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Henry Keep (1818-1869)
Henry Keep was born in
in 1818. Keep was born into poverty and spent much of his childhood as an orphan in the
Jefferson County Poorhouse
. At the age of 16, he was bound out as farm help, but the relationship was an abusive one. In the end, he ran away, and worked his way to Honeoye Falls, near Rochester, New York. To disown Keep, his stepfather posted a 2-cent reward for his return in the local newspaper. Keep was employed as a teamster, and, having saved a small sum of money, invested it during the financial crisis of 1837 in depreciated currency, which, upon its subsequent rise, yielded him a handsome profit. He then bought Canadian banknotes at a discount from residents of the American frontier, and cashed them at par in
. In this way he amassed sufficient capital to establish a bank at
, and afterward founded several other country banks. He then removed to New York. and became largely interested in railroads and railroad stocks. In 1861-'3 he was treasurer of the Michigan Southern railroad, and for six months of 1866 was president of the New York Central railroad. From June, 1868, until the time of his death, he was president of the Chicago and Northwestern, controlling manager of the North Indiana, and president of the Cleveland and Toledo railroad. He was said to have always kept a copy of the reward ad from the newspaper, to remind him of his humble beginnings.
Keep died in New York City in 1869 at the age of 51. After his funeral, his body was interred at
, where they remain today. Keep's legacy in
is one of philanthropy, starting with the opening of the
Henry Keep Home
for the elderly, by his wife, Emma Keep-Schley. Today, Henry Keep is the namesake of the
Samaritan Keep Home
(which replaced the Henry Keep Home). Two apartment complexes in
also bear his name, one located on
, on the site of the former Keep Home, and one on
This article was adapted from
Henry Keep Home
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