Isaac B. Keller
- Born: 27 Feb 1835, Lancaster Co., PA
- Marriage: Elizabeth Weidler (Eliza or Lizzie) Rudy on 4 Jul 1861 in Lancaster Co., PA
- Died: 11 Jan 1911, Ephrata Township, Lancaster Co., PA at age 75
- Buried: Keller Cemetery, Springville, Lancaster Co., PA
Anne Frysinger Shifflet, Ph.D. copyright 1999
Isaac Keller was the author's great grand parents on her mother's side.
Isaac Keller, 1835 - 1911, married to Elizabeth Rudy Keller, 1839 - 1919
Isaac B. Keller, the youngest son of George Keller and Christina Brubaker, was born on 27 Feb 1835. His earliest years were spent in the Keller homestead in Springville, Ephrata Township, in Lancaster County. However, he was just seven years old when his mother died. His father remarried, and they moved to Elizabeth Township. Within a few years, his father died also.
Isaac was fourteen years of age when he went to court to request a guardian.
George Keller dec'd. The petition of Isaac Keller one of the sons of George Keller late of Elizabeth Township in the said County, Humbly sheweth. That your petitioner is a minor above the age of fourteen years, and hath no guardian appointed to take care of his person and estate. Your petitioner therefore prays your Honors to appoint John Royer of Ephrata Township as his guardian. Whereupon the court appointed the said John Royer Guardian of the said Isaac as prayed for
John Royer was also appointed guardian for Isaac's brother Elias and his younger sister Nancy. In 1860, Isaac, age 25, was farming for Elizabeth Keller, age 70, in Ephrata Township. Elizabeth was the widow of Isaac's uncle Jacob. [It should be noted that this "uncle" Jacob is the 1/2 brother of Isaac's father, George. George's mother was Christina Huber while Jacob's mother was Barbara Huber, both married to Isaac'a grand father, Jacob Keller. Christina and Barbara were sisters. See notes on Elizabeth Shirk (1790-1872), wife of Jacob Keller, for census facts.]
Isaac married Elizabeth Weidler Rudy, daughter of Daniel Rudy and Anna Maria Weidler, on 4 Jul 1861. The marriage was reported in the weekly Lancaster Intelligencer on 16 Jul 1861: "On the 4th last, by the Rev. S. R. Boyer, Isaac B. Keller, near Ephrata, to Elizabeth M. Rudy, of Oregon." Elizabeth was most often called Eliza or Lizzie.
At the time of the 1870 census, Isaac B. Keller, age 35, was a farmer, but with no real estate. In his household were his wife Eliza, 30, keeping house, and their one-year-old son Wayne. Head of the adjoining household was Elizabeth Keller, 80, keeping house, with real estate valued at $21,000. Elizabeth died in 1872, and, on 1 Apr 1873, Isaac and Eliza purchased the "messauge and plantation" in Ephrata Township from the executors of Jacob Keller, Isaac's uncle. The plantation, which adjoined the Keller homestead in Springville, consisted of 101 acres and 40 perches lying along the road from Lincoln to Shoeneck. They purchased it for $15,306.71.
The messuage was a stately stone home, built over a spring at the head of Trout Creek. In the cellar, large flat rocks flanked the spring that flowed under the wall and emerged in the front yard. There were four large rooms on the first and second floors with a wide center hall. At the rear of the hall, a hand pump brought water up from the spring for kitchen use. It was a large, comfortable home in which to raise a family.
Isaac B. Keller was listed as a farmer at Lincoln in an 1875 county directory. The federal census taken on 5 Jun 1880 lists Isaac B. Keller, age 45, farmer; his wife Eliza, age 40; Wayne, age 11; Annie, age 10; Lizzie, age 4; and two servants. This was just six months before Susie was born.
