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Keyes Family papers

Identifier: IWA0039

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Scope and Contents

The Keyes Family papers date from 1832 to 1992 and measure 3 linear feet. The papers are arranged in eight series:

The Family History series (1920-1980 and undated) contains information on the Keyes, Nauman and Keck families. It includes a family tree, a Nauman family record possibly from a Bible, notebooks, loose notes and obituaries. The family notes folder contains a family tree, information on the Keyes coat of arms, handwritten information and correspondence from many relatives on the different families and a Daughters of the American Revolution application that traces the Keck family back to the 1700s.'

The Charles Keyes series (1854-1960) includes a number of items related to Charles Keyes and his parents, aunt and siblings. The items directly related to Charles Keyes include his financial records, archaeology publications, newspaper clippings about his career at Cornell and many obituaries and tributes. The marriage certificate of Marsden and Margaret Keyes is probably from Canada. The State University of Iowa catalogues from 1864 to 1866 list Martha Whittington (Charles Keyes' mother) and her sisters as students. The Marsden Keyes legal and financial documents file includes tax statements, a patent, a will, and other items. The financial documents of Martha Keyes, Florence Keyes, and Amanda Whittington (Martha Keyes' sister), include tax statements, warranties, and stock certificates. Many of these items are fragile and rolled. This series also includes Florence Keyes' manuscript drafts of a chapter of a book about Mt. Vernon history. The memorial records for two of Charles Keyes' sisters, Harriet and Margaret Keyes, are also included.

The Sarah Nauman Keyes series (1884-1902) includes a book Little Nelly's Album from her childhood and essays by Sarah Nauman. It also includes a college scrapbook of her years at Cornell College, which consists of student signatures, programs, photographs of faculty and buildings, and diary entries. The series concludes with Sarah Nauman and Charles Keyes' wedding invitation, newspaper announcement, and marriage license.

The Margaret Keyes series (1905-1979) consists of items from Margaret Keyes and her sister Catharine Keyes. Catharine Keyes' two baby books are included; one is handmade and bound in leather. Margaret Keyes' baby book and a music recital program from 1933 are included. Catharine Keyes' wedding invitation and marriage announcement from 1943 are in this series. Five programs from Cornell College's production of "Messiah" from the 1940s and 1950s are included. The series concludes with information on Margaret Keyes' involvement with Cornell College as an alumna, and the Keyes' family endowment to the Cornell College Library.

The Nauman Family series (1832-1992) includes items both in German and English. Jacob Nauman's German birth certificate and confirmation certificate begin the series. His Civil War diaries describe his experiences as a soldier in the Union Army at Vicksburg and include maps and drawings. Other items include Jacob and Catharine Nauman's marriage certificate, account books, warranty deeds, and the will of Ezra David Keck, his brother-in-law. The series concludes with items from the funeral of Harriet Nauman Hussong (Margaret Keyes' cousin).

The Correspondence series (1858-1945) includes many letters to and from Keyes and Nauman family members. The earliest are two letters from Marsden Keyes, one each to his wives Margaret and Martha, and two letters from Jacob Nauman, one in German, to his sister Catharine written during the Civil War. The next group of letters is between Jacob and Catharine Nauman and their respective families in Ohio after they had settled in Blairstown, Iowa, in the 1870s. A letter from 1883 describes Jacob Nauman's death at the Iowa Hospital for the Insane, and other letters in this folder detail Catharine Nauman's efforts in the late 1890s to get a pension for widows whose husbands were injured during the Civil War. The rest of the letters relate to the Keyes family. Three letters dated 1898 from Charles Keyes to Sarah Nauman before their marriage describe his experiences as a graduate student at Harvard. In 1912, Charles, Sarah and Catharine Keyes lived in Germany for a year, and Charles sent many letters to his parents during this time. The letters from the 1910s and 1920s are to and from the Keyes family relatives. Some of these are written by Catharine Keyes as a teenager, and others describe Margaret Keyes' birth in 1918. The letters from 1925 to 1928 are from Margaret Keyes to Catharine Keyes while Catharine attended Oberlin College in Ohio and to other relatives. The final letters from the 1940s are to and from Charles Keyes, and one is possibly from Charles Nauman, Sarah Keyes' brother.

