Edith Viola (Miner) Keeler was born on March 27, 1872 near Tontogany, Wood County, OH, the daughter of Jacob and Louise (Finkenbeiner) Miner.
She was considered "a valued and esteemed neighbor and citizen" of Haskins, Wood County for more than a quarter-century.
On her 19th birthday, on March 27, 1891, Edith was united in wedlock with 22-year-old Gurdon Keeler (July 19, 1869-1946), a native of Haskins and the son of Clark M. and Anna (Bemis) Keeler.
Together, they produced four children – Hazel I. Young, Earl Keeler and Gertrude Kenower Houser Pedersen, and one unknown child who died young.
The couple lived for two years at Waterville, then moved to Tontogany where they resided for one year, from where they removed to Haskins, where they had lived since. The husband is a licensed engineer of this town. Mrs. Keeler was a member of the L.O.T.M. order of Haskins. Although not active in social, civic or church affairs she had acquired a large circle of warm friends. She was a home loving character and most contented when caring for her children and home.
The federal census of 1900 shows the Keelers in Haskins, having been married for nine years. That year, Gurdon was employed as a pumper, likely with the railroad.
In 1920, the census shows them residing in Haskins, Middleton Township, Wood County, with Gurdon laboring as a foreman on the "stone road."
Edith was stricken with "intestinal tuberculosis" and sought a cure for which there was no solution. She is known to have been treated in the Williams Sanitarium in December 1920 having been seriously ill for three months.
Sadly, she died at age 49, on Feb. 13, 1921. A newspaper said that "she had been ill since last August." She was buried at Union Hill Cemetery. The family published a card of thanks in the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, thanking the "relatives, friends and neighbors for their kindness and assistance shown us during the sickness and death of our beloved one... Especially do we thank Rev. Vornholt for his consoling words; also the singers and those who made the beautiful floral tributes."
Gurdon outlived Edith by a quarter century and resided for part of that time in Haskins. When he was age 56, in 1926, he married again, to Sarah (Mitchell) Ridealgh (1869-1933), a native of Scotland who had come to the United States just three years earlier, in 1923.
By 1930, still making a home in Haskins, Gerdon's occupation was "engineer" in a "school house." That year, 25-year-old son Earl, and 17-year-old daughter Gertrude, were living under their roof.
The marriage lasted about seven years. Sarah suffered from hardening of the arteries and senile psychosis, and died in the Toledo State Hospital at the age of 65 on Nov. 5, 1933. Burial was at Union Hill in Tontogany.
He was badly burned in an accident in the spring of 1937. Later that summer, he received a skin graft at General Hospital.
In his 70s, he was admitted to Speck's Convalescent Home, his health complicated with heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver. Gurdon was a patient there "for some time" prior to his death. He passed away at age 77 on Nov. 18, 1946. Funeral rites were presided by Rev. O.E. Miller of Haskins Federated Church, with an obituary appearing in the Sentinel-Tribune.
~ Daughter Gertrude Melva (Keeler) Kenower Houser Pedersen ~
She spent her early adulthood in Bowling Green. At the age of 23, on June 22, 1925, Gertrude slipped away to Monroe, MI to marry 24-year-old Harry William Kenower (1901-1968), also of Bowling Green. Harry was the son of F.D. and Maude (Sprague) Kenower and was employed as a painter. Justice of the peace Lee Smith officiated, with William J. McCrane and Marie M. Moll serving as witnesses. Immediately afterward, the newlywed Kenowers returned the favor by witnessing the McCrane nuptials.
The pair did not reproduce. They first lived at 127 Thurstin Avenue but by November announced plans to move to 174 East Wooster Street.
The couple is known to have attended a New Year's Eve 1926 party with fellow Cla-Zel employees at the home of her sister Hazel Young. U.S. Census records for 1930 show them in Bowling Green, with him working as an interior decorator and her as a ticket-taker in the family's Cla-Zel Theatre.
Sadly, the marriage dissolved, and in October 1932 Gertrude sued for divorce. As reported in the Bowling Green Daily Sentinel-Tribune, he "used liquor, became cruel and beat her so that she needed a physician's care and became afraid to live with him." The divorce was granted in March 1933.
