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Charles B. Keeler (1862-1924)
Maritime Biography -- Born in Elk Rapids, MI, resided in Bay City, MI.
Courtesy of "Links to the Past" website. (Oct. 2005)

History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield
Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899.



C.B. Keeler, a marine engineer of good standing, was born May 20, 1862, in Elk Rapids, on Grand Traverse bay, Mich., and is the son of Charles J. and Laura A. (Frasier) Keeler. Their other children were: David C.; Marietta, who is now the wife of Alfred Kiser; John W., who fitted himself for the berth of a marine engineer and who died of pneumonia in 1884; and Ellen L., now Mrs. William Morgan.

The father, who was a veteran of the Civil war, died in 1870, of lingering consumption, contracted while in the army. He enlisted in 1861, in Company F. 14th Mich. V.I., under Captain Nixon, was chosen color bearer later, and finally advanced to the grade of sergeant. His regiment joined General Grant's army at Pittsburg Landing, just after the battle and was present at the siege of Corinth, Miss., and the engagement at Farmington. In October, 1864, the command was assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division (under Jeff C. Davis), Fourteenth Army Corps, and held that assignment until the close of the war. Mr. Keeler took part in the affairs at Lavergne, where his regiment captured a fort, Brentwood and Stone River. On September 6, 1863, the regiment was given horses and converted into mounted infantry until November, during which time it met the enemy in skirmishes at Weams Springs and Lawrenceburg, Tenn. It was then engaged in garrison duty at Franklin and Columbia, Tenn.

On January 4, 1864, they re-enlisted, and after the usual veteran furlough of thirty days returned to duty. On June 4, the regiment was withdrawn from garrison duty and joined General Sherman's army of invasion at Dallas, Ga. Mr. Keeler was with his command in the capture of Kenesaw Mountain, in a charge, and capture of Rebel rifle pits at the Chattahoochie river, and assisted in taking two lines of Rebel works, driving the enemy from the field, the regiment taking ninety-two prisoners. He was in the flank movement around Atlanta; in the charge at Jonesboro, capturing four pieces of artillery, a Rebel general with his staff, and the colors of the First Arkansas Regiment with three hundred men; and marched with Sherman to Savannah and through the Carolinas, participating in the engagements at Averysboro, Bentonville and Fayetteville, N.C. He marched in the review of Sherman's army through Washington at the close of the war. At his death Mr. Keeler was buried by the Knights Templar with the honors of Masonry. His wife died in 1880.

Charles B. Keeler attended the public schools at Elk Rapids, and at the age of nineteen went to Bay City, where he finished up a term at an ungraded school. There he also fitted himself for marine engineering, at Mitchell & Boutell's, sailing two seasons in the meantime as mate of the side-wheel steamers Westover and Sea Gull, towing logs on Saginaw Bay. Since then he has worked winters in McKinnon's shop and learned the boiler-making trade at Mr. Like's Michigan Boiler Works.

In 1886 he took out marine engineer's license and was appointed to the tug John Nice, operating out of Tawas. In 1887 he was engineer of the tug B.W. Minter, of Au Sable, and looked after the machinery of the sandsucker Ida Burton. The next spring he went to Port Huron and ran the tug George K. Hand, transferring as chief engineer to the lake tug John Martin, which he quit at Detroit, finishing the season as chief of the steamer Nashua. He was subsequently chief of the tug Niagara. In the spring of 1891 Mr. Keeler came out as second engineer of the new steamer City of London, closing the season as chief engineer of the tug Adams, waiting on a dredge of McCullum & Lee, of Bay City, Mich., who had half of the contract for dredging at the mouth of the St. Clair river. He also put a new engine in the tug Robert Emmet, and ran her the balance of the season. In 1893 he again entered the employ of the dredging firm by the year and remained until the fall of 1895, running the Adams and having supervision of the machinery of the dredges and other boats. In the spring of 1896, he engineered the steamer R.G. Stewart, in 1897 served as chief of the steamer T.K. Scott, and in 1898 was placed as chief on the steamer Mark Hopkins.

