Keller Surname Genealogy

is a German surname,
found primarily in
Switzerland and southern Germany, meaning “cellar” or “basement.” It is an occupational name
the steward who oversaw the stores and accounts in a large household

Keller Resources on

Keller Ancestry

Keller name seems to have
originated in Switzerland. The story
goes that many Swiss came down from the mountains at the time of the
Death in the 14th century and made their home in the Rhineland part of
with the Kellers bringing their name with them.
Burkhart Keller

was a
legendary figure who lived at Castle Hohenbaden near Baden Baden in
sometime in the 15th century.

Today the
Keller name numbers some 40,000 in Switzerland and is mainly found in
western part of the country. There are a
further 70,000 in Germany, again in the west in Baden
Wurttemburg and
Rheinland Pfalz.

Ireland. Keller may also be an Irish
name, derived
from the Gaelic O’Ceileachair
sept found in Cork and Kerry. The
anglicized version was more commonly
Kelleher, but Cornelius Keller, a Cork city alderman in the 1850’s, was
said to
have come from a junior branch of this family.

Matthew Keller left Cork for Texas and the
American West in the 1830’s; while George
departed Cork for New York and Hartford, Connecticut in
1852. Meanwhile some of the descendants of
Killough who had left Ulster for Pennsylvania in the 1730’s adopted the
spelling after they had moved to Maine later in the 1700’s.

America. The
Keller arrivals in America may be described as having come in two waves.

first, the result of either escaping religious persecution or the
draft, came in the 18th century and they headed for Pennsylvania.
The second, coming in the 19th century, was more for economic
opportunity and they spread across the country.

18th Century Arrivals. Kellers came
from small towns and villages in
the Rhine Palatine region such as Lettweiler, Weierbach, Zweibrucken
Kippenheim, and also from Switzerland.
These Kellers have been the subject of a number of books.

The earliest was probably the History of the Keller Family
written by
the Rev. Eli Keller in 1905. Joseph
Keller was the forebear of this family.
He arrived from the Rhine Palatine in 1737 and made his home in
Plainfield township in Northampton county, then on the western frontier. In 1757 this Keller family was raided by Indians,
with the
loss of
their eldest child and the abduction of other members of the family.

More recent books have been The Genealogy of the Keller
Linda Schillinger in 2006 and The Keller
by Darel Keller in 2008. The
former book traced the family of Swiss-born Martin Keller who settled
Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in the 1730’s; the latter that of
Anthony Keller
from Lettweiler in the Rhine Palatine who arrived in 1740 and settled
first in
Pennsylvania and later in North Carolina.

Conrad Keller came to Lancaster
county from Switzerland in 1735. His
line led to David Keller who migrated south to Alabama in the 1820’s. David’s
son Arthur built the family homestead Ivy Green in
Tuscumbia, Alabama after the Civil War. It
was there in 1880 that the famous Helen
, now honored across the land, was born.

Other early arrivals were:

  • Jacob
    Keller from the
    Basel canton in Switzerland who came in the late 1720’s and also
    settled in
    Lancaster county. He was a member of the
    German Baptist church and died there in 1794 at the good age of 88.
  • and
    Keller from Weierbach in Baden who came in 1738 and made his home in
    township, Bucks county. He helped found
    Kellers’ Church there in 1746. All three of his sons fought in the
    Revolutionary War

also came to the Shenandoah valley in Virginia:

  • George
    Keller moved to the Germanic
    settlement there from Lancaster county in 1750. His
    original homestead stood until 1864 when
    it was burnt down during the Civil War. The
    house that still stands was built by George’s son Henry
    in the early
    1800’s and there is also there today a Keller mill and a Keller store. Kellers have remained in the area.
  • while Abraham Keller was first recorded in
    Shenandoah county in 1758. He was a
    carpenter and builder by trade. His son
    Isaac was killed chasing Indians in 1786. His
    other three sons migrated to Kentucky and Indiana.

Pierre Keller was among
a group of Alsatian colonists from France who arrived in Louisiana in
1759. He drowned in the Mississippi river,
apparently on his way to New Orleans, in 1789.
However, his family continued and has remained an influential
family in
Louisiana to this day. Charles and Rosa
Keller founded the Keller Family Foundation in New Orleans in 1949.

19th Century Arrivals.

following is a sampling of the Kellers who arrived in the 19th century:

  • John
    Keller came to Ohio from Germany in the 1840’s. His son John Henry headed west
    bought a large cattle ranch on the outskirts of Concord, California in
    1871. The Kellers became civic leaders in
    the Concord community.
  • Frank
    Keller arrived in Naperville, Illinois from Bavaria
    around the year 1850. The Kellers have
    been farming there or in neighboring Oswego since that time.
  • while
    Keller came to Indianapolis from Darmstadt in the 1880’s.
    He found work there with the Indianapolis
    Brewing Company

could also be Jewish
in America. Jacob Keller was a rabbi from
Hanover who
came to Lexington, Missouri in 1826.
William and Johanna Keller were Jews from Hungary who reached
Eau Claire
in Wisconsin in 1883.

Canada. A
large Keller contingent came over to Canada from upstate New York at
conclusion of the Revolutionary War. Frederick
, an Empire Loyalist, had served with the King’s Rangers
during the
war and moved with his family to Fredericksburg township in Lennox
county, Ontario. He was married four
times and was the father of 24 children, all but one of them born in
Canada. Frederick was the descendant of
Kellers from the Rhine Palatine who had come to a camp along the Hudson
around the year 1700.

Another Keller
family had departed the Rhine Palatine in 1810 for a German settlement
in the
Ukraine, then part of the Russian empire, and then, approximately a
years later, to another German community in Saskatchewan.
It was curious that their home-town in
Germany was called Rastatt, their home in Ukraine Rastadt, and their
home in
Saskatchewan Rastadt.

Conrad Keller was
Swiss and came to Saskatchewan In 1912, married and made his home in
Rockglen. John Keller, Jewish from
Poland, was also in Saskatchewan by 1912.

Keller Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Keller Names

a 19th century American social arbiter
of high society

the first publisher of the Social Register.  
Helen Keller
from Alabama, despite being deaf and
blind, overcame her afflictions to
blossom as a writer, political activist and lecturer.
George Keller
the Chairman of Socal who oversaw its merger with
Oil to form Chevron in
1984. His son Bill Keller has been the
Executive Editor
of the New York Times

Select Kellers Today

  • 38,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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