In March 1934, she made news in the gossip columns of the Sentinel-Tribune when she returned to work at Cla-Zel after having been off sick for two weeks. Her role at Cla-Zel was as a ticket-taker.
She surprised her friends the day after Christmas 1934 when she entered into marriage with her second husband, Gale Benjamin Houser (July 11, 1899-1965), a native of McClure, OH but at the time of marriage a resident of Chicago. He was the son of Benjamin F. and Lilly May (Rusk) Houser. Their wedding was conducted in Findlay, OH, by justice of the peace Reed B. Dunn, in the office of Mayor Lincoln Groves. In announcing the wedding, the Sentinel-Tribune said that the pair would make their residence on Merry Avenue.
Gale stood 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed 130 lbs. He had undergone foot surgery earlier in life and had bones removed.
Evidence suggests that Gale and Gertrude owned and operated the Splendid Restaurant on Bowling Green's North Main Street circa 1935-1936.
Sadly, although Gertrude bore a daughter in January 1938 in Community Hospital, the baby died at birth.
Federal census records show that the Housers resided in Bowling Green in 1935 before moving by 1940 to Leipsic, Putnam County, OH. There, they owned the Ohio Theatre, with Gertrude working as the cashier and bookkeeper. Their address in 1941 was 135 East Defiance Street, Leipsic.
The Bank of Wood County took efforts on their property in Leipsic in August 1942 for failure to pay a note of $1,991.58 plus 8 percent interest. The bank's complaint, filed in Wood County Court, was dismissed the following month.
During the 1940s, the Housers moved to Washington Township, Lucas County, OH, and dwelled at 3910 Vogel Drive in 1950. At that time, he earned a living as a salesman for a real estate firm.
Their marriage appears to have ended in divorce. Gale relocoated to Southern California where, on Aug. 28, 1959, he tied the knot with 55-year-old Louvenia E. Shahan Wicks ( ? - ? ). Sadly, Gale died in Los Angeles on May 25, 1965.
Circa 1968, when she was 64, Gertrude was married to a second husband, Carl Pedersen ( ? - ? ).
Gertrude and Carl resided in Pinellas Park, Pinellas County, FL. Her final address was 7265 53rd Street North, Pinellas Park.
At the age of 72, Gertude died in Pinellas County on Aug. 11, 1974. Her passing received a short notice in the Tampa Bay Times. Her place of eternal sleep is unknown.
~ Daughter Hazel (Keeler) Young ~
On Aug. 18, 1916, she was united in matrimony with Clark Marion Young (1892-1984), a native of Stewartville/Findlay, OH, the son of Charles A. and Bertha (Adair) Young. Rev. Perry C. Hopper led the exchange of vows. In announcing the marriage, the Bowling Green Daily Sentinel-Tribune said he was "proprietor of the Lyric theatre in this city and his many friends wish him and his wife much happiness. They will reside on North Prospect street."
Prior to marriage and the theatre job, Clark had been employed as manager of the Weston Garage.
The couple bore one known daughter, Shirley Jo Williams.
The Lyric Theatre showed one-and-two-reel silent films, accompanied by a pianist. The Youngs then expanded the theatre business when they bought Everybody's Theatre and eventually the Chidester/Delmar Theatre, where stage shows were performed by touring road companies. After the Delmar was destroyed by fire, the Youngs in April 1926 built and opened the "Cla-Zel," using part of both their first names, and selected from a public contest. The theatre was said to be the "oldest continuously operating, first-run, single-screen moviehouse in Ohio" and a "study in acoustics and ambience."
They actively operated the Lyric and Cla-Zel until 1940. The Lyric eventually closed and was sold, but Clark and Hazel held onto the Cla-Zel as owners. They spent many of their winters in Miami and built a new home on Gorrill Road circa 1960. Clark held a membership in the Haskins Federated Lodge, the Odd Fellows Lodge and Pioneer Theater Owners of America.
Clark and Hazel sold Cla-Zel in 1960 to a longtime employee, Jack Armstrong, of Armstrong Theatres Inc. The buyer had first joined Cla-Zel as an usher at age 14 in 1934 and learned the business from the bottom-up, from janitoring to ushering to operating the equipment. He went on to buy a chain of 22 other theatres in Defiance, Fremont, Msumee, Napoleon, Portage and Toledo, and told the Sentinel-Tribune that with Cla-Zel he would "continue to operate on the same policies which it has maintained through the years."
