History of the Keith Family
Contributed by Barbara Eades

Sarah Keith's Marriage License


From the "Keith Collected Genealogies of Keith, Keath & Keeth Families in North America" Compiled by the Keith Genealogy Book Project Laurence A. "Larry" Keith, Editor and Project Coordinator.        

Page 385 starts Cornelius Keith and his descendants. I will quote from this page:      

"Not withstanding the several differing accounts that have circulated, with regard to this family's origins, it is presently and generally believed to originate, on this continent with the arrival of a Cornelius Keith who was born ca. 1695, Loch Lamond, Scotland. Cornelius is named, along with William BYRD, Captain James TERRY and John KENDRO, in a land grant of 1721, County of New Kent, VA. He was living in Brunswick County as early as 1725, and there is a 1728 account of Cornelius Keith living on the Roanoke River, with a wife and six children (recorded in the Journal of William Byrd). This is believed to be the same Cornelius Keith who gave oath, in 1739, that it had been 30 years since his importation (supposedly by Clement READE). Also in 1737, Cornelius was granted license to operate a ferry crossing on the Roanoke River, from his own landing. His land there was sold in 1742."      

"The name of Cornelius Keith is shown in early land records of Johnston (1759-1766), Surry and Graville (1760-1769) Counties of NC, and in Grayson, Henry (1778-1783), Brunswick and Boetetort Counties, VA, and in Darlington County, SC, but which Cornelius may have been involved in each of these transactions is not easy to determine. It is probable that several grandchildren bore the name of Cornelius Keith, and that some of these men took the name to various places where it is recorded."     

"The elder Cornelius (b. ca 1695) m. Elizabeth JOHNSTON in Scotland. Cornelius (b. 1715), John (b. 24 Dec 1724), and Samuel (b. 13 Dec 1725) are generally believed to be sons of the immigrant Cornelius Keith. There were other children. Some researches accept that a James Keith was also among the issue of Cornelius Keith. The only family line that is reliably identified and recorded is that of the following son of the immigrant Cornelius:"     

Cornelius KEITH (b. 1715 Scotland) m. 1st to Judah THOMPSON; m 2nd to Mary [some say Sarah] BOHANNON of Rockingham, NC; from VA, removed to NC, and later to Pendleton District, SC ca 1790, where he died in 1808; along with several sons, indulged in extensive land speculations during the 1790s in Lincoln and Oglethorpe Counties of Georgia; two children by first marriage.      
1.  Juda (b. ca. 1741) m. a HOLDER; d. ca. 1820.     
2.  Cornelius (b. 1743, Brunswick Co., VA) m. 1769 to Mary LAFOONE (variously spelled) of Rockingham Co., NC, d. 13 June 1820 Pickens Co., SC; both Cornelius and Mary played noteable roles in the Revolutionary War."     

In the book are named 11 (eleven) children of Cornelius & Mary LaFoone viz:     
1. John mar. Jane Mackey     
2. George mar. Margaret Sarah Mackey     
3. Matthew     
4. James     
5. Cornelius married Nancy Allen     
6. Mary     
7. Sarah     
8.  William LaFoone (he was an ordinary or clerk in Pendleton or Pickens Co. Court)     
9. Rebecca     
10. Edith     
11. Allen     

Cornelius Keith Mary Lafoone (there are many discrepancies on this spelling)      

Cornelius Keith Junior's will was written on May 19, 1820, only a month before his death. but it was not signed or "marked" and it was not filed until June 5, 1851, and is recorded more than three decades after his death as follows:      

         In the name of God Amen.  I Cornelius Keith of Pickens District being sick in body but of sound mind and memory and knowing that it is appointed unto man to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament--and first I recommend my soul unto the hands of God that gave it to me and body to be buried by my Executors and as for my worldly Estate that it hath pleased God to give me.  I dispose of as follows to wit.      
         Item--I lend unto my beloved and lawful wife Mary all my land and Plantation whereon I now live during her natural life, at her decease to be equally divided between my eight youngest children to wit.  James, Allen, Mary, Sarah, William, Rebecca, Eady, Cornelius, also I lend to my wife one negro girl named Chang during her natural life, after her death to be equally divided between all my ten children and her increase, also my sorrel mare one cow and calf and as many hogs as she thinks right to keep during her life and then to be divided amongst my ten children.  I give my two negro men Andrew and Darby and all my money, debts, after my just debts be paid, two young sorrel mares, all my stock of cattle and the balance of my stock of hogs and sheep, all my household furniture, except two beds, one for Eady and one for William, and one I left for my wife, to be equally divided between all my ten children after my death-and I do hereby nominate and appoint my beloved sons John Keith and William L Keith to be my Executors of this my last will and testament, hereby disannulling all other will or wills by me made.      


Book A Wills 1837 1867 and Wills recorded in Minute Book Misc. A 1819 1837 Hall County, Georgia.    
Abstracts compiled by: Sybil Wood McRay 1968   

Abstract of will of George Keith recorded pages 8-11   
Hall Co., GA   
Dated 21st June 1839   
To wife: Margaret all land and negroes, household and kitchen furniture, plantation and tools. At her death or marriage all to be sold and divided among my ten children:   

 Makey A. Keith   
 Mary McClure   
 Lucinda Roper   
 Matthew Keith   
 Sarah Roper   
 John W. Keith   
 Elizabeth Bramblett   
 Cornelius Keith   
 Margaret Looper   
 George Keith   

Executors: sons, Makey A. Keith, Matthew Keith, John W. Keith, and Robert B. Mcclure.   

