Thursday, October 30, 2014
A Tale of Two Kellers
Downtown Mooresville, Indiana has its G.A. Keller building (constructed between 1907-1910), and Columbus, Indiana, has its C.M. Keller building (constructed 1913). These two buildings resemble each other, suggesting a similar construction plan, architect, or general contractor. Were the Kellers whose names grace these structures relatives?
According to my Library’s self-guided downtown walking tour, George A. Keller (1859-1923) started his hardware and implement business in 1885, purchasing Alexander Conduitt’s property on East Main Street in downtown Mooresville. In 1885 George constructed a one-story frame structure on the front of the property (nearest the street) and used Conduitt’s residence (built ca. 1843) on the back of the property as a storeroom until it was demolished in 1907.
In 1907, George began constructing a new, brick building that was completed in 1910, and which bears his name today.
The G.A. Keller building is the light-colored brick structure in the middle
(photo ca. 1910 by J.P. Calvert)
(Click Images to Bigify)
The G.A. Keller building as it appeared in May, 2008
(photo by Mooresville Public Library)
Until 1921 Mooresville High School basketball games were played on the second floor of the G.A. Keller building, which had a wooden floor and was the only space sufficiently large to field a basketball court. Fans sat in wooden chairs against the walls—essentially on the court itself—so out-of-bounds was a tricky matter of straddling seated spectators to pass the ball into play.
Mooresville Times article about the new G.A. Keller building (June 6, 1907)
Mooresville Times, June 6, 1907
During construction George moved his old wooden store into the middle of East Main Street and continued conducting business there while work progressed on the new brick structure. Eventually, citizens complained to local government officials, who pressured George to remove his old quarters. George put the old building on logs, harnessed a team of horses, and, with the help of several stout fellows, hauled the structure to the southeast corner of West Main and South Monroe Streets, where it remains today as a single-family dwelling.
Old G.A. Keller building (constructed 1885) as a single-family home
at 155 West Main Street across from Mooresville Public Library
(2009 photo by MPL)
I had my minions research George A. Keller’s genealogy, and we discovered that his father, Frederick Keller (1826-1908), moved (at age 22) with his parents and siblings from Baden, Germany, to Morgan County, Indiana. George’s grandparents, David Keller (1790-1864) and his first wife, Salome Keller, and his second wife, Margret Keller (1810-1904), had several children, three of whom were boys. George’s uncles (i.e., Frederick’s two brothers) were named Michael Keller (1823-1897) and Michal (possibly Michel or Michael) King Keller (b. ca. 1838-?). So we can safely rule-out uncles as “C.M.” possibilities. Additionally, none of George’s other relatives’ names appeared to have the initials C.M. Most of George’s clan are buried in the Mooresville Cemetery, and nobody in the Keller family plot has initials C.M.
So I sent my minions searching the federal censuses for a C.M. Keller who lived in Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana, around the turn of the 20th century.
Christian Martin Keller (1860-1927) was listed as a plumber in the 1900 U.S. census. He operated his business, C.M. Keller & Company, in Columbus, and, according to the Complete Directory of BartholomewCounty, Indiana, 1903-1904 (p. 182), he owned (and presumably constructed) the C.M. Keller building in 1913, where, for decades, G.C. Murphy’s five-and-dime store operated.
G.C. Murphy Company (1950s) in the C.M. Keller building
at 415-417 Washington Street, Columbus, Indiana
(Photo courtesy of Historic Columbus Indiana website)
According to Ancestry Library Edition, Christian’s parents moved to Columbus from Pennsylvania prior to 1860, the year Christian was born (in Columbus). So it doesn’t appear that Christian Martin Keller and George A. Keller were related, at least as far back as the late 18th century family trees.
Since both Keller buildings were constructed within a few years of each other, one may presume that similar, popular architectural styles were incorporated. But it wasn’t “all in the family,” so to speak.
These little local historical adventures are fun. Visit our website to learn more about the history of Mooresville and Morgan County, Indiana. Click here and here. Oh, and here.
Your Roving Reporter On The Go,
Cauli Le Chat