Together they modernized a number of other buildings in town, including the former James Building on North Church Street, the Bigelow Building next to the Graber Building and a property on Wooster Street occupied by the Federal Land Bank.
Hazel passed away in Bowling Green at the age of 80 on July 19, 1972.
Clark outlived his wife by a dozen years. In December 1972, he sold their home at 14821 Conneaut Avenue and moved to his residence at 5910 Southwest 25th Street in Miami. He spent his subsequent summers on Lake Champlain at Bridgeport, VT. In 1978, he wed his second wife, Martha E. (Carter) Rigg, the mother of Jon Rigg and Joe Rigg.
At age 86, said a newspaper, he remained "very active and drives his own car, mows his lawn and makes minor repairs to his winter home in Miami, Fla., even though he suffered from a severe fall two years ago from which he has not fully recovered."
He died in the Porter Medical Center of Bridgeport at the age of 92 on March 8, 1984. An obituary was published in the Bowling Green newspaper. The body was brought back to Bowling Green to sleep for all time in Union Hill Cemetery, with Rev. Christopher Robinson officiating.
The Cla-Zel Theatre closed in 2005 and was restored and re-opened in 2008 to its original grandeur. Today it is utilized for weddings and receptions, corporate parties and non-profit fundraisers, featuring a spacious dance floor, two full-service bars, and seating/table space.
Shirley Jo spent her working career as an elementary school teacher at Ridge Street Elementary in Bowling Green and in McClure, OH. Their dwelling-place in 1972 was in Mitchell Road and they remained in town through the mid-1980s. At some point they migrated to Virginia and settled with or near their daughter in Covesville. Sadly, Shirley died in the University of Virginia's Porter Medical Intensive Care Unit in Charlottesville at the age of 62 on Dec. 4, 1989. Her remains were returned to her hometown for services at Plain Congregational Church and interment in Union Hill Cemetery. An obituary was published in the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune. Inscribed on the face of her grave marker is the text "I'll see you in the morning." Howard outlived his wife by more than three decades and remained in the Covesville/Faber area. In 1992, at the age of 65, he designed and constructed his own energy-efficient home featuring hand-crafted trim of oak. Then at the age of 80, he assembled a cabin over an existing fireplace/smoker, and later salvaged trees in the woods and made walking sticks. He was the proud owner of a Model T Ford. Howard also became a member of the James River Batteau Festival and helped to construct the Fluvanna III Batteau, a single dugout honoring the pioneers who worked to fashion navigable river, a double dugout tobacco canoe and outriggers to a kayak at his 90th birthday. In his final year of life he towed his daughter in a barge with the kayak from Wingina to Howardsville, VA. An avid swimmer over many years, he made a 2,100-foot long swim just days before death at a local aquatic and fitness center. The angel of death spirited him away on Feb. 6, 2020. At his dying request, he asked that he be cremated and his ashes receive a Navy burial at sea.
~ Son Earl Clinton Keeler ~
At the age of 27, on July 9, 1921, in Richwood, OH, he was joined in wedlock with 22-year-old bookkeeper Hazel Groll (Oct. 1, 1898-1985), a native of Waldo, OH and the daughter of Henry E. and Elizabeth (Kreis) Croll. She came from a family which had established Croll Furniture Company.
They together produced a family of six children -- Eugene E. Keeler, Harry Charles Keeler, Earlton W. Keeler, Edith Milner, Eva "Grace" Davis Adham and Hazel Mezo.
As a young man, Earl had light blue eyes and light brown hair. He joined the U.S. Army during World War I, and on his military draft registration card listed that he was a book keeper working for a company in Haskins. He trained at Camp Sherman and then was deployed to France.
The Keelers lived in Nevada, OH in 1924 where their son Harry was born. They relocated in 1934 to Michigan, where he obtained employment with the Grand Trunk Railroad in Port Huron. They stayed for good, a span of 34 years. Earl was a member of an early union, the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks, Lodge No. 211.
