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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


B. H. Keller





       B. H. KELLER is one of Manchesterís first settlers, as he has always been one of the townís most active and successful business men. He is a native of New York, coming from that state, which has furnished a large percentage of the population of Delaware county, and to whose sturdy and enterprising sons the county owes much of its progress and prosperity. He was born in the town of Auburn, February 28, 1829. He comes of Pennsylvania parentage, his father, Joseph Keller, and his mother, Anna Williams, having been born in the town of Kellersville, in the Keystone State. They were both descendants of old and respected families of that locality, the town of Kellersville having been named for Christopher Keller, a native of Germany, and the paternal grandfather of the subject of this notice, who settled there many years ago. The elder Keller was an enterprising merchant who did a prosperous business at Kellersville for a long time, dying there at the advanced age of eighty-six. Joseph Keller and Anna Williams grew up together in the town of Kellersville and were there married and immediately moved to New York and settled in Auburn, which the husband had previously visited and selected as a location. He followed his trade as a tailor in Auburn for many years, moving in 1850 to Seneca Falls, N. Y., where in September, 1866, he died, in the eighty-third year of his age. His wife died while a resident of Auburn, in 1838, in early life. These were the parents of eight children, of whom the subject hereof is the third, and only two of whom besides himself are now living, these being two brothers: John, who resides in Houston county, Tenn., and Alexander, who resides in Robinson, Mich. The deceased brothers and sisters are: Jane, James M., Lafayette, Charles and Elizabeth.


     Our subject received an ordinary common school education, finishing with an academic course at Willard academy, in Auburn, N. Y., and served an apprenticeship under his father, when a lad, to the tailorís trade. He never liked his trade and he in consequence abandoned it as soon as he was released from his obligations to his father, and afterwards served an apprenticeship to the trade of a shoemaker, and followed that trade as a journeyman for some time. In 1853 be opened a boot and shoe store in Cuba, N. Y., which he conducted for three years. In March, 1856, he came to Iowa and settled in Manchester, opening a boot and shoe store here in April following. This was soon after the village of Manchester was started and ten years before it was incorporated as a town. Mr. Keller thus became the pioneer boot and shoe man of the place, if indeed he was not the first exclusive boot and shoe dealer in the county. He worked at the bench himself in those years and made the first pair of boots or shoes that was ever made in the town of Manchester. Beginning, as the town began, in an unpretentious way, he plied himself industriously to his trade and watched closely his business growing with his surroundings through all the years that marked the rise and progress of his adopted home. Without flattery to him, or a suggestion of discourtesy to others, it may be stated in this connection that he has done as much as any man in Manchester towards building up the solid interests of the place, liberally investing his own means and cheerfully contributing his own labors to the prosperity of the community and the public good. He built the second house that was built on Franklin street, north of the Clarence hotel. He has built four substantial business houses besides a number of dwellings. He has been. a member of the city council two terms and has stood at all times, whether in office or out, for a strong, vigorous administration of local affairs. He has been a member of the Delaware County Agricultural Society for seven years, and has been active in fostering a spirit of enterprise among the farmers and stock-growers of the county and in encouraging them in their efforts to build up that interest on which all others in this county depend. He is now, and has been for twenty-six years past, the president of the Manchester Cemetery Association, and Manchesterís beautiful city of the dead shows abundant evidence of his intelligent supervision. He is one of the charter members of the Congregational church, and has been zealous from the beginning in all church work. He is an en≠thusiastic. Mason, a charter member of Manchester Lodge, No. 165, of which he was worshipful master during the first seven years. He is a charter member of Olive Branch Chapter, No. 48, R. A. M., and a charter member also of Nazareth Commandery, No. 33, Knight Templar.


      Mr. Keller married in 1850, while still a resident of New York, taking to share his lifeís fortunes Miss Lucy A. Barre, who was a native of Chautauqua county, N. Y., a daughter of S. W. Barre, of York State parentage, and probably of French Huguenot ancestry.


      Mr. and Mrs. Keller have a pleasant home and a large circle of friends, in whose society they find not the least of the pleasures of this life.


~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 696-698; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson