Family Stories · Luke's 1873 Diary

Luke Keith’s Road Tax

In Luke Keith’s 1873 diary, he made the following entries:

Jun 5 – Worked on road. Warm day. Bot Sewing Machine $60. Paid twenty, gave note for forty payable in Eight Months.

Jun 6 – Worked on road in forenoon, finished my tax. Warm and dry. Mr Ralph washed his sheep.

Below is a document from the Commissioners of Highways of the Township of Comstock.

Luke, as Overseer of Highways in Road District No. 26, was “… hereby commanded and required to take charge of men named in the annexed assessment, and cause them faithfully to work the number of days therein specified …” The men were required to work a certain number of days based on how many acres they owned. While this particular document is for the year 1877, it can be assumed that this is what Luke is referring to for 1873.

In 1877, the men Luke was to take charge of, and the days they were required to work, were:

Ambrose Brown, 45 acres, ¾ day;
__. C. Durkee, 120 acres, 5¾ days;
Jesse Earl, 120 acres, 5¼ days;
Theodore Earl, 20 acres plus saw mill, 1¼ days;
James Ridler, 40 acres, 1½ days;
O. D. Schram, 80 acres, 2¾ days;
Luke Keith, 35 acres, 1¼ days;
Albert Towne, 116 acres, 5 days;
H. A. Taylor, 55 acres, 2½ days;
Bela Wright, 51 acres, 1¼ days; and
John Schroder, 42 acres, ¾ day.


It is not known if this picture is of that particular road, or what year it was taken, however, it gives a sense of the conditions during that time period.

This next picture is of Luke’s son, Ethan Keith, sitting on top of the gravel pit on the Keith farm. Ethan was born in 1851 so would have been 22 in 1873 (26 in 1877). As he looks much older than that in this picture, it most likely was taken much later than the road work described above. According to, large gravel deposits are a common geological feature, being formed as a result of the weathering and erosion of rocks. The action of rivers and waves tends to pile up gravel in large accumulations. Perhaps material from this gravel pit was used for work on the road.

Keith, Ethan - Keith Farm Gravel Pit


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