Keith Plantation, Canton, GA

The Keith Plantation is one of the oldest houses in Cherokee County. It was built using kiln-dried bricks after the original home was burned in 1865 (UPDATE! Read comments for additional history!) and sits facing the Etowah River. The Keith Plantation was surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland. After the Civil War some of the land was given to the freed slaves and now make up the Nineteen and Pearidge communities. According to the latest tax records, the home now sits on 10 acres. You can see the Keith Cemetery, surrounded by fencing, across the street from Walmart. The rumors are that during the Civil War when the Union Army was marching through Georgia, the Keith’s buried valuables and hid food in the trees to prevent the Union from finding them. When the soldiers found the food, they burned the house and hung the family patriarch from a tree but he was saved when the ropes knot was caught on the tree and it failed to break his neck. I’ve also heard that the remains of slave quarters can be found, when I visited it was hard to tell since it was so over grown with kudzu. There was also said to be an Indian burial ground on the property, which a large rock once sat upon and was moved to the nearby college in the 1940’s. An article appeared in the Cherokee Tribune in 2006 with the Pearidge Community hoping to relocate the home and save it from being demolished. The following photos were taken in 2008 from the road. When I visited, the barns were overgrown with kudzu, the street was more like a sidewalk through the kudzu and weeds. 2/10/2014 Update: The street is now “fenced” off and you can no longer walk to the end of York Drive. I cannot tell you what the condition of the home was, I could only see the roof from the road.

41 Comments on Keith Plantation, Canton, GA

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  1. AvatarKeith says: 2 comments

    This is my families old place. The story of the hanging is sort of true. The yankees send troops to burn Canton because the Governor of the state of Georgia, Joe Brown, was from there. They hung my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, but the slaves cut him down before he was strangled. The part about the knot is also true. The house was set on fire, but didn’t burn. The slaves were able to put the fire out. The slaves also stayed behind after the war ended and finished the work on the house. The part about Pea Ridge and Nineteen being given to the slaves was true. The Keith’s sold the property during the Depression, because of economic hard times.

    • oldhousedreamsoldhousedreams says: 677 comments

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Thanks for the interesting info! I hate to hear that your family had to sell the place back during the Depression. It’s one of my favorite houses in Canton. So, if the house did not burn, I guess it would make it even older than I thought it was.

      Have you any news about the place, about if it was torn down or will be torn down?

      • AvatarKeith Summers says: 2 comments

        Sorry it took awhile for me to get back to you. The house was being built during the war. The slaves (The Keith family referred to them as “helpers” and did not refer to them as slaves) built the house and the bricks were hand-made (noted in one of the photos). The house was not completed by the end of the war, but the slaves stayed on the job until the house was completed. So the original part of the house dates back to 1865. The house was sold to the York family sometime in the 1930’s and the name of the road was changed to York Drive.

        Deborah Moore, one of the descendents of the Keith’s slaves, tried very hard to get the house restored and/or moved. The 2006 article that you mentioned was probably about Ms. Moore’s efforts. Unfortunately, Ms. Moore was killed in a fire in the last year or two.

        The house is still standing and is in about the same shape that it was in the photos. I have no idea what the current plan is for the house or land. I’m sure that the City of Canton would love to commercialize the property like they have done with the rest of the town, but the current state of the economy prevents any new activity.

        • oldhousedreamsoldhousedreams says: 677 comments

          1901 Folk Victorian
          Chestatee, GA

          Thanks Keith for the update and clarification on the history. Glad to know it’s still standing but very sad to hear about Ms. Moore. I wish the Cherokee County Historical Society had placed the house on their endangered list they made a few years ago. If any structure needed saving in Cherokee, this one should have been at the top of the list.

          I agree about Canton, they’d just assume tear it down and throw up a mini-mall than save it, which is sad. I grew up in Canton and moved out a few years ago, it just got too big.

          Thanks again for the update, and if you ever hear it will be torn down or sold or whatever happens, please comment or contact me.

