Category Archives: Kessler Family History

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 8 Edgar Franklin Kessler Sr. (1897 – 1966)

Chapter 8
American Generation 6
Edgar Franklin Kessler, Sr. (1897 – 1966)

Edgar F. Kessler, Sr. (1897-1966) and Elizabeth Moore (1906-1962) at
Terry Lee Kessler Christening May 1957

 Ed & Liz Kessler (600 x 428)

Edgar Franklin Kessler, Sr. was born at the end of the 19th Century but spent most of his childhood and adulthood in the 20th Century.  Ed, Sr. was the grandfather of the author, who has vivid and clear memories of him.

Ed, Sr. grew up in Frederick, Maryland.  He and his family were members of the M.E. Church of Doubs.  There are newspaper records from a 1910 edition of the Frederick Times describing Christmas performances in which he and his sisters played roles in “Santa’s Little Boy” at the church.   He was the first in our direct line to locate from Frederick to Baltimore.

World War I started in 1914 with the assassination of Francis Ferdinand on June 28th.  The war raged in Europe through the rest of 1914 and all of 1915 and 1916.  Finally, the U.S. declared war on Germany on April 6th, 1917.

Ed, Sr. enlisted in the Maryland National Guard on July 30, 1917 and was assigned as a private in the 29th Division, 115th Infantry Division.  He likely fought in the Third Battle of Aisne, which was fought from May 27 to June 6, 1918.  Allied troops were defending the Chemin des Dames Ridge when German General Erich von Ludendorff opened a 4,000 gun preliminary bombardment starting on May 27th, 1918.  The initial bombardment caused heavy casualties on Allied front-line trenches.  A gas attack was followed by an infantry advance and the Germans rapidly advanced to the River Vesle.  The offensive continued and by May 30th the Germans had captured 50,000 soldiers and 800 guns and were only 10 miles from Paris.  Allied counter-attacks halted the advance by June 6th.

Our parents told us that Ed, Sr. had suffered from a mustard gas attack and facts seem to support this assertion.  Mustard Gas (Yperite) was first used by the German Army in September 1917. The most lethal of all the poisonous chemicals used during the war, it was almost odorless and took twelve hours to take effect. Yperite was so powerful that only small amounts had to be added to high explosive shells to be effective. Once in the soil, mustard gas remained active for several weeks.   Between 1914 and 1918, the U.S. suffered 71,345 non-fatal mustard gas injuries and 1,462 deaths.

After being wounded in France, Ed, Sr. left for the U.S. so that his injuries could be treated.  On June 14, 1918 Ed, Sr. arrived at Camp McClelland, Alabama.  He was assigned to Development Battalions (unable to physically perform duty) until he was honorably discharged on Dec. 4, 1918. NOTE: A newspaper item from the January 20, 1920 edition of the Frederick Times notes that Sergeant Edgar Kessler of Doubs returned from France, which creates a bit of a mystery relative to the prior notations. The item has been saved on disk for reference by anyone who has time to explore the mystery.

Marriage records indicate that Ed, Sr. married Daisy E. Romoser, age 38 on Nov. 21, 1924.  He was 27 years old at the time, even though the marriage records indicate he was 32 at the time.  He likely lied about his age in order to reduce the age difference between Daisy and he.

This marriage presents a bit of a mystery, as he fathered a child, Clara, in 1923, a year before he married Daisy.  It is not clear why, when or under what circumstances he met Elizabeth, fathered a child with her, met and married Daisy, and continued fathering children with Elizabeth.  According to my father and recollections from cousins, Ed, Sr. periodically disappeared from the home for long periods – as long as six months at a time.  It is possible that during these periods he was living with Daisy.  Cousin Patricia (Patty) Seelhorst Ball recalls that he may have spent time in or near Charlottesville, Virginia during these trips.

After Clara was born on August 7, 1923, Ed, Sr. and Elizabeth parented six more children: Edgar, Jr., Margaret, Helen, Dorothy, George and Charles.  They resided in East Baltimore.  On his World War II draft registration card, completed on April 25, 1942, he listed his address as 1205 N. Washington Street, Baltimore, Maryland (note: there is a line-out through this address and another address is typed in: 1837 W. Franklin Street, which is apparently the address of his sister, Anna Florey).  His height is stated as 6 feet 1 inch (I honestly do not remember that he was that tall).  His occupation is stated as Jobber: painting, papering, etc.

I recall visiting Ed, Sr.’s sister, Nellie, who lived in Frederick, Maryland.  I cannot recall too many details, but I can still visualize what Nellie looked like and the general look of her home.  Cousin Patty Ball also recalls visiting Frederick, Maryland.  Her recollections are as follows:

I remember him talking to me at times.  He was a bit of a drinker so it was hard to understand him all the time.  He did show me different coins that he had gotten from different countries and some confederate money as well.   I also remember when I was about 5 or 6, maybe even younger we went to Frederick to visit some older family members.   It was out in the country side and they had an outhouse, no indoor bathroom.  I remember that it was a big old white house with a big white fence around it.  I also remember that old lady smell.  Also I remember there were several dolls on a big bed that had a beautiful handmade quilt on it.  I think they were my mom’s aunts.

My personal memories of Ed, Sr. include a number of things.  He was a painter and my Dad would help him with certain jobs and he would take me with him.  Ed, Sr. suffered from alcoholism throughout much of his life.  I would go with my Dad when he would take Ed, Sr. to Spring Grove Mental Hospital and admit him for treatment.  This happened on more than one occasion.

Ed, Sr. lived in an apartment in the 300 block of Smallwood Street in Southwest Baltimore, near where my family lived (more about that later).  I recall going with my father to the apartment and my grandfather being very drunk – too inebriated to walk.  Those were occasions when we would pack a suitcase and take him to detoxification.  Cousin Marie Seelhorst recalls that Ed, Sr. lived with the Seelhorst family on Newkirk Street in East Baltimore.

I also recall that after he was released from Spring Grove Rehabilitation Center he lived with the Seelhorsts for a period of time, but I also recall helping my Dad clear out his apartment on Smallwood Street after he died (I was 12 years old at the time).  He had a yellow canary named Pete.  We took Pete to live with us and later, after Pete laid a “dry egg” we laughed as we learned that Pete was a female canary.  Ed, Sr.’s funeral was held in downtown Baltimore at the William Cook-Brooks Funeral Home on North Charles Street, near Pennsylvania Station (no longer in business).  He is buried in the veteran’s section of Baltimore National Cemetery on Frederick Road.  I recall that his grave is near the back right corner of the cemetery, within sight of the exterior fence.

Ed, Sr.’s funeral was held in downtown Baltimore at the William Cook-Brooks Funeral Home located at Charles and Preston Streets.  The funeral home was a very imposing mansion.  While the building is still there it is no longer a funeral home.  He was buried at Baltimore National Cemetery located on Frederick Road in Baltimore County, Maryland.  I later attended Rock Glen Junior High School and every day I arrived at a bus stop right next to the Cemetery, so I remember it well.  He is buried in the Veteran’s section of the Cemetery.

Edgar F. Kessler Marriage to Daisy Romoser November 21, 1924

 ef kessler marriage to daisy romoser

 1966 EF Kessler Cemetery Record

 1910 ef kessler xmas plan

 American Generation #6

Edgar Franklin Kessler, Sr., Elizabeth Moore and Children

Edgar Franklin Kessler, Sr. b: Feb 5, 1897, Frederick, Maryland
d: Oct. 29, 1966, Baltimore, Maryland
Elizabeth Wesley Moore


b: Jan. 19, 1906, Baltimore, Maryland
d: Dec. 5, 1962, Baltimore, Maryland


Clara Kessler
                                 (Married Joseph J. Dewitt)
b: Aug. 7, 1923, Baltimore, Maryland
d: Nov. 9, 1978, Baltimore, Maryland
Edgar Franklin Kessler, Jr.
                                  (Married Sue Kate Fairchild)
b: Dec. 3, 1924, Baltimore, Maryland
d: Apr. 14, 1978, Baltimore, Maryland
Margaret Kessler
(Married a Tracy (sp?))
b: Jun. 3, 1927, Baltimore, Maryland
d: Oct. 1, 2005, Baltimore, Maryland
Helen May Kessler
                      (Married Herman Marina Seelhorst)
b: Jul 5, 1929, Baltimore, Maryland
d: Jun 22, 1979, Baltimore, Maryland
Dorothy Kessler
                                                    (Married Huth)
b: Mar 7, 1931, Baltimore, Maryland
George “Bud” Kessler

b: Aug 13, 1935, Baltimore, Maryland
d: Jul 17, 1993, Baltimore, Maryland
Charles Lee Kessler
                                              (Married Elaine ?)
b: Dec. 21, 1937, Baltimore, Maryland
d: Aug. 15, 1984, Pasco, Tampa, Florida


As we get closer to our own generation, we have the ability to capture memory-information based on what we observed, over-heard, and were told by our parents, grandparents and other family members.  Elizabeth Wesley Moore (Liz) was my grandmother and I have clear memories of her time with us.

