Christian W. Keefer (Chester) is an important figure in one of the main branches of my husband’s and children’s ascendancy. He married Mary Ann Jacques and they eventually settled and raised a family in Dodge County, Wisconsin.
After numerous years of research, however, I’m still left scratching my head at the mystery of the identity of Christian W. Keefer’s parents.
As can be seen in the list of sources I’ve found and logged for Christian (below), you would think that at least one of them would provide some concrete information about his parentage and place of birth, but that turns out to not be the case.
Here’s what I know for sure:
Christian W. Keefer was born October 1, 1811 in Pennsylvania and his family originated from France.
I originally took a mention of Philadelphia as Christian’s birthplace in a biography of his son Charles with a grain of salt. I do believe that people did and do tend to describe where they’ve come from by using the nearest, largest center that would be recognized outside the area. For example, although we live in Chilliwack, BC, Canada, we frequently say we’re located near Vancouver to those who are not from the area. Considering this possibility, I would not rule out any birth location in Pennsylvania.
I have considered the possibility that our Christian may be one of the Christians mentioned of the Keefer / Kiefer family in the “Biographical Annals of Franklin County”. I was able to systematically eliminate every Christian mentioned because they could not have been born on or near the birth date of our Christian (Chester), or they married into different families, etc.
Another possibility I’ve been checking is that his father (and possibly mother as well), may have immigrated to the United States from Germany (or Switzerland), but I’ve been unable to find immigration or naturalization records that show such a connection.
However, the same biography previously mentioned states that he was of French origin.
Through all of my research over the years, every Keefer family is of Germanic origin – except one.
The only family that shows of French origin in the time period is (lo and behold!) actually living in Philadelphia and is that of Anthony and Sarah (Shillingford) Keefer.
At the time, his family was very young with only mention of one brother born in 1810 – Thomas. The earlier births of the children of Anthony and his wife Sarah are about one year apart, leaving a gap just where Christian’s would be.
I would love to find proof beyond that of coincidence and speculation of Christian W. Keefer’s parentage. I’d like nothing better than to continue further back in time and expand on this huge Keefer family
If you or anyone you know has any documentation, images, etc. of this Christian Keefer showing his parents and brothers and sisters (or parts thereof), I would dearly love to see them, or better yet, get copies.
- Biographical Sketches of Old Settlers and Prominent People of Wisconsin: Vol. I (Waterloo, Wis., Huffman & Hyer, 1899); pdf file.
- State of Ohio, “Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950,” marriage, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZ82-6QV: accessed
- Death certificate; Charles Keefer; Digital Folder No.: 4008297; Image No.: 1576; Film Number: 1674527; Certificate No.: cn 23384. (7 June 1933), Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, State of Illinois; https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQCW-SP5.
- FamilySearch.org, “Wisconsin Deaths and Burials, 1835-1968,” database, FamilySearch.org, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XL3P-121: accessed ).
- Rootsweb, “Wisconsin Death Records,” database, Rootsweb, Rootsweb (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~keffer/deaths/Wisconsin.htm: accessed ).
- Keefer, Christian W., Beaver Dam Argus, Beaver Dam, Dodge County, Wisconsin, , Obituary.
- Obituary of Mary Ann (Jaques) Keefer.
- 1880 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, Beaver Dam, Dodge, Wisconsin, enumeration district (ED) Enumeration District: 004, Page: 47A, Year: 1880; Census Place: Beaver Dam, Dodge, Wisconsin; Roll: 1422; Family History Film: 1255422, Keefer Christian W.; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com : Internet 13 July 2013).
- 1870 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, year: 1870; census place: elba, dodge, wisconsin; roll: m593_1710; page: 165a; image: 338; family history library film: 553209, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, enumeration district (ED) Roll: M593_1710; Image: 337; Family History Library Film: 553209, Page: 164B, Roll: M593_1710; Image: 337; Family History Library Film: 553209, Keefer Christian W; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com : Internet 7 September 2013).
- 1860 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, roll: m653_1405; page: 303; image: 308, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, Page: 303, Roll: M653_1405; Image: 308; Family History Library Film: 805405, Keefer Christian W.; dgs no.: 4298900; image no.: 0038; nara no.: m653, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com : Internet 7 September 2013).
- 1850 US Federal Census, Elba, Dodge, Wisconsin, roll: m432_996; image: 209, , Page: 104A, Roll: M432_996; Page: 104A; Image: 209, Keefer Christian W.; digital image, Family Search ((http://blythegenealogy.com : Internet 7 September 2013).
- 1840 US Federal Census, Painesville, Lake, Ohio; digital image, Ancestry.ca, Ancestry.ca (http://blythegenealogy.com : accessed ).
- 1830 US Federal Census, Antrim, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, age: 395; nara series: m19; roll number: 151; family history film: 0020625; digitalk image, Ancestry.com (http://blythegenealogy.com : accessed ).