Mr. Keeler was married to Miss Ella, daughter of William and Laura Hunter, of Port Austin, Mich., on December 11, 1887. Two sons, William C. and Ernest Lloyd, have been born to this union. Socially he is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, the Odd Fellows, Orangemen, Protective Fireside Circle and Independent Order of Foresters.

Additional Notes.

    1887 - Michigan Marriages: East Tawas, Iosco, Mich.

  • Date: Dec. 11, 1887.
  • Groom: Charles B. Keeler, b. 1862 Mich., son of Charles J. Keeler and Laura A. Prager.
  • Bride: Ella Hunter, b. 1869 Mich., daughter of William Hunter and Jane Lintz.
  • Official: Robert Hill, pastor Methoids E. Church.
  • Witnesses: Joseph Wharran and Julia Wharran.

    1902 - Michigan Marriages: Clyde, St. Clair, Mich.

  • Date: Dec. 24, 1902.
  • Groom: Chas. B. Keeler, b. 1862 Elk Rapids, son of Chas. J. Keeler and Laura M. Fraser.
  • Bride: Mrs. Brewer Bust, b. 1861 Goodell's, daughter of Humphrey Bust.
  • Official: J.E. Summand, clergyman.
  • Witnesses: W.W. Axhins and Anna Axhins.

    1910 - Census: Cleveland, Cyuahoga, Ohio.

  • Keeler, Charles B. - age 48, b. Mich.
  • Abbie, wife - age 49, b. Mich.
  • Brewer, Benedett, step-dau. - age 24, b. Mich.

    1924 - Ohio Deaths: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio.

  • Charles B. Keeler, b. April 20, 1862, died November 14, 1924. Son of Chas. J. Keeler and Lanea Ann Fraser.
Related Notes & Pages

1867 Great Lakes Map
(click to enlarge)
Related Bay-Journal Pages
None at this time.
People Referenced
Axhins, Anna
Axhins, W.W.
Brewer, Mr.
Brewer, Benedett (step-dau)
Bust, Abbie (2-wife)
Bust, Hurphrey (f-inlaw)
Davis, Jeff C.
Frasier, Laura A. (mother)
Grant, Gen.
Hill, Robert
Hunter, Ella (wife)
Hunter, William (f-inlaw)
Keeler, Charles B. (subject)
Keeler, Charles J. (father)
Keeler, David C. (bro)
Keeler, Ernest L. (son)
Keeler, Wm. C.(son)
Kiser, Alfred
Kiser (Keeler), Maretta (sis)
Like, Mr.
Lint, Jane. (m-inlaw)
Morgan (Keeler), Ellen L. (sis)
Morgan, William
Nixon, Capt.
Sherman, Gen.
Wharren, Julia
Wharren, William
Subjects Referenced
Au Sable, MI
Bay City, MI
Cleveland, OH
Detroit, MI
Elk Rapids, MI
Ind. Order of Foresters
Kinights Templar
Marine Engrs. Bene. Assoc.
McCullum & Lee co.
Michigan Boiler Works co.
Mitchell & Boutell co.
Odd Fellows
Port Huron, MI
Prot. Fireside Circle
Saginaw Bay
St. Clair river
Tawas, MI
Traverse Bay, MI

Civil War: 1st Arks. Reg. 1st Brig., 2nd Div., 14th Army
Atlanta, GA
Averysboro, NC
Bentonville, NC
Chattahoocie river
Co. F, 14th MI, Inf.
Columbia, TN
Corinth, MS
Dallas, GA
Fayetteville, NC
Franklin, TN
Jonesboro, GA
Kenesaw Mountain
Lawrenceburg, TN
Pittsburg Landing
Savannah, GA
Stone River
Weams Springs, TN
Washington, DC

Vessel Names:
B.W. Minter
City of London
Geo. K. Hand
Ida Burton
John Marton
John Nice
Mark Hopkins
R.G. Stewart
Robert Emmet
Sea Gull
T.K. Scott
Internet References
Links to the Past
Online book, "History of the Great Lakes," Vols. 1 & 2, by J.B. Mansfield.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.