MG 405 - Kelker Family Collection

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Scope and Content

The collection contains the papers of four generations of the Kelker family.

The papers of Anthony Kelker including his sheriff's docket, 1786-88, and legal papers as administrator of the goods of William Dingis, deceased, 1790.

Business and personal papers of Frederick Kelker including bank books, receipt books, correspondence with a letter from Catharine Kelker to her children, 1842, a deed for a house in Lebanon, papers concerning his claim to the Pennsylvania Canal Commission and a claim to the railroad for damage to River Farm, and a statement for the division of his personal estate, 1857, showing the disbursements to his three sons, Rudolph, Immanuel, and Henry A.

The papers of John Kelker including the legal papers relative to court case in the Supreme Court, John Kelker vs. Commissioners of Dauphin County; a paper to the Pennsylvania Auditor General by John Kelker, deputy marshal, stating the account of fines recovered from citizens for non-performance of militia duty; bills and receipts for sheriff fees and accounts with Commissioners of Dauphin County by John Kelker as keeper of the jail, 1814-18.

The papers of Henry A. Kelker including early manuscript books, 1832-35, and copy books, 1838, 1840, business account ledgers, bank books, inventory book, receipt books, 1864-1916, invoices, and miscellaneous papers.

The papers and books of Rudolph F. Kelker including an early school book of geometrical problems, biographical information, the legal papers for the settlement of his father Frederick's estate, papers relative to the Soldiers' Orphans, 1863-1867, with a booklet listing names of orphans and minutes of the meetings of the Superintending Committee of Soldiers' Orphans, 1864-1867, receipts and records for the estate of Eliza Haldeman, correspondence, 1831-1904, account books, daybooks for each girl for whom he was appointed guardian, temperance books, his Bible class books and hymnals, miscellaneous books and papers, photos and obituaries of Rudolph and Mary Anne Kelker, framed silhouettes of Rudolph Kelker, and a scrapbook of articles from the Reformed Church Messenger.

Receipt books of Henry A. Kelker, 1864-90, 1896, 1916

Business records of Kelker & Brothers, 1857-83

Personal papers of William A. Kelker including:

Almanac, 1779

Deed, 1830

Reading list, 1868

Receipt book, 1876

Grant & McKinley souvenirs

Notes from Weather Journal, 1896

Weather cards, 1901-07

Publications of HSDC, 1876, 1898

Manuscript concerning State Capitol, 1897

Correspondence, 1889-1907

Scrapbook on Natural History, 1904-08

Announcement of public sale of lots of ground in Harrisburg in 1804

Correspondence with Chief Engineer of U. S. Army concerning plans of Fort Washington and Clay, 1900, with copy of blueprint of those plans, 1863

Miscellaneous papers

Estate Papers, 1908

Also contains the legal papers of John Roberts, 1830, 1831, and 1850

A bond agreement of Ellen Roberts Kelker, 1874

Conditions of Public Sale and Purchase of John Roberts estate by Ellen Roberts Kelker

A letter to Anne R. Kelker, 1914 and musical programs

Military papers, 1814; a map of the Witmer Family cemetery; a portion of William Kelker's collection of books including a report of Lebanon listing the residents, their land, horses, cattle and sheep in 1738; various early 1800 account books; the collection books for the Southern Famine Relief Fund, 1867; a list of subscribers to the Middletown and Harrisburg Turnpike Road, 1814; a Road Book of Pennsylvania, 1895; a Lumberman's Guide; and George Hoyer's receipt book, 1812-1826.

Also a folder of unsorted materials, many of which are papers of Henry A. Kelker.

Additional papers of Rudolph F. Kelker including correspondence, bills, receipts, and accounts concerning his work with the Reformed Church and the Salem Bible Class; catalogues of officers and students in Marshall College, 1837, 1846, 1847; a typed statement of proceedings of the Peace Commission held in Harrisburg, 1879; a May, 1882 issue of the Harrisburg Lutheran Chimes, a publication of the Zion Lutheran Church, Harrisburg; and an unidentified newspaper from China.

