Reference Entry

Keep, Henry

George W. Hilton

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Keep, Henry (22 June 1818–30 July 1869), New York financier and railroad president, was born in Adams, New York, the son of Heman Chandler Keep and Dorothy Kent, impoverished farmers. When Heman Keep died in 1835, his relatives proved unable to support his family, which was forced to take refuge in the Jefferson County poorhouse. Young Henry was bound out to a farmer who agreed to send him to a public school but then reneged on the obligation. The young man fled to Honeoye Falls, New York, where for an initial wage of seven dollars per month he became a drayman for a cooper named Tuler. He proved able to save money, which he devoted to speculation in bank notes depreciated in the panic of 1837. He proceeded into arbitrage in Canadian bank notes, buying them at a discount in upstate New York and redeeming them at par in Ontario. With the proceeds, he was able to return to his home area to establish a bank at Watertown. While there he married Emma Woodruff, daughter of a prominent citizen of the town. The couple had one daughter, also named Emma. Keep expanded his activities in the 1840s by establishing several country banks in his area....

Reference Entry.  900 words. 

Subjects: Banking ; Transport Technology and Trades ; Transport

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