He also worked as a clerk for the Michigan Liquor Control in 1940 and then at the local Montgomery Ward store during the World War II era. He suffered cuts on his head at work in June 1944 "when window blinds fell on him in the store," reported the Port Huron Times Herald. Their address during that time was 1627 Jay Street.
Keeping an interest in military veteran affairs, Earl served as an officer and trustee with the Charles Schoor Post of the Disabled American Veterans of World War I.
At their silver wedding anniversary, in 1946, they celebrated with a surprise dinner held in the home of their married son Eugene.
Earl and Grand Trunk co-workers were pictured in the Times Herald in June 1958 while demonstrating use of portable talk-back speakers used in transferring freight from railcards to the dock at the Lake Huron Freight Terminal. He retired from the Grand Trunk in 1960.
The couple's final home together was at 2529 15th Avenue.
Sadly, Earl died at the age of 74, on July 22, 1968, from a long illness. His obituary appeared in the Times Herald, in which the family requested that any memorial gifts be made to the St. Clair County Society for Crippled Children and Adults or to Grace Episcopal Church. He was survived by a baker's dozen grandchildren. Rev. D. Roy Lees, of the family church, officiated the rites. His remains were lowered into eternal repose in Lakeside Cemetery.
Hazel lived in their home for another 17 years. At the age of 86, she passed away in Williamsburg Convalescent Centeer of Farmington Hills, MI. An obituary in the Times Herald said that Rev. Canon D. Roy Lees led the funeral service.
Son Eugene E. "Gene" Keeler (1922- ? ) was born in about 1922 in Waldo, OH. He was an alumnus of Port Huron High School. Circa 1942-1943, he was employed by Pan American Airways in San Francisco. On June 18, 1943, he entered into marriage with Mary Margaret Schaeffer ( ? - ? ), daughter of Gladys Schaeffer of Peavey Street in Port Huron. The ceremony was held in San Francisco's St. Luke's Episcopal Church, by the hand of Rev. John C. Leffler. In announcing the happy event, the Port Huron Times Herald said that the bride "wore a light blue wool crepe with white sheer blouse, navy accessories and a corsage of gardenias." Eugene joined the U.S. Navy and served during World War II. Mary Margaret also was a Port Huron graduate. Together they are believed to have produced three children -- Vikki Frank, Cheryl Peters and Jeff Keeler. They made a home in Dearborn, MI in 1948. Eugene was in Phoenix, AZ in 1968-1996 and earned a living as a business owner. He was joined in wedlock a second time with Carol ( ? - ? ). Eugene died in Phoenix at the age of 74 on Jan. 28, 1996. His obituary appeared in the Arizona Republic.
Son Harry Charles Keeler (1924-2012) was born on Jan. 25, 1924 in Nevada, OH. His earliest years were spent in Nevada before a move to Port Huron in 1934 when he was age 10. He was a 1942 graduate of Port Huron High School and in early manhood secured a position as a teller with the Michigan National Bank. During World War II, in February 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Forces and assigned to the 8th Air Force. He served on B-17 bombers and was deployed to England. When pictured in a Feb. 4, 1945 story in the Port Huron Times Herald, he was "an auto-pilot and bombsight maintenance man" and inspected "gyroscopes, transmitters, servo motors and commutators to insure proper operation under the most adverse conditions. He is responsible for the operation of the auto-pilot that provides level platform for accurate bombing and for the famous Norden bombsight that mechanically computes the point in space where high explosives must be dropped in order to hit the target." He returned home after the war and rejoined the bank. On Oct. 23, 1948, Harry was united in matrimony with Geraldine Lee "Jeri" Hayman (Aug. 25, 1927-2017), daughter of Homer W. Hayman of Crescent Place, Port Huron. They exchanged their vows at the First Methodist Church, presided by Rev. Dr. William C.S. Pellowe. The Times Herald said that "Wimple lines fashioned the chantilly lace gown ... in a style demurely finished with a peter pan collar and tiny covered buttons down the front of the fitted bodice... A fingertip illusion veil was fastened to a matching tiara trimmed with seed pearls. She carried a Colonial bouquet of white roses centered with a corsage of gardenias." Their union survived the highs and lows of an extraordinary 64 years of marriage. Two daughters born of this union were Judith Kearns and Kathy Bilstrom. Harry earned a degree in 1955 from the University of Wisconsin School of Banking and was promoted to the position of vice president of Michigan National circa 1968. He also owned and managed the Credit Bureau of Port Huron for eight years, from 1976 to 1984. He held memberships in the Visiting Nurse Association, the Shriners, Girl Scouts of America (as treasurer), the Old Newsboys and the Port Huron Golf Club. Jeri was a 1945 Port Huron High graduate and attended Port Huron Junior College. She and her sister-in-law Grace Adham are known to have played circa 1985 in the Port Huron Golf Club Ladies Invitational. They remained in Port Huron as of 1985-2012. The angel of death carried Harry away at the age of 88 on Dec. 5, 2012. Funeral rites were held in Grace Episcopal Church, led by the hand of Rev. Robert Trask. Geraldine lived for another four-plus years as a widow. In 2014, she was admitted to Silverado Memory Care in Arizona. She succumbed to the spectre of death at the age of 89 in Scottsdale, on Jan. 21, 2017.