Liz was born on January 19, 1906 in Baltimore, Maryland and died on December 5, 1962.  No official record of marriage to Ed, Sr. can be located so it is reasonably safe to assume that she was never legally a Kessler.  However, she mothered seven children with Ed, Sr.

Liz’s father was George Moore, Jr. (1878-1952) and her mother was Mary L. “May” Stewart Moore (1884-1933).  She was second oldest of six children.  Her older sister was Helen M. (1904) and her younger siblings were George Moore (1908), Ella Stewart (1915), Aurelia Stewart (1917) and Alma Stewart (1919).  Sometime between 1908 and 1915 Liz’s mother and father divorced, hence the reason that the three later children’s last name was Stewart instead of Moore.

My Aunt, Dorothy Kessler Huth told my brother and I that May Stewart’s ancestors were related to the Singer Sewing Machine family.  She said that May Stewart’s mother was Annie Mae Wells Stewart and Annie’s father was Samuel Wells.  Aunt Dorothy said one of the relatives along this family tree branch was Jacob Singer and that Jacob did something to be disinherited from the Singer family fortune.  I have worked to determine if there is any truth to this family rumor (experience has shown that there is usually some truth to such rumors).

Here are some relevant facts that suggest the rumor might be true, even though I cannot directly link our descendants by name/dates:

Isaac Merritt Singer was born in Pittstown, New York, on October 27, 1811. He was the youngest child of Adam Singer and his first wife, Ruth Benson. Isaac’s father was a German immigrant whose surname at birth was Reisinger. Adam Reisinger, a millwright, and his German wife immigrated in 1803. They had eight children, three sons and five daughters. When Isaac Singer was 10 years old, his parents divorced. When he was 12, he ran away, and later went to live with his elder brother in Rochester.

Isaac Singer went to work in his elder brother’s machine shop. He learned the machinist trade as he reached his adult height of 6 feet 4 inches. He was also enamored with and dabbled in the acting profession.

Isaac married Catharine Maria Haley in 1830 and they had two children: William (1834) and Lillian (1837). In 1835 he, Catharine and William moved to New York City to work in a press shop. In 1836, he left NY as an agent for a company of players, touring through Baltimore, where he met Mary Ann Sponsler, to whom he proposed marriage (though he did not actually go through with it). He returned with Mary Ann to New York in 1837. That year Isaac fathered two children by two different women: Catharine gave birth to Lillian  and Mary Ann gave birth to Isaac Augustus. His marriage to Catharine fell apart but they did not divorce until 1860.

In 1839 Singer obtained his first patent, for a machine to drill rock, selling it for $200,000 to the I&M Canal Building Company. In 1846 he set up a shop for making wood type and signage. Here he developed and patented a “machine for carving wood and metal” on April 10, 1849.

At thirty-eight years old, with Mary Ann and eight children, he moved back to New York City, hoping to market his wood-block cutting machine. He built and constructed a working prototype and met G. B. Zieber, who became Singers’ financier and partner. A steam explosion destroyed the prototype. He and Zieber relocated to Boston and found a show room for the new prototype.

Orders for Singer’s wood cutting machine were slow but Lerow & Blodgett sewing machines were being constructed and repaired in the same machine shop. The owner, Phelps asked Singer to look at the sewing machines, which were difficult to use and produce. Singer noted that the sewing machine would be more reliable if the shuttle moved in a straight line rather than a circle, with a straight rather than a curved needle. Singer obtained US Patent number 8294 on his improvements on August 12, 1851. Singer’s prototype sewing machine became the first to work in a practical way.
Sewing machine design

Singer did not invent the sewing machine. All sewing machines before Walter Hunt’s produced a chain stitch, which had the disadvantage of easily unraveling. Hunt’s machine produced a lock stitch, as did all subsequent machines including Lerow and Blodgett’s, which Singer in turn improved in Phelps’s shop. Elias Howe independently developed a sewing machine and obtained a patent on September 10, 1846.

War broke out between Howe and Singer, with each claiming patent primacy. Singer set out to discover that Howe’s improvements had been reinventions of existing technology, and found one of Hunt’s old machines, which indeed created a lock-stitch with a shuttle. Hunt applied in 1853 for a patent, claiming priority to Howe’s patent, issued some seven years earlier. A lawsuit, Hunt v. Howe, came to trial in 1854, and was resolved in Howe’s favor. Howe then brought suit to stop Singer from selling Singer machines, and protracted litigation ensued.

I. M. Singer & Co

In 1856, manufacturers Grover & Baker, Singer, Wheeler & Wilson, all accusing the others of patent infringement, met in Albany, New York to pursue their suits. Orlando B. Potter, a lawyer and president of the Grover and Baker Company, proposed that, rather than sue their profits out of existence, they pool their patents. This was the first patent pool, a process which enables production of complicated machines without legal battles over patent rights. They agreed to form the Sewing Machine Combination, but for this to be of any use they had to secure the cooperation of Elias Howe, who still held certain vital uncontested patents which meant he received a royalty on every sewing machine manufactured by any company. Terms were arranged, and Howe joined on. Sewing machines began to be mass produced: I. M. Singer & Co manufactured 2,564 machines in 1856, and 13,000 in 1860 at a new plant on Mott Street in New York. Later a massive plant was built near Elizabeth, New Jersey.[2]  Sewing machines had until now been industrial machines, made for garments, shoes, bridles and fortailors, but in 1856 smaller machines began to be marketed for home use. Singer was the first who put a family machine, “The turtle back”, on the market. I. M. Singer expanded into the European market, establishing a factory in Clydebank, near Glasgow, controlled by the parent company, becoming one of the first American-based multinational corporations, with agencies in Paris and Rio de Janeiro. Credit for the invention of the sewing machine, so Andrew B. Jack, must go to I.M. Singer on three very important counts: 1. only he used the 10 most important elements for highest capacity and adaptability; 2. his design was a revolution of former attempts; 3. his concept is still today the basis of all sewing machines.

Marriages, divorces, and children

The financial success gave Singer the ability to buy a mansion on Fifth Avenue, into which he moved his second family. In 1860, he divorced Catherine, on the basis of her adultery with Stephen Kent. He continued to live with Mary Ann, until she spotted him driving down Fifth Avenue seated beside one Mary McGonigal, an employee, about whom Mary Ann had well-founded suspicions, for by this time Mary McGonigal had borne Isaac Singer five children. The surname Matthews was used for this family. Mary Ann (still calling herself Mrs. I. M. Singer) had her husband arrested for bigamy. Singer was let out on bond and, disgraced, fled to London in 1862, taking Mary McGonigal with him. In the aftermath, another of Isaac’s families was discovered: he had a “wife” Mary Eastwood Walters and daughter Alice Eastwood in Lower Manhattan, who both adopted the surname “Merritt”. By 1860, Isaac had fathered and recognized eighteen children (sixteen of them remaining alive), by four women.

With Isaac in London, Mary Ann began setting about securing a financial claim to his assets by filing documents detailing his infidelities, claiming that though she had never been formally married to Isaac, that they were in fact wed under Common Law (by living together for seven months after Isaac had been divorced from his first wife Catherine). Eventually a settlement was made, but no divorce was granted. However, she asserted that she was free to marry, and indeed married John E. Foster. Isaac, meanwhile, had renewed acquaintance with Isabella Eugenie Boyer, a Frenchwoman he had lived with in Paris when he was staying there in 1860. She left her husband, and married Isaac under the name of Isabella Eugenie Sommerville, on June 13, 1863, while she was pregnant.
Final years in Europe

In 1863, I. M. Singer & Co. was dissolved by mutual consent, with the business continued as “The Singer Manufacturing Company,” enabling the reorganization of financial and management responsibilities. Singer no longer actively participated in the firm’s day-to-day management, but served as a member of the Board of Trustees (even though he now lived in Europe) and was a major stockholder.

He now began to increase his new family: he would eventually have six children with his wife Isabella. Unable, probably because of Isaac’s chequered marital past, to enter New York society, the family emigrated to Paris, never to return to the United States. Fleeing the Franco-Prussian War, they resided first in London, then in Paignton, (near Torquay) on the Devon coast where he built a large house, Oldway Mansion. He brought some of his other children to live there. Nine days after the wedding of his daughter Alice Merritt to William Alonso Paul La Grove, Isaac Singer died of “an affection of the heart and inflammation of the wind-pipe.” He was interred in Torquay cemetery.
Estate and legacy; his families after his death

Singer left an estate of about $14,000,000 and two wills disposing this between his family members, leaving some out for various reasons. Suits followed, with Mary Anne claiming to be the legitimate “Mrs. Singer”. In the end Isabella was declared the legal widow. Isabella remarried in 1879 with Dutch musician Victor Reubsaet and settled in Paris. After his death in 1887, she remarried in 1891 with Paul Sohège.

Isaac’s 20th child Winnaretta Singer married Prince Louis de Scey-Montbéliard in 1887, when she was 22. After annulment of this marriage in 1891, she married Prince Edmond de Polignac in 1893. She would become a prominent patron of French avant-garde music, e.g., Erik Satie composed his Socrate as one of her commissions (1918). As a lesbian she became involved with Violet Trefusis from 1923 on. Another of Isaac’s daughters, Isabelle-Blanche (born 1869) married Jean, duc Decazes (Daisy Fellowes was their daughter). Isabelle committed suicide in 1896. A brother to Winnaretta and Isabelle, Paris Singer, had a child by Isadora Duncan. Another brother, Washington Singer, became a substantial donor to hi the University College of the South-West of England, which later became the University of Exeter; one of the university’s buildings is named in his honour.

