Charles Keays (1812-1879), brick mason; George W. Keays (1818-1884)
c. 1830 – Keays House - 25 Academy Street
This house was demolished on December 1, 2009. It seems to have been built as a duplex. In the 1870s it was occupied by Charles Keays, a mason who lived from 1812 to 1879, and George W. Keays, who lived from 1818 to 1884.
The house remained a duplex throughout its existence.
According to cemetery records, Charles Keays lived from 1812 to 1879. His wife, Matilda, lived from 1810 to 1889. An excerpt from a map indicates that the Keayses shared the house with a family named Butler in the mid-1800s.
On the map “York County, Maine, from Actual Survey,” by J. Chace, surveyor, published in Philadelphia and Boston in 1856, the name Keays appears misprinted as Krays. Other common local spellings include Keay, Keayes, Key, Keyes, Keys, Keey and Kye, according to Vital Records of Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick, Maine.
The Keays family has deep roots in South Berwick. In 1650, a John Keays was among the Scottish indentured servants brought to work on the mill that became known as Great Works.
Charles Keays was a mason, according to an 1855 document in the Old Berwick Historical Society archives. For a time he worked for the Great Falls and South Berwick Branch Rail Road Company. Other documents in the archives, bills related to the Newichawannock Hall Association, imply he may have worked on the construction of the brick Business Block in downtown South Berwick in 1871.
In the 1866 South Berwick town report, Keays was listed as “school agent,” the equivalent of a School Committee member.
This excerpt from 1872 village map in the Atlas of York County indicates that George W. Keays, perhaps Charles’ brother, then occupied the other half of the house.
George W. Keays lived from about 1818 to 1884. His wife, Sarah B. Keays, lived from 1818 to 1881.
A George Keyes of the 1830s-40s was a boot maker, according to local resident George Washington Frosst, who wrote a memoir c. 1899 now published by the historical society as “Quamphegan Landing.”
Summary by Wendy Pirsig from archives in the Counting House Museum archives.