Known as John but spelled Johannes. This is a history as written by a granddaughter, Susanna Keller Reese, April 1974.
Johannes (John) Keller, my grandfather was born in Weinfelden, Thurgau, Switzerland 8 of September 1833. His father was Hans Heinrich (Henry) Keller who’s parents were Isaak Keller and Maria Ammon, John Keller’s mother was Elisabetha Rutishauser.
His brothers and sisters were Johann Konrad Keller, born 21 November 1822, died 28 February 1852. Johann Heinrich Keller born 1 May 1823. Anna Margaretha Keller, born 4 December 1824, died 18 December 1887. Anna Elisabetha Keller born 30 December 1828. Johann Georg Keller, born 1 November 1829, died 1829. Susanna Keller, born 4 April 1831, died February 1837. Johannes Keller, born 8 September 1833, died 6 May 1882. All of the above children were born in Weinfelden, Thurgau, Switzerland.
Johannes (John) Keller married Susanna Haffter in 1854 in Switzerland. Her parents were Jacob Haffter and Susette Haffter.
John Keller, his father and mother, his wife Susanna, and her father, joined the LDS Church in Switzerland. John Keller was baptized 8 February 1855, his wife 6 March 1855. After joining the Mormon Church they wanted to come to Utah, which they did.
John Keller, his wife, Susanna, and their baby boy, with his father and mother, and his wife’s father, left Switzerland 15 April 1860. They boarded the ship William Tapscott which sailed 11 May 1860 from Liverpool, England, with 731 LDS immigrants under the direction of Asa Calkin to make the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to New York. During this voyage smallpox broke out among the immigrants who had to remain several days in quarantine after arriving in New York harbor.
John and Susanna’s baby boy, John, became ill and died before they landed in New York harbor 20 June 1860. Baby John Keller was buried in New York City.
From New York they took a steamboat to Albany, New York then took a trip to Niagara Falls, from there to Chicago Illinois and down the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska, arriving there about July 1st. They stayed at Florence, Nebraska, three weeks preparing for the journey across the plains to Utah. They purchased a wagon, six oxen and supplies to make the journey.
John Keller’s father became very ill with dropsy at Florence, Nebraska. His health improved some and they continued their journey. They left Florence, Nebraska July 20 with the Captain William Budge Ox Train Company. In this company there were over 400 persons, 55 wagons, 215 oxen and 77 cows. This company arrived in Salt Lake City 5 October 1860.
During this journey John Keller’s father continued to get worse and died 11 September 1860 at Sweet Water, Wyoming at the age of 65 years.
His mother met with an accident on this journey and died in Ogden, Utah, in January 1861, from the effects of this accident, at the age of 65 years.
While living in Ogden, Utah a baby girl was born to John Keller and his wife, Susanna, 28 June 1861, they named her Emma Keller.
At the Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held October 5, 1861, in Salt Lake City, Utah, John Keller, his wife and baby were called by President Brigham Young to go to Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah along with others of this Swiss Company of LDS immigrants to raise cotton, grapes and fruit.
Before leaving for Santa Clara, John Keller and his wife Susanna, were sealed in the LDS Endowment House in Salt Lake City, 18 October 1861. That same day my Grandmother Catherine (Enz) Ence was married and sealed to my Grandfather John Keller as a plural wife.
They left Salt Lake City to make the trip to Santa Clara under the leadership of Daniel Bonneli who could speak both Swiss and English. The route they followed was about the same as the State Highway 91 of today. There were 85 members in this company, the trip required about three weeks to make. They arrived in Santa Clara 28 November 1861.
They had a long hard struggle to keep the dam in the Santa Clara Creek. The floods kept washing it out. Food was pretty scarce most of the time. Then the grasshoppers came and ate most everything that was green. Pigweed greens, cornbread, molasses, dried peaches and peach preserves made with molasses and stored in barrels was their main kind of food.
These people worked hard to plant and build for they had come to stay. They built Church Houses, School houses, and homes of the best material they could get. They helped build the St. George Temple. They made hats from wheat straw. Baskets from willows. They used Oose or Yucca root for soap. They hauled their fruit, molasses and other produce to Caliente, Pioche, and Delamar, Nevada, Milford, Silver Reef and surrounding towns in Utah in wagons pulled by horses tosell or trade for produce they could use. Later they hauled it in pick up trucks.
These Swiss immigrants liked to sing and play musical instruments. George Staheli brought a cornet with him from Switzerland. When they were coming from Cedar City to Santa Clara the road was so rough that at Harrisburg the cornet fell off and got un over by a wagon.
After these settlers had been in Santa Clara about three years, John R. Itten received the word that there was a part of an estate due him in Switzerland. He accepted a second hand set of band instruments in place of the money and gave them to the Santa Clara Town. There were ten instruments, these were greatly appreciated. The first band was organized under the leadership of George Staheli.
John Keller was among the first band members in the Santa Clara Band.
Alma Keller was born 22 March 1864 to John Keller and Catherine Ence Keller. Catherine Ence Keller died about 1868 in Santa Clara Utah. She was born 8 September 1832 in Mettlin, Thurgau, Switzerland. Her father was Hans Jacob Enz, her mother was Anna Elisabetha Wegmann.
John Keller married Louisa Henrietta Schroder, 21 June 1869, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City as a plural wife. She was born 10 September 1845 in Angelfingen, Zurich, Switzerland. Her parents were William Henry Schroder and Barbara Fehr. She died, 20 May 1924 in Santa Clara.
John Keller went back to Switzerland on a mission for the LDS Church in about 1872. I knew he had gone on this mission but I didn’t have the date until I read the following in the “Church Chronology” by Andrew Jenson.
“Wednesday, July 8th, 1874. The Steamship Minnesota sailed from Liverpool, England with 81 saints in charge of John Keller. The company arrived at New York July 21st in Salt Lake City, July 30th.”
John Keller brought some more of the Keller families back to Salt Lake with him this time, and a young woman by the name of Lisette Frehner. John Keller and Lisette Frehner were married about 1874 in Utah. We are unable to find a record of the marriage but our cousin, Ada Von Nordeck said she knew of this marriage and of them having a child and that they were divorced a few months later. The child died in infancy.
His health began to fail for some time before he died the 6th of May 1882 in Santa Clara, Utah of a heart ailment at the age of 48 years, 8 months, 28 days. His first wife, Susanna Haffter, was born 17 June 1823 in Weinfelden, Thurgau, Switzerland. She was a nurse and a midwife. She helped take care of the sick. She died in Santa Clara, Utah.