I know this was a fairly long biography about Isaac Singer, but given the rumor that we are related I decided to investigate.  I could find no evidence that the rumor, that we are related to a disinherited Jacob Singer, is true.  However, given Isaac’s propensity to womanize and the notes above that he disinherited some descendants, the rumor could in fact be true.

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 7 William Andrew Kessler (1859 – 1925)

Chapter 7
American Generation 5
William Andrew Kessler (1859 – 1925)



William Andrew Kessler was born a few years after the end of the Civil War, at a time when the family was prosperous.  He likely grew up on one of the farms in Jefferson Township.  He was the youngest of seven children born to Andrew Kessler Jr. and Alberta Lamar Kessler.

It is interesting to note that at his birth, William’s oldest sister, Isabella was 21 years old and she married William Figgins in the same year that William Andrew Kessler was born. It is likely that William was nurtured and became closest to Eugenia, who was 17 or 18 years old when William was born and John, who was born in 1955 and was 3 years old when William was born.

As discussed earlier for William’s father, Andrew Kessler (1817-1896), the Kessler family was considered well-off to wealth during the mid-to-late 1800s.  However the children of Andrew, over a period of years, slowly withdrew and spent, without his knowledge, funds from the bank until Andrew discovered the status of his affairs and died from a heart attack.  The various sons were apparently destitute after Andrew’s death.  William and Alberta moved themselves and their children to Buckeystown to live with William’s older sister, Isabella and her husband William Figgins.  The entire family is listed as living on William Figgins’ farm in Buckeystown according to the 1900 U.S. Census, indicating that this relocation occurred shortly after Andrew Kessler’s death somewhere between 1896 and the 1900 Census and about the time of Edgar Franklin Kessler Sr.’s birth in 1897.


The period from 1866 at the end of the Civil War to 1901 and the beginning of the Spanish-America War was known as the “Gilded Age.”  This period was the time when William grew up in Frederick, Maryland.

The Gilded Age and the first years of the twentieth century were a time of great social change and economic growth in the United States.  This period saw rapid industrialization, urbanization, the construction of great transcontinental railroads, innovations in science and technology, and the rise of big business. Afterward, the first years of the new century that followed were dominated by progressivism, a forward-looking political movement that attempted to redress some of the ills that had arisen during the Gilded Age. Progressives passed legislation to rein in big business, combat corruption, free the government from special interests, and protect the rights of consumers, workers, immigrants, and the poor. Some historians have dubbed the presidents of the Gilded Age the “forgotten presidents,” and indeed many Americans today have trouble remembering their names, what they did for the country, or even in which era they served. These six men—Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison—had relatively unremarkable terms in office and faced few if any major national crises during their presidencies. Some historians have suggested that these Gilded Age presidents were unexciting for a reason—because Americans wanted to avoid bold politicians who might ruin the delicate peace established after the Civil War.

Driven by the North, which emerged from the Civil War an industrial powerhouse, the United States experienced a flurry of unprecedented growth and industrialization during the Gilded Age, with a continent full of seemingly unlimited natural resources and driven by millions of immigrants ready to work. In fact, some historians have referred to this era as America’s second Industrial Revolution, because it completely changed American society, politics, and the economy. Mechanization and marketing were the keys to success in this age: companies that could mass-produce products and convince people to buy them accumulated enormous amounts of wealth, while companies that could not were forced out of business by brutal competition.

Railroads were the linchpin in the new industrialized economy. The railroad industry enabled raw materials, finished products, food, and people to travel cross-country in a matter of days, as opposed to the months or years that it took just prior to the Civil War. By the end of the war, the United States boasted some 35,000 miles of track, mostly in the industrialized North. By the turn of the century, that number had jumped to almost 200,000 miles, linking the North, South, and West. With these railroads making travel easier, millions of rural Americans flocked to the cities, and by 1900, nearly 40 percent of the population lived in urban areas.

By the twentieth century, the rise of big business and the large migration of Americans from the countryside to the cities caused a shift in political awareness, as elected officials saw the need to address the growing economic and social problems that developed along with the urban boom.  Progressives believed that the government needed to take a strong, proactive role in the economy, regulating big business, immigration, and urban growth. These middle-class reformers hoped ultimately to regain control of the government from special interests like the railroads and trusts and pass effective legislation to protect consumers, organized labor, and minorities.

American Generation #5

William Andrew Kessler, Wife and Children

William Andrew Kessler


b: May 29, 1859, Frederick, Marylandd: Jun 19,1925, Frederick, Maryland
Alberta Castle Kessler

(Married William on Dec 22., 1892)

b: Oct. 16, 1875, Frederick, Marylandd: Jan 2,1934, Baltimore, Maryland


Blanche May Kessler

(Married Wesley F. Schaffer on Aug 13, 1913)

b: Nov. 1893, Frederick, Marylandd: Aug. 1969, Buckeystown, Maryland
Edgar Franklin Kessler, Sr.

b: Feb 5, 1897, Frederick, Marylandd: Oct. 29, 1966, Baltimore, Maryland
Nellie Virginia “Hillie” Kessler

(Married Ernest Peter Miss)

b: Mar. 1898, Frederick, Marylandd: May 25, 1967, Frederick, Maryland
Clara Elizabeth Kessler

(Married Harry Edward Stup)

b: Apr 25, 1899, Frederick, Marylandd: Oct. 1976, Frederick, Maryland
William Andrew Kessler, Jr. b: 1900, Frederick, Maryland
Charles Lee Kessler b: 1901, Frederick, Maryland
Anna Laura Kessler

(Married Louis Jacob Florey)

b: Apr 4, 1904, Frederick, Marylandd: Nov. 22, 1947, Frederick, Maryland
Paul L. Kessler b: 1910, Frederick, Maryland

Alberta Gertrude Castle Kessler

CASTLE Alberta (390 x 600)


Alberta was the fourth of 12 children born to Kenderson T. (1848-1929) and Elizabeth Ann Young Castle (1849-1915).  She was born in Middletown, Frederick County, Maryland on October 16, 1876 and married William Kessler on December 22, 1892 at the young age of 16.  They were married at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frederick County, Maryland.  Alberta died on January 2, 1934 at the age of 57 years old and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick County.  She and William parented eight children from 1893 to 1910.

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 6 Andrew Kessler Jr. (1817 – 1896)

Chapter 6
American Generation 4:
Andrew Kessler Jr. (1817 – 1896)

I distinctly remember as a child hearing family stories and gossip related to our ancestors.  My grandfather, Edgar F. Kessler Sr. was alive at the time and his father, William was one of Andrew Kessler’s sons, so he had firsthand knowledge of what happened in Frederick during the late 1800s.

The story was that my great-great-grandfather, Andrew Jr. (Jul 3, 1817 – Nov 7, 1896) was very well-off because of the efforts of his grandfather and father and their farming and investment activities.  However, toward the end of Andrew’s life, his sons had secretly spent his fortune.  One day he went to the bank and discovered that his fortune was gone and he was broke and, when he came out of the bank he fell on the sidewalk and died as a result of the revelation.  The story was told on multiple occasions by my grandfather, Edgar F. Kessler, Sr. (Feb 5, 1895 – Oct. 29, 1966).

My brother Ed and I investigated this rumor during a trip to Frederick and discovered newspaper and genealogical evidence that the story was true.  Here is an excerpt we found in the Frederick News, dated Saturday, November 7, 1896:

Frederick News

Saturday, November 7, 1896

Sudden Death in the Street

Mr. Andrew Kessler, a well-known farmer of Jefferson, this county, fell in front of Smith’s Temple of Fancy a few minutes before twelve o’clock today and almost instantly expired.

He was picked up and carried into the store, where he died without regaining consciousness.  The deceased was well and widely known and a farmer of considerable means.  He owns two farms near Jefferson, but has lately made his home with one of his sons in that village.  He was also well-known in this city.

Mr. Kessler was a venerable man of probably 85 years of age, and had led an active life.  He was a member of the Maryland Legislature from Frederick County in the year 1860, during the time that Governor Hicks was Chief Magistrate of the State of Maryland.

Soon after Mr. Kessler was carried from the pavement to the store, Dr. Lewis A. Burch was called in, but death had already ensued.  Magistrate Thomas Turner and Thaddeus M. Biser were notified and after hearing the circumstances of the death Mr. Smith concluded that a coroner’s inquest would be unnecessary and authorized the remains to be turned over to undertaker Hutchinson.

The deceased had four sons – Mssrs. Edward, Thomas, John and William Kessler and three daughters.  Quite a number of people viewed the remains in the store, some of whom were well-acquainted with the deceased.

Frederick News

Monday, November 9, 1896

Funeral of Mr. Andrew Kessler, who died suddenly took place this afternoon at 2 o’clock in Jefferson.  Services were held in M.E. Church and interment was made in the burying ground adjacent to the church.  The deceased made his home with his son, Thomas Kessler.

