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from Biography & Historical Record of Ringgold County, Iowa

Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago, 1887, Pp. 306-07


Civil War Flags.jpg Isaac W. KELLER, one of the oldest members of the Ringgold County bar, was born in Noble County, Ohio, September 29, 1838, a son of Levi and Elizabeth (SHAFER) KELLER, the father a native of Ohio, and the mother of Virginia, the father being a farmer and blacksmith by occupation. They were the parents of ten children - five sons and five daughters, our subject being the fifth child.

Isaac passed his youth on his father's farm, receiving his education in the district schools. He remained with his parents until reaching maturity, and at the age of twenty-one years began teaching school, which he followed for four years.

He was married at the age of twenty-two years, to Miss Rachel MORRIS, of Noble County, Ohio. To Mr. and Mrs. KELLER have been born seven children - Paroda A., John J., deceased, Clara B., Curtis, Louie, Florence J., and Edith O., the three youngest living at home.

Mr. KELLER left Noble County in 1855, when he came to Ringgold County, Iowa, locating in the north part of the county, near Eugene, where he improved a farm and followed agricultural pursuits for three years. He then moved to Mount Ayr, and soon after began reading law, and was admitted to the bar in 1860, when he opened a law office and practiced his profession for two years, when in 1862, he enlisted in Company G, Twenty-ninth Iowa Infantry and was sent South on the Mississippi River.

He was commission First Sergeant, and in June, 1864, was promoted to Second Lieutenant of his company, in which rank he served until May, 1865, when he was discharged on account of disability. He participated in a number of engagements, including the battles at Helena, Little Rock, Arkansas, Prairie De Ann, Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas, and Mobile, Alabama.

After receiving his discharge he returned to Mount Ayr, and was associated with W. T. LAUGHLIN in his law practice for the next five years, when the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent. He then returned to his farm, where he remained three years, when he returned to Mount Ayr and embarked in the lumber trade, which he followed until 1879. In 1882 he resumed the practice of law, which he still follows with success.

In 1859 Mr. KELLER was appointed treasurer of Ringgold County, to complete an unexpired term. In the fall of 1859 he was elected county judge, and in the fall of 1861 was re-elected to the same office, which position he resigned in 1862 to enter the army. In the fall of 1865 he was again elected county judge for a term of two years. In the fall of 1867 he was nominated for county judge, and also for State Senator, but declined the former nomination, and was elected to the Senate by a handsome majority. In 1872 he was elected a member of the Board of Supervisors, serving one term of three years. In the fall of 1879 he was again elected State Senator, and after retiring from the Senate he resumed his law practice. He has also filled several city offices such as city attorney and others, always serving with credit to himself and to the best interests of his constituents, and by his honorable dealings had gained the confidence of all who know him.


Isaac W. KELLER settled in what would become Jefferson Township in the spring of 1855. He was a farmer for several years, then moved to Mount Ayr where he practiced law. He later became a Ringgold County judge.

The town of Kellerton was named after Judge KELLER.

LESAN, Mrs. B. M. Early History of Ringgold County: 1844 - 1937 p. 20. Blair Pub. House. Lamoni IA. 1937.

Record News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
April 11, 1911


Judge I. W. KELLER, of this city [Mount Ayr], reached his eightieth birthday on Tuesday, September 29, 1908. It was a noted day in the family. It was a time for congratulations. The agent of the Equitable Life Insurance Company called on him and paid him a life policy of $1000 which had by contract matured on that day. It was a pleasant incident. Mr. KELLER took out the policy in 1879 and has in the meantime paid almost as much on it as he received at maturity. It has however, proved a good investment and comes really handy in old age.

Mrs. KELLER has a similar policy that will be matured in a few years. She [Rachel (BRADLEY) KELLER] was born in Noble County, Ohio Novenber 28, 1833.

Mr. KELLER was born in Noble County, Ohio, September 29, 1828, and came to Iowa in 1852. He soon moved to Mount Ayr and was admitted to the bar in 1869.

In 1862 he enlisted in the Union army [26th IA Infantry] and served until May 1865.

He has served the county as Treasurer and County Judge, State Senator and in several other public capacities. {He was elected to the State Senate in 1879, serving four years, and re-elected in 1879, serving another four years.] He has always been an active working republican up to the last four years. He was a good campaigner and was known as a good speaker. The judge has been justice of the peace for twenty years.

Both Mr. and Mrs. KELLER have been members of the M.E. Church for many years, and they both are Republicans.

Mr. and Mrs. KELLER have been married [September 4, 1851] 57 years and bid fair to pass their sixtieth anniversary. They have resided in Mount Ayr since 1855 with the exception of three years, during which time they lived on a farm near here. They are in good health and spirits and take a social interest in all their surroundings.

