John Keller and Washington County, Pennsylvania Research!

Western PA 1876 PA County US Geological Survey Maps

Western PA 1876
PA County US Geological Survey Maps

The the map above (portion of it) is from this website:

I have not traveled to the southwestern area of Pennsylvania. So my research on this area of Pennsylvania has been done visiting repositories like the Pennsylvania Archives, the State Library of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I have studied the holdings of the Family History Library for Washington Co. Pennsylvania.  I have also used Family Search and to research the area.  I have even tried the DAR Library in Washington D.C.

I have visited these archives and studied their records on the Keller surname. The research was difficult because I did not have any hints as to who John Keller’s parents or siblings might be, and what is his background his ethnicity:  German, Swiss, Irish, English or other.

I have looked at a variety of sources:  census, county history books, deeds, estates records, land records, cemetery compilations, family histories, written compilations, and marriage records. Most of these records have been secondary sources and not a lot in original records which means they may not as reliable; however the farther back you go in time, you may have to rely on these sources seeking as many as you can. I have studied some of the counties around Washington, like Beaver County, Greene and Allegheny County where Pittsburgh is located.

Because of time constraints I was studying multiple surnames, not just Keller and I was also doing client research at the time.  This can make it confusing and very difficult to keep tract of what you are doing.

I have done research in West Virginia focusing on John A. Spracklin who might have been in the area across from Marietta in West Virginia sometime from 1817 to 1820.  I was unsuccessful. Any Virginia research I have done has been done for clients covering 1700 to 1800.  This means I do have some idea of the research challenges there but I have not specifically studied the surname of Keller.  I have been to Virginia and West Virginia mostly for fun with very little actual research there on the ground.

I have studied migration through Pennsylvania into Ohio with maps, books and other sources to learn what routes our ancestors took to migrate into Ohio. Not just for the Keller’s but for the Goss surname.  This link shows the trails but don’t forget they settled next to the rivers, used canals and used the Ohio river to travel on.

Below is  a little of what I have found on the Keller surname, which is not much considering that settlers came through the western part of Pennsylvania and poured into Ohio.  This may mean that they came, stayed for a short time and then left for their intended destination and therefore they didn’t leave records.

Because it has been suggested that our John Keller was born in Washington Co., Pennsylvania, here is a few things I found that are of some interest to our quest for John Keller’s origins and we should at least know about them.

Washington County, PA

Washington County, PA

Let’s take a look at the census for Washington Co., PA and confine ourselves to that county only.

1. Census:  Kellar/Keller Census Study –  1800 Pennsylvania, Washington Co., PA

1800 Washington Co., PA Census study

1800 Washington Co., PA Census study

Here is the information for 1810 Census in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

1810 Washington Co. PA Census Study

1810 Washington Co. PA Census Study

There is only one listed Keller in 1820 by the name of George Keller and he is in Fallowfield Twp., Washington County, PA.  Here is George’s family: Males 16 to 25 – 1, Males 26 to 44 – 1, Females under 10 – 4, Females 10 to 15 – 1, Female 26 to 44 – 1.

2. Newspaper accounts:  The Family History Library had a copy of “Abstracts of the Washington Reporter, January 1, 1817 to February 6, 1820”, by Bonnie Malmat, Closson Press, Vol. I. FHL#974.882 B38m.

Three dollars reward. Strayed away from the subscriber, in Washington County, Sunday the 7th October, a dark brown mare. Whoever takes up said mare brings her home, shall have the above reward and reasonable charges. /s/ Joseph Keller. Washington, Nov. 19, 1810. page 48. 

Stray horse. taken up, by the subscriber, adjoining the borough of Washington County on the 15th instant a dark brown horse. The owner is desired to come, prove the ownership, pay charges, and take him away. /s/ Joseph Keller, page 80. 

3. Estates – will book abstracts:  Family History Library had a copy of this book:  Abstracts of Washington County, Pennsylvania Will books 1-5 (1776-1841) recompiled by Bob and Mary Closson, The Citizens Library Washington, PA, FHL#974.882 P28c

Will book #1 1776-1803: Moore, John, farmer, “New Virginia” (page 36), Dated 21 Oct. 1776, Probated 30, June 1784. Exec. none listed, Witnesses: Ezekiel Dewitt; Peter Keller. Beneficiary: Wife: Mary (received land adjoining Ezekiel Dewitt); Sons: Andrews, John, Steffele (eldest). page 14.

Keller/Kellar, Jacob, Yohogania County, (now Peters Twp., Washington Co., ) Page 68, Dated 29 June 1781, Probated 30 March 1787. Executor: Brother, Abraham Kellar, James Frye and James Warth, Witnesses: Henry Crabbs, Christian Willson and John Kellar. Beneficiaries: wife (not name); Son: Abraham to receive carpenter tools, rifle -” lands in Kentucky and the lands whereon I now dwell” (not of age): daughter: Agness (not of age). Acct#: None filed. , page 22. 