The story is reinforced by subsequent census data.  My grandfather said that his family (parents and siblings) were forced to move in with one of William’s married sisters, Isabella and her husband William A. Figgins on their farm located in Buckeystown, Frederick County, Maryland.  This is confirmed by the 1900 U.S. Census wherein William Figgins reports that his brother-in-law (William A. Kessler, age 41), sister-in-law (Alberta G., age 23) and their four children (Blanche, Edgar F., Nellie V., and Clara E.) were residing on his farm.


Andrew Junior was born in 1817 and witnessed the events that led to the Civil War.  In fact, he played a significant role in the Civil War.  According to the Maryland State Archives (The General Assembly Moves to Frederick, 1861), in early 1861, Maryland was walking a tightrope between the Union and the Confederacy. In addition to being physically located between the two sides, Maryland depended equally on the North and the South for its economy. Although Maryland had always leaned toward the south culturally, sympathies in the state were as much pro-Union as they were pro-Confederate. Reflecting that division and the feeling of many Marylanders that they just wanted to be left alone, the state government would not declare for either side.

For the Federal Government, however, there was no question about which side Maryland had to take. If she seceded, Washington D.C. would be surrounded by hostile states, effectively cut off from the rest of the Union. The situation came to a head on April 19, 1861, when the soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts Volunteers, moving through Baltimore on the way to Washington, were attacked by a pro-Southern mob. When the mob started shooting at the regiment, the soldiers returned fire, and when the smoke had cleared, four soldiers and twelve civilians had been killed.

 Kemp Hall Frederick

kemp hall plaque 3

To avoid further riots, it was decided to send troops through the Naval Academy at Annapolis. To ensure the safety of the troops and the loyalty of the state government, the Federal Government sent General Benjamin F. Butler to Annapolis to secure the city on April 22. That same day, Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks decided to call a special session of the General Assembly to discuss the crisis. At that time, the General Assembly met biannually, but popular outcry was so strong that the governor felt it necessary to call together the Assembly during an off year. However, he probably felt that anti-Union sentiment would run high in a city that had just been occupied by Northern troops, so Governor Hicks decided to convene the Legislature in Frederick, Maryland, a strongly pro-Union city.

The General Assembly first met in the Frederick County Courthouse on April 26. However, it was quickly found that the courthouse was too small, and so, on the second day, the Assembly moved to Kemp Hall the meeting hall belonging to the German Reformed Church. On April 30, the weekly Frederick Herald reported: “The Legislature seems comfortable and well provided for in their new halls in the German Reformed Building. The Senate occupies the Red Men’s Hall, third story — the House, the hall in the second story. These halls have been tastefully and appropriately fitted up for their purposes.”

The main topic of discussion in those tastefully appointed halls was, of course, the question of whether or not to secede from the Union. As the General Assembly met throughout the long summer, a bill and a resolution were introduced calling for secession. Both failed because the legislators said that they did not have the authority to secede from the Union. Even many of the pro-Southern delegates and senators did not support the bills. At the same time, however, the legislators refused to reopen rail links to the Northern States, for fear that they would be used for military purposes and also by pro-Union agitators bent on revenge for the Baltimore riots. One of the few things the General Assembly did agree upon was a resolution sent to President Lincoln protesting the Union occupation of Maryland. It seems that the General Assembly was primarily interested in preserving Maryland’s neutrality, for they neither wanted to secede from the Union, nor to allow Union troops to cross its territory in order to attack the Confederacy.

On August 7, the General Assembly adjourned, intending to meet again on September 17. However, on that day Federal troops and Baltimore police officers arrived in Frederick with orders to arrest the pro-Confederate members of the General Assembly. Thus, the special session in Frederick ended, as did Frederick’s summer as the state capital, as Maryland found itself inexorably drawn further and further into the heart of the bloodiest war in American history. Andrew Kessler, Jr. was one of the arrested legislators. There were some accounts that Andrew was imprisoned at Fort McHenry, Maryland during his period of incarceration. He was held with the other legislators until they pledged loyalty to the United States Government and they were then released and returned home.


One of Andrew’s brothers, Absalom (1818-1898) was very active during the pre-Civil War and Civil War period, serving as Orphans Court Judge from 1859 to 1863, Register of Wills from 1863 to 1867, and Jefferson Post-Master starting in 1866. Based on records found during a visit to the Frederick County Courthouse in the 1980s, Absalom during the Civil War agreed to free his slaves contingent on their enlisting and serving in the Union Army. This put him in direct opposition to his brother Andrew Jr. who, as noted above was a Southern sympathizer.

Lloyd Alexander Kessler (1814-1902), son of Jacob and Rachel Kessler and grandson of Andreas apparently owned and operated a show store in Frederick at the outbreak of the Civil War. The store was first robbed by the Union Army  11th Corps. It was again robbed and destroyed in July 1864 by the Confederate Army commanded by Jubal Early which passed through Frederick a few days prior to the Battle of Monocacy Junction. According to one family account, “They destroyed and carried away everything that they could.” Family folklore has it that only two cherry drop-leaf tables were salvaged (those tables were in possession of Webb family members in Wilmington, Delaware as of 1987). According to relatives, “The loss resulting from Early’s raid was complete and financially ruinous. Claim for reimbursement from the government was made by Lloyd Kessler to the Congressional Court of Claims on August 30, 1888 and was pursued unsuccessfully by various family members for years thereafter.”

American Generation #4

Andrew Kessler Jr. Wife and Children

Andrew Kessler, Jr.


b: Jul 3, 1817, Frederick, Marylandd: Nov 7, 1896, New Market, Maryland
Lauretta Smith Lamar Kessler

(Married Andrew on May 9, 1837)

b: May 20, 1816, Frederick, Marylandd: Dec. 2, 1895, Frederick, Maryland


Isabella T. Kessler

(Married William Figgins in 1869)

b: Mar 12, 1838, Frederick, Marylandd: Dec. 31, 1920, Doubs, Frederick, Maryland
Mary Aurelia “Laura” Kessler

(Married David L. Specht in 1872)

b: May 27, 1842, Frederick, Marylandd: Jul 23, 1908, Frederick, Maryland
Edwin M. Kessler

(Married Albina Ann Kessler)

b: Jan. 1845, Frederick, Marylandd: 1909, Frederick, Maryland
Thomas Andrew Kessler

(Married Lizzie C. Kessler)

b: Oct. 2, 1849, Frederick, Marylandd: Mar. 2, 1908, Frederick, Maryland
Eugenia Kessler b: 1851d: Jan. 18, 1943
John Franklin Kessler b: Sep 29, 1855, Frederick, Marylandd: Dec. 26, 1892, Frederick, Maryland
William Andrew Kessler

(Married Alberta Castle on Dec. 22, 1892)

b: May 29, 1859, Frederick, Marylandd: Jun 19,1925, Frederick, Maryland


Andrew was married three times.  He married Catherine (maiden name unknown) in 1798 and fathered five children: Samuel, Henry, Israel, Emanual and William.  He married Mary Smith in 1811 and fathered five children with her: Ann Rebecca, Amelia Ann, Andrew Jr, Absalom, and Lucinda.  Finally, he married Mary Marshall in 1830 and they had no known children.

Lloyd Alexander Kessler (1814-1902) Civil War Looting

I recently received the following items from a relative, Leonard Easton. Lloyd is son of Jacob Kessler (1782-1834) and Grandson of Andreas (1746-1809). These items reflect that Lloyd owned a store located in Jefferson, Maryland at the time of the Civil War. Rebel troops on their way to the battle of Monocacy Junction looted his store and he subsequently filed a claim with the Federal government which appears to have been upheld.

family letters1

family letters no 2_edited

family letters no 3_edited

bill to us govt. 1864

Kessler Civil War Claim response0001

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 5 Andrew Kessler (1770 – 1860)

Chapter 5
American Generation 3
Andrew Kessler (1770 – 1860)

Andrew Kessler was the first of our family line who was American by birth.  He lived to be almost 90 years old, married three times, and fathered ten children.  He was a young man during the American Revolutionary War and reached adulthood at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and election of our first president.  If only we could reach out to him he could provide us great insight into the formation of our country.

Mt Olivet Cemetery,
Frederick, Maryland

 Mt Olivet Cemetery - Frederick Maryland

Andrew, son of Andreas and father of Andrew Jr., was the first to live primarily in Jefferson Township outside of Frederick.  His father, Andreas moved to Donegal Township in Pennsylvania in 1796, where he was buried.  But the generation starting with this Andrew lived in Jefferson Township and most are interred in cemeteries in the Jefferson and Frederick areas.

Included below is the text from Andrew’s last will and testament:

Wills of Maryland

Kessler, Andrew, Sr. –   Mechanicstown  – Fredk’ Co.   -Vol   14 ( 1855 -1860) – pg 467

Liber GH-1 Folio 467 proved 12 Jan 1860 Will of Andrew Kessler [Jr.]:

In the Name of God, Amen.  I, Andrew Kessler of FrederickCounty do make, & xxxx my Last will & Testament.  First, I commit my soul into the hands of Almighty God and my body to be decently buried by my Executor.