There were born to this couple six children. One daughter died six years after her marriage. The average number of grandchildren in each family is five; one daughter, Mrs. Paroda DUNNING, is the mother of thirteen children, all living and healthy, these and all grandchildren are healthy and prosperous. Two of their grandsons, Clyde and Clarence DUNNING, are president and cashier, respectively, of the Citizens bank here.

They have arranged to spend some time soon with daughters in Des Moines and Stanton, Nebr., and possibly with a son in South Dakota.

This couple live in a quiet, contented, healthy and happy life in their beautiful home which is visited daily by an army of grandchildren who pass and repass on their way to and from school. Their friends wish them much enjoyment.

From History of Noble County, Ohio, Levi KELLER, one of the few pioneers of Noble County [Ohio] who are still living, was born on Wheeling Creek, about ten miles from Wheeling, in 1795, on the 16th of September. At the age of five years he came to Ohio, his father, George KELLER, settling in Belmont County. He learned the blacksmith's trade in that county, and in 1820 came to what is now Noble County and en-gaged in teaching school in Buffalo Township. In 1821 he erected a house on the Smoky Fork of Buffalo Creek, in Center Township. In 1827 he removed to the vicinity of Mount Ephraim, where he still lives. He has followed farming and blacksmithing. At the age of twenty he married, in Guernsey County, Elizabeth SHAFER, a native of Loudoun County, Va., who is still living. Mr. KELLER was the first clerk of Seneca Township, and has held other offices, including that of justice of the peace for six years. He reared a large family Mary Ann (deceased), Dr. John KELLER, Jane (VORHIES) (dead), George, Isaac, William (died in the army at Cairo, Ill.), Margaret (KACKLEY), Caroline (deceased), Elizabeth, Levi, Simon (deceased). Benjamin and John KELLER, brothers Levi, also settled in Noble County, the former in Seneca Township and the latter in Center. They removed to the West.

late in the fall, Mr. RICH tracked a bear into a hollow poplar tree, where the bear took up his quarters for the winter. Leaving the bear there till Christmas he went with. Levi KELLER and John RICH to secure him. They cut the tree, the bear sprang out unexpectedly, and in their excitement all three fired at him without injuring him. Abraham RICH reloaded and fired a shot which injured the bear's back, and after a considerable fight the animal was killed.

The Caldwell PRESS
Nobel County, Ohio
July 21, 1887


MOUNT EPHRAIM: DIED -- July 17th, 1887, Mrs. Elizabeth Frances KELLER, aged 87 years, 4 months and 17 days. After a sickness of only nine days, the angel of death visited her in his mildest way, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death. The deceased was a daughter of Conrad SHAFER, and was born in London (sic, should be Loudoun) County, Virginia, March 1, 1800, and came to Ohio with her parents in the year 1813. She was united in marriage to Levi KELLER, who survives her, in the year 1820. No doubt this was the oldest couple living together in the county. But Grandma KELLER's death is only another example of the uncertainty of life, and few were ever better prepared to leave the world than she --- upright in her dealings, genial in her manners, and Christian in spirit, she has doubtless gone to a better sphere.

The Caldwell PRESS
Nobel County, Ohio
April 18, 1889


MOUNT EPHRAIM: DIED -- Monday morning [September 15, 1889] , at 4 o'clock, Levi KELLER of Mt. Ephraim, aged 93 years and 7 months. The deceased was born on Wheeling Creek, West Virginia, September 16, 1795, the son of George and Sarah Greenwood (HEDGES) KELLER. At 5 years of age, was taken into Belmont County [Ohio] where his father located and where he grew to manhood. He came to this [Nobel] Co., about 1820. In 1821 he erected a house on Smoky Fork of Buffalo Creek in now Center Township; in 1827 moved to the vicinity of Mt. Ephraim. At the age of twenty he married Elizabeth SHAFER, a native of London (sic, should be Loudoun) County, Virginia, in 1815, Guernesy County, Ohio. He reared a family of eleven children, five of whom are dead. The deceased was the first clerk of Seneca Township, and acted as Justice of the Peace six years. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church in former years.

Judge Isaac W. enlisted as a 1st Sergeant on August 9, 1862, Mount Ayr, Iowa, when he was thirty-four-years-old. He was assigned to Company G of the 29th Iowa Infantry. On December 3, 1864, Isaac was promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant. He resigned from service May 30, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama.

Isaac W. KELLER died April 3, 1923, while visiting his daughter in Omaha, Nebraska. Rachel (MORRIS) KELLER was born November 8, 1833, and died September 4, 1916. Isaac and Rachel were interred at Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa.

Biography & Historical Record of Ringgold County, Iowa, Pp. 306-07, 1887.

History of Noble County, Ohio, p. 470, 1887.

American Civil War Soldiers,

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2009

Biographical Sketches Pages Index: A - F,   G - L,   M - R,  S - Z

To submit your Ringgold County biographies, contact Sharon R. Becker at
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