          • AvatarDave says: 1 comments

            hi i was down in canton and found earth works in the woods near the river buy the corp of engineers would not let me hunt for relicks but it is a sin that the city of canton won’t restore the house and barn it is part of the history of the city

    • AvatarLisa Keith says: 1 comments

      I’am a black keith from Flordia.I guest my ancestors are run away slavey from Georgia.

  2. Our family is researching this Keith family lineage, and we have connected James Keith, son of Lemuel Keith and Polly Thompson to the Cherokees. James Keith’s indian name was Crane Eater of the Coosawattee District, in the area we now know as Gordon County, GA.

    This makes me so sad, and I wish the family could do something to help. Do you know the names of the Keith family who owned the property?

    • AvatarAnita Keith VanPut says: 3 comments

      Hello!Is this true about him being called Crane Eater?My great great grandfather was Rueben C.Keith .I suppose they came from Canton?My father was Olen Keith ,son of Howard ,son of Floyd ,son of Reuben.I wonder if James is the father of Rueben…by chance ,I came across a site called Polly’s Granddaughter.And she is crucifying a James Keith ……She also crucifies my Moy Toy ancestors……..which is on my father’s mother’s side .My ancestry search ,I cannot get past Reuben C.Thank you.I really would love to get to the bottom of these stories ..

  3. Avatar*Keith says: 5 comments

    I am a member of the Keith Family as well. My late grandfather use to tell my relatives and I about the history of the Keith family in Canton, GA and the Keithburge Community.. I been trying to gather more information about my families history here in Canton such as what Ms. Moore was doing before her passing. This is the first time I have seen these pictures and comments . I am unaware of the building on York Drive and would love to visit the property. The part about the Pearidge community my late grandfather has it “all mapped out”. How ironic, I moved back to one of the properties I grew up on. If you have any information on the Keith Plantation and other areas in the county, it would be greatly appreciated. I love sharing the Keith family history with my children as my late grandfather did us!

  4. Avatarmelissa keith says: 2 comments

    I am also a member of the Keith family and also remember the stories my grandfather use to tell us about our history. I would love to find out all the information that I can about my family.

  5. Avatarstarr keith says: 1 comments

    I am also a member of the Keith family I use to love listening to the stories of my grandfather use to tell us about our history. I would also love to find out more information about my family.

  6. AvatarWilliam Keith says: 1 comments

    I am also a member of the Keith family and I have never heard these stories before. I would love to hear more about our family. Please Reply

    • AvatarDeborah Collins says: 1 comments

      surely something told by someone about the Keiths has to have some truth to it but I know they wrote a lot people out of one family bible for various infractions with either the law, their family values or maybe they just had a fight

  7. AvatarHaynes Weatherby says: 3 comments

    I’ve worked in Keithsburg in our family lumber business for around 30 years. I am also very interested in its development over the 1000’s of years of its inhabitation. My grandfather J.P. Haynes purchased the land on the GNR railroad from the Teasley’s who had a large Peach orchard and did some iron mining and prospecting. The area along the rail line was once called Mabel or Mabel Station where Mr. G.I . Teasley had his peach packaging and loading depot. However, I have hit a dead end to exactly where the depot was. It was later consolidated with the now demolished Canton Depot. The Teasley family was also major founders of Canton. All this area around the Etowah river, I understand was inhabited by Pre-historic Native Americns “Indians”. I certainly would love to have as many details about families and Native Americans who once inhabited this wonderful area. Our business has been blessed by Keithsburg’s great location and of course and most importantly our great neighbors and local customers for over 60 years. Any historical information on our property would be awesome

  8. AvatarWindell Keith says: 1 comments

    I live in Atlanta but was born in Fort Payne, DeKalb County, Alabama. I am very much into historic preservation as an architect. I would love to have more detail on this family and there connection to the Keiths of Dekalb County. My wife’s brother-in-law, Myers, from Lafayette, Ga found that he is related to the Keiths in GA and AL. Any info I can add or receive would be appreciated. I have the AL lineage back to Scotland if anyone is interested thanks to the work of many others researching their families and willing to share.

