The Keyt, Degolyer, and Grubbs Families

The chance survival of part of a old family bible allows us to trace the Keyt line back to William Baxter Keyt, Sr., who was born on June 27, 1831 in Piqua, Ohio. The same source tells us that, on September 28, 1856, he married a woman named "Emma Degolyer". Born on September 6, 1833 in Loveland, Ohio, Emma (officially Emeline) was the great-granddaughter of an immigrant from Paris named James Degolier (1725-1790). In 1753 James Degolyer married Jane Hatch (1731-1784) from Massachusetts and, over the next fifteen years, fathered seven children. When the Revolutionary War broke out, James enlisted--at the age of 51--in the New York Militia and went on to serve his adopted country from March 19, 1776 until his discharge on January 6, 1784. James Degolyer's fifth child, Anthony (1765-1841) was born in Kinderhook, just south of Albany. He married Patty Willis of Schenectady in 1792 and had two children with her before her death in 1802. A year later, Anthony married Patty's sister Hannah Willis, who gave him three additional children. Hannah and Anthony's middle child, born in Schenectady, was a boy named Lauren Ford Degolier (1805-1856). It was shortly after his birth that the family relocated to Hamilton County, Ohio, where, in 1826, Lauren married a young woman from North Carolina named Sarah ("Sally") T. Noble (1807-1885). Over the next sixteen years, Sarah gave birth to fifteen children! The fifth of these was the "Emma Degolyer" of Loveland, Ohio, whose birth and marriage dates are recorded in the Keyt family bible.

The 1850 census takers--who spelled "Degolyer" with a "y" just as it is written in the bible--found the family living in Miami, Ohio. Lauren DeGolyer is identified as a 45-year-old "merchant" with significant real estate holdings valued at $10,000. In addition to Lauren's wife Sarah (also age 45), the entry includes nine of his children: Asiael (23), Harriet (20), Emeline (16), Hannah (15), Henry (11), Caroline (9), William (7), Laurence (4), and Leander (one month). Of the six children not listed, one (Elouisa) already had a family of her own; another (Mary Ann) had died at age 17 a year before the census was taken; three (Henrietta, Frances Ann, and Lee Emery) had died as infants; and one (Alonzo) had yet to be born.

Ohio marriage records indicate that on September 28, 1856, "Emeline Degolier," age 22, the daughter of "L.F. Degolier," married "Wm B. Keyte," age 25, the son of "Abner Miller and N.J. Keyt," in Miami, Ohio. At the time both resided in Loveland, Ohio.

By the time of the 1860 census, Lauren Ford Degolier had been dead for four years. Sarah (listed as being 53 years of age) in now the head of her Miami, Ohio household with only Hannah (22), Henry (21), Caroline (18), and Laurel (15) still at home. (NB: The "Laurel", listed as a female in this census, looks suspiciously like the "Lawrence" listed as a male in the previous one). Living right next door to Sarah Degolyer and her children were "A. N. Degolyer" (32)--presumably Sarah's brother-in-law Asiael Degolyer--and "Isabella Degolyer" (27), his wife. He is identified as a "merchant" with real estate holdings valued at $1,000. Presumably Asiael had taken it upon himself to support his brother's family.

Over the course of the 1860s, Emma Degolyer and her husband William Baxter Keyt had their three children: William Baxter Keyt, Jr. (born on March 16, 1861), Birten Abner ("Bert") Keyt (born on August 30, 1866), and Carrie Bell Keyt (born on March 25, 1868). Sometime between the birth of the two boys--that is, between 1861 and 1866--the family moved from Loveland, Ohio (where William Jr. was born) to Knightstown, Indiana (where Bert and Carrie were born).

