Category Archives: Kessler Family History

Facts, Analysis, & Narrative: Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage Ch. 1 Overview

 Facts, Analysis, and Narrative about the
Johann George Bernhard Kessler Lineage

Part 1
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 (, Judi Spencer ( 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

App A

Genealogical Research Tips and Pointers

App B

Contact Information

App C


Chapter 1
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.


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.


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 was 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 repelled 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.

Palatinate Migration to America

Throughout the Nine Years War (1688–97) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701–14), recurrent invasions by the French Army devastated the area of what is today Southwest Germany. The depredations of the French Army and the destruction of numerous cities (especially within the Palatinate) created economic hardship for the inhabitants of the region, exacerbated by a rash of harsh winters and poor harvests that created famine in Germany and much of northwest Europe; however, the more specific background of the migration from the Palatinate, as documented in emigrants’ petitions for departure registered in the southwest principalities, was impoverishment and lack of economic prospects.

The migrants came principally from regions comprising the modern German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, and northern areas of Baden-Württemberg along the lower Neckar. During the so-called Kleinstaaterei period when this migration occurred, the Middle Rhine region was a patchwork of secular and ecclesiastical principalities, duchies, and counties. No more than half of the so-called German Palatines originated in the namesake Electoral Palatinate, with others coming from the surrounding imperial states of Palatinate-Zweibrücken and Nassau-Saarbrücken, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Homburg, Hesse-Kassel, the Archbishoprics of Trier and Mainz, and various minor counties.

What triggered the mass emigration starting in 1709 of mostly impoverished people was the promise of free land in the American Colonies. In 1711 the Colony of Carolina had promised the peasants around Frankfurt free passage to the plantations. Spurred by the success of several dozen families the year before, thousands of German families headed down the Rhine to England and the New World. Because of the concentration of Palatine refugees in the colonies, the term “Palatine” became associated with German. Until the American War of Independence ‘Palatine’ henceforth was used indiscriminately for all ’emigrants of German tongue.

While this migration occurred more than three decades before Johannes immigrated, it is possible that he was in contact with some who had made the journey and talked about life and opportunity in the Americas.

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).

As noted earlier, the period from 1618 to 1648 was a time of war. During this Thirty Years’ War Zweibrücken was conquered and destroyed. This period was followed by the French reunion wars when the town was battered and once again seriously destroyed and occupied by the French until the peace agreement of Rijswijk in the year 1697. This could explain the genealogical gap and a potential reason why the family relocated from Zwiebrücken to Mulhofen, Germany, on the eastern side of the Palatinate Forest and very close to Winden, the town from which our ancestors emigrated in 1759.

Our family 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.

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 three 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 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



Johannes (John) Kessler b: Jan 12, 1742, Winden, Germany
d: Feb 21, 1826, Frederick, Maryland
Isaac Kessler b: May 8, 1744, Winden, Germany
d: Apr. 23, 1747, Winden, Germany
Andreas Kessler


b: Sep. 27, 1746, Winden Germany
d: Sep. 24, 1809, Frederick, Maryland
Susanna Catharina Kessler b: Nov 7, 1749, Winden Germany
Margaretha Kessler b: Jun 18, 1753, Frederick, Maryland
d: 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, Switzerland
d: May 17, 1726, Winden, Germany
Benedict Hauswirth
                                      (Married Anna Annen)
b: Aug 20, 1643, Saanen, Switzerland
d: 1711, Saanen, Switzerland
Balthasar Hauswirth, Jr.
                                        (Married Anna Jaggi)
b: Jul 24, 1614, Saanen, Switzerland
d: 1680, Saanen, Switzerland
Balthasar Hauswirth
                             (Married Magdalena Fleuti)
b: Feb 13, 1577, Saanen, Switzerland
d: aft. 1614, Saanen, Switzerland
Simon Hauswirth
               (Married Benedicta Von Siebenthal)
b: 1537, Saanen, Switzerland
d: 1537, Saanen, Switzerland

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

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. Andreas’ 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.  Andreas was a member of the Evangelical Reformed Church.  He is buried in the Keslar Family Cemetery located near Salt Lick Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Why Did Andreas Kessler Move from Frederick to Donegal in 1796?

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 Johannes, George, Peter and William 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.”

A separate historical blog — — provides additional detail about the lineage of those who left Frederick and moved to western Pennsylvania in the 1790s.

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, George and William and their families 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 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, George and William 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

How did the Western Pennsylvania Kessler family become Keslar and Kesler?

Although there is not clear record of how the name evolved from Kessler to Keslar and Kesler, it is likely related to the fact that most of the ancestors were farmers who were either semi-literate or not literature. Farming ability was valued more than formal schooling. The first U.S. Census was conducted in 1790 as often those hired to collect census data, especially in rural areas, also were more likely semi-literate and likely to phonetically spell the names as they were communicated to them. Often older census content is difficult to read, reflecting the challenges and likely accounting for variations in surname spellings.

