BEAUMONT, Texas, November 8.—J. Frank Keith, aged 64 years, and one of the best known lumbermen in the Texas-Louisiana belt, died yesterday following an operation. Mr. Keith was about his duties as usual Friday, but complained of feeling bad Saturday morning and directed his business affairs from his bed. He went on the operating table at 2 p.m. Saturday and never fully revived from the inbuence of anaesthetics, dying at 2:30 Sunday morning. The suddenness of the end came as a distinct surprise to his family and many friends in Texas and Louisiana.
While only 64 years of age, Mr. Keith had been identified with the lumber business in and around Beaumont for 49 years, beginning his career at the age of 15. This carried him back to the early development of the industry and the palmy days of the Longs, Fletchers, Gilberts, Carrolls, Smyths, Lutchers and Moores.
Mr. Keith was born in the heart of the yellow pine district at Jasper, Texas, December 18,1857. During the civil war the family moved to Sabine Pass, then a prosperous port serving East Texas and West Louisiana through the Neches and Sabine rivers. The elder Keith died in 1869. His widow and two smaller children moved to Galveston in 1872, while J. Frank returned to Beaumont and began work for Long & Co., who operated a shingle mill in Beaumont. This was the parent concern, or training school, as it were, for the big operators to follow. Long & Co. later built a saw mill on the Sabine river, Mr. Keith being identified with the operation of the plant until it was dismantled and brought to Beaumont.
In 1881 he superintended the erection of Village Mills at Village and became vice president and general manager of that company at the age of 24. When this property was taken over by the Texas Tram & Lumber Company, Mr. Keith came to Beaumont as vice president. It was while at Village Mills in 1872 that he married Miss Alice Carroll, a sister of George, Will Monroe and Ed Carroll, all more or less identified with the lumber business in East Texas up until a few years ago. Mr. Keith was the last of the early lumbermen still actively engaged in the business to pass away.
In 1897 he organized the J. F. Keith company, having associated with him Sam Park, B. R. Norvell and others. It was while operating this company that Mr. Keith put two schooners into the Mexican and East Indian trade, opening up a yard at Tampico, Mexico. These were the Mary and Alice, both lost at sea during tropical storms. Nothing was ever heard of either crew, cargo or vessel of the former, its end remaining one of the mysteries of the sea. When the Sabine-Neches ship channel was completed he brought the first steamer here, the "Nicaragua" to take a cargo of lumber to Jamaca. The J. F. Keith Company was absorbed by the Kirby Lumber company and in 1903 Mr. Keith organized the Keith Lumber Company still operating.
Mr. Keith was very active in civic affairs and for some time served on the city council. His activities as park commissioner resulted in Keith park, the most beautiful spot in the city, being named in his honor.
Besides his widow. Mr. Keith is survived by one son. W. Carroll Keith, superintendent of the mill, and four daughters, Mrs. Chester Easley, Mrs. H. C. Wiess, Mrs. C. N. Clark and Mrs. Harry Hutcheson; one brother. John L. Keith, president of the E. L. Wilson Hardware company, and one sister, Mrs. E. W. Alderson of Bonham, Texas.