John Keller’s Birth and Death…

Starting in this post, I am going to post about John Keller, my 3rd great grandfather and dig into what I know about this man.  Let’s start with his birth and death.

The date of birth for John Keller is given as 18 November 1810 in Pennsylvania according to the book the American House of Delano, page 426.   In the front of the book Mr. Joel Delano talks about the families that contributed information and he does mention some individuals but there is nothing indicating he talked with Mary Delano Keller (d. 1882) or her sisters, Alvira (d. 1886) and Almira Delano (d. 1906).  The book was published in 1899 and we do not know how long he labored on it.  So his source is unknown.


American House of Delano pg426

Source:  The Genealogy History and Alliances of the American House of Delano 1621 to 1899, Compiled by Major Joel Andrew Delano, with the History and Heraldry of the Maison De Franchimont and De Lannoy to Delano, 1096 to 1621, Arranged by Mortimer Delano De Lannoy. Includes Part IV Lt. Jonathan Delano, the 4th Son and his descendants.  The Stephen Delano Sr. genealogy is on pages 426 to 431.  This is online at Internet Archive.

I have not found any bible records except for the Slack Bible that I wrote about regarding Wm. Franklin Keller.  That bible unfortunately did not reveal anything about John or Mary Keller.  I looked for vital records and church records that give the birth information for John Keller with so far not luck.  The problem with John Keller is getting a link to his parents or even a siblings.

The tombstone of John Keller is in the Hedding Methodist Episcopal Cemetery in Morrow County, Ohio, not far from his land.  Find A Grave has photos of John and Mary’s tombstone with close-ups but they are not easy to read.

John, Mary & Peter's tombstone in H.E. Hedding Cemetery, Morrow Co., Ohio

John, Mary & Peter’s tombstone in H.E. Hedding Cemetery, Morrow Co., Ohio 2011 – Lavina’s stone is to the left back behind.  Here I am visiting for the 2nd time.

John Keller's inscription up closer

John Keller’s inscription up closer

Here again is the Morrow County Cemetery book published reading of his tombstone.  Let’s focus on John this time.

Keller, John d. May 4, 1880 Age 60 y. 5 m. 10d.

John Kellers inscription, Hedding ME Cemetery

John Keller’s inscription, Hedding ME Cemetery Courtesy Cousin Jan

Note:  To open the file up, click on it and it should get bigger.  Then remember to click your back button to return.

We have to keep in mind from the photos that reading this stone is very difficult because of the time and wear on the inscriptions and the mold that has taken hold.

Okay, let’s take the 60 y. 5 m. and 10 d in the publication above and I will do a calculation.  If I run this through my Legacy database calculator for dates, I get the date of 24 November 1819 as his birth using the information provided.  If he was born in 1810 he would have to be 69 years old at death? Could it be that the reading is incorrect?

Note:  My Legacy database is my family history software that I use to keep track of all this and it has great features.  It has a gadget that is a calendar calculator.

John Keller appears on the death registration records for Morrow County, Ohio.

John Keller's Death in Morrow Co., Ohio

John Keller’s Death in Morrow Co., Ohio

Keller, John, Male, date of Death: May 4, 1880, Married, age 69 yrs. 5 mos. 6, days., died in S. Bloomfield, Born in Wash. Co., PA. ; occupation farmer; died of cancer of stomach, residence S. Bloomfield. 

Source:  Death Records of Morrow Co., Ohio 1856-1909, 1940, Vol. II, pg. 242 FHL#388730.

So we see that this has 69 yrs, 5 mos and 6 days.  Go back and read the tombstone.  What do you think?  I say it reads 69 not 60.

Again I put this death and birth date into the Legacy database calculator and the birth date would be 28 November 1810.  Okay we now have the day of 28 vs. 18?

If I put the date of birth of 18 November 1810 and the date of death of 4 May 1880, I get 69 yrs 5 mos 16 days.  This works.

So this just means that there is some confusion regarding John Keller’s date of birth in published records.  When I read the tombstone I see 69 years.  However, tombstones can be incorrect because they are done by family members and considered secondary sources.

The death registration information states that he was born in Washington Co., PA. This is very specific information. It only states he was born in PA in the American House of Delano book.  I am assuming it was Mary his wife who was the informant but they don’t indicate that in the death register.  She would be closer to him but still it means it is a secondary source.

While writing about John’s descendants, in past posts, I started to see a trend.  John’s children were leaving Morrow County for Crawford and Richland counties where there was a United Brethren Church in Galion.  This got me to thinking that maybe he was of this religion and much to my delight I found a United Brethren Journal online at Huntington University in Indiana at the United Brethren Archives.

John Keller's Obituary in the Religious Telescope

John Keller’s Obituary in the Religious Telescope

This journal had an article about John Keller.  This is one of the first pieces of documentation that I have found about my 3rd great-grandfather that tells us a little about his personality.  Happy Genealogy Dance!  Enjoy!