The 1870 census identifies the "William B Keit" as a 37-year old "brick mason" in Knightstown, Indiana, where he resided with his 35 year-old wife "Emma," occupation "housekeeper." and their children "William" (age 8), "Burton" (age 4), and "Caroline B." (age 1). Only the youngest of their children is listed as having been born in Indiana. The only other member of the Keyt household listed is a "Stephanie Ellen," age 14, with no indication as to her relationship to the family. Ten years later, the 1880 census lists "W. B. Keyt" as a 47-year-old "brick layer" living in Denver on "Downing Ave" with his wife Emma (age 45) and their three children, "William B."(age 19), "Burten A." (age 13), and "Carrie Bell" (age 10), as well as a nephew from Kentucky named G. W. Rosebloom. In the "disability" column, the census takers added that William Baxter Keyt, Sr. was blind in one eye ("right eye out"), and that his son Burt suffered from some degree of paralysis on his right side. In the "occupation" column, William Jr. is listed as a "cornet player," suggesting that at the time he was actually making money playing the instrument at age 19.

Sometime shortly after the census of 1880, William Baxter Keyt Jr. left Denver for Boulder and enrolled at the University of Colorado. The school had been founded in 1876--just a few months before Colorado was admitted to the union--welcoming its first class of students in September, 1877. It is not clear exactly what William majored in, but he would go on to become a dentist in Denver. He continued playing the cornet, and was awarded a "gold cornet" by the Conn Company of Elkhart, Indiana. Ultimately he became the conductor of the Denver Municipal Band. He also composed music. One of the pieces that he wrote later in life, "Helen's Song," was dedicated to his daughter, Helen Cary Keyt (see below). It was turned into an orchestral piece by Keith Wells for Helen's oldest daughter, Clara Louise "Helen" Wolf Shanteau (see Wolf family main page)

Listen to "Helen's Song"

According to the Keyt family bible, twenty-year-old William Baxter Keyt Jr. married Elizabeth Lizzie Bartlett in Denver on November 13, 1881. The same bible indicates that seven months later, on June 9, 1882, a William "Willie" Albert Keyt was born. Though a public record of this birth has yet to be found, but it is all but certain that "Willie" was the child of William Baxter Keyt Jr. and "Lizzie" Bartlett. Given that William would have been in college at the time and that Lizzie was already two-months pregnant when the couple married, it would seem that Willie's birth was not a planned one. We know nothing about William and Lizzie's relationship. All we know is that they divorced sometime between little Willie's birth in June, 1882, and his father's remarriage on August 16, 1893, to Gertrude Gardner Grubbs (see below). There is no entry in the 1900 census for William Albert Keyt, who would have been about 17 at the time. But the 1910 census finds him (age 27) working as a musician in a hotel in San Francisco, where he lived with his wife Charlotte Keyt (age 27, from Pennsylvania) and his mother "Elizabeth I. Keyt," that is, Lizzie Bartlett Keyt (age 56, from California). The 1920 census has William Albert Keyt (age 38) still working in San Francisco as a musician, but this time in a theater. His mother, Elizabeth (age 65), is still living with him, but there is no mention of Charlotte. The census entry does, however, include three-year-old Robert Keyt, William Albert's son. Because the census clearly states that both of Robert's parents were from Colorado, Charlotte--a native of Pennsylvania--cannot have been Robert's mother. Happily William Albert's WWI Registration card clears up this mystery. At the time the card was issued--September 1918--he was employed as a musician by the "Hearts of the World" Company and lived at 126 Glen Court in Oakland with Erma Moody Keyt (3/25/1892--4/27/1952), who is listed as his nearest relative. Erma, then, was Robert's mother. As it turned out, William's marriage to Erma was no more permanent than the one to Charlotte. By the 1920 census, William Albert was living with his mother and son in San Francisco and Erma Moody was living in Los Angeles with her mother Clara Moody, and a son of four named Albert Keyt! Birth records from Alameda County show that little Albert was the twin brother of Robert Keyt: both were born in Oakland on January 27, 1916 to a mother with the maiden name "Moody." Clearly by the time of the 1920 census, the estranged couple had decided to "divide and conquer," each taking responsibility for one of their twin boys and each relying on the assistance of one of the boys' grandmothers! Going back twenty years to the 1900 census, Erma E. Moody appears in Montevista, Colorado (Rio Grande County) as the eight-year-old daughter of F. E. Moody, a 41-year-old, Wisconsin-born miner, and his Indiana-born wife, Clare Sickles Moody (40). Anyway, it wasn't long after the 1920 census that Erma Moody remarried. The Social Security Death Index indicates that she died in San Diego as Erma E. Kitchin, age 60, on April 27, 1952. Knowing her new married name allows us locate her in the 1930 census as the 35-year-old wife of Jim Kitchin (age 42), a Canadian born resident of San Diego. Erma's son, Albert, age 14, is the only child listed in the Kitchin household. The 1930 census found Albert's twin brother Robert (age 14) still living with his father and paternal grandmother in San Francisco. But he would not be separated separated from his brother for much longer; soon he too was a part of the Kitchin household. Albert F. Kitchen would in Jamul (near San Diego) on December 29, 1998. Less than two years later, on October 17, 2000, Robert W. Kitchin died, his last place of residence: Chula Vista (near San Diego). The fate of their biological father, the musician William Albert Keyt, is unknown. After the 1930 census, he and his mother Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bartlett Keyt both disappear from the records.

