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Family cemetery high on a hill

Six buried there, with four killed by typhoid fever

June 8, 2012
By Ashley Rittenhouse (arittenhouse@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

BOAZ - Hundreds of motorists pass by the Elias Keller Family Cemetery every day but most probably don't notice it.

Located high on a hill off West Virginia 14 between Voshel Furniture and Auction Center and Keller Lane, the cemetery serves as the final resting place for a family of six, most of whom were killed by typhoid fever.

"Typhoid fever claimed four family members - Tabitha, Jesse, Elias and Eleanor (Keller). All died within eight weeks of each other," said Vienna resident Jeff Smith, a member of the Wood County Rural Cemetery Alliance Committee, which is associated with the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society.

Article Photos

Vienna resident Jeff Smith, a member of the Wood County Rural Cemetery Alliance Committee, looks Wednesday over the grave marker of Jesse Keller, one of four members of the Keller family killed by typhoid fever in 1854. The Elias Keller Family Cemetery is located off West Virginia 14 in Boaz between Voshel Furniture and Auction Center and Keller Lane.

Although it's easy to miss the cemetery, it is visible from the road ... but that hasn't always been the case, Smith said.

In fact, it was discovered in April 2009 by Smith and Wood County Rural Cemetery Alliance Committee member Joe Fetty, buried under brush and trash.

"You could barely see the highway through a little hole in the weeds and every one of these grave markers were down," Smith said. "I started restoration July 21, 2009, shortly after we found it."

Fact Box

Elias Keller Family Cemetery:

- It is located off West Virginia 14 in Boaz between Voshel Furniture and Auction Center and Keller Lane.

- It serves as the final resting place for six members of the Keller family, four of whom were killed by typhoid fever.

- The cemetery was found in 2009 covered in trash and brush. The trash and brush were cleared away and grave markers were stood up on cement bases by Jeff Smith, a member of the Wood County Rural Cemetery Alliance Committee.

Although they were buried, all the grave markers were there, Smith said. After clearing away the trash and brush he stood the markers up on cement bases he made. He also made a sign for the cemetery reading "Elias Keller Family Cemetery".

"How we got that lead I can't remember," said Fetty, of Vienna. "You had to fight your way into it, it was just a real mess."

Elias and Rachael Keller, who were early settlers of Wood County, had four children, including Eleanor, Joanna, Jesse and Tabitha.

Joanna Keller was the first family member to pass away, according to Smith. She died May 15, 1846 less than a week after her twenty-second birthday, but Smith said it's not clear what caused her death.

Tabitha Keller was the first to die of typhoid fever at the age of 26, Smith said, followed by Jesse Keller at age 15, then Elias Keller at age 55, followed by Eleanor Keller at age 34. All of them died between September and November of 1854.

Rachael Keller, the wife of Elias Keller, died Aug. 9, 1887 at the age of 85.

"She moved in with her son Augustas Keller after the loss of her family members," Smith noted. "Augustus' house is still standing."

Smith said the house is in Boaz on Keller Lane, named after the Keller family. He said the Keller family is buried on property they once owned.

"I try to keep it up as best I can. I've got at least six cemeteries I'm taking care of," Smith said. "I have a saying that a life lived is a life worth remembering and that goes for everybody."

 
 

 

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