Genealogy of the Woodcock Valley

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania


Adam Keith

Posted on May 29, 2011 at 11:20 PM

We put the flags on the Union Cemetery last Sunday for Memorial Day.  This week, as my father-in-law was mowing the cemetery, he noticed a new flag and marker on a grave that had never been there before.  He couldn't wait to tell me and my husband.  He said it was a Revolutionary War solder.  I was a little doubtful and went to see for myself yesterday.  The grave belongs to Adam Keith, and he was definitely old enough to be a Revolutionary War soldier.  However, I had some questions:

  • Why did a flag and marker just appear?
  • Who placed the flag and marker?
  • Where was Adam Keith buried originally?
  • Why can't I find a record of his service?

Adam Keith is buried in a part of the Union Cemetery where graves were relocated from the Raystown Lake area.  The only grave close to him is an "Unknown" from the Donelson Cemetery.  There is no record of Adam Keith in any of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers relocation records.  The Donelson Cemetery was originally in Lincoln Township, so it makes sense to me that this may have been where Adam was buried originally.



The stone is somewhat hard to read, but my best guess is:  Adam Keith, died November the 2 1808, aged 69 y 11 m & 2 day.  I spent yesterday trying to do some research on Mr. Adam Keith.  First of all, there were many Adam Keiths in the Woodcock Valley area.  References to this Adam Keith have him being born about 1718.  So, is it 89 years of age rather than my transcription of 69 years?  The date of death matches, so either I'm transcribing it wrong or they have other records or something.  I'm having trouble finding a reference that has him being a soldier during the Revolutionary War.  Biographies of his subsequent generations say he was a blacksmith during the Revolutionary War.  So, does this warrant a flag?  Is being of service and fighting the same thing?  I certainly do not want to begrudge Adam Keith a flag...I'm just asking...


Here is his grave with it's new Revolutionary War marker and flag!



We'll add Adam Keith to our list of soldiers in the Union Cemetery.  However, he is now quite the mystery man for us, so if you know more about him or his family, please post or contact me!  His grave has been in the Union Cemetery for almost 40 years, so who just realized he needed a marker and flag?


We had a nice reunion in the cemetery as we all walked out to visit the grave of Adam Keith.  Here are three generations of Riley men who have maintained the cemetery and helped to place flags.



After visiting the Union Cemetery, we also made the trek up the hill to the Frank Cemetery, where I took photos of all the inscribed stones.  You can visit the Frank Cemetery page and click on the links to see the photos.


From our family to yours, Happy Memorial Day!  Adam Keith, we will continue to honor your blacksmithing service during the Revolutionary War.

Categories: Family Names, Site Updates

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Reply Jim Gresham
5:52 PM on May 30, 2011 
I didn't find him listed on the DAR web site.
Reply Deb (Fisher) Riley
10:36 PM on June 2, 2011 
I found a website hosted by Bob Keith. I contacted him, and he told me that "Adam was a Bedford county militia member, a Revolutionary War teamster for the continental army working under contract and likely, though no record has been found, was also a blacksmith for the army." Bob only had an approximate death date for Adam based on his will, so he was happy to see the photo of his grave marker. Bob has written a book about the Keith family entitled "Family of the Phoenix." The description from Bob's website says "An aging Michael is the last remaining member of his Germanic Pennsylvania Dutch family who emigrated to America on the ship Phoenix in the mid-18th century. Like the Phoenix bird this family rose from the ashes of poverty in their homeland and built a new life in America. In 1821, Michael dictates a journal to his son about his family?s life in the old country, their trip to America, their time in Philadelphia, and on their farms in Lancaster and Huntingdon Counties in Pennsylvania. Love, humor, joy, sadness, grief, and a deep-rooted religious faith are all intertwined in Michael?s story of a family whose success in America far exceeded their modest expectations. In short, a story that breathes the richness and full-color of life into the black-and-white facts of this real-life family?s genealogy." I ordered my copy from and received it today; I can't wait to read it! You can find a link to Bob's website, and a link to his book on the links page.
Reply Joanne Lawlor
3:58 PM on May 9, 2016 
Hello: Waht a surprise to find what I think is my Adam Keith's gravestone. He is in my lineage. I don't know a lot about him but have him in my Ancestry tree. Not really sure about his birth year and where he was born. Father was born in Scotland - Adam may have been born in England or Pennsylvania. Will try to research. I also could not find him listed in the Revolutionary War - my understanding is he WAS a Blacksmith and shod the Calvary horses. I know of many other patriots that work/helped in the Revolutionary War and they do have grave markers indicating there service such as this type. I do not know who put this flag there but will try to find out for you if you haven't done so already. Again, thank you for your post. Joanne Lawlor
Reply Mike Elias
5:30 PM on August 23, 2017 
Hello, I believe Adam Keith is my 5th Great Grandfather. He was married to to Barbara Lewis in 1785, Berks, PA, and they raised at least three children in Hopewell Twp. Huntingdon, PA: John Keith, Mary (Heeter) and Elizabeth (Cypher). He may have had a second son also named Adam Jr.. Most records agree on his time of death being 1807/1808 time frame, and there are multiple documents from his will and probate, but there is no definitive record of his birth that I've come across. Some family trees show him born in 1752, others as early as 1718 (though I believe this is through confusing him with a different, Adam Keith (or Geeg/Geeth) as described by Bob Keith's website), and of course this stone would place him at ~1739. I've found a S.A.R application (filed by Samuel Norman Keith in 1951) that lists Adam Keith as a Private in the 4th class of the 2nd Cmpy, 5th Battalion of the Lancaster, Co. PA Militia, under Captain Samuel Elliott for the year 1782, as recorded in the PA archives, 5th series, vol. 7, pg. 495. Later in life, Adam is believed to have moved to Tatman's Run, putting him very close to the Raystown Lake area. Some family trees/legends describe him of Scottish descent, and some claim that he is the illegitimate son of famed Scott and General James Francis Edward Keith and Eva Merthin, though this seems more a case of fanciful thinking rather than evidence-based.