KEITH

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James Monroe Keith, part of the New Texas group,  sought gold and did not choose to stay with the agriculturalists of the McMullen party.  A former Texas Ranger and Confederate soldier, Keith briefly remained in Rio, rather than go to Iguape, he then set out on his own into the sertao to find his fortune.

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In 1921 James M. Keith, George Barnsley’s old friend and partner in a score of mining ventures died in the home of one Antonio Exel in Sorocaba. Keith passed away at about 85 years of age, with a cause of death officially listed as “la grippe”, cardiopulmonary form. His only relatives were listed as Edward Currie, a nephew from Meridian, Mississippi. The U.S. Consul who signed Keith’s death certificate stated that “Keith was poor, but had a large grant of land from the Brazilian government worth possibly $5,000. He was possibly a naturalized citizen.  Has no relatives in Brazil. Died intestate.” The civil code of Brazil stated that when heirs of an interstate decedent were unknown, the property could not be disposed of for two years. After that time, the property could be sold and proceeds placed in the state treasury. The money received could be claimed by a relative for a period of up to thirty years. Despite the law, Keith’s land was disposed of immediately after his death. Despite inquiries by E. M. Lawton, the American Council. Brazilians would not disclose the amount for which Keith’s property was sold.

Several of Keith's heirs, through attorneys and individually, carried on an extensive correspondence with US consular authorities for about two years after Keith’s death. Their inquiries produced no results, however, as U.S. authorities did not believe that the value of the property was sufficient to pay attorneys fees,

In one letter, Consul Lawton pointed out that there was not even a lawyer in Sorocaba, the place of Keith’s death, and that he could not employ one in Sao Paulo without advance guarantees of fees and cost. “Frankly,” he stated to an American attorney, “I question very much if it is worthwhile for your clients to take further action.”  Thus, the estate of James Monroe Keith, which he had labored so many years to create, was dissolved within days.

SOURCE:

The Elusive Eden, William Clark Griggs, 1987, pages 143-144