In the first place, I give and devise to my wife Mary Kessler for and during the term of her natural life the House and Lot owned by me in the Town of Jefferson, after her death it is my will and I hereby devise it to my sons Andrew & Israel in xxxxxxxx to them and their heirs forever.

I also give and bequeath to my said wife One Hundred and fifty dollars in money, together with all the household and kitchen furniture, and beds and bedding that I may have at the time of my death.

Secondly, I give and devise to my two sons Andrew & Israel in xxxxxxxxxx to them and their heirs forever the Farm lying on the road leading from Jefferson to the Point of Rocks, but inso devising said farm I hereby expressly charge the same with the yearly payment to my wife Mary during her life of fifteen bushels of good wheat, Two Hundred weight of pork, and two barrels of corn.

Thirdly, I give and devise to my son Absalom P. Kessler the Farm lying on the Frederick and Harpersferry Roads, in trust, that he shall, during his life  take, and receive, the rents and profits thereof and apply the same to the support and maintenance of the children which the said Absalom now has, or may hereafter have; and, after the death of my said son Absalom I give and devise the said Farm to the children of my said son Absalom, to them and their heirs forever.

Item – I give and bequeath to each of my daughters Amelia A. Yaste, Lucinda Carrick, and, Ann Rebecca Lightner, one thousand dollars.

Item – I give and bequeath to my son Emanuel two thousand dollars.

 Jefferson Reformed Church Cemetery

Jefferson Township, Maryland

Kessler Jefferson Reformed Church, Jefferson, Md (160 x 120)

Item – I give and bequeath to each of my grand-children Susan and Sarah (children of my deceased son William) & Henry N., Edward, Samuel (children of my deceased son Samuel) one hundred dollars.

In case the personal property left at my death should not be sufficient to pay the pecuniary legacies herein before made and given, it is my will that the deficiency shall be made up one half out of the farm hereinbefore devised to my sons Andrew and Israel and the other half out of the farm devised and in trust to my son Absalom P. Kessler & I hereby expressly charge the deficiency upon said farms in the proportion above designated.

And lastly I do hereby constitute my son Andrew Kessler my sole executor.


 Andrew Kessler 1770 Headstone

Andrew Kessler was born at a tumultuous time.  In March of 1770, the year he was born the Boston Massacre occurred when British troops fired into a Boston mob that was demonstrating against British troops at the Boston Customs Commission.  The event constitutes the first battle in the American Revolution, which began five years later, as it inflamed tensions with Britain and fueled subsequent protest activities.  In 1775 Patrick Henry was exhorting the Virginia Legislator to “Give me Liberty or Give me Death.”  The Declaration of Independence was penned in 1776 when Andrew was not yet six years old initiating the Revolutionary War which lasted for the next six years, ending in 1782.

The new nation was ruled under the weak Articles of Confederation for the next decade, while Andrew was in his teens and in 1787 the U.S. Constitution was drafted and in 1788 it received sufficient number of state votes to ratify it, creating the current form of government that we now have.  The first U.S. Congress was elected and seated in 1789 and one of its first acts was to draft and enact the Bill of Rights.  By this time Andrew was approaching adulthood and was fully aware of these important events.  He likely participated in presidential elections for George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson into the early 1800s.

He also lived through the events leading up to the Civil War although he passed away almost exactly one year before the great conflict started in January 1861.  Abraham Lincoln was elected President in late 1860 and South Carolina seceded from the Union shortly thereafter, initiating the Civil War.

American Generation #3

Andrew Kessler and Wives and Children

Andrew Kessler b: Nov 2, 1770, Frederick, Marylandd: Jan 1, 1860, Frederick, Maryland
Catherine Kessler         (Married Andrew in 1798) b: 1773, Marylandd: 1810
Mary Smith Kessler

(Married Andrew on Oct 7, 1811)

b: Mar 15, 1786, Marylandd: Feb 28, 1848, Maryland
Mary Marshall Kessler

(Married Andrew in Dec 10, 1830)

b: Unknownd: Unknown

Children with Catherine

Samuel Kessler

(Married Mary Ann Stonebraker in 1822)

b: Feb 12, 1799, Frederick, Marylandd: May 9, 1830, Frederick, Maryland
Henry Kessler
Israel Kessler

(Married Sarah Boteler in 1838)

b: Feb 1808, Frederick, Marylandd: Apr 20, 1883, Frederick, Maryland
Emanual Kessler b: 1809, Frederick, Maryland
William Kessler b: 1810, Frederick, Marylandd: 1860, Frederick, Maryland

Children with Mary Smith

Ann Rebecca Kessler b: 1812, Frederick, Marylandd: 1880, Frederick, Maryland
Amelia Ann Kessler b: Feb 10, 1815, Frederick, Marylandd: Feb 14, 1859, Frederick, Maryland
Andrew Kessler Jr. b: Jul 3, 1817, Frederick, Marylandd: Nov 6, 1896, Frederick, Maryland
Absalom Kessler b: Dec 7, 1818, Frederick, Marylandd: 1899
Lucinda Kessler b: Sep. 1821, Frederick, Marylandd: Oct. 12, 1902, Montgomery County, Md.


Andrew was married three times.  He married Catherine Wertenbaker in 1798 and fathered five children: Samuel, Henry, Israel, Emanual and William.  Catherine died in 1810. He then married Mary Smith in 1811 and fathered five children with her: Ann Rebecca, Amelia Ann, Andrew Jr., Absalom, and Lucinda.  Finally, he married Mary Marshall in 1830 and they had no known children.

The causes of the end of Andrew’s last two marriages are not known. Since Andrew married Mary Marshall in 1830 but Mary Smith did not die until 1848 we can assume that they divorced.  Andrew signed a last will and testament in 1860 leaving “to my wife Mary Kessler for and during the term of her natural life the House and Lot owned by me in the Town of Jefferson, after her death it is my will and I hereby devise it to my sons Andrew & Israel to them and their heirs forever. I also give and bequeath to my said wife One Hundred and fifty dollars in money, together with all the household and kitchen furniture, and beds and bedding that I may have at the time of my death.”

Also, he left a “… yearly payment to my wife, Mary, during her life, of fifteen bushels of good wheat, two hundred weight of pork and two bushels of corn.”  Given the marriage dates identified on, it is highly likely that this was Mary Marshall, his last wife.

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 4 Andreas Kessler (1746 – 1809)

Chapter 4
American Generation 2
Andreas Kessler (1746 – 1809)

Andreas came from Germany with his family at age 5[1] and settled in Frederick Co., MD.  There is little direct information about Andreas but his marriage and children are well documented.  Edgar and I visited Frederick, Maryland in the 1990s and I observed a topographical map of the Jefferson area that identified three different Kessler farms in close proximity to each other.  Unfortunately, we did not make a copy of that map for our records.

Andreas purchased some of his father’s land and some land for his farm on the edges of what is now called Jefferson, Maryland, 12 miles south of the City of Frederick. Andrew’s father, Johann George Bernhard died in 1792 and a few years later Andrew relocated about 150 miles northwest to Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in 1796. Donegal Township is located in Westmoreland County about 50 miles southwest of present day Pittsburgh. He lived and farmed in Donegal Township until his death in 1809.  Andrew was a member of the Evangelical Reformed Church.  He is buried in the Keslar Family Cemetery located near Salt Lick Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.


Westmoreland County is located about 150 miles from Frederick, Maryland so it was no small decision to relocate from the family home of almost 50 years to the western wilderness that was to eventually become the Pittsburgh area. Roads were non-existent at the time and consisted of old Indian trails that had been somewhat widened when the British Army traveled to the region to fight the French and Indian War in the 1760s. So the decision to make the move was significant. The challenge is more complex because of the mystery in understanding why Andreas and some of his children made the move but others remained in Frederick.

It is clear that Andreas and his sons Peter and George relocated from Frederick to Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in 1796. John Newton Boucher in his book: “History of Westmoreland County Pennsylvania, Volume I” noted the following: “Among the old families was the Kistler family, the father, Andrew coming from Germany to Maryland, and then moving to Donegal Township in 1796. Other early settlers were Andrew Harman, who was killed by the Indians; William R. Hunter, the Millhofs, Virsings, Shaeffer, Havses, Gettemys, Jones and Blackburns.”

Donegal Township in Westmoreland County and Salt Lick Township in Fayette County are located near each other and about 50 miles southeast of present day Pittsburgh. During the late 1700s this region was still a wilderness and settlers often were attacked by Indians. Even though the French and Indian War took place in the 1760s at Fort Duquesne near Pittsburgh, Indian tribes continued to resent infringement by the settlers and would often attack, kill and burn settlements. Here is an example of a description illustrating this point: “In the later years of the eighteenth century small colonies of pioneers settled in the Ligonier Valley near Fort Palmer, Fort Ligonier and Donegal township These were troublous times because the restless savages were a constant source of danger and the people built their cabins within easy reach of the forts and blockhouses to which they were compelled to flee for refuge from the turbulent Indians.”