William Baxter Keyt Jr. married his second wife, Gertrude Gardner Grubbs (5/29/1860--4/7/1945), on August 14, 1893. She was the middle of three children of Thomas Marshall Grubbs (9/12/1825--4/27/1864) of Kentucky and Caroline Frances Hudelson (1833-1921) of Knightstown, Indiana. According to military records, a Thomas Grubbs enlisted as a first lieutenant on October 30, 1861, joining Company A, of the 57th Infantry Regiment of Indiana on 18 Nov 18, 1861, resigning from this company on June 15, 1862. Though the military records explicitly state that Thomas Grubbs survived the war, we know that he died in 1864, perhaps due to an illness or injury that forced him to retire from the military in 1862. The date of his death jibes with census records in 1870 and 1880 that indicate that Caroline Grubbs was the head of a household in Knightstown, supporting her three children--Frank, Gertrude, and Robert, as a seamstress. It should be noted in passing that Caroline's mother was Phoebe B. Cary, the daughter of Waitsell Munson Cary (1785-1863), who founded Knightstown, Indiana in the early 1820s. It should also be noted that Thomas Marshall Grubbs, the father of Gertrude Gardner Grubbs, was the younger brother of John Warren Grubbs (1820-1893), who had a daughter named Leota ("Otie") Blanche Grubbs, who was Gertrude's first cousin. Leota married John Jackson Burchenal and, among their children, was a daughter named Margaret Kent Burchenal (1887-1973), who would play a key role in the life of Gertrude's daugher, Helen (see Wolf family history).

William Baxter Keyt Jr. and Gertrude Gardner Grubbs welcomed their daughter Helen Cary Keyt (7/24/1894--7/25/1963) into the world on July 24, 1894. The 1900 census lists William Baxter Keyt Jr. as a 39-year-old dentist in Denver, living with his wife Gertrude (age 40), his daughter Helen (age 5), and his mother-in-law Caroline Frances Hudelson Grubbs (age 66). Ten years later, the 1910 census lists all the same members of the household, with the addition of Thomas Grubbs Keyt ((3/24/1902--11/20/1958), born on March 24,1902. About year after this census was taken--that is, on August 2, 1911--William Baxter Keyt Jr. died suddenly of a heart attack at age 51. The obituary in the Denver newspaper (August 3) reported that Dr. William Baxter Keyt "died suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday afternoon. One of the oldest and best known dentists in Denver. He had left his office for lunch and became ill at the restaurant and an ambulance was summoned. He was taken to his home at 1216 Clayton St., but was unconscious and died almost immediately after arriving hime. He had been feeling badly for several weeks, but believed he was only tired." The article refers only to Keyt's second marriage, referring to Gertrude as a "childhood friend" to whom he had been married for twenty-five years. But it does mention his first son, who is identified as "William Baxter Keyt, Jr of San Francisco," as well as his son Thomas and daughter Helen in Denver. It also mentions Keyt's sister, Mrs. Harry Compton of 231 West Fouth Street, "with whom his mother (i.e., Emma Degolyer Keyt) resides," and his brother, Bert Keyt, who is identified as a police ambulance driver; he was, however, "not on duty at the time."