    • AvatarAaron Keith says: 1 comments

      Windell, My Great Grandfather Thomas Marshall Keith was born in Valley Head, AL in 1872. We are of the same family. I would like to see your information on the family back to Scotland.

  9. Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 9829 comments

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    I visited the property this past weekend, well as close as I could come. Someone has placed a sawed up tree along the road, so unless you walk across it (I did not and unless you have permission would not tell people to do so), you can only see the top of the house from the main road now. I checked out the tax records and as of 2013 the home never sold to developers. The home was also portioned off from the larger bit of land and now sits on 10 acres. I hope this was done to give the house it’s own lot and sell the larger part to developers, to prevent the home being demolished. It does confuse me why they hold on to the house though, why not sell it to someone who might restore it? Surely there’s someone interested in doing so. All this time it’s left to rot when someone could be working on it and keeping it from deteriorating further. Sad.

  10. AvatarTravilin says: 1 comments

    I happened on this site in a search for the Keith’s of Canton Ga. I was at Hickory Log Cemetery next to Teasley Middle School, and there are many grave markers with the Keith name. Several from the 1800’s. It is a very old cemetery. I would like to learn more about this family and their history in Canton Ga. There is very little history about Cherokee County available. I grew up in Cherokee County and was taught more about the history of Hong Kong than Cherokee County. There seems to be a very rich and extensive history of this area which is lost, or from what I can tell, hidden. Any light on the history of the Keith family and Canton would be greatly appreciated.

  11. AvatarHAW says: 3 comments

    There is a wealth of great Cherokee County History located in the old Cherokee County Courthouse. This is the white marble building that is now the Historical Society’s museum in Downtown Canton. It has regular hours and the society also has many publications and free information available on their website.
    The museum is well worth a visit and is growing with exhibits. Hats off to them for their for-site. I also am a lifelong resident of Cherokee County and have learned so much about our rich history. From before the Trail of Tears and division of all the other counties that once were Cherokee Indian Lands to the “Georgia Gold Rush” Land lottery and other mining,farm life,Poultry industry and the Textile Mill that changed north Georgia life. Another awesome exhibit is the Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt College in Waleska less than 10 miles from Canton. Many Native American artifacts and a unbelievable exhibit of Antique Tools.

    • Kelly, Old House DreamsKelly, Old House Dreams says: 9829 comments

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Agreed, the Historical Society is a great place to learn about the county. There are multiple books available too. The library has the books in their resource room as well as microfilms from old newspapers (that is quite fun!)

  12. AvatarDusty says: 1 comments

    I was fortunate enough to grow up on the riverbottom fields that sit behind the old Keith house, which was part of the plantation. Ive always been so intrigued by all the history of that patch of land. I always felt like I could see what the Cherokee and the settlers saw. The house, the old road, the Indian fish trap, arrow heads and pottery. I believe I’ve even found a rock with a spiral marking like the rock at Reinhardt. Also, it is my understanding that the depot, which was mentioned in a previous post; was located near the site of our old barn, which still stands. If anyone has any further information of any of it, I would love to know more. I would not recommend visiting the old house without permission. The owner is not fond of Trespassers.

  13. AvatarRhoda Keith says: 5 comments

    Dusty, are you able to let us know who the owners are? We would like to visit, but with permission. My late grandfather have always shared stories and info on the Plantation which left us with lots of info. I began research on the Keith Plantation and have been in awe of what I came across. There’s lots of Keith family members that still reside here in Canton and Cherokee County. Some have many stories to share and some never knew the plantation existed. I visited the Cherokee County Historical Society and Library over 2 years ago. I seem to have more information than them. If you have any information to share, that would be greatly appreciated.

