George S. Keller was born in Aargau, Switzerland on 9 Nov. 1827. He came to the Shelby Settlement (Bethlehem) in May of 1854 via the port of New Orleans on the ship Henry Pratt. It is thought he had friends or family in Ohio, because he traveled directly to the area from the port of entry.
He married Catharine Kurtzman in 1856 at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church.
George declared his intent to become an American citizen on 3 Jun 1858. The 1860 census listed his occupation as a shoemaker, but by the 1870 census, he was listed as a farmer. Family members have passed down an interesting note – George had a blue eye and a brown eye.
George farmed 80 acres and built a home from lumber cut fron the land in the late 1800s which is still standing on 3437 Hinesville Rd. in Sharon Township.
Catharine Kurtzman was born on 5 Jan 1819 and came to America from France when she was just four years old. She was the secretary of Sacred Heart Church when George met her. A stained glass window in the church is dedicated to Catharine Kurtzman, although it is not known whether the window was purchased as a donation or given in appreciation for her work at the church.
George died 25 Feb 1901 at the age of 73 and Catharine died 22 May 1904 at the age of 85. Both are buried in the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Bethlehem. George’s headstone reads George F. Keller.
George and Catharine raised three children – Mary, Martin, and Peter Paul.
Mary Keller and Martin Keller married spouses who were first cousins. Mary married Fredolin Buchholz and Martin married Catharine Buchholz Landers, a widow with two girls. Mary and Fredolin had one son, Joseph. Mary died from complications from diabetes when she was 22.
Martin Keller married Catharine Buchholz Landers in 1901. A widow, Catharine had two daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia, from her marriage to John Landers. Mary Catharine Regina, Emma, George and Paul Peter were all born to this couple.
The family lived with George S. Keller until Martin built a home about 1912 at what is now 3846 Brannon Road from timber cut from the property. At one point, there were three Catharine Kellers living in the Hinesville home; mother Catharine Kurtzman Keller, daughter-in-law Catharine Buchholz Keller and granddaughter Catharine Regina Keller. Both Keller homesteads are still in excellent condition and well-cared for.
Martin and Catharine Keller also farmed an 80-acre homestead and evidently were successful in the venture. An inventory and appraisement listing at Catharine’s death listed 125 chickens, 29 hogs, and 10 cows, along with crops of corn, hay, wheat, oats, and soybeans.
Peter Keller went blind from complications of diabetes at the age of 26. He was engaged at the time, but never married. He lived the rest of his life with his brother, Martin. He still lived a very productive life, despite the lack of vision. Niece Catharine Regina Keller Yetzer told stories about Uncle Pete milking cows and building a shed after he became blind. He loved his nieces and nephews and built them a playhouse, complete with a window and door. At Christmastime, they got gifts to go in the playhouse. Catharine and her sisters, Mary and Emma, spent many hours playing there, she said.
Submitted by John and Doris Yetzer and Christina Yetzer Drain.