Isaac Keller had been baptized into the German Baptist Brethren congregation in Ephrata in 1870. He was elected a deacon on 22 May 1878, elected to the ministry on 24 Oct 1882, and was advanced on 25 Jan 1890. When the Springville congregation was formed in 1899, Isaac Keller and Henry Royer were the ministers. It was reported that Isaac Keller "invariably preached in the German language, and was exceptionally well versed in scriptural knowledge." Although German was his first language, Issac's large family Bible was in English.
Isaac had grown up at a time when the Brethren were striving to maintain their distinct identity in an increasingly secular society. When Isaac was five years old, the Brethren in their Annual Meeting raised concerns about "the more and more increasing evil, that members conform so much to the world in building, house furniture, raiment, etc. and even to have a string of bells upon their horses at sleighing."
Isaac would certainly have heard about (and may have attended) the Annual Meeting held on John Royer's farm on Trout Creek in 1846. The elders debated the various forms of pride creeping into the church and rendered this official statement:
It is thought highly necessary that the Yearly Meeting instruct and urge it upon all the overseers of the churches to see especially to that matter, and protest strongly against all manner of superfluity and vanity, such as building fine houses, and having paintings, carpeting, and costly furniture, etc., together with the adorning of the body too much after the fashion of the world. We believe that we should deny ourselves, and abstain from these things, especially the laborers in the Word, who are called to be ensamples of the flock.
The 1859 Annual Meeting was asked to consider:
"Is it becoming for members of the church of Christ to get the walls of their homes flowered, or papered with flowered paper?"
"Humility is one of the prominent principles taught by our dear Redeemer, in precept and example. We ought, therefore, to try and abstain from superfluities."
It seems that Isaac Keller's wife was not easily convinced of the need to avoid superfluities. According to her daughter Susie, Lizzie sometimes found the rigid directives of the German Baptist Brethren restrictive and vexatious. Lizzie liked "nice things." One time she bought and put up wallpaper in the parlor, and was told to whitewash over it. When she wanted a new parlor stove, this feisty woman got an ax and chopped up the old stove. But the church had no objection to her planting flowers all around her home. And her skillful hands created many beautiful examples of fine needlework. Lizzie and her friends would visit after church, swapping pieces for patchwork quilts. Her finest work was an all velvet patchwork quilt, with a flower embroidered on every patch, embroidery over every seam, and the binding laced up at every mitered corner.
In a Lancaster County Directory in 1896, Isaac B. Keller was listed as a farmer in Ephrata Township. Two years later he retired from active farming and moved to the village of Stevens, where he lived about a year.
However, at a public sale on 26 Mar 1898, Isaac purchased another 67-acre farm along the road from Lancaster to Reading for $5,364.52. They moved to this farm, about 1½ miles north of Ephrata borough.
From the 1900 census of Ephrata Township we learn that Isaac B. Keller, 65, and Eliza, 60, had been married for 38 years. They owned their home, mortgage free. Eight children had been born to Eliza, but only four were living. Eliza grieved terribly for those children who died. Susie remembered her saying, "I miss Ikey so bad I want to go dig him up."
Isaac and Lizzie purchased two small tracts of land, eighteen and six acres respectively, in Ephrata Township on 31 Mar 1900. These tracts were sold to Henry Romig on 1 Apr 1905. Then, on 6 Jun 1905, they bought a lot in Ephrata on Church Avenue, at the corner of Spruce Alley. They moved into Ephrata, and rented for a year while their new two-story brick home at 160 Church Avenue was being constructed.
Isaac wrote his will on 3 Jan 1907. He bequeathed to his wife Eliza the house in Ephrata and all the household furniture. The sum of $6,000 was to be "held in trust by my four children Wayne W. Keller, Annie Lane, Lizzie Forrey and Susie Royer fifteen hundred each at four percent interest per annum to be paid to my wife Eliza annually." The remainder of his estate was to be divided among the children.
