William Swift Keyser
|William Swift Keyser|
|Born||August 13, 1856|
Santa Rosa County, Florida
|Died||July 30, 1934|
Real estate developer
|Spouse||Mary Eliza Campbell|
|Parents||William Judah Keyser|
Harriet Swift Keyser
|Children||Nellie Atkin Keyser|
William Judah Keyser
Richard Lewis Campbell Keyser
William Swift Keyser
Mary Campbell Keyser
Katharine Turquand Keyser
Ainslee Hall McCord Keyser
William Swift Keyser was a lumber magnate and real estate developer who operated William S. Keyser & Company (formerly Keyser, Judah & Company), one of the world's largest exporters of pitch pine timber.
The Keyser family, originally from Holland, emigrated to the United States in 1688, settling in Pennsylvania. William Swift Keyser's grandfather moved to the Pensacola area in 1818. Keyser was born in Santa Rosa County and attended Yale University, graduating in 1880.
Keyser's father died in 1877, followed by his business partner in 1879, causing control of the business to fall to Keyser while he was still studying at Yale.
By the mid-1890s, William S. Keyser & Company owned two lumber mills outright, along with operating interests in some twenty others, with foreign exports of over 150 million feet of timber annually. In 1904, James Muldon became a partner in the firm, which was renamed Keyser-Muldon & Company.
From 1910 to 1912, Keyser built the Keyser Building on South Palafox Street.
In early January 1914, the Liverpool-based lumber brokerage Crow, Rudolf & Co., into which Pensacola's First National Bank had invested nearly half a million dollars, announced it would not be able to pay its debts. The bank failed on January 8, causing a cascade of financial upheavals throughout Pensacola. The Liverpool firm also served as the sole foreign agent for Muldon-Keyser, and the company filed for bankruptcy the following week on January 13, 1914. Within a month, Keyser himself declared bankruptcy, but almost immediately reentered the export business, forming the W. S. Keyser Export Company. Keyser, who held significant stock in the failed bank, was later indicted along with three bank officials on federal charges of misuse of funds. Keyser and the other defendants were acquitted after a lengthy trial, with Judge R. M. Call finding that the government had failed to make a case.
Keyser married Mary Eliza Campbell, the daughter of a local judge, in 1888. The couple had seven children, including who died in infancy and another who died at age 16. The family were members of Christ Church.
In 1909, Keyser built The Moorings, a stately home situated west of the city on the bayshore. Keyser sold The Moorings in 1924 to the Pensacola Country Club, which remodeled the house for use as a clubhouse. The home, by then significantly altered, was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan.
- Account by John Appleyard
- "Death Takes Former Local Business Man". The Pensacola Journal. August 1, 1934. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Keyser-Muldon Co. Bankrupt; Three Other Firms Involved". The Pensacola Journal. January 14, 1914. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Four Indictments Returned Against 1st Nat'l Officials". The Pensacola Journal. August 2, 1914. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Acquit Local Bankers". The Pensacola Journal. May 26, 1915. p. 1. Retrieved June 1, 2019 – via Newspapers.com