Samuel W Keller


SAMUEL W. KELLER, now serving as justice of the peace at Ford City, Armstrong county, was born in this county Aug. 4, 1838 and belongs to a family of German extraction.

John F. Keller, his grandfather, was a native of Germany, and when he brought his family to America first settled in Center county, Pa., later locating at Luthersburg, Clearfield county, where he had a shop. He was a cabinetmaker by trade. He subsequently moved to Clarion county, Pa., making his home at Wild Cat Furnace, where he passed the remainder of his life, dying in 1845. His wife died at Rimersburg, Clarion Co., Pa. They had four children: Frederick lived and died in Wisconsin; William was a carpenter, and later engaged in the oil business at Rimersburg; Tohn F. is mentioned below; Sarah married John Snyder, of Rimersburg, Pa., where both died.

John F. Keller received a good education in German, but he was self-taught in English. He came to this country with his father and the rest of the family when a boy, learned the carpenter's trade, and followed it all his life. During his earlier life he spent some time at Luthersburg, was later in Venango county, and then moved to Cherry Run, Clarion Co., Pa., and from that point to Wild Cat Furnace, where he found employment at the furnace. He first came to Armstrong county in 1862, and in 1863 returned to this county, to Stewartson Furnace, in Pine township, where he worked until his death, Sept. 2, 1877. He was a man of quiet, industrious habits, and though a stanch Republican in political sentiment never took any part in party affairs or aspired to public office. In early life he was a Lutheran in religious connection, later becoming a Methodist. He married Elizabeth Heisey, of Clearfield county, Pa., whose parents came to this country from Germany; they had six children, John, Jacob, Martin, Elizabeth (Mrs. Keller), Sarah and Jane. Mrs. Keller died at Wild Cat Furnace in 1845. She was the mother of six children: Rosamond (deceased) was the wife of D. H. Brigham, of New Bethlehem, Pa.; Martha married Michael Snare, and both are deceased; Mary married Joseph Wengler, and both are deceased; John H. died at Stewartson Furnace, Armstrong county; Samuel W. is mentioned below; Elizabeth married James Hollopeter, of Clearfield county, Pennsylvania.

During his boyhood Samuel W. Keller had little opportunity for schooling. When only six years old he was "put out" to a Mr. Brown, in Clearfield county, with whom he remained until he reached the age of twelve. He was abusive and the boy left him and went to Clarion county, going to the home of his sister, Mrs. Snare, at Heilan Furnace, where he lived for two years. He then went to Caldwell Furnace, Armstrong county, later returning to Clarion county, where he went to live with Capt. Thomas Kerr, with whom he remained for about twelve years. He then went to Union Furnace, Union Co., Pa., and the end of that time coming back to Armstrong county, and working at the Caldwell Furnace until 1861.

On Aug. 29, 1861, Mr. Keller enlisted at Caldwell Furnace in Company C, 78th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and was sent to Louisville, Ky. Later he went to Nashville, Tenn., and his first engagement was at Neely Bend, after which he saw active service in the battles at Lavergne, Stone River, Tallahassee, Decherd's Station, Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga, from which place they went to Chattanooga, holding that town for three months. Receiving reinforcements, they captured Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Mr. Keller was discharged because of disability Feb. 12, 1864, and returning to Stewartson Furnace, Armstrong Co., Pa., worked there and in the mines for the next fourteen years. He also ran an engine and worked in the ore yard until the Laughlin Company went out of business, and for fifteen years he was employed at the carbon works; he ran an engine for five years of that period. and was night watchman for ten years. In 1900 he settled at Ford City, entering the employ of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, for whom he acted as night watchman two years. Because of ill health had to give up work in the factory. In 1909 he was elected justice of the peace. He is a much respected citizen of the borough, and his intelligent and faithful discharge of his duties has won him the good will of all who have had dealings with him.

On March 27, 1867, Mr. Keller married Sarah Conway, of Stewartson Furnace, Armstrong Co., Pa., daughter of John and Eva (Butz) Conway. She died May 22, 1905, the mother of nine children, namely: Elizabeth, who married William D. Gibson, of Kittanning (deceased) ; Phrone, who married John Cartwright, of Sharon, Pa.; Frederick, assistant foreman in the plaster department of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Works at Ford City, who married Elda Shotts; Samuel B., an electrician; Robert, a potmaker in the Plate Glass Works at Ford City, who married Ferris Beatty, of Ford City: Calvin R., finisher of glass in the works at Ford City, who married Marie Faulx, of Ford City; Amanda, at home; Agnes, a saleslady; and Sarah, a reporter for the Ford City department of the Kittanning Daily Leader All the children reside in Ford City but Mrs. Gibson, who lives in Kittanning, and Mrs. Cartwright, who lives in Girard, Ohio. Mrs. Keller was a member of the M. E. Church. In politics Mr. Keller is a Republican.

Source: Page 765, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed February 1999 by Doris Rizza for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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