In April, 2017 I received an e-mail from Richard J. Kesler (Rich). Here is what he said:

“I recently received my Family Tree DNA report and it shows we are related.  I saw your email address there.  I am able to trace most of my family to Europe but am unable to get very far with my surname, Kesler with one “s.”  Maybe you can help?  Here is a brief version of my tree:

Richard J. Kesler – John P. Kesler – James C. Kesler – Richard C. Kesler – Jacob H. Kesler 1844 – 1916 – Jacob Ulery relation unknown (I am from Ohio and Jacob was from PA)

After researching the mystery, and knowing that we are genetically related, we concluded that Jacob H. Kesler’s mother was probably Elizabeth Ulery and his father was probably John S. Kessler who was born 1/11/1813 and died 3/6/1845, the year after Jacob was born.

Elizabeth was 28 in 1850 and that would make her 21 or 22 years old when Jacob was born in 1844. Her birth year would be something either 1822 or 1823. This suggests that John and Elizabeth married before 1844, parented Jacob in 1844, and then John died sometime in 1845. That likely explains why Elizabeth remarried a short time later, to Jacob Ulery.

According to the 1850 U.S. Census, Jacob Ulery was 5 years younger than Elizabeth. And according to the 1840 Census for Salt Lick, John Kesler lived only 3 or 4 properties away from a Peter Ulery in Saltlick. We can assume that John and Elizabeth Kessler knew the Ulery’s and that perhaps they even hired young Jacob Ulery to work on their farm. It is possible that they named their son after him. That would have created a sense of responsibility in Jacob Ulery that would explain his willingness to marry Elizabeth after John’s death and to raise his son.

In the 1860 Census Jacob & Elizabeth Ulery are 33 and 38, respectively. There children include Jacob Kesler, 17, Mary Elizabeth Ulery, 12, and Sarah A. Ulery, 10. It is not known why Mary and Sarah were not listed in the 1850 Census.

One curious fact is that both John S. Kesler and his older brother Elias Kesler died on the same day, March 6th, 1845. Efforts were made to locate newspaper or other obituary information explaining what happened to them, but no information could be located. This suggests that their deaths were not health-related but were in fact traumatic.

A final note related to this part of the family history. The preceding work was accomplished by “walking the roads” of Salt Lick. This means finding a relative in the Census for a particular year, and then going page-by-page through that Census, observing who lived near whom, and looking for relatives living just down the road. It takes a lot of time and patience to do this, but its fun.

While “walking” the 1850 Salt Lick Census it was learned that a third son had accompanied Andreas to Westmoreland County. Initially it was believed that Andreas traveled to Westmoreland/Fayette County with two sons …. Peter and George. By examining the 1850 Census it was determined that Peter was there – age 70 with wife Mary, age 69, and a young female named Martha, age 17. George was there at age 72. But another of Andreas’ sons was there too, William, age 66, and his wife Nancy Slater Kessler.

From studying the Census information that following likely family members were identified:

1850 Census

Many of the older Keslers and some younger ones lived just down the road from the Ulery family.

— Ulery’s with Jacob are on p 17
— There is a Henry Ulery, Blacksmith on p 16
— William Kesler, 66, and family are on p. 10
— Samuel Kesler, 38, and family are on p 9
— George Kesler, 72, and family are also on p 9

In Donegal Township there were:

— William J Keslar, 38, and family on p 2
— Peter Keslar, 70, with wife and one young girl, Martha, age 17 on p 4
— Eli Keslar, 44 (might be Keplar, but I doubt it), and family on p. 10
— Thomas Keslar, 57 (also might be Keplar), with wife Mary and young male, Absalom, age 19 on p 13

1810 Census Saltlick:

— George Kesler
— Henry Kesler
— Peter Kesler
— William Kesler

1840 Census Saltlick:

— George Kesler
— William Kesler
— Samuel Kesler

The following 1840 U.S. Census for Salt Lick Township shows that John Kessler lived very close to Peter Ulery, which is pretty significant evidence that he married Elizabeth, fathered Jacob in 1844, and died in March, 1845.


Kessler Family Migration from Frederick, Maryland to Botetourt County, Virginia

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 Germany
d: Sep. 24, 1809, Frederick, Maryland
Anna Maria Rehman Kessler
                 (Married Andrew in 1769)
b: Feb 23, 1752, Maryland
d: Dec. 16, 1840, Pennsylvania


Andrew Kessler b: Nov. 2, 1770, Frederick, Maryland
d: Jan 1, 1860, Frederick, Maryland
Johannes (John) Kessler
              (Married to Nancy Waskey)
b:May 24, 1772, Frederick, Maryland
d: Feb 1850, Botetourt County, Va.
Mary Kessler (Married to Henry Schau) b: Oct 18 1774, Frederick, Maryland
George Kessler b: Apr 21, 1776, Frederick, Maryland
d: Mar 10, 1855, Fayette County, Pa.
Peter Kessler b: Apr 10, 1778, Frederick, Maryland
d: Jul 2, 1860, Donegal Township, Pa.
Maria Barbara Kessler b: Sep 19, 1780, Frederick, Maryland
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, Donegal Township, Pa.
Samuel Kessler b:May 17, 1786, Frederick County, Pa.
d: May 9, 1830, Frederick County, Pa.
Thomas Kessler b: Feb 1788, Frederick, Maryland
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 Anna 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.

