Facts, Analysis, and Narrative about the
Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage
Earliest History through American Generation 5
Thomas G. Kessler, Punta Gorda, Florida
Started January 2011, Last Updated April 5, 2018
Edgar (Ed) Franklin Kessler III was my brother. He spent many years working on genealogical research and compiled a vast amount of interesting family information and documentation, some of which he shared with his siblings and some which he never had an opportunity to do so before his untimely death at the age of 62 in 2009. I feel the pain of his loss every day as he was our family leader and the source of inspiration for all of his younger siblings and family, and those with whom he came in contact.
In his honor I have prepared this family history, which also includes a “family-tree” that was developed using Family Tree Maker software and is synced with and available on Ancestry.Com. Our family history is interesting and crosses the span of most major events in U.S. history. While the European history is more difficult to reconstruct, our line of the Kessler family can easily trace its heritage to Southwestern Germany and Switzerland, in the Alsace-Lorraine region.
For others considering trying to extend the research, there are a few words of warning. There are many, many Kessler lines and many are not interconnected. A few years back I participated in a genealogical activity by taking a DNA test. The results of the DNA test, which Ed had already determined via his research was that our family was descendant from Johann George Bernhard Kessler. Other contemporary Kessler men have taken the test and been found to not be related to me or our line. So please be cautious in trying to introduce Kessler history into our line of research – check and double check the facts before adding new people or relationships.
There are volunteers who are serving as Kessler family genealogical custodians as of 2012. They include Karen Kessler Cottrill (email@example.com), Judi Spencer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Conrad Riffle (e-mail address unknown 5355 Donner Dr., Clinton, OH 44216). These individuals published a Kessler Family Newsletter in the 1990s. I have not yet been able to determine if they are still doing so
Enjoy the content of this document and the associated RootsMagic Family Tree information. You can be proud of coming from an interesting heritage. I always believed that if we don’t occasionally revisit the lives of our ancestors then their lives are without meaning. We can honor and respect them by appreciating what they experienced, how they lived, and the events that led to our being here. Our history is in the past, but those of you who represent future generations of our family are in the process of creating history for those who follow.
The content contained herein is not fictional. The facts and information were created by those who lived the lives described in these pages.
But several people worked very hard over many years doing genealogical research and much of their efforts are reflected in this family history. Therefore they are cited below.
In deciding how to write this document initial consideration was given to including a lot of citations, but using that approach resulted in a somewhat “choppy” and difficult to read narrative. So it was necessary to backtrack and develop a more fluid and cohesive narrative rather than present specific excerpts from different sources. So you will find that the content is not cited in the manner that might be used by a scholarly article. For those interested in original source content they must consult the associated hard copy documentation available along with this manuscript.
The following individuals made significant contributions based on years of effort and research:
- Edgar Franklin Kessler III
- Karen Lynne Kessler
- Judi Spencer
- Conrad Riffle
- Edna Kanely
- Dennis Kastens
Name Spelling — Kessler/Keslar/Kesler Variations
When I started this family history in 2011, I was focused on documenting the history of the Kessler line from which I am descended, building on the work started by my brother many years before.
I was aware, faintly and tangentially, that there were some surname variations, but I effectively ignored them and recorded family tree information and information contained in this family history using the Kessler surname.
However, on April 22, 2017, I received an e-mail from Rich Kesler, a police chief in a small Ohio town, communicating that according to a Family Tree DNA test that he recently took, he and I were related. It is now one year later and based on a substantial amount of effort by Rich and I focused on helping him solve his family mystery so that we could link our ancestors, I decided that it was time to more accurately reflect when and how the family surname changed.
There are many Keslar and Kesler relatives in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other locations and it seems important that they appreciate how their ancestors relate back to Johann George Bernhard Kessler, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1751.
I have been updating my Ancestry family tree to more accurately reflect accurate surnames. This is difficult, because some were born Kessler and became Keslar and others were born Kessler and became Kesler. I will try to accurately reflect the basis for the surname changes both here in this family history and a companion Blog that I am currently developing with help from my Kesler and Keslar cousins. That site is located here:
A separate Blog is appropriate because of the size and complexity of the Keslar/Kesler lineage. I will include links here to the companion Blog and links there pointing back to this Blog. I will not duplicate content, to the extent possible, across the two Blogs. That would create a maintenance nightmare. Instead I’ll pick up stories at the appropriate place in the historical timeline and make references to the other Blog, so readers will have to trek back and forth, depending on the content that they are interested in obtaining.
Tom Kessler, Punta Gorda, Florida — April 5, 2018
Table of Contents
|Earliest History through American Generation 5|
|Kessler Family Today – Where Things Stand Now|
|European Heritage: Germany/Switzerland|
|American Generation 1: Johann George Bernhard Kessler (1711 – 1792)|
|American Generation 2: Andreas Kessler (1746 – 1809)|
|American Generation 3: Andrew Kessler (1770 – 1860)|
|American Generation 4: Andrew Kessler, Jr. (1817 – 1896)|
|American Generation 5: William Andrew Kessler (1869 – 1925)|
|American Generation 6 through Present|
|American Generation 6: Edgar Franklin Kessler, Sr. (1895 – 1966)|
|American Generation 7: Edgar Franklin Kessler, Jr. (1925 – 1978)|
|American Generation 8: Children of Edgar F. Kessler, Jr. (1947 – present)|
|American Generation 9: Next Generation|
|Maternal Genealogical Research|
|Genealogical Research Tips and Pointers|
Kessler Family Today
Where Things Stand Now
Readers might ask an important question: “Are we sure we are descended from Johann George Bernhard Kessler?” In the early 2000s Karen Lynne Kessler asked me to take a DNA test. She also had her brother, James (Jim), take the DNA test. The two of us were determined through testing to be related. Both Jim and I have been genealogically traced back to the same Andreas Kessler of Frederick, Maryland, who was the son of Johann George Bernhard Kessler. So in addition to strong genealogical evidence, the DNA tests provide strong evidence of our family lineage.
The word that comes to mind today describing our family is “scattered.” The family was in a small geographic area in Maryland for over 200 years but now is scattered across the U.S. and into Canada. My immediate family is scattered, one sister lives in Ohio, just across the border from Tennessee, another sister lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I live in Florida. One of my sons lives in Columbus, Ohio and the other in Baltimore, Maryland. I have nieces and nephews in Greenville, South Carolina, Omaha, Nebraska, Huntsville, Alabama, Houston Texas, Salt Lake City, and Oakland California. We can concur, I think, that scattered is a reasonable adjective.
At the same time, some of my cousins still live near Baltimore while others reside in Ocala, Florida. Some are older than I am, but their memories are about their respective families as there was not a lot of interaction among families when we were younger.
My cousins and I are currently in our 60s. My children and nieces and nephews are mostly in their 20, 30s and even 40s. They have their own children now and it is those children who represent the future of the family. Because they are being raised in such diverse locations this compilation of family history is more relevant than ever. Hopefully the future generations will care enough about this work to supplement it with their own stories and perspectives and pass it on after the rest of us are gone. We owe it to our ancestors to keep their stories alive.