John Shepard and Martha Prescott Keyes, ca. 1890.20. Alfred Winslow Hosmer (Concord).  John Shepard and Martha Prescott Keyes, ca. 1890.  From a glass plate negative, presented by Herbert Buttrick Hosmer.

John Shepard Keyes and Martha Lawrence Prescott were married in Concord in 1844. Both had been students at the old Concord Academy. J.S. Keyes—a Harvard College graduate, a lawyer, and later a judge—became a political force at the local, county, state, and federal levels (see #38). He was a member of the Social Circle in Concord, president of the Concord Antiquarian Society, and vice president of the Middlesex Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

While her husband lived a highly public life, Martha Keyes devoted herself to home and family. She had six children: John (born in 1845, died in 1846); Annie Shepard (born in 1847, married Edward Waldo Emerson in 1874; see #2); Florence (born in 1850, married Charles Hosmer Walcott in 1875); Mary Ellen (born in 1853, died in 1854); Alicia Mulliken (born in 1855); and Prescott (born in 1858). She also took care of her young grandsons after the death of her daughter Florence in 1877. Mrs. Keyes belonged to the Concord Female Charitable Society and, during the Civil War, the Soldiers' Aid Society, and served in a semi-official capacity as her husband's political hostess.

From the mid-1860s, the Keyeses lived in the Elisha Jones (or Bullet Hole) House on Monument Street (now 242 Monument).

John and Martha Keyes were temperamentally quite different from one another. The extroverted, self-confident, energetic, outspoken, and sometimes abrasive Keyes was a consummately social man. His wife was more intellectual, thoughtful, introspective, and spiritual—in the words of Amelia Forbes Emerson, "a woman of great capability, serenity, and strength of character, and for all the fifty years of their married life a constant companion, support, and stay." Despite—or perhaps because of—their differences, the Keyeses were content as a couple and enjoyed their marriage and family life.

This late-life photograph of Martha and John Shepard Keyes portrays the couple relaxing together at home. Martha died in 1895, John (who subsequently remarried) in 1910.

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