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)CASTLE Alberta (390 x 600)KESSLER William

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.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.