About the Keil Family
Dr. Wilhelm Keil was one of nine children father by Andreas Keil in the Bleicherode region of Saxony. Andreas Keil was a master linen weaver. Trained as a tailor and knowledgeable about the use of herbs in medicine, Wilhelm Keil immigrated to America. By 1837 he had opened a drugstore in Pittsburgh.
Because of his religious interests, Keil joined the German Methodist Church. He nearly became a minister but because he insisted that they should not be paid, as Christ had not been paid, he left that more traditional denomination. All contemporary accounts say that he was a powerful speaker who impressed other Germans, in particular, with the need for conversion. As he moved from village to village, he gained adherents and told them he would one day call them to join his more organized group of fellow Christians.
Wife and Children
Wilhelm Keil had nine children with Louisa Ritter Keil. Tragically, six of the nine children, died before their parents. Descendants of Dr. Keil in Oregon come through son Frederick and his wife Louisa Giesy, a daughter of Andrew Giesy Sr. Another son, August, had children with Rosa Forstner in Missouri. Their descendants are very active supporters of ACHS and are found all over the United States.
The Brothers and Sisters
Until quite recently, very little significant research had been conducted on the families of Dr. Keil’s siblings. A 2008 exhibit has changed this and brought new and exciting information to our understanding of and appreciation for the complexity of this family group.
Where did these followers come from?
While we should not generalize too much, we believe that Keil’s followers came from two specific groups: Fellow Germans who heard him or his supporters preach for him in their own villages and former members of the Harmony Society who had broken away from George Rapp in the early 1830’s.
Who are some specific family examples?
Heinrich Snyder’s family was one of those contacted in Stark County, Ohio, and they joined Keil when he decided to organize a communal society at Bethel, Missouri in 1845.
What about the former Harmonists?
For many and various reasons George Rapp’s Harmony Society experienced a major upheaval in 1832. At least thirty family groups, later associated with Keil, joined in this rebellion and formed their own non-communal village at Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania. Among these were the Schueles and the Wagners. When Keil contacted the Phillipsburg families in the early 1840’s, he impressed a large group of them, and they suggested he form a communal society. As former members of such a society, they provided invaluable practical assistance to its founding and maintenance.
|Bachert Family||Bair Family||Ehlen Family|
|Forstner Family||Giesy Family||Keil Family|
|Kraus Family||Miley Family||Miller Family|
|Rapps Family||Schuele Family||Snyder Family|
|Stauffer Family||Steinbach Family||Will Family|
|Wolfer Family||Zimmerman Family|