4.  List of Inhabitants in Washington County, Pennsylvania 1800 or before, by Raymond Martin Bell. This is typed and a compilation but it has a really interesting listing of sources for original records. This source is available at Heritage Quest on-line and is a typed manuscript, also at Family Search and other sites.

page 11 Names on 1776-1780 Petitions – Keller, Francis and Keller Peter appear on page. 16.  

page 63 1800 County census of taxables – Jacob Keller appears. 

5.  Tax Lists: 1783 Fallowfield Twp., Washington Co., PA Francis Kellar Acres 125, Horses 3, Cows 2, Sheep 3, Value 97. From the 1783 Tax Lists and the 1790 Federal Census, Washington Co., PA by Bell & Zinsser in 1988.  Fallowfield is east of the city of Washington in Washington County, PA.

6.  Deeds:  Index of Deeds for Washington Co. Pennsylvania for Keller, FHL#0852994. It has been a while since I looked at these pages in any event, here are the earliest deeds I found in the index.

This is the indexes only:

Keller, Francis, ux James Fulton Aug 30, 1791 1-I, 154, Kings Cr. 

Keller, Francis, William Caldwell, Dec. 24, 1791, 1-I 231, Release

Keller, Francis al Joseph Chester, May 28, 1793, 1-I 603, Monon R. 

Kellar, Nancy al Joseph Chester, May 28, 1793, 1-I 603, Monon R.

I pulled a deed of a Nicholas Simon & wife (Susanna) to Jacob Keller dated 15 April, 1807. A certain tract of land situate in the waters of the Ten Mile Creek in county….etc.  #910 Grantee Jacob Keller, Grantor Nicholas Simon ux June 2, 1807, Vol. 1 T 700 Ten Mile Creek FHL#862514.

Another deed was Jacob Keller buying from George Frank and Margaret al, Oct. 11, 1811, 1W, 115, Strab FHL# 862518.

I am not up on Tenmile County but here are some links of interest:

Tenmile County and its Pioneer Families, A Genealogical History of the Upper Monogahela Valley. 


8.  Rangers:  Washington County, PA. Frontier Rangers 1781-1782 Rangers, Rev. War Burials of Green Co. and Washington Co. compiled by Paul. W. Myers, a manuscript by Closson Press 1987 at FHL#929.37488 M992W.  This books as some very interesting information about Rangers and their participation in the Revolutionary War.  There are also some interesting sources suggested.

Introduction The following are men who are listed in this reference aid served during the American Revolution as Frontier Rangers from Washington County, Pennsylvania being employed against the Indians of the Seneca tribe, and the western tribes of the Ohio country…. 

Keller Jacob and Keller, Michael, Cemetery, Washington Old, page 407, 2. 

9. State Archives of Pennsylvania digital records are found at the link below.  I did my looking in 2008, so more may be online now.


West Side Applications Name Index online and I took a look at it and found Keller’s listed but they were in Cumberland Co. and York. I was not finding Washington Co. but then I cannot say that I knew what I was doing.

#1999 Keller David, Guilford Township Cumberland Co.

#2377 Keller Jacob Godorus Twp, York Co.

#7076? Keller George, Godorus Twp., York Co.

#5129 Keller Samuel, Windsor Twp., York Co. 

10.  Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, PA – Family Histories:  I studied as many Keller family histories as I could get my hands on that were in their stacks and in their files. Here is a PDF of the titles I studied. The final one #9 is very difficult to follow but focusing on the western part of Ohio. On the whole I found it very frustrating that the farther back one goes the harder it gets to make connections in these family histories.


Summary of this post:  John Keller ‘s death registration for Knox Co., Ohio states that he was born in Washington Co., PA; however, we don’t know who was the informant?  Most of the other sources I have found state he was born in Pennsylvania.  See the post on this blog for more information:  John Keller’s Birth and Death, March 1, 2015.

There is no primary source that states the exact birth of John Keller and where. The idea of searching church records in Western Pennsylvania is of merit, but they are difficult to find when researching from afar and I am not up on this aspect of Western Pennsylvania research.  John Keller converted to the United Brethren religion in 1833, per his obituary notice which I have shared in a past post, but his former religion is unknown.  Speculating  as to what religion he was could be difficult.

As you can see I am not totally satisfied with my research on the Keller surname in Washington County, PA because I did not know enough about John Keller’s origins. I was researching in excellent archives but they were not in the actual geographical area of Washington Co., PA so I was relying heavily on secondary sources and the limitations of those archives and my time constraints.  This research on Washington Co., PA was done in 2007 and 2008 so it has been a while and more might be available.

So based on the slim pickings above, I turned my attention to studying John Keller in Knox and Morrow County, Ohio looking for that one piece of information or several that could link him to his family.  Take those hints and pieces and maybe they will lead back to Pennsylvania or some where else.


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 AMERICAN REVOLUTION & Other Conflicts, DAR Daughters of the American Revolution, FAMILY SURNAMES MAIN LINE KELLER Surname, John Keller & Mary Anne Delano, Knox County, Ohio, Ohio Research trips 2011 and 2007, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia County, Trip to Pennsylvania 2008 see Pennsylvania Wandering Blog for more info, TRIPS - Family History Library 2004 2006 2009 2010, 2013, 2014, Washington County and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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