Son Earlton W. "Earl" Keeler (1926-1995) was born on March 14, 1926 in Nevada, OH. He is believed to have been a 1944 graduate of Port Huron High School. Earl then went on to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II and attained the rank of sergeant. His home in 1968 was in Toledo and in 1985-1994 in Phoenix, AZ. He made a living as a real estate salesman. Earl entered into marriage with Nina Lou (Aug. 19, 1934-2023). They became the parents of a trio of offspring -- Bonnie Sue Madden Tyler, Debra Ann Mohler and James Edward Keeler. At the age of 69, he died in Phoenix on April 11, 1955. His obituary was printed in the Phoenix Arizona Republic. His remains sleep for the ages in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. Nina Lou outlived her spouse by 28 years. She married (?) Ehrlich ( ? - ? ). Nina died on Nov. 16, 2023. She also rests for all time in the National Memorial Cemetery.
Daughter Eva "Grace" Keeler (1930-2017) was born in about 1930 in Ohio. She was valedictorian of the 1947 graduating class of Port Huron High School. Grace received a degree circa 1953 from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded a La Verne Noyes Scholarship. On July 25, 1953, she wed Roger Edwin Davis ( ? - ? ), son of Russell Davis and Mrs. George Daignault. Presiding was Rev. Dr. Austin E DuPlan at Grace Episcopal Church. Said the Port Huron Times Herald, she wore a "bow-knot Chantilly and pleated tulle waltz-length gown... A johnny collar distinguished the jacket bodice and a panel of Chantilly accentuated the bouffant skirt. Her elbow-length veil of illusion was attached to a small heart-shaped cap of matching lace and seed pearls and she carried a coloniql bouquet of white roses and stephanotis." Roger was an alumnus of Detroit Country Day School, Harvard University and the University of Michigan School of Law. As of 1968, the Davises were in Birmingham, MI. The trio of offspring in this family were Susan Theisen, Lisa Garneau and Steven Davis. Later, she married Raymond Adham.Sr. ( ? - ? ). He had been married before and brought three stepchildren into the second union -- Karen Pickner, Raymond Adham Jr. and Denise Sigmon. The Adhams made their dwelling-place at Union Lake and Commerce Township, MI. The Detroit Free Press once said she "was a dedicated educator, avid golfer, gardener and bird watcher." Grace and her sister-in-law Geraldine "Jeri" Keeler are known to have played circa 1985 in the Port Huron Golf Club Ladies Invitational. As of 2012 Grace made her residence in Novi, MI. She passed away in Phoenix, AZ at the age of 87 on Jan. 21, 2017. The headcount of her survivors was 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Daughter Hazel Keeler (1932- ? ) was born in about 1932. She was a 1951 graduate of Port Huron Junior College. On Aug. 30, 1958, Hazel married John Mezo ( ? - ? ), son of John Mezo of White Street, Port Huron. The pair migrated to New York State and in 1968 dwelled in Elmira, NY. By 1985, they relocated to Danville, VA and in 1994-2012 lived in Blacksburg, VA.
Copyright © 2002-2003, 2009, 2012, 2022-2023 Mark A. Miner