Wife: Keziah Brigham (3)
Tonight I'm going to tell you about one of your ancestors who lived during the colonial period in America, Elias Keyes. Elias was the eldest son of James and Hannah Divoll Keyes. He was born 18 September 1694 in Marlboro, Massachusetts, and died in May of 1768, in New Marlboro, Massachusetts.
He married Keziah Brigham on 13 Decenber, 1718, and they were among the 16 founders of the church in Shrewsbury, MA, a few miles southwest of Marlboro.
“The Town of Shrewsbury, named for Shrewsbury, England, is a suburban community with an uneven and hilly terrain cut by a number of minor streams providing several small water power sites. Grants of land were made in what would eventually be the town beginning in 1664... Settlers came primarily frrom Sudbury and Marlborough... As a town, Shrewsbury was first settled in 1722 and officially incorporated in 1727. “
In 1742 he moved his family to New Marlboro and joined the church there. New Marlboro is in the southwest corner of Massachusetts.
In the book History of New Marlboro, 1739-1975 there is a story about how the early settlers entertained themselves. It's referring to locations for dances. I quote it here:
“"In addition to these public places there were ballrooms in private houses... In the former Keyes house, near Umpachene Falls, practically the entire second floor was a ballroom, the house having been built so that the family lived chiefly on the first floor. Unusual features of this hall are two small rooms at one side to accommodate the little children of parents from outlying farms who had to bring their youngsters with them.
These halls of festivity are a mystery to strangers, who, having noticed how few and far between the rural houses are at present, ask quite naturally, 'Well, who from around here came to dance?' The answer is, of course, that when these houses were constructed in the 18th century, the local population was very much greater because of the many small farms. The Keyes house is a good example. When it was built, in1795, it was in the midst of a small community, with three mills nearby and numerous houses. Only the ruins of the mills remain, and four cellar holes show where stood as many houses, though of the others shown on old maps no traces remain.
All of the above mentioned ballrooms were of more or less the same size, making it comfortable for three or four sets of square dances. However, people had dance parties at their homes and since the country kitchen was often the largest room in the house, these gatherings were called 'kitchen dances.' “
The Keyes house mentioned above was built in 1795. Our Elias Keyes died in 1768, so it was probably a descendant's home. We don't know for sure.
In 1750 Elias built an iron works and forge on the south side of the river. Bar iron was forged from pig iron and ore brought from Salisbury, CT and the Corashire section of Monterey. Smelting the ore and refining the pig iron required sustained high temperatures, and this was accomplished by burning charcoal, the abundant production of which utilized the woodlands surrounding Mill River and afforded many farmers additional cash income. The furnaces were supplied with streams of air by blowers driven by the water power of the river. That power also drove the hammers which pounded the ingots into bars. Later the bars were used by New Marlborough blacksmiths. The forge existed there until 1836.
Our cousin, Wayne Olson, found a copy of Elias Keyes estate papers at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It indicates Elias died in early 1768. His will was probated 17 May 1768. Paul Keyes was appointed Executor and these heirs were listed:
son Robert Keyes
son Chool (possibly Charles) Keyes
Daughter Mary Hollister
daughter Keziah Brookens (sp?)
daughter Martha Saxton
son Paul Keyes
The papers state that Zenas Keyes and Deliverance Keyes both died before their father. Paul was bequeathed the house in New Marlboro with the condition that he care for his mother. The will was witnessed by Thomas Strong, Elizabeth Strong, and Asa Sheldon.
That's all we know about Elias. He lived his entire life as a colonist in colonial Massachusetts. He was born in Marlboro, near Boston. He lived in Shrewsbury, where most of his children were born, and died in New Marlboro in the southwest corner of Massachusetts. He built an ironworks and a forge. His children and grandchildren did a lot of square dancing.
Here's how you are related to Elias Keyes. Elias married Keziah Brigham and had Martha. Martha married Jasper Saxton and had Diadama. Diadama married William Sheldon and had Lorinda. Lorinda married Rodolphus Derrick and had Franklin H. Derrick. Franklin married Harriet Boslow and had Mary Lorinda Derrick. Mary married John C. Balis and had Flora Balis. Flora married Edmund Stevens and had Harold Stevens. Harold married Helen White and had Paul Stevens. Paul married Dianne Zimmerman (that's me!) and had Dawne Stevens. Dawne married Jason Pamplin and had...Sarah, Hannah, Timmy and Becky!
So Hooray for Elias Keyes!
Keyes, Elias (230), eldest sone of James and grandson of Elias of Sudbury, Mass, married Keziah Brigham, at Marlboro, Dec. 13, 1718, and was one of 16 ofunders of the church in Shrewsbury, Mass. About 1742 or 3, he removed to new Marlboro, Mass, and was dismissed to the church in that place from the one in Shrewsbury. Elias (probably 230), died Feb 27, 1756.
[from "Genealogy, Robert keyes of Watertown, Mass., 1633, Solomon Keyes of Newbury and Chelmsford, Mass., 1653, and their Descendants" p. 20]
Revised: November 26, 2016