In trying to understand why Andreas, Peter and George relocated to this region there is anecdotal evidence that they were seeking to relocate to a less-developed area. In 1796 George Washington completed his second term as President. In the 1796 election John Adams, a Federalist who advocated a strong federal government defeated Thomas Jefferson who advocated a restrained federal government and who was an advocate for farmers such as Andreas. The Residence Act of 1790 had determined that the emerging federal government would be located on the banks of the Potomac and not too far from Frederick, Maryland. It is entirely possible that Andreas resented what was happening and decided to seek a more rural and remote place to live.

In the Official Poll of the Presidential Election of 1796 Andrew Kessler’s name appears as a voter, substantiating his appearance in the Census of 1790.  He is listed as a Federalist which is the same party as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. I believe that this is Andreas’ son (also listed in this census are Andreas’ other sons, Jacob and John). It is possible that Andreas and his son Andrew had substantial disagreement over the election which might partially explain why Peter accompanied Andreas to western Pennsylvania but Andrew and the other sons did not.

Included below is a map of Donegal Township from 1876. There are numerous citing of relatives on this map who are mostly children of Peter Kessler and grandchildren of Andreas, including William J. Keslar, J. W. Kesslar, and E. Kessler. One of the maps has an insert of Donegal Township and one of the homes in the town is labeled A. Keslar. Many are buried in the Keslar Family Cemetery located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. There is also a road in the areas named Kessler School Road which is named after William and his involvement with the local school district in the mid-to-late 1800s.

The names on the maps including William J. Keslar, J. W. Kesslar, and E. Kessler are likely the children of Andreas’ son Peter. William J. Kessler was born in Donegal on Oct. 20, 1817 and died in 1876. Agnes Kessler was born in 1805 but her death year is not known. She could also be the A. Keslar living in town in 1876. J.W. Kessler is John Wesley Kessler, Peter’s grandson and William J. Kessler’s son, born in 1845 and 31 years old at the time the map was made.

Donegal Twp., Westmoreland Co., PA 1876

 donegal twnship westmoreland cnty pa 1876

 donegal westmoreland cty pa map 1876 w kessler locations


One particular topic of current genealogical interest to some family members involves Andreas’ son, John Kessler.  The Virginia family line, currently managed (as of 2013) by Karen Kessler ( traces itself back to Botetourt County, Virginia. Karen’s brother James (Jim) and I took a DNA test that concluded that we are related. Given that we have used science to prove the linkage between the Frederick, Maryland and Botetourt County, Virginia branches of the family, the question is how did the Frederick, Maryland or Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Kessler family get to Botetourt County?

The answer was found by researching the family of John Kessler’s wife, Nancy Waskey (1779 – 1852). A book titled Botetourt County Virginia Heritage 1770-2000 by S. E. Grose provided a detailed history of the Waskey family. George Waschke (1712-1766) arrived at Savannah, Ga. on 7 April 1735 after a journey from Moravia to Germany to England. On 23 Feb 1736 his mother Anna and Juliana Jaeschke arrived at Savannah and George married Juliana on 10 Jun 1738. At the end of 1738 they moved from Georgia to Germantown near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their son George Waskey Jr. (1741–1787) married Margaret Heim (1744-1827) and they are documented as living in Frederick, Maryland. Their daughter Nancy Waskey married John Kessler in Frederick, Maryland in 1794.

In 1791 Margaret Heim Waskey purchased land in Frederick County, Maryland. On Jun 5, 1798 she subsequently purchased 378 acres of land from John and Mary Hamilton in Rockbridge County, Virginia near the location of the now famous natural bridge. She and Nancy Waskey’s father George Jr. relocated to Rockbridge County after making this purchase while John and Nancy Waskey Kessler remained on Margaret’s farm near Frederick.

John and Nancy’s first three children were born in Frederick, Maryland: Polly in 1794, Samuel in 1795 and Christopher Lee in 1802. The remaining children were born in Virginia: Margaret Agnes in 1803, John in 1804, Sophia in 1806 and Nancy in 1810. According to land records Margaret Heim Waskey sold her land in Frederick, Maryland to John Kessler’s brother Andrew Kessler on Oct 31, 1804. Based on this evidence it can be concluded that John and Nancy likely relocated from Frederick to Rockbridge County, Virginia and began searching for suitable acreage sometime in 1802 or early 1803.

On March 21, 1805 John Kessler of Rockbridge County, Virginia purchased 156 acres located in Botetourt County, Virginia from Michael C. Stevens named Cedar Ridge (now named Simmons Ridge). The acreage was on Catawba Creek, a tributary of the James River beginning at 2 White Oaks corner to Greenwoods. On November 23, 1808, an additional 73 acres was purchased from Frances Preston, William Kyle and Peter Crowder. It is important to note that this land was purchased in close proximity to land purchased by Jacob Kessler in 1785 and there IS NO KNOWN relationship between these two Kessler families.

Nancy Waskey’s brothers George Waskey III (1776-1850) and E. Christopher Waskey (1778-1850) also relocated to and eventually died in Botetourt County. Christopher Waskey purchased Beale’s Mill in 1818 and turned it into Waskey’s Mill which was operated there until at least 1846[2].

Included below is a map of the Catawba Creek area in Botetourt County dated 1885[3]. Note that there are several Kessler homes noted on this map on or near the Fincastle-Covington Turnpike, north-west of Fincastle. These are likely our relatives since one home next to a Kessler home is labeled Dooley. John and Nancy Kessler’s daughter, Nancy Mary married Stephen Dooley on Oct. 8, 1832. This is likely her home.

 catawba creek kessler map botetourt

American Generation #2

Andreas Kessler Wife and Children

Andreas Kessler  b: Sep. 27, 1744, Winden Germanyd: Sep. 24, 1809, Frederick, Maryland
Anna Maria Rehman Kessler

(Married Andrew in 1769)

b: Feb 23, 1752, Marylandd: Dec. 16, 1840, Pennsylvania


Andrew Kessler b: Nov. 2, 1770, Donegal Township, Pa.d: Jan 1, 1860, Frederick, Maryland
Johannes (John) Kessler

(Married to Nancy Waskey)

b:May 24, 1772, Donegal Township, Pa.
d: Feb 1850, Botetourt County, Va.
Mary Kessler

(Married to Henry Schau)

b: Oct 18 1774
George Kessler b: Apr 21, 1776d: Mar 10, 1855, Fayette County, Pa.
Peter Kessler b: Apr 10, 1778, Donegal Township, Pa.
d: Jul 2, 1860, Donegal Township, Pa.
Maria Barbara Kessler b: Sep 19, 1780
Jacob Kessler b: Jun 25, 1782, Frederick County, Pa.
d: Apr. 1817, Frederick County, Pa.
William Kessler b: Mar 25, 1784, Frederick County, Pa.
d: 1864
Samuel Kessler b:May 17, 1786, Frederick County, Pa.
d: May 9, 1830, Frederick County, Pa.
Thomas Kessler b: Feb 1788
David Kessler b: Mar 1790, Frederick County, Pa.
d: Feb 11, 1839, Frederick County, Pa.


Despite extended and fairly heroic efforts, no additional information about Anna Maria “Mary” Rehmen Kessler could be located.  Extensive effort was expended, but since she was born in 1752 and there were very few newspapers or government institutions at that time and since most business transactions were done in the male family member’s name, no additional information could be located.


[1] There is some confusion about Andreas’ actual birth year. There are baptismal records stating that he was baptized in Winden, Germany on 2 Oct 1746 and his sponsors were Andreas LaHoy, manager of Zweibrücken Compound and Annan Maria, widow of David Fitzinger. This is the same year indicated in the Keslar Family Bible. His tombstone, however, in the Keslar Family Cemetery, Fayette County, Pennsylvania states that he was 65 years old at death on 24 Sep 1809, which would make his birth year 1744.

[2] Waskey: Page 242. The Botetourt County Heritage Book, 1999. Walsworth Publishing Company with Shirley Grose, Publisher. Stories compiled by Botetourt County Heritage Commission.

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 3 Johann George Bernhard Kessler (1711 – 1792)

Chapter 3
American Generation 1
Johann George Bernhard Kessler (1711 – 1792)

Johann George Bernhard Kessler (George Bernhard), son of Hans Nicholaus and Anna “Barbara” Zittel Kessler, was born on Nov 8, 1711 in Winden, Germany.  He married Anna Catharine Hauswirth on July 30, 1737.

George Bernhard’s father, Hans Nicholaus, died in 1720 at the age of 58.  His mother remarried to Charles De la Hai, Jr., who was manager of the Zweibruecken Compound in Winden, Germany.  This accounts for most baptismal sponsors of his children being of that association.  Many French and Swiss (foreigners) took on these positions since the local populace had their own businesses and farmers.  Being the youngest of many children, George Bernhard didn’t have much to inherit, so it is understandable that he determined to immigrate to America for a better future.


The history of early German settlement in western Maryland begins to the north in Pennsylvania. In 1671, William Penn and his emissaries traveled to the Netherlands and German states encouraging people to immigrate to the colony of Pennsylvania. Due to Penn’s efforts and England’s liberal colonization policies, massive waves of German immigrants flooded into Pennsylvania and New York. By 1730, 20,000 Germans had arrived in Pennsylvania. Rapid growth within the colony meant most new immigrants could not afford skyrocketing property prices. Many German immigrants came to Pennsylvania as manumitted servants, had little income saved to buy land, so they began venturing west and south where the prospects of securing property seemed more promising.