  14. AvatarDeadline (Keith)Rider (Oklahoma Keith) says: 1 comments

    When the Keith Family from Oklahoma came down the first time to the Keith Family Reunion, Debra took me down to the Keith Plantation. I have pictures I took. It was not grown up then. Debra show me a brick that has the date on it. I will try to send pictures to you. Debra had said it look promising that the Plantation would be a Historical site.

  15. AvatarTom Keith says: 2 comments

    I grew up at the other end of the `Keith Plantation` Across Hwy 5 from the Keith Cemetery. Our portion of the farm was sold in two sections about 200 acres each in the early 1950`s when my Father, John M Keith, Sr. was ill with kidney disease.
    The Cherokee Track Rock was in the `bottom land` near the Etowah River, I don`t know what happened to it, Just that it was removed–by family legend `stolen`
    The story I heard growing up was when the Yankees came during the Civil War. The Keith patriarch hid. A Yankee soldier found him and shot him, but hit a large Brass belt buckle. Being knocked unconscious he was left for dead. I never heard the story about the hanging and the knot caught in the tree.
    The grave of Lt, Cornelius Keith, killed in the Battle of Atlanta is in the Keith Cemetery. It has a masonry top and is no longer legible

  16. AvatarHAW says: 3 comments

    The large track stone was donated to Reinhardt University in Waleska. It was on the grounds for a number of years, but now it is in the Funk Heritage Center on campus there. This is a very impressive museum with a lot of Native American history most associated with the Hickory Log village wher Walmart now stands. However, before it was built an extensive excavation was done and the artifacts were supposed to be also housed in the museum at Reinhardt. Unfortunately, it has never been returned but is being held for study, but I’m not sure where. The Historical Society knows more details, I just know it has not been returned.

  17. Kelly, OHD adminKelly, OHD admin says: 9829 comments

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Just wanted to say, I meant no disrespect calling them “slaves”, from the news articles I read it didn’t call them “helpers” so I had no way of knowing. The history I wrote about came from the various Cherokee Tribune articles about the Keith house and about the original owners.

    • AvatarSarah says: 1 comments

      Hi, I might be descended from this family.

      If the black people who worked for the Keith family were not paid for their labor, then they were indeed slaves. The Keith family, which by the way, I might very well be descended from should not try to prettify the truth, but be honest about what they really did.

      • AvatarDbj says: 1 comments

        I am descended from the black Keith(also spelled) Kieth, would like to compare notes. Look for me on as kebyrd133

  18. AvatarTom Keith says: 2 comments

    For. Aaron Keith. I will gladly send u the geniolgy my brother researched which has 10 generations back to Cornelius Keith who emigrated from Scotland about 1700 We could not find the link (ship’s records). But have his testimony in a suite in Va. Where he gives his history. The geneology is long. So I would prefer to send it by snail mail

  19. AvatarAngela Stancil-Quarles says: 1 comments

    My father was a decent of the Keith family and just passed away. We will be burying him soon in the Keith Cemetery and still own land in ball ground near hwy 5 and east Cherokee drive. amazing history but I am too young to remember the stories. Would like to know more. My dads grandmother was a keith.

  20. Avatarmelissa keith says: 2 comments

    The black Keith Family is actually having a family Reunion on 8-20-16 at 2 at the Ball Ground Community Center in Ball Ground, Ga

    • AvatarWilson says: 1 comments

      i would like to get in touch with the black Keith family that had the family reunion, i’am a descended of a
      Ruben Keith and ELiza Keith that lived in Georgia ELiza might have been part Cherokee

  21. AvatarStefanie Joyner says: 1 comments

    This is Stefanie Joyner with the Cherokee County Historical Society. I just wanted to update all of you on the status of the Keith house. In preparation for releasing our updated Sites Worth Saving list, we contacted the York family who currently own the site. They are open to saving the house – or at least a portion of it – to commemorate the house’s history. However, the house has been heavily modified and burned (in the 1980s I think), so other than the brick walls, I don’t believe there is enough original material left to preserve (the original outbuildings are also gone). The family wishes to work with us directly, and has asked us not to place the property on our public Sites Worth Saving list. Please know that we haven’t forgotten about this property and I would love to see a park along the river with remnants of the house and interpretive panels about its history. The land is for sale, and although the house is on a ten acre parcel, it is surrounded by an additional 200+ acres which will likely be purchased by a developer.

