medieval castle pantry
The common German and central European surname Keller derives from the Middle High German word kellaere, meaning “cellarman” or “cellar master”, related to the Latin word cellarious. As such, this is a last name of occupational origin, as the name referred to a person who was the keeper of cellars, pantries, store chambers, households, or accounts, that were in places such as monasteries, castles, and fortresses throughout Europe and Christendom for a living. As valued stewards of royal households, they were sometimes elevated to ministerial rank (a cabinet position in government). Other say Keller’s were winemakers. Some sources assert this family first established itself in the duchy of Swabia, which was part of the German kingdom, the East Francian State, and the Holy Roman Empire that existed from 915 to 1313 AD.
The name was also present in the British Isles for hundreds of years. In England, it can be an occupational name for a person who made caps or cauls, deriving from the Middle English word kellere, or perhaps the name of an executioner, deriving from the Old English word cwellere. In Ireland, it can sometimes be a reduced for of Kelleher, and in Scotland, it can be a spelling variant of the surname Keillor. It may also be a Anglicized spelling of the Gaelic name O’Ceileachair , a name meaning companionable, a family that claims descent from Ceileachar, a nephew of Brian Boru (High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014 AD, and were members of the Dalcassian clan in the territory of Tuathhuman (modern day Clare and parts of Tipperary and Limerick).
The spelling variants of this popular last name are numerous, including, but not limited to Keler, Kelleher, Kelliher, Kalaher, Keeller, Kellner, Kelaher, O’Kelleher, McKeller, MacKeller, Celler, Cellner, Celer, and Cellern.
Early bearers of this surname include Herman de Kelner who was documented in Rottweil, Wurttemberg, Germany in 1314 AD. A one John Keller was recorded in the Poll Tax of Yorkshire, England in 1379 AD. An early documented marriage involving this surname was Godrey Keller to Elizabeth Savery at Canterbury in 1686.
Early settlers and immigrants in colonial America who bore this name began to come in the early eighteenth century, and include: Conrad Keller (New York 1709), Frank Keller (New York 1710), Michael Keller (Pennsylvania 1728), and John Keller (Pennsylvania 1732). In Canada, in 1757, the following three bearers landed in Nova Scotia: Bernard, Catharina, and Magdelena Keller. In Australia, a one Godfred Keller landed in South Australia in 1848 aboard the Pauline.
Helen Keller, 1887
Some of the most notable bearers include: 1) Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968) who was an American deaf-blind woman from Tuscumbia, Alabama who because the first of her background to earn a college degree, later becoming an author, lecturer, and political activist, 2) Charles Ernest Keller (1916-1990) who was a baseball player in the MLB, born in Maryland, who played from 1939 to 1952 for the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers, 3) Count Fyodor Keller (1850-1904) who was a general in the Imperial Russian army who serves in the Serbian-Turkish Wars, Russo-Turkish Wars, and Russo Japanese War, 4) Bill Keller (1949) who was the executive editor of the New York Times from 2003-2001, and 5) Major General Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller (1900-1954) who was a Canadian General born in England who commanded the 3rd Infantry Division on Juno Beach during the D-Day Invasion.
The name is very popular in the following nations: Switzerland (3rd), Germany (34th), Austria (311), and the United States (277). It is also common in the small counties of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. It is particularly common in the five following states: Pennsylvania, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nevada. The name’s popularity around the Western world reminds one of the following quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “The German is like a willow. No matter which way you bend him, he will always take root again”.
One branch of the family can be traced back nine generations to Peter Keller and his wife Magdalena, who lived in 1777, in Rastadt, Russian (in modern day Odessa, Ukraine). The Rastadt settlement was named after Rastatt, Germany, then bard of the duchy of Baden, where Peter and his ancestors descended from.