Eliza was well aware (and perhaps a bit resentful) of the tradition that the family wealth was passed on primarily to the sons. In her own father's will, her brothers had been given special consideration, but the daughters not even mentioned by name. Susie remembered the time that one of Eliza's brothers brought a honeycomb to their house on a pewter plate. Eliza never gave the plate back, and her brother never asked for it. She treasured the plate that had been her mother's. Realizing that the time would soon come when her things would be dispersed, in August of 1909, Eliza scratched on the back of the pewter plate "Not to be sold. Give it to one of the children."
The 1910 census taker found Isaac, 75, "with his own income," and Elizabeth, 70, living in retirement at 160 Church Avenue in Ephrata. Less than a year later, Isaac B. Keller died of pulmonary troubles on 11 Jan 1911. The weekly Ephrata Review carried his obituary on 20 Jan 1911.
Death of Rev. Isaac Keller
Rev. Isaac Keller, a well known resident of the borough, departed this life on Thursday afternoon, 12th last, at his residence on Church avenue, aged seventy-five, ten months and fifteen days. Death resulted from the infirmities of old age. The deceased had been ailing for the last four weeks, but had been confined to bed but one week before his demise. Rev. Mr. Keller was born and brought up at Springville, Ephrata township, on what is now the Israel Keller farm, he being a son of the late George and Christina Keller. In 1861, he was married to Miss Eliza W. Rudy. In 1898 he retired from farming, having lived at Springville up to that time, and moved to Stevens, where he resided for a year.
He then moved to the John Keller homestead, one and one-half miles north of the borough. In 1905, he moved to this borough, occupying one of the Eshleman homes on West Main street. During the latter year he built his fine residence at No. 160 Church avenue, where he has since resided. In the year 1870, the deceased united with the Church of the Brethren, and in 1878 he was elected to the office of deacon. In 1882 he was advanced to the office of minister and he had filled this office since that time, up to within four weeks of his death, when ill health prevented further service. The deceased is survived by his widow and the following children: Wayne W. Keller of York, Pa.; Anna, wife of H. E. Lane of Milway; Elizabeth R., wife of H. N. Forry, of York, Pa.; and Susie, wife of C. H. Royer, of Lexington. One sister of the deceased, Mrs. Anna Weidman, residing in Reading. The funeral was held on Monday morning, with services in the Church of the Brethren, this borough, and internment in the Springville cemetery. Elder David Kilhefner and Revs. S. W. Kulp and George Weaver officiated. Brief addresses were also delivered by Elders I. W. Taylor, J. H. Longenecker, J. W. Early and J. W. Schlosser. Funeral director L. Y. Eitner had charge.
Isaac's executors, his son Wayne and his daughter Annie Lane, moved promptly to fulfill the directives of his will. Both of his farms were sold at public sales in September. The 63-acre farm Isaac had purchased in 1873 and 1874 was sold for $9,945.55 to Monroe N. Greely. The 67-acre tract purchased in 1898 was sold to Martin B. Stauffer for $7,028.36. By 6 Apr 1912, the estate was settled and the heirs signed a release from further claims. Each of the children had received $6,000, "one-fourth part as $1500 to be held in trust under the terms of said will" for the support of their mother. From the residual estate each child received an additional $3,841.80.
As Isaac's widow Eliza grew older she chose to sell her home in Ephrata. The two-story dwelling at 160 Church Avenue at the corner of Spruce Alley in Ephrata was "exposed at public sale" on 29 Sep 1917 and purchased by Mary Ann Trego for $5,010.
Eliza died on 18 Mar 1919 at the home of her eldest daughter, Annie, in Millway, Lancaster County. Isaac B. Keller and Elizabeth Rudy were buried in the Keller Cemetery in Springville.
Isaac married Elizabeth Weidler (Eliza or Lizzie) Rudy on 4 Jul 1861 in Lancaster Co., PA. (Elizabeth Weidler (Eliza or Lizzie) Rudy was born circa 1840 in Lancaster Co., PA, died on 18 Mar 1919 in Millway, Lancaster Co., PA and was buried in Keller Cemetery, Springville, Lancaster Co., PA.)