At the time of her father's death, Helen was 17 and her brother Tom, only 9. Carol Ann Wolf Marshall, Helen's youngest daughter, remembers her mother "speaking of her father with such adoration and reverence. I don't think she ever fully recovered from the grief of his death. I remember she had a picture of him in a flimsy sort of frame and a goose-neck lamp tipped over onto it and burned it to ashes. She was heartbroken!"

Gertrude Grubbs Keyt remained in Denver for a number of years after her husband's death, appearing in the 1920 census as the head of a household that included her son Thomas (18) and her mother Caroline Hudelson Grubbs (86). By then her daughter Helen Cary Keyt had already married Walter Richard Wolf (April 1, 1916) and moved to Southern California, with their toddler Baxter Keyt Wolf, born on November 28, 1917. At some point after the death of her mother in 1921, Gertrude Grubbs Keyt and her son Tom followed Helen to California. As a result, Gertrude's grandchildren in California--five provided by Helen and two by Tom--got to know her very well, regularly referring to her as "Mima." The youngest of them, Carol Ann Wolf Marshall, remembers Mima's tiny Glendale apartment on Jackson St. which, despite its size, hosted Christmas Eve celebrations for the whole family. She also remembers the "wonderful glazed grapefruit rind that she kept in a small blue dish on her breakfast table." Gertrude Grubbs Keyt finally died in Glendale on April 7, 1945.

In 1922, Tom married a California native named Hazel M. Freeman (8/9/1904--10/6/1990) and by 1930 they were living in Pasadena with their six-year-old son Gardner Morton ("Bud") Keyt (born September 2, 1923) and Hazel's mother, Ida M. ("Gammy") Schick Freeman. Tom was working at the time as an accountant for a contractor. Shortly thereafter Tom and family must have moved to Santa Barbara, where his daughter Barbara Arlean Keyt was born on October 8, 1931. But before long Tom was back in Glendale, where he landed a job managing the National Cash Register branch in Glendale. His nephew Robert ("Bob") Wolf worked there too, thanks to his uncle. Tom's daughter Barbara and his niece Carol Ann Wolf were so close in age that they became like sisters, going through the Glendale school system together all the way up through Hoover High School. Sometime in the late 1940s or very early 1950s, Tom and Hazel moved to Santa Barbara, where Tom opened his own payroll preparation business. Tom loved Santa Barbara, especially the annual "Fiesta" celebration in August, for which he regularly dressed up in "Old Spanish" garb. It was in Tom and Hazel's Santa Barbara home that Barbara was married in 1952, her cousin Carol serving as one of the attendants. Tom lived in Santa Barbara until his premature death from lung cancer on November 20, 1958. His wife Hazel lived another forty years and more, passing away on October 6, 1990 in Ventura.

As for William Baxter Keyt Jr.'s younger brother Bert, he married a woman from Pennsylvania named Augusta "Gussie" May Felter (1879-8/20/1945). Both turn up in the 1900 census as members of William Baxter Keyt Sr.'s household in Denver. By then Bert was probably the principal bread winner, working as a butcher, though his father William Sr., at age 68, is still identified as a "brick layer." By 1910, Bert and Gussie had a place of their own, as well as an eight-year-old son named Ernest B. Keyt, who was born on April 19, 1901. By 1910, Bert was working as a "patrol man" for the city of Denver. The census of 1920 shows him upgraded to "police officer." Bert died sometime in the 1920s. The 1930 census identifies Gussie is a widow, the head of a household of one. Ultimately she followed her son Ernest to the Los Angeles area, where he was living with his wife Thelma Angela Buckholtz (1906-1984), a native of Kansas. There Gussie died on August 20, 1945. Ernest himself passed away in Manhattan Beach on October 7, 1973.