John Keller died on May 5th, 1880, aged 69 years, 5 months and 16 days. He was converted and joined the United Brethren Church in Morrow County, Ohio, forty-seven years ago. He was a subscriber for the Telescope when published in Circleville, Ohio; and although his class was at one time dissolved for nine years, during which time he saw none of our preachers, yet, when Bro. D.F. Conder passed through his neighborhood more than a year ago he found him with his Christian zeal unabated. Our church paper all these years came regularly to his house. I visited him a few days before his death. He said he had set his “house in order” and was ready, just waiting for the “chariot.” He did not wait long, and his end was peace. Such was his devotion to the right that those who knew him best praise him most. His wife and children are all members of the Church, and feel that, although they miss him at home, he has only gone where “it is far better.” May the peace of God keep their hearts and minds. H.A. Bovey.

Source:  John Keller Obituary, 5 May, 1880, The Religious Telescope, Publication of the United Brethren Church, Dayton, Ohio, Published Wednesday, May 19, 1880, Vol. XLVI – No. 35, Whole No. 2086, page 6, 3rd column at the top.

Unfortunately, Huntington University in Indiana has changed their website and it is not easy to find this journal at this time.  They have also changed their policy on inquiries at the archive.  UPDATE August 20, 2016 – This archives keeps changing its website and that means the links are broken.  You will just have to go to the Huntington University and see if you cannot find the information.

Here is the link:

So we learn that John was in good spirits before his death even though he had cancer of the stomach according to his death registration.  He was a devote United Brethren member and that he had been of this religion since 1833 if we calculate it. Unfortunately, they don’t say what religion he was previously. They also have his age as 69 yr 5 mos and 16 days.  I am a little more comfortable with this version of John’s age.

When I visited the Family History Library in October 2014 I tried to find sources and documents on the United Brethren Church in Crawford County but was unsuccessful.  The CD that was offered was more about the history of the church.  The Crawford County Genealogical Society has some publications but I am a little wary of ordering it until I learn more about what is in the information. What I want are the church registers of the United Brethren Church in Galion. Of course, it is a longshot that they will have John or Mary Keller listed but it is still worth trying to find them.

Before I knew of the above information about John Keller, I tried to find out what church John and Mary Keller attended in Morrow County.  He, John, was buried in the Hedding Methodist Episcopal Cemetery so I searched for a church of that name and found this source about the early churches of Morrow County, Ohio.  I realized that I had taken a picture of the information about the United Brethren Church listed in this source as well.  Here is what I found.

Source: Morrow County Earliest Churches 1800’s through 1940’s, Ohio, by Cecil Graham, February 2003, Morrow County Genealogical Society. This source has maps and pictures and is very good.  

page 95-A Hedding Chapel Methodist burned to the ground date unknown located northeast of the village of Sparta on State Route 229 near the Knox County Line, the cemetery is 1 mile east of where the church was. 

On page 98 is the United Brethren both church are South Bloomfield organized in 1820 in the southern part of the township, no meeting records exist. Located 3 miles southeast of Sparta and 2 miles south of the cemetery. Lapsed in 1880.

Another step I took was to contact the Archives of Ohio United Methodism, Ohio Wesleyan University, Beeghly Library, 43 Rowland Ave., Delaware, Ohio.  I emailed the Archivist and they were in the middle of a renovation.  She was not encouraging.  I asked her about Solomon Goss, John Spracklin, John Keller and Stephen Delano, Mary’s father. She said that they had more on the pastors  then the individual members. She mentioned some newspapers but my time frame was much earlier.

Just recently I tried the email link for genealogy at the United Brethren archive site above and inquired about John Keller.  This is a summary of the response.

After checking with the United Brethren in Christ archivist, it was believed that we do not have the information you requested. 

I pressed further:

It is usually more difficult to find records of laymen than clergy in our files. Pastors are usually found in our minutes or in other sources, but parishioners are usually not mentioned. I am sorry that the family records seem to be lost to us.

So it appears that I have not been able to find church records that might help us at the archives for the United Brethren and the Methodist.  I am still hopeful.

In Summary of this post:  John died 4 May 1880 if you look at the death register and his birth looks like it fits the 18 November 1810 based on my study.  The death registration says he was born in Washington Co., PA but we don’t know who gave witness to this information.  I am very interested in a birth record or a bible record of his birth.  I think his death is good, however.

We have learned that the religious archives of the Methodist and United Brethren are more about the pastors and their activities then the individual members.  This does not mean we are done with religious archives we still do not know what religion John was prior to his conversion in 1833?

Finding the obituary was the best for me because there has been no personal information about John Keller until now.  We know now that he was of the United Brethren religion and maybe there are more records out there that need to be found?

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here:
This entry was posted in Galion, Hedding M.E. Cemetery, John Keller & Mary Anne Delano, Morrow County, Pennsylvania, Slack Surname, South Bloomfield and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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