The Artifacts series (1898 and undated) includes a complete set of Star Authors playing cards and Charles Keyes' Harvard ring that he sent to Sarah Nauman in 1898.

The Photographs series (1860-1966) contains many photographs of the Nauman, Keck, Whittington and Keyes families. The first two boxes contain loose photographs grouped by family, and include individual portraits, grouped family portraits, vacation photos, and pictures of friends. Box 7 contains one daguerreotype and five ambrotypes; the three larger ones are identified as Marsden Keyes, Charles Keyes (his brother), and John Whittington. The Nauman family album contains many pictures of the Keck and Nauman family members from the nineteenth century, all of which are labeled. Box 9 contains Catharine and Margaret Keyes' photo albums. Each includes family photos, vacation photos and pictures of friends. The last box contains one large framed ornate photograph of Emma Whittington (Margaret Keyes' great-aunt) and other oversize photographs, and a land title for the Keyes family dated 1896.


  • Creation: 1832-1992


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Margaret Keyes was born in 1918 in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, to Charles Reuben and Sarah "Sadie" Nauman Keyes. She had one older sister, Catharine, born in 1905. Margaret Keyes completed a BA at Cornell College and then earned a PhD in home economics at Florida State University. She taught at the University of Iowa and became an advocate for local historic preservation.

Catharine Keyes attended Cornell College, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Columbia University. She also earned a PhD in music from Yale and worked at the Oberlin College music library. She married Philip Miller in 1943.

Charles Reuben Keyes (Margaret's father) was born in 1871 in Mt. Vernon, Iowa to Marsden and Martha Keyes. He attended Cornell College and then became the principal of Blairstown High School, where he met his future wife, Sarah Nauman. She also attended Cornell College. Charles Keyes attended Harvard for his PhD in German. The couple married in 1902. He taught German at Cornell College until his retirement in 1941. He also had a lifelong hobby of local archeology and was employed by the State Historical Society of Iowa for his expertise in local Native American archaeology and burial mounds. He died in 1951. Sarah Keyes died in 1963. Marsden Keyes (Margaret's paternal grandfather) was born in 1832 in New York. He married Margaret Purves in Nova Scotia in 1856. After living in Lone Rock, Wisconsin, the couple moved to Mt. Vernon, Iowa, in 1860 and had three children. Margaret Purves Keyes died in 1863. Marsden Keyes then married Martha Whittington in 1866. Marsden Keyes became a successful carpenter and house builder in Mt. Vernon during a period of large growth for the town, from 1870 to the 1890s. He died in 1902.

Whittington Family

Martha Whittington Keyes (Margaret's paternal grandmother) was born in Ohio in 1845 to Henry Coman and Margaret Richardson Whittington, who had eleven children. The family moved from Ohio to Keokuk, Iowa, in 1852, and eventually settled in Johnson County. After Margaret Whittington's death, Henry Whittington moved to Kansas, married Harriet Lingo and had two more children. Martha Whittington was a graduate of the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa), along with two of her sisters, Emma and Julia. Martha and Marsden Keyes had seven children, including Charles Keyes, all born in Mt. Vernon. Martha Keyes died in 1937.

Nauman Family

Sarah Nauman Keyes (Margaret's mother) was born in 1874 to Jacob Nauman (a.k.a. Jakob Naumann) and Catharine Ann Keck Nauman, who married in Ohio in 1865. They had one son and then moved to Blairstown, Iowa, where they opened a hardware store. The couple had five more children in Blairstown, including Sarah Nauman. It appears that most of the Nauman children remained in Iowa for their adult lives.

Jakob Naumann (Margaret's maternal grandfather) was born in Wiebelskirchen, Germany, (also known as Tasver on the Rhine, Prussia) in 1832. His parents were Jakob Christian (b. 1804) and Sophia Honecker Naumann (b. 1806), who were married in 1830. The Naumanns were involved in the coal mining business for many generations in Germany. Jakob Naumann had seven younger brothers and sisters, all born in Germany. The family emigrated from Germany in 1854 and settled in Ohio. The family Americanized their name to Nauman at some point. Jacob Nauman joined the Union Army in 1862 during the Civil War and served at Vicksburg, where he may have been injured.