Settlement of the land that was to become Frederick County Maryland was encouraged in 1730 by an offer made by Lord Baltimore of 200 acres free from quit rents for 3 years to persons establishing residency.

A 7,000 acre parcel of real estate in Western Maryland was surveyed on April 15, 1725 for Benjamin Tasker, president of the Governor’s Council of Maryland.  On June 7, 1727 he received a patent for those 7,000 acres and he named the tract Tasker’s Chance.  On May 10, 1739 Benjamin Tasker presented the first of numerous petitions to the Maryland Assembly seeking the establishment of a new county to be carved from Prince George’s County.  Frederick County was created in 1748 and included all of present day Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegheny and Garrett counties.

Frederick Town was laid out and included the 7.000 acre track known as Tasker’s Chance.  The City of Frederick was established in 1745.  By 1755 Frederick Town was the most populated county in the state of Maryland.

Understanding this history is important because it relates in many ways to the background regarding Kessler immigration and settlement in the Frederick area.  George Bernhard’s second cousin, Frantz Weiss (son of Jacob Weiss and Anna Margaretha Kessler) had earlier immigrated to America. Frantz was born in 1705, married Marie Barbara Traut in January 1733, and arrived in Philadelphia America aboard the ship Elizabeth on August 27, 1733. He traveled with his brothers Hans Peter, Abraham and David Weiss) and they and several of the men with whom he traveled were destined to settle on or near “Tasker’s Chance.” He appeared as Francis Wise on a list of Tasker’s Chance settlers who were naturalized in Maryland on May 3, 1740.

Frantz Weiss had come to MD by 1736. He was noted in the Muddy Creek church book as present at a baptism in 1739. Benjamin Tasker was the original owner of Tasker’s Chance. He listed Frantz Weiss along with 5 other Germans as persons trying to buy all of the Tasker’s Chance tract on June 11, 1737.


One of the key genealogical questions for generations that migrated is: “Why did they decide to give up their home and family and move to a new location?” There are no specific records that explain the thinking process so we have to use various factors to surmise what occurred. In the case of George Bernhard and family one potential reason is because his second cousin, Frantz Weiss had migrated to America by 1736 and settled in Tasker’s Chance, the eventual location of Frederick, Maryland. Likely there was correspondence between George and Frantz describing life in America and Western Maryland. It is also possible that George Bernhard made one or more trips to America to visit Weiss and family before making the final decision to relocate.

The other primary catalyst for leaving Germany relate to conditions prior to 1751. By 1750 there was a wave of mass migrations from the “Palatine” (Pfalz) region of Germany where Zweibruecken and Widen were located. Germany was not a united country but made up of many kingdoms, duchies, knightly estates, margraves, etc. Each had its own laws and record keeping methods. Smaller German states such as Zweibruecken were generally characterized by political lethargy and administrative inefficiency, often compounded by rulers who were more concerned with their own personal issues and well-being than with governance and affairs of state. Many of the German city-states were run by bishops, who in reality were from powerful noble families and showed scant interest in religion. None developed a significant reputation for good government.

This period was an era of change in central and southern Germany. Many areas had been devastated during the 30 Years’ War (1618-1648) and the subsequent War of Louis XIV (1688-1697). The areas hit hardest were those bordering France and along the Rhine River including Rhineland, Pfalz, Baden, Hessen which include the region where the Kessler family lived. As a result of these factors many towns were partially or completely depopulated and new settlers had to be recruited to re-settle from France, Switzerland, and other parts of Germany. As these villages slowly rebuilt and began to flourish again, the population quickly increased and within two generations there was an overabundance of workers, many of whom had little chance to own land or be employed.

Mass migration occurred both for reasons related to issues in Germany (push factors) such as worsening opportunities for farm ownership, religious persecution, and military conscription and the economic emergence of the British colonies such as better economic conditions, land ownership and religious freedom. It is likely that the above described factors were a catalyst for George Bernhard to relocate his family. The fact that his second cousin had already emigrated likely made it easier for George to envision that he could successfully leave Germany and settle in America with his family.


At the territorial archives in Speyer, Germany, located about 20 miles northwest of Winden a handwritten document authorizing the 1751 immigration of our direct family line to America was located.  It reads:

“Catharina Kessler, maiden name Hauswirth, of Winden, is traveling with her husband and four children to America.”

The document pertains to villages in the Zweibruecken Duchy.  George Bernhardt Kessler is not mentioned by name likely because all fixed assets owned by the family were in his wife’s name.  She had acquired these by inheritance.

Johann George Bernhard Kessler and his family traveled 275 miles northwest from Winden, Germany to Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1751.  He and Catharina and four children accompanied by Catharina’s 25 year old brother Johann Jacob Hauswirth, sailed to America on the ship Janet, arriving on October 5, 1751.  The children were Johann, Jr., Johannes, Andrew “Andreas,” and Susanna.  One child, Isaac, died in 1747 before the family immigrated.  Another, Margaretha, was born in Maryland in 1753.  The family arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and resided in Pennsylvania for two years before moving to Frederick, Maryland.

George Bernhard’s cousin, Frantz Weiss (son of Jacob Weiss and Anna Margaretha Kessler) had earlier immigrated to America. Frantz was born in 1705, married Marie Barbara Traut in January 1733, and arrived in Philadelphia America aboard the ship Elizabeth on August 27, 1733. He was listed as a blacksmith. He traveled with his brothers Hans Peter, Abraham and David Weiss) and they and several of the men with whom he traveled were destined to settle on or near “Tasker’s Chance.” He appeared as Francis Wise on a list of Tasker’s Chance settlers who were naturalized in Maryland on May 3, 1740.

The family appears in the Evangelical Reformed Church records in 1753 in Frederick, County, Maryland, indicating that by that date they had shifted from living in Pennsylvania to Maryland.

George Bernhard and his family appear in church records until 1789. There are Frederick muster rolls from approximately 1757 that suggest that he may have served time with the Hessian Army.  Other records suggest that he fought Indians in Frederick, Maryland under a Captain Peter Butler.  He did not collect what was owed him for his last days of active duty until 1768.  He owned land in Tasker’s Chance, now Frederick, Maryland and was naturalized in 1759 in Annapolis, Maryland.

American Generation #1

Johann George Bernhard Kessler Wife and Children

Johann George Bernhard Kessler b: Nov 8, 1711, Winden, Germanyd: Jan 1, 1792, Frederick, Maryland
Anna Catharina Hauswirth Kessler

(Married Johann on July 30, 1737)

b: 1714, Winden, Germanyd: Sep 20, 1768, Frederick, Maryland


Johann Bernhard Kessler, Jr. b: Sep 27, 1739, Winden Germanyd: Feb 21, 1826, Frederick, Maryland
Johannes Kessler b: Jan 12, 1742, Winden, Germany
Isaac Kessler b: May 8, 1744, Winden, Germanyd: Apr. 23, 1747, Winden, Germany
Andreas Kessler  b: Sep. 27, 1746, Winden Germanyd: Sep. 24, 1809, Frederick, Maryland
Susanna Catharina Kessler b: Nov 7, 1749, Winden Germany
Margaretha Kessler b: Jun 18, 1753, Frederick, Marylandd: Jun 15, 1831, Frederick, Maryland



Anna Catharine Hauswirth was the daughter of Johannes Hauswirth and Anna Margaret Bechtold.  She was born in 1714, also in Winden, Germany.   Her Hauswirth family, on the female side had also resided in Winden prior to 1600 even though the Hauswirth male line did not emigrate from Switzerland until the early 1700s.  The Hauswirth family resided in Saanen, Bern, Switzerland from at least the early 1500s until Johannes Hauswirth, Anna Catharine’s father emigrated from Switzerland to Winden, Germany.

Anna Catharine’s Paternal Heritage: Hauswirth Family

Anna Catharine Hauswirth (Kessler) b: 1714, Winden Germanyd: Sep 20, 1768, Frederick, Maryland
Johannes Hauswirth

(Married Anna Margaret Bechtold)

b: Jun 25, 1682, Saanen, Switzerlandd: May 17, 1726, Winden, Germany
Benedict Hauswirth

(Married Anna Annen)

b: Aug 20, 1643, Saanen, Switzerlandd: 1711, Saanen, Switzerland
Balthasar Hauswirth, Jr.

(Married Anna Jaggi)

b: Jul 24, 1614, Saanen, Switzerlandd: 1680, Saanen, Switzerland
Balthasar Hauswirth

(Married Magdalena Fleuti)

b: Feb 13, 1577, Saanen, Switzerlandd: aft. 1614, Saanen, Switzerland
Simon Hauswirth

(Married Benedicta Von Siebenthal)

b: 1537, Saanen, Switzerlandd: 1537, Saanen, Switzerland

Note: In some genealogical trees, Hauswirth is spelled Hauswurth.

