CLEMENT M. KEYS (1876-1952)
(CNAC 1929 - 193?)

June 3, 2002

Here are some details provided by the grand-nephew of Clement M. Keys, Clement Roy Keys who goes by "Roy".

Clement M. Keys was born in Clarksburg, Ontario, Canada.

CM was my great uncle, although I never knew him. My father and I both have Clement as our first names, Roy (from my grandfather) as our second names.

Clement M. Keys, head of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, once said, "ten percent of aviation is in the air, and 90 percent is on the ground.

Here's an article Clement wrote in 1911:

The following link is mostly about Glenn H. Curtiss, but also has some information about Clement M. Keys:

There is a book titled "Curtiss-Wright: Greatness and Decline" which apparently devotes considerable text to CM. Authors are Eltscher and Young.

Sketch portrait of CM during the 1920s
(Courtesy of his grand-nephew, Clement Roy Keys)

From the catalogue entry at the Smithsonian
This is the entry:
Keys, Clement Melville, Papers, Acc. XXXX-0091
12.15 cubic feet
Clement Melville Keys (1876-1952) was a financier and corporate organizer who promoted aviation through the post Word War I decade. Canadian-born, Keys graduated from Toronto University (BA 1897) and taught classics before coming to the US in 1901 (naturalized, 1924). He went to work for the Wall Street Journal, first as a reporter (1901-1903), then as railroad editor (1903-1905) before becoming financial editor for World's Work (1905-1911). In 1911 he founded C. M. Keys & Co., an investment counseling firm and bond dealer. In 1916 he came to the aid of the financially-troubled Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. and was made an unsalaried Vice President. Keys accompanied the American Aviation Mission to Europe in 1919, returning to purchase a controlling interest in Curtiss in 1920. He remained president of Curtiss until the 1929 merger with Wright Aeronautical Corp. to form Curtiss-Wright Corporation, whereupon he became president of the new company. During his tenure as president of Curtiss (1920-1929) and its successor, Curtiss-Wright Corp. (1929-1933), Keys brought the company from the brink of bankruptcy to a position as one of the leading aircraft manufacturers in the world. Curtiss also became the center of a group of aviation-related companies which served to market and operate Curtiss aircraft. At the same time, Keys expanded his own holdings until he was at the head of twenty-six corporations, including aviation holdings companies, such as North American Aviation and National Aviation Corp., as well as the first American transcontinental air service, Transcontinental Air Transport (later Transcontinental & Western Airline). In January 1932, Keys withdrew from all his aviation interests, citing ill health. He remained connected with C. M. Keys & Co., concentrating mainly on financial and real estate interests. Upon retiring from Keys & Co. in 1942, he started a new company, C. M. Keys Aircraft Service Co. and, after World War II, helped organize Peruvian International Airways, which began operating in South America in 1947. Contents: Keys' business records and correspondence. Material centers primarily on Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. and Curtiss-Wright Corp., but includes documents on the other firms in the Curtiss group. Business (operating) correspondence and records relating to the Curtiss group's financial interests. Some personal correspondence and documents tracing the general development of aviation in the 1920s.

May 10, 2005

Hi Tom -

My interest actually is in his (Clement) wife, Indiaola Keys (1885-1978). We have a used book store, and purchased a collection of metaphysical books, all with either her name, or with his bookplate with "Mrs" written before Clement's name.

Just curious how these books made it to a basement of an old house in Clintonville (part of Columbus. Ohio), where they had been long-abandoned. The new owners of the house brought them to us for purchase, calling them "creepy". Many had a book plate for an occult book store in NYC.

Perhaps with his drive in the business world, she occupied her time on these persuits? Many of the works are "very serious" and she obviously was deeply involved in spiritualism.

I recall that Curtiss had a manufacturing presence in Columbus at one time...and TAT (Transcontinental Air Transport and established a presence here when they were building their trans-continental links, and I believe Lindburgh helped dedicate the new Columbus airport in 1929 (he had been instrumental in helping to raise funds for the airport).

At least one of the books dates to the 1940s...Any thoughts?

Thanks for getting back.

PS - I like your website!

Update from the book store above.
February 6, 2007

Oh, waitaminute...I forgot!!!!

Last week on Antiques Roadshow, during a program filmed in Hawaii, there was a post-script to some of this.

A fellow brought in some extremely valuable jewelry. Really beautiful items, to have them appraised. Said they were from his, I think, aunt.... Indiola. Of couse I drew a deep many women have that first name????

He went on to explain that she lived in NYC and her husband was a very prominant man in the field of aviation during the 20s-30s...and their last name was Keys.... Oh my gosh!!! She keeps popping up!!! Don't know anything about personal lives, but I wonder what she'd think about her jewelry appearing on national television?

Great site...keep up to good work!

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