Keck Family

Catharine Ann Keck Nauman (Margaret's maternal grandmother) was born in Ohio in 1839 to David Keck (b. 1817) and Sarah Berger Keck (b. 1815), who were married in 1838. Catharine had seven younger brothers and sisters, all born in Marshallville, Ohio. The Keck family can be traced back to Michael Keck, a Revolutionary War veteran, through a DAR application in the family notes folder.

FAMILY TREE (Margaret Keyes' parents and grandparents are in bold) WHITTINGTON AND KEYES FAMILIES Henry Coman Whittington (b.1809) m. Margaret Richardson (b. 1811) Children (born in Ohio and Iowa): Benjamin Henry Whittington (b. 1835) Sarah Whittington (b. 1837) Mary E. Whittington (b. 1840) John T. Whittington (b. 1842) Rebecca Ellen Whittington (b. 1842) Martha Maria Whittington (b. 1845 d. 1937) Julianna Whittington (b. 1848) Margaret Emma Whittington (b. 1850) Amanda Whittington (b. 1852) Sophia Whittington (b. 1853) Susan Childs Whittington (b. 1854) Henry Coman Whittington m. Harriet Lingo (b. 1831) Children (born in Kansas): John Lingo Whittington (b.1859) Emma Lingo Whittington (b. 1861) Marsden Keyes (b. 1832, New York d. 1902) m. Margaret Purves Keyes (b.1832, Nova Scotia) Children: Harlow William Keyes (b.1857) Laura Anna Keyes (b. 1860) George P. Keyes (b. 1863) Marsden Keyes m. Martha Whittington Children (all born in Mt. Vernon): Carrie Ellen Keyes (b. 1867) Harriet Julia Keyes (b. 1868 d. 1956) Charles Ruben Keyes (b. 1871 d. 1951) Margaret Bertie Keyes (b. 1873 d. 1960) Geneva May Keyes (b. 1876) Florence A. Keyes (b. 1883) Karl M. Keyes (b. 1885) NAUMAN AND KECK FAMILIES Jakob Christian Naumann (b. 1804, Germany) m. Marie Sophie Honecker (b. 1806, Germany) Children (all born in Gemany): Jakob Naumann (b. 1832 d. 1883) Ludwig (Lewis) Naumann (b. 1835) Wilhelm Naumann (b. 1837) Friedrich Naumann (b. 1839) Sophie Naumann (b. 1841) Catharine Naumann (b. 1843) Marie Naumann (b. 1845) Carl Naumann (b. 1847) David Keck (b. 1817) m. in 1838 Sarah Berger (b. 1815) Children (all born in Marshallville, Ohio): Catharine Ann Keck (b. 1839 d. 1917) Eunice J. Keck (b. 1841) Ephraim P. Keck (b. 1843) Daniel B. Keck (b. 1846) Harriet E. Keck (b. 1848) Mary Eleanor Keck (b. 1852) Ezra Daniel Keck (b. 1854) Jacob Nauman m. in 1865 Catharine Ann Keck Children (born in Ohio and Iowa): Elmer David Nauman (b. 1867) Alice Lydia Nauman (b. 1869) Emma Odessa Nauman (b. 1871) Sarah Mary Nauman (b. 1874) [married Charles Keyes] Charles Jacob Nauman (b. 1879) Martha Ann Nauman (b. 1882) Charles Reuben Keyes m. in 1902 Sarah Mary Nauman Children: Catharine Ann Keyes (b. 1905, Mt. Vernon, IA) m. Philip Miller Margaret Nauman Keyes (b. 1918, Mt. Vernon, IA)


3.00 Linear Feet

Artifacts in Box 4; Photographs in boxes 1 and 4-9 boxes

Language of Materials



Mount Vernon, Iowa, family whose papers include photographs, account books, correspondence and civil war diaries.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 39) were donated by Margaret Keyes in 2006.

Related Materials

Margaret Keyes papers (IWA): The collection consists of Margaret Keyes' papers concerning her career as a home economics professor and her historic preservation work, including the Old Capitol in Iowa City.

Additional materials related to Charles Keyes and Margaret Keyes can be found in the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City.

Kate Stewart, 2006.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)