William Baxter Keyt Jr.'s sister Carrie Bell would marry a New Yorker named Harry Brady Compton (12/24/1861-3/27/1945) on November 14, 1894. They would have one child, a daughter, who died in her infancy. Their niece, Carol Ann Wolf Marshall, remembers seeing a picture of the child in a christening dress that hung in her aunt and uncle's bedroom. At the time of the 1910 census, Harry and Carrie were in their 40s and still living in Denver, with Harry listed as a plumber. Living with them at the time was Carrie's mother, Emma Degolyer Grubbs, age 76. Shortly after Emma's death on August 13, 1918, Carrie and Harry moved to California. The 1920 census has Harry and Carrie living in Los Angeles, where Harry was still working as a plumber. By 1930, the couple had moved to Glendale, where Harry--who by then was 68 years old--had secured a job as a school janitor. Carol Ann Wolf Marshall recalls that Harry has a reputation for being a bit "hen-pecked." The couple regularly visited the Wolf household, "and when Aunt Carrie said 'Harry, it's time to go!', he would reply, 'Yes, dear' and off they would go." Harry died in Glendale on March 27, 1945. But Carrie continued to set a place for him at the table until she herself died six years later, on March 20, 1951.

Eleanor Ramsey Park Pickett and the Keyt-Wolf family

Emma Degolyer Keyt's younger sister, Caroline Degolyer (born on August 26, 1841), married an Illinois-born railroad flagman named John M. C. Ramsey (b. July, 1828) on February 11, 1863. The couple went on to have at least two children, Wallace Ramsey (b. 1868 in Ohio), who ultimately married a Wisconsin-born daughter of German immigrants named Mary (b. 1867), and Luella D. Ramsey (b. October, 1875), who remained single (see: 1900 census). According to the 1910 census, Wallace Ramsey (age 42), a railroad machinist, and Mary (age 43) lived in Sterling, Colorado with their four children, all natives of Colorado: Harry (b. 1901), Eleanor (6/21/1903--2/12/1996), Edna (b. 1906), and Sadie (or Sallie, b. 1908). Eleanor would eventually marry a man named David E. Park (2/23/1891--3/8/1958), a Texas-born son of Scottish immigrants, and have three children of her own, all of whom were born in Colorado: David Park, Jr. (11/27/22-- 7/7/2002), William R. Park (10/13/1925-11/28/2005), and Beverly J. Park (b. 1928). The Park family appears in the 1930 census, with David Sr. working as a foreman at a creamery in Sterling City, Colorado. Eleanor Park was close to her second cousin, Helen Keyt Wolf. Helen's daughter Carol Ann Wolf Marshall remembers that sometime during WWII, Eleanor and her son "Dave" (Carol's third cousin) came to live with the Wolf family at their house on Newby Street in Glendale (see Wolf family history). Eleanor's husband David was probably serving at the time; he was a private in the Marine Corps. It is not clear where the other two children ended up. During this Glendale interlude, Dave attended Curtiss-Wright aeronautical school, where Helen's son Walter was an instructor. Carol still recalls how Dave once incurred the gentle wrath of her mother by helping himself to some leftover roast beef that she had planned to serve for supper the following evening. In the summer of 1945, when Helen's son Baxter was building his first home and needed a place to stay during construction, Helen made room for him, his wife, and daughter by taking a trip to Albuquerque to see Eleanor. After David Park's death in 1958, Eleanor remarried a man named Pickett. On November 11, 1982, Eleanor Park Pickett (age 79) had a conversation with Helen's daughter Clara Louise "Helen" Wolf Shanteau about family history. Among the things that Helen recorded from that conversation is that Eleanor's grandmother Caroline "Carrie" Ramsey got pregnant illegitimately as a young girl and went by riverboat with her sister Emma to Cincinnati to get an abortion. Eleanor also reported that her mother Mary moved to Denver at age 15 (that is, in about 1882) and roomed at Emma's house when Mary's sister was ill. While living there she heard William Baxter Keyt, Jr. ("Uncle Billy") perform at City Park. It was in Denver that Mary fell for Bert Keyt, William's younger brother, and would have married him had he not met and married Gussie May Felter.