         George Keith Sr.   

Witt: J. E. Rives   
 John Bird   
 Torrel Bird   

       Probated: 7th Sep 1840   
       E. M. Johndon V.V.O.   



Hall County Georgia    Will of George Keith   
Dated:  4 May 1860   

I will and bequeath to beloved wife: Elizabeth seven negroes deed to wife by her father Nathaniel Smith and during her life or widowhood my home plantation lying on Yellow Creek and Chestatee River, 883 A.  more or less, also a sufficient amount of stock, farming tools and perishables, etc., Other property to be sold to best advantage, money to draw interest for support and education of children, who are to receive an elementary education. If they wish higher education it is to be charged to them out of the estate. At death or remarriage of wife, all property to be sold except negroes deeded to her and equally divided among children as they reach age 21.   

Executors:  Friends, William A. Smith, Hall Co., Joseph W. Logan, Dawson Co., and beloved wife Elizabeth Keith.    

Witt:  W.O. Smith, J.I. Pirkle, Peter Robinson, J.E. Redwine,    

      George Keith   


 The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Volume 34        
 page 209        

 [p.209] Mrs. Flora Keith Overman.        
 DAR ID Number: 33576        
 Born in Anderson, South Carolina.        
 Wife of William C. Overman.        
 Descendant of Patrick Norris and of Corp. Cornelius Keith, of South Carolina.        
 Daughter of Elliott Keith and Mary R. Norris, his wife.        
 Granddaughter of William Lafoon Keith and Elizabeth Reid, his wife; William Calhoun Norris and Elivira Thomson (1807-87), his  wife, m. 1824.        
 Gr.-granddaughter of Cornelius Keith and Mary Lafoon, his wife; Patrick Norris and Rachel Calhoun, his wife; John Thompson (b.  1769) and Polly Hale, his wife.        
 Cornelius Keith, (1743-1820), was a member of the 4th Regulars, South Carolina artillery, 1777 and 1778 served as corporal. He  died in Pickens, S. C.        
 Patrick Norris, (1762-1840), was allowed a pension for two years actual service as private, South Carolina line.        
 Also No. 26308.        

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Volume 67        
 Miss Eliza Keith Townes.        
 DAR ID Number: 66882        
 Born in Greenville County, S. C.        
 Descendant of Corp. Cornelius Keith.        
 Daughter of Col. George Franklin Townes and Mary Isabella Keith, his 3rd wife.        
 Granddaughter of William Laffoon Keith and Elizabeth Reid, his wife.        
 Gr-granddaughter of Cornelius Keith and Mary Laffoon, his wife.        
 Cornelius Keith (1743-1820) was a member of the 4th Regulars, South Carolina artillery, 1777, and, 1778, served as corporal. He  was born in Scotland and died in Pickens, S. C.        
 Also No. 33576.        


Doug Pass contributed the following information about his Keith ancestors:

Elizabeth KEITH was born on 19 Sep 1832 in Georgia.  She died on 5 Sep 1901.  She was buried in South Bend Methodist Church, Hall County.  There is no marker on Elizabeth's grave.

There is an interesting story to be reconstructed from the dates in the lives of Elizabeth Keith and Davis Whelchel.  When they were married, she was 24 and he was 70 and had been a widower for exactly two years and one day.  He had seven children with his first wife, all born before Elizabeth and at least three still living at the time of their marriage.  Together they had three more children, the last one two months after Davis's death.

This intergenerational marriage causes quite a kink in the family tree since their daughter Jo married Davis's niece's son Aaron Pass.  To further complicate things, Elizabeth's second husband--who was only nine years older--was Aaron's uncle William Pass.

She was married to Davis WHELCHEL (son of Francis, Jr. WHELCHEL and Judith (or Judah) DAVIS) on 2 Jun 1857 in Hall County, Georgia.  Davis WHELCHEL was born on 14 Dec 1786 in South Carolina.  He died on 4 May 1863.  Davis moved to Georgia between the birth of his sons Francis Marion in 1822 and Valentine in 1825.  He received land in Paulding County in the Gold Lottery of 1832.  He was in the state House of Representatives for Hall County in 1837.

William PASS was born in 1823 in Tennessee. She was married to William PASS (son of Thomas PASS and Sara (Sally) ELLIOTT) on 8 Nov 1865.  William PASS was born in 1823 in Tennessee.  He had no children.  In 1850 he lived with John Whelchel's family, presumably working on their farm.  He was Jo Whelchel's step-father and her husband Aaron's uncle.  He apparently died before 1900.

Rachael Josephine (Jo) WHELCHEL was born on 8 Nov 1858.  She died on 3 Apr 1905.  She was buried in Whelchel (Indian Mound) Cemetery, later South Bend Methodist Church.  Jo was disinterred by the Army Corps of Engineers and reburiedduring the building of Lake Lanier.

She was married to Aaron Warren PASS (son of Thomas Holloway PASS and Sara A. (Sallie) WHELCHEL) on 26 Aug 1875 in Hall County, Georgia. Aaron Warren PASS was born on 25 Oct 1850 in Hall County, Georgia.  He died on 30 Nov 1912.  He was buried in Whelchel family cemetery, later South Bend Methodist Church, Hall County.  Aaron was a farmer and owned a grist mill.  According to John Pass, his land would have been very valuable, but his son and executor Carl broke the property up and gave it to relatives.