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 2 European Heritage: Germany and Switzerland

Chapter 2
European Heritage: Germany and Switzerland

In this chapter we’ll examine the derivation of the family name and document as much as is known about the family history prior to immigration to America.  As will be seen, this is an interesting period in family history.


Research has yielded two possible explanations of the Kessler surname, one related to occupation and the other related to geography.  The name is essentially Germanic in origin, although it is found quite frequently in other parts of Europe including Switzerland and Russia.

In the first instance the name is occupational in origin, being one of the surnames based on the profession pursued by the original bearer.  As such, the name derives from the Old High German word “chezil” which gave birth to the Middle German word “Kessel” meaning “copper.”  The name “Kessler” was potentially derived from “Kessel” which means “coppersmith.”  Thus the original bearer would have been employed in this way.  During the Middle Ages, before the advent of industrial development such a skill would have been much sought after and held in particularly high regard in the community.

Alternatively the surname may in some instances be of local origin, one being of those surnames derived from a place with which the eponymous bearer had strong association either through birth or property or occupation. In this instance the name derives from one of several towns by the name of Kessel, dotted throughout Germany and Switzerland.  As such the word “kessel” denotes a hollowed out area of land and it was at such an enclave that settlement whence the bearer who derived his name was established.  The “er” ending in German surnames often denotes “one who hails from” and thus the name simply signifies “one who hails from Kessel.”  Early records of the name date back to the thirteenth century.  One Wernherus der Chesseler was recorded as living in the Monastery at Cennenbach in 1251 and in 1261 one Erbo Kesseler was similarly registered as living in Strassburg.


The Kessler ancestors who immigrated to America originally resided in Winden, Germany which is located in the southwest region, west and slightly north of Stuttgart.  Nearby towns include: Niederhorbach (N 500 50’ 0”/E 70 21’ 0”), Barbelroth, Hergersweiler, Dierbach and Oberhausen.  Winden is only 8 miles northeast of Germany’s border with France, near Wissembourg, France.

Winden is located in Rheinland-Pfalz (an equivalent of a county or state in Germany).  Winden is considered part of Zweibruecken Duchy, which is where some important documentation related to our family’s immigration to America, was located.

winden germany map (smaller view) (600 x 259)


Zweibruecken History

Zweibruecken is located approximately 40 miles west of Winden along a fairly direct route.  In the map included below, Zweibruecken is in upper left corner of map and Winden is in lower right corner.  It is certain that our descendants came to America from Winden.  It is possible and perhaps likely that the Winden Kessler family is related to earlier ancestors from Zweibruecken because there is a name pattern than continues over hundreds of years.

The Zweibrücken region has been populated for many centuries. Roman settlements, many of which have perished in recent centuries, were located in the valleys of Schwarzbach and Hornbach. The much older town of Saarbrücken, founded on 1 A.D. and located to the west of Zweibruecken was a fiefdom ruled by the Counts of Saargau. In 1150 the Counts built a castle in Schwarzbach immediately above the confluence with the Hornbach River close to the border between Germany and France and just south of present day Zweibruecken. It could only be entered over two bridges. The castle and Zweibruecken settlement which developed quickly under its protection is first documented in 1170 in the times of Friedrich Barbarossa.

In 1140 the last of Zweibrücken’s counts sold and pledged the castle and city of Zweibrücken to the Electoral Palatinate (Kurpfalz). Stephan, son of elector Ruprecht III of the Palatinate inherited Zweibrücken and the surrounding county and founded the Duchy Pfalz-Zweibrücken, where Zweibrücken became the capital city and residency.

Within a relatively short period the town developed into a booming city. In the year 1488 the first book printer, Jörg Gessler is mentioned as residing there which explains why Zweibrücken is among the 64 German cities which are known as the so-called “incunables[1]”.

At the turn of the 15th to 16th century Duke Alexander built the first church (Alexanderskirche) and in 1523 Johann Schwebel proclaimed support for Martin Luther’s reformation teachings. Duke Wolfgang founded a Latin school as part of this monastery named “Gymnasium bipontinum illustre” and its library is still in use today. Duke Wolfgang commissioned the geometrician Tielmann Stella from Siegen to measure and write about the administrative district of Zweibrücken, which provides the earliest description of Zweibrücken.

During the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) Zweibrücken was conquered and destroyed after having first successfully repelling an attack from imperial troops. Also during the following French reunion wars under Ludwig XIV, Zweibrücken was battered and once again seriously destroyed. Until the conclusion of the peace agreement of Rijswijk in the year 1697 Zweibrücken was occupied by the French. The duchy then came to be ruled by the Kingdom of Sweden through succession. Karl XI and Karl XII were dukes of Zweibrücken and kings of Sweden at the same time. However, they never saw their ancestral country and were represented by governors who governed the duchy well and made a considerable contribution to its reconstruction.

In this era of Swedish rule the Polish King Stanislaus Leszczynski came to Zweibrücken because the Swedish King Karl XII granted him asylum. Among the artists and civil servants who came to Zweibrücken in Swedish times was the architect Erikson Sundahl who built a new palace for the new Duke of Zweibrücken, Gustav Samuel Leopold, between 1720 and 1725 following the death of Karl XII.

During the reign of Duke Christian IV (1735 – 1775) the city and the duchy experienced a period of growth and prosperity. The Duke provided architectural and cultural leadership that gave Zweibrücken the urban look of the ducal town it currently has and his connections to the European royal houses gave Zweibrücken an importance which elevated it from a small and unimportant duchy. At this time Zweibrücken experienced its cultural and economic peak. In 1757 Christian IV founded the regiment Royal Deux-Ponts which attacked Redoute 9 (a fort) in the battle of Yorktown in 1781 under the command of his sons Wilhelm and Christian, Counts of Forbach, and thus made a decisive contribution to the victory of the Americans.

The last reigning duke of Zweibrücken had to flee from the French revolutionary army which marched into Germany and the duchy was ravaged, the splendid buildings of Zweibrücken and the duchy were burned. However, the special aspects that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had found remarkable during his short visit to Zweibrücken in 1770 remained.

Having lost almost all of its importance after losing its place as a royal residence, Zweibrücken retained much of its charm and history. In Zweibrücken the Palatinate Supreme Court was settled, the old tradition of printing was continued, from the highly-productive crafts enterprises new iron works arose which evolved into important manufacturing companies over the years. The practice with the Code Civil established by Napoleon I and still in force as well as other ideas adopted from France and America had deeply impressed lawyers and advocates of Zweibrücken. Thus Zweibrücken became birthplace of the first free press organization and first democratic movement in Germany.

Iron works, shoe factories, weaving mills and breweries were the dominant businesses in Zweibrücken until the 20th century. The horse races which were started in 1821 have become an annual event. In the year 1914 on the ground of the former ducal gardens the rose garden of Zweibrücken was built which is one of the most important rosariums in and beyond Germany.

Kessler History in Zweibruecken

Johannes Kessler was born in approximately 1410 and died after 1452.  He was Zweibruecken mayor as of October 16, 1452.  His father was Andreas Kessler, who was born in approximately 1370 and is mentioned in an April 3, 1394 document as a son of the deceased Jacob Kessler (1335 – 1394) also of Zweibruecken. Johannes married a von Menger of lower nobility status.  This family had considerable real estate in the surrounding vicinity. Ancestry of the von Menger scion can be traced to A.D. 1190 because of its prominence.

zweibrucken to winden map (600 x 261)

Johannes Kessler fathered Heinrich Kessler I who was born in 1440.  He was a goldsmith and also served as mayor of Zweibruecken.  Heinrich I fathered a son, Heinrich Kessler II (1485 – 1550).  At this point we have a four generation gap in ancestral knowledge dating from Heinrich II to Thomas Kessler, who was born in 1623 (see table at end of this chapter).

Our direct ancestors descended from Thomas Kessler who, as noted above, was born in 1623 in Ilbesheim, Mulhofen, Germany. Thomas was the grandfather of George Bernhard Kessler who immigrated to America in 1751. Thomas’ wife (George Bernhardt’s grandmother) was also a Kessler, but from a different and unrelated family bearing the same surname.  It is from this female Kessler line that the ancestry can be traced back 800 years to A.D. 1190 and is linked to considerable prominence in Medieval Europe. As it turns out, our family scion stems from two different, apparently unrelated Kessler families, both with historic roots in the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany.

Thomas had a least two sons, Thomas and Hans Nicholaus Kessler (1662-1720).  Hans Nicholaus is our direct ancestor and was Johann George Bernhard Kessler’s father.

European Generations

Jacob Kessler b:1335                      d: 1394
Andreas Kessler b:1370                      d: after 1410
Johannes Kessler b:1410                      d: 1452
Heinrich Kessler I b:1440                      d: after 1485
Heinrich Kessler II b:1485                      d: 1550
Unknown Estimated 1510
Unknown Estimated 1535
Unknown Estimated 1570
Unknown Estimated 1600
Thomas Kessler b:1623                      d: after 1662
Hans Nicholas Kessler b:1662                      d: 1720
Johann George Bernhard Kessler b:Nov. 8, 1711         d: Jan 1, 1792

[1] An incunabulum refers to any of the rare, early examples of movable type editions of classic books such as Chaucer printed in the last part of the 15th century.