigned as Chief of Staff, he was promptly appointed (Nov., 1945) special ambassador to China by President Truman and was later recalled (Jan., 1947) to be made Secretary of State. After engineering (Feb., 1947) immediate aid to Greece and Turkey, he fostered the European Recovery Program (called the Marshall Plan ) to promote postwar economic recovery in Europe. This plan was a great success and it laid the groundwork for a revitalized Europe and the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization . He resigned because of ill health in Jan., 1949. In Sept., 1950, he was called out of retirement to become Secretary of Defense, but he resigned from this post in Sept., 1951. For the Marshall Plan he received the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize.

Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2005

General and chief of staff of the U. S. Army at the time of Pearl Harbor. He directed the organization and training of American land and air forces during WWII. After the war he became secretary of state and created the Marshall Plan, which aided Europe in its recovery. His term saw the recognition of Israel and the beginnings of NATO. Like Thomas Jefferson and Chief Justice John Marshall, George Marshall was a descendant of Scotland through the Randolphs of Virginia. His mother came from the Stuarts of Pittsburgh.14

SAMUEL LYMAN ATWOOD (S.L.A.) MARSHALL (1900-1977), American author and military analyst

Born Catskill, N.Y. Having served in World War I, he embarked upon a career in journalism, working as an editorial writer and military critic for the Detroit News. In World War II he was chief combat historian in the Central Pacific (1943) and chief historian for the European Theater of Operations (1945) and during the Korean War was an infantry operations analyst for the U.S. army, with the rank of brigadier general. Marshall developed several systems to analyze infantry performance in battle. His conclusions about the performance of riflemen in combat have been discredited; this has cast a shadow on the validity of his work in general. Among his many works are Blitzkrieg (1940); Armies on Wheels (1941); Men against Fire (1947); The River and the Gauntlet (1953); Pork Chop Hill (1956); Sinai Victory (1958); Night Drop (1962); and Crimsoned Prairie (1972).

Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2005.

BRIAN KEITH (1921- 1997). Television & Film Actor

Born Robert Keith Richey, Jr., he preformed under the name Brian Keith (which reportedly was the surname of a grandparent). The gruff actor landed his first film role at age 3 and is best remembered for his role as Uncle Bill on television's Family Affair (1966-71). He also starred in Hardcastle and McCormick (1983-86). His films include The Violent Men (1955) , Mister Roberts (1948) and The Parent Trap (1961), Young Guns (1988). During World War II he served in the Marines, winning a Navy Air Medal.

DAVID KEITH (1954 - )

David Keith was born in Knoxville, TN where he currently resides and owns a cattle ranch. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, his enduring movie career began in 1979 with a small role in The Rose. Keith quickly became a specialist in portraying all-American boy roles who were cursed with a fatal character flaw or two, as witnessed in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). Keith's performance as a suicidal officer-in-training earned him two Golden Globe nominations. Retaining his military buzz-cut from Officer, Keith had his first above-the-title starring role in 1983's The Lords of Discipline. Other films include The Great Santini (1979), Red Dawn and Firestarter (1984), Major League II (1994), The Indian in the Cupboard (1995), Behind Enemy Lines (2001), Barbershop (2002), and Daredevil (2003).

Toby Keith (1961 - ), Country singer

Born Toby Keith Covel. As far as our research shows, Toby has no genealogical ties to the Keith family.