Captain Charles F. Keller
Captain Charles F. Keller, well-known to the old navigators of the Great Lakes, was bred a salt-water sailor. He was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Charles F. and Caroline (Kraus) Keller, the former of whom was originally a farmer, but for thirteen years during the latter part of his life engaged in the cattle business in Germany. One the maternal side they were all sailors, at one time, three of the mother's brothers owning passenger ships which plied between Hamburg, New York and South American ports.
The Captain is the only representative of the family in America. He attended school in his native city and at the port of Dantzig, became apprenticed for seven years on the full-rigged ship Prince Alfred, for service between Hamburg and South American ports. Subsequently he was second mate of the ship King William, four years; mate of the bark Blanch, two and a half years; mate of the ship Jane of Jersey, four and a half years, and mate of the ship Caroline Sandersburg, two years. In 1841 he emigrated to America, locating at Kingston, Ontario, where he attended school three winters. In the spring of 1842 he began sailing the lakes, his first vessel being the schooner Maria Johnson, on which he was mate one season and master three seasons in succession. In 1846 he became master of the schooner Nettie Weaver, and so continued for seventeen consecutive seasons, at the end of which period he took command of the barkentine William Home, retaining that berth for ten seasons. The next four seasons he passed in his native city, Berlin, and returning to the lakes in 1877 took command of the schooner M. I. Wilcox, of which he was both master and owner four years. In 1881 Captain Keller retired permanently from the lakes and has since engaged in business on shore.
The Captain was married at Kingston, Ontario, in 1862, to Miss Nora Collins, by whom he has three children: Nora, wife of William Shriver, a lumber inspector; Annie, wife of James McGraw, who is engaged in the cattle business, and Charles F., second mate of the freight streamer Neosho. Captain Keller resides at North Tonawanda, New York.
Return to Home Port
This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.