Portrait of Benjamin Franklin Keith, Jr.
Benjamin Franklin Keith, Jr. (1858-1924) was a planter and land owner in the Lower Cape Fear region, credited with much of the agricultural and industrial development of the area. He was a wholesale merchant as well as the customs collector for 12 years, and secured the money from Congress to build the new custom house in Wilmington, NC. He encouraged ocean-going traffic to use the Wilmington harbor and was a member of the board of aldermen. As an alderman, he worked for the establishment of the first paid fire department in Wilmington, as well as started the covering of many of the old shell paved streets with modern paving. He also pioneered the use of phosphate as fertilizer. In the 1890s, Mr. Keith switched party affiliations to Republican, outraging many people. During the race riots of 1898, his property and businesses were threatened, as well as his life. He is buried in Pender County, NC.
Wilmington Race Riot, Wilmington, N.C., 1898
NCR "History of North Carolina, Vol.V, North Carolina Biography", by Special Staff of Writers, NC975.6
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