    • Kelly, OHD adminKelly, OHD admin says: 9829 comments

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Thank you Stefanie! Sorry to hear there had been a fire once, I never knew that. Hoping the homes exterior can be saved at least, I wondered why it wasn’t on the list so thanks for telling us why.

      Appreciate the update!

  22. AvatarRhoda Keith says: 5 comments

    Thanks for the update. I pray the house is able to be saved.

  23. AvatarNancy Miles says: 1 comments

    I am also a Keith . My husband and I have been doing a lot of genealogical tee search . Actually I am a descendant of absol Bly Keith . Who was so of Jowl Martin Keith . Bjw owned land off of hwy 369 in This area of Ga. Abs daughter Molly (Mary) married Samuel Thomson whose father was James Allen . All were descendants of Cornelius Keith buried in Olenoy Cemetery in SC. We have traced lineage back to Stonehaven and Petershead, Aberdenshire, Scotland.?we have been to Dunotter Castle and the small burial and tomb of the Keith’s close to the castle . We have reasonable evidence that points to George Keith that was a Quaker Reverand in Petershead that was our grandfather back several generations. There was a James a who was married to Elizabeth Johnston . They had the original Cornelius that was born in 1715 in Loch Lomond . He was brought to the U S either by his father or an appointed guardian around 1720 when attainment could not be achieved from the Keith families part in the Javobite revolt. This is the Cornelius buried in Olenoy Cemetery in SC . The Georgia and Alabama Keith’s were his dean dents. James Allen. Samuel Thomson, Abesolem and Mary are all buried in Central Baptust cemetery in Argo, Al. My son now lives with in 5 miles of the Koel Martin land in Cumming , Ga. Please send me info about the cemetery near Keithsburgh. I would love to visit there.

    Cornelius in Loch Lomondbin 1715 . He was married to Elizabeth Johnson. There is also a grandmother who was Elzabeth Forbes

    • AvatarAnita Keith says: 3 comments

      Hello!My father had one name .Olen.I wonder seeing this ,if it was taken from Olenoy….There are lot of C middle names …my uncle was Cw..which this was Clarence.But the Great great grandfather is a Rueben C.Thanks.

  24. AvatarPatricia Stewart says: 1 comments

    Hi, my family last name is Keith too and for some reason my mother never talk much about her parents but that my grandfather was Irish and Cherokee and he was murder and my grandmother died giving birth to her youngest sister and that’s when midwives would deliver in the houses back then and no one have pictures of them at all. There is a family reunion coming up this year in buffalo, NY for our grandfather side, so I was wondering if this is apart of my family tree?

  25. AvatarAnita Keith says: 3 comments

    I am Anita Keith .I am very interested in tracing Keith history and ancestry.Any of you gentlemen know the male dna ?YTDNA?My Keith line has ended.I am an only child and no male cousins .So the real Keith surname and DNA from the male line is gone .I have no way of knowing what I got from my father.I have traced them back to Scotland ,of course…but ,a whole lot missing in between.Is there any way to see this property,why is it not made into a museum?Grins.The last Keith I know of his my great ,great grandfather ,Rueben C.Keith .Does anyone know or are they descended from him ?Thanks .

  26. AvatarTerrance A. Keith says: 1 comments

    I am Terrance Keith, in Detroit, Mi. My grandfather is Perry Alexander Keith, born December 2, 1875 to Thomas and Melissa (Dunkins) Keith, who were both slaves, in Meriwether County, which is a short distance south of Canton. The family later moved to Coweta County.

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