Burkart Keller von Yburg
There is a legend about a Knight named Burkhart Keller von Yburg who lived in Castle Hohenbaden located near Baden in Rasttat, Germany in the 1400s AD. It is one of numerous stories involving the Black Forest in medieval times or the Middle Ages. This legend involves a famous painting called Kellerkreuz (meaning Keller’s Cross) that still stands on the castle grounds. According to the legend, Knight Burkhardt Keller was returning to his castle, walking back from a nearby village, when a nymph appeared to him, seduced him, convinced him to stay several nights and dig a large hole in the ground. In reality, she had tricked him to dig up her pagan alter, and upon this revelation, she killed him there. His younger brother found his dead body and in fit of rage he smashed and buried the altar. He then constructed a large stone cross and erected it there. Said cross still stands along the Kellerfreuz (Keller Cross) pathway. It symbolized a rejection of paganism in favor of Christianity.
The only documented Keller family motto I am aware of is “Vaillant et veillant”, which is French for “Valiant and ensuring”.
Aeberli Keller was born in Weinfelden, Thurgau, Switzerland in 1526. He married Ottilie Ziegler and had a son with her named Sebastian. Sebastian was born in the same town in 1553 and he married Margreth Sandi and had a son with her named Hans Jacob. This Hans Jakob Keller was born in Scherzingen, Thurgau in 1585. He married Adelheir Bornhauser and had a daughter with her named Ursula. She was born in Weinfelden in 1611. She married Conrad Heuberger and had a son with him named Hans Jakob.
Heinrich Kaeller or Keller was born in Fehraltorf, Zurich, Switzerland in around 1502 AD. He had a son named Anthony Kaeller who was born in Ruti, Fehraltorf in around 1519. He married Anna Meyer and had three issue with her: Andreas, Regula, and Hans Kaeller. His son Hans Kaeller or Keller was born in the same town in Zurich, Switzerland in 1550. He married Madalena Bosshart and had the following children with her: Susan, Ulrich Uli, George York, Myorg, Felix, Madalena (Hirtzel), and Magdalena.
Wilhelm Keller was born in Bavaria. He had a son named Johann Georg who was also born in Bavaria. Johann married Elisabeth Johanna Kleffel and had a son with her also named Johan George. This son Johan Georg Keller was born in Meiningen, Germany around 1800 He married Anna Barbara Krell. He went to the United States. He died in Milwaukee, Wisconsion around 1870. He had a son named Amalius Malchius Philippe who was born in 1825. He was a woodworker and cabinet by trade, like his father and grandfather before him. He married Magdalina Eva Helena in Milwaukee in 1849 and had three sons with her: George C., Charles Frederick, and Oscar. His son George C. Keller was born in 1850 and married Louise A. Pfitzer (having issue named George W., Walter O, Hertha A.F., Alice Post, and Louise) and his son Charles Frederick was born in 1852 and married Eliza Reinhold and Helena Hafenbeck (having issue with her named William, Anna G. Bauman, Carola Goldsmith, Charles, Irene, Eleanor Hulick, Harry, and Helen (Sauer).
Bastian Keller was born in Siblingen, Kanton, Switzerland in 1680. He married Elisabetha Hildebrandt and had a son with her named George. George Keller was born in Weiler, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany in 1719. He moved to the United States in married Barbara Anna Hottel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1733 and had the following issue with her: George, John, Elizabeth , Anna (Flavel), Henry, and George. His son John was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1736. He married Mary Bowman in 1761 in Virginia. They had the following children together: George, Benjamin, Jacob, Elizabeth, Daniel, Maria, John Henry, David, and Joseph. His son John Henry was born in Shenandoah, Virginia around 1775, married Eleanor Rebecca Carter, and had a son with her named Andrew Jackson. Andrew was born in Owen, Indiana in 1831. He married Nancy Coffman and had two issue with her: William Hiram and Mary Jennie. His son William Hiram Keller was born in Indiana in 1857. He married Emma Holley and had the following issue with her: Rachel, Enert N., Otis, William C., Estella May, Ada E., Francis, and Lawrence. His son Lawrence H. was born in the 1890s. He died in the 1960s, but had multiple issue include Dallas Keller, Doris (Cross), and Ruth (Altenbaumer). Dallas was born in the 1920s and passed away in the 2000s.