March 3, 2013 Kessler Relatives in Botetourt County, Virginia

So I just had to share an event that occurred last night with anyone who is interested because I am excited about it. For years and years my brother Ed and I have interacted with Karen Kessler ( She has researched the Kessler family for many, many years and is the Kessler Family Historian. Here is an e-mail from her posted our Kessler genealogical listserv:

     My actual interest is finding John Kessler brother of Peter. I have an urgent need to prove or disprove if he is actually the John Kessler that married a Nancy Waskey/Waschke 8 May 1794 Frederick Co., Md. What happened to John Kessler b. 1772, son of Andreas and Anna Marie Rama Kessler??? 1810 Census Westmoreland Co., PA PG 39 #1906-KESLAR JOHN – Donegal, son of Andrew. Why is the 1810 census the last place we find this John? Why can’t he be found in Wesmoreland Co. PA records like his brothers Andrew, Peter George, Jacob, William, Samuel, Thomas and David. We have been looking for about 25 years for this John Kessler and the clock is ticking. The baton was passed to me 15 years ago by an Uncle that hoped I could settle this mystery. My Uncle passed away a couple of years ago and who knows how many years I have left. Any leads you can provide me will be helpful.

Karen Kessler Cottrill, WV Kessler/Kesler/Keslar Family Historian,

So last night I finally found Karen’s proof. Here is an e-mail that I sent to her (I think she is going to be very, very happy):

Of course we know we are related since your brother and I both took the DNA test and the results proved DNA match. But I wanted to send an update as I dig into the nitty gritty of your side of the family. We know, of course, that Johannes “John” Kessler, son of Andreas, married Nancy Waskey, daughter of George (Waschke) Waskey Jr. and Margaret Hime Waskey in Frederick Maryland.

We also know that Nancy had a lot of siblings including brothers George Waskey III (1776-1850) and E. Christoper Waskey (1778-1850). She and these two brothers who were born in Frederick County and died in Botetourt County. We also know that 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.

Now here is the clincher that you have been looking for … I purchased a book titled Botetourt County Virginia Heritage. There is a section on the Waskeys that I think gives you your proof. I’m going to type some of it here but am attaching two “screen grabs” from the book ….

WASKEY: George Waschke 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 Jaschke arrived at Savannah. (… skipping down a bit …). His son George married Margaret Heim. In 1791 Margaret purchased land in Frederick County, Maryland and after moving to Rockbridge County, Virginia (just north of Botetourt County) she sold this land on Jan 5, 1805 to Andrew Kessler. ( … skipping again …) Daughter Nancy (1779-) married 1794 Maryland to John Kessler. Son Christopher (1770-1838) married Mary Ripley. In 1818 in Botetourt County Christopher purchased from heirs of John Beale land on which was a mill, later called Waskey’s Mill.

I think this is the proof that you needed regarding our relationship to Andreas. I’m going to push further into the details and better understand why and how John Kessler, Nancy and her brothers left Frederick and went to Botetourt so stay tuned ….

     Your distant cousin, Tom

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 Harpers Ferry 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, Maryland
d: Jan 1, 1860, Frederick, Maryland
Catherine Kessler
(Married Andrew in 1798)
b: 1773, Maryland
d: 1810
Mary Smith Kessler
           (Married Andrew on Oct 7, 1811)
b: Mar 15, 1786, Maryland
d: 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 Lightner
Married John Lightner (bef. 1847)
b: 1812, Frederick, Maryland
d: 1880, Frederick, Maryland
Amelia Ann Kessler Yaste b: Feb 10, 1815, Frederick, Maryland
d: Feb 14, 1859, Frederick, Maryland
Andrew Kessler Jr. b: Jul 3, 1817, Frederick, Maryland
d: Nov 6, 1896, Frederick, Maryland
Absalom Kessler b: Dec 7, 1818, Frederick, Maryland
d: 1899
Lucinda Kessler Corrick
Married Joshua L. Corrick (bef 1852)
b: Sep. 1821, Frederick, Maryland
d: Oct. 12, 1902, Montgomery County, Md.


Amelia A. Yaste, Lucinda Carrick, and, Ann Rebecca Lightner,

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. 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 about some of 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.

One story suggested 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, over a period of many years toward the end of Andrew’s life, his sons had quietly spent his fortune without his knowledge.  One day he went to the bank and discovered that his fortune was gone 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 confectionery) 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 as a result of financial circumstances he and his family (parents and siblings) were forced to live 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, Jr. was born in 1817


Andrew, Jr. was directly involved in and 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.