Monday, November 06, 2006

Update: OT Professor Reuel Keith

A very knowledgeable descendent of the Keith line, Dennis Earle McAlister, has made contact with me and sent me a great deal of further information on the Rev. Prof. Reuel Keith, who was one of the first professors of sacred literature here at Virginia Seminary. For my previous post on Keith and his portrait, click here.

Dennis Earle is descended from Unite Kieth, the brother of Reuel, who is his 4th great grandfather on his mother's side. All of the following information and photography comes from Dennis Earle. He also recommends a very interesting Website called "Find a Grave," to which he has contributed (click here).

Kieth GraveReuel Keith was born in Pittsford Vermont June 26th 1792 and died in Sheldon, Vermont, September 2nd 1842. He is now buried Keith Gravebehind the Grace Episcopal Church in the little town of Sheldon.
The Keith's were quite prosperous there. A few of the brothers were iron-workers, building and operating blast furnaces. Most of their product was large cast iron kettles that people would travel long distances to purchase. These were used for making potash, which was one of the major exports and cash crop of Vermont in trading with Canada.
Keith Grave
Keith's publications include the 1836 English translation of Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg’s book Christologie des Alten Testaments, “Christology of the Old Testament.” He graduated from Vermont’s Middlebury College in 1814, the college where Kate Sonderegger, now on the VTS faculty, used to teach.

Keith studied for the ordained ministry under John Prentiss Kewly Henshaw, he was ordained deacon on May 10, 1817, and became assistant to the rector at St. John's, Georgetown, D.C. (Evidently, several of those villages were then known as being within the District of Colombia?) This he resigned in 1820 to accept the chair of humanity and history at William and Mary college. Then, from about 1823 he was a professor at Virginia Theological Seminary until about 1840. During this same period, he received the degree of D. D. (Doctor of Divinity) from Middlebury College in 1827.

Grave stone showing "D.D." degree (actual photo):


"Enhanced" photo:


It also interesting is that Keith officiated at Robert E. Lee’s wedding June 30th, 1831! (See R. E. Lee: A Biography by Douglas Southall Freeman, page 106, as well as foot note). Dennis Earle adds that he was most delighted to learn this, being a student of the war of the rebellion and having Paternal roots in Arkansas--his father was born and raised there and he has distant family members who fought and died for the south. He is completely dumbfounded as there are many Keith family Genealogists past and present and this is the first he has heard of the fascinating life of Reverend and Doctor Reuel Keith. He can only speculate as to the reason for this (apparent) omission by Keith Genealogists and wonder if it had to do with hard feelings about the war and was at some time past purposely buried, so to speak.

Thank you for this rich information and for the photographs, Dennis!


Blogger Peter Carey said...


This is very interesting and quite excellent. I was born in Middlebury, VT just a few weeks after my father graduated from Middlebury College and love the fact that there is another connection between Vermont and Virginia Theological Seminary. He must have been in one of the first few classes at Middlebury, as it was founded in 1800.

It is quite amazing to think that a Yankee from a mere few miles from Canada would have officiated at Robert E. Lee's wedding.

Since my wife is descended from Robert E. Lee's brother (I believe), it is interesting to see this VT connection with VA!

Another tidbit is that it is rumored that Frederick Buechner (though not an Episcopalian) worships from time to time at the Episcopal Church in Pittsford.

Mon Nov 06, 10:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...


Being from Arkansas and Texas, and having extensive roots in the South I can note with some authority that a few in the South see it not as the "War of Rebellion," but rather, the "War of Northern Agression." :->

Best Regards

Mon Nov 06, 11:06:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Peter, Joe,
Many thanks for the comments!

Mon Nov 06, 12:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me take this time to apologize to Dr. Joe Cathey for my ignorance? While I gave consideration in compiling my information to Dr. Cook and thought it best not to use the term “Civil War” I did not research the term I did use. (Fatal error)

“It is generally known in the South as the War Between the States and is also called the War of the Rebellion (the official Union designation), the War of Secession, and the War for Southern Independence. The name Civil War, although much criticized as inexact, is most widely accepted.”

Certainly I learned something today, thus getting out of bed was worth the effort.

Dennis Earle

Tue Nov 14, 10:34:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger A.D. said...

Mr McAlister (sorry!),
Do you know the connection between Reuel Keith and the GWP Custis family? How they would have known each other? I believe the Custises were parishioners of Christ Church in Alexandria, yet the Rev. Dr. Keith was asked to officiate at the wedding of their only child, Mary. Was he ever associated with Christ Church, Alexandria? Was he, by chance, a supporter of the American Colonization Society? Any info would be helpful. Thank you!

Thu May 10, 05:47:00 PM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

<< Home