Two daybooks belonging to Frederick Kelker, 1811-13 and 1814-18, listing the daily transactions of his hardware business.

Cancelled checks from 1810-1820 signed by Jacob Bucher and Jno. Forster

A receipt book of Frederick Kelker, 1828-1832

A Meteorological Register by James Wright, 1833-1837

A bound volume of business correspondence of Kelker Bros., 1851-52

A receipt book of Kelker Bros., 1857-65

An account book of bonds and rents, 1860-78

A rent account book, 1893-1909

A rent account book, 1909-51

The original, handwritten census of the eastern district of Pennsylvania consisting of the Borough of Harrisburg, Susquehanna, Lower Paxton, Hanover, Derry and Londonderry Townships taken by John Kelker, 1830

Hymnals and song books that belonged to Rudolph Kelker and the Salem Bible Class including ten German hymnals, 1815, and six additional songbooks of sacred music

Religious publications, late 1800's to 1906; two copies of the "Liturgical Conflict and the Peace Movement," 1896; two bound volumes of the Reformed Salem Church Bible Class Souvenir, 1870

A large scrapbook of Rudolph F. Kelker's accounts and payrolls of volunteers, city and county funds, 1862

Four handwritten volumes of weather records taken by William A. Kelker, 1874-81, 1894-98, 1899-1905, 1905-08

A large scrapbook of papers relative to the hardware trade carried on by Frederick Kelker and his successors, Ogelsby & Poole, 1818-1840, with data concerning the mode of transporting merchandise and signatures of several teamsters and boat captains for goods received from Philadelphia merchants, also, orders for sundry goods by citizens and local tradesmen in the borough and vicinity. Arranged in the scrapbook by William Kelker, grandson, in 1908

A scrapbook by William A. Kelker with papers and correspondence relative to the dedicatory ceremonies of the monument to the soldiers of Pennsylvania who lost their lives in the war with Mexico, 1846-48; an account of the Harrisburg Water Works written by George B. Ayres; a sketch of the events preceding the Battle of Gettysburg, July, 1863 and an account of the Battle of Hanover, York County, June, 1863, both read by George W. Harris in 1869 and 1874

A scrapbook of the papers, proceedings, and programs relative to the Scotch Irish Congress which convened in Harrisburg June, 1896

A scrapbook containing the minutes and papers of the Harrisburg contingent of the Pennsylvania German Society which held its annual session in the Board of Trade building, Harrisburg, 1901

A collection of personal books of William A. Kelker including a small notebook listing the names of men from the Second Ward who promised to pay a bounty to volunteers

Pennsylvania Boundary Disputes, 1896

Labberton's Historical Atlas, 1895, which belonged to Katherine Kelker when a student at Miss Dana's School in Morristown, New Jersey; Memoirs of Colonel James Worrall, 1887

A bound volume of typewritten and handwritten materials concerning the publication of the Historical Society of Dauphin County, with a printed copy of "The Indian History of the Lower Susquehanna Valley," to which William A. Kelker contributed

A small pamphlet, "Explanation of Japanese Village and Its Inhabitants"

A cloth book, "Wonders of a London Toy Shop"

Child's Home Guard and Holiday Scrapbook


ANTHONY KELKER was born in Switzerland in 1733, died in Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 1812. He arrived in this country late in the winter of 1743-44. He served in the Revolutionary War, was a wagon-master, sheriff of Dauphin County in 1785, and a member of the House of Representatives, 1793-94.

FREDERICK KELKER, son of Anthony, b.1780, d.1857, moved to Harrisburg in 1805 and opened a hardware business on South Front Street. He was a member of borough council, director of the Harrisburg Bank, a director of the public schools, and prominent in the Reformed Church.

JOHN KELKER, son of Anthony, b.1776, d.1859, was brought up to mercantile pursuits and learned the trade of a hatter. He was elected sheriff of Dauphin County in 1812 and moved to Harrisburg in 1813. He was appointed deputy marshal, took the census in 1830 and served as county treasurer, 1829-1832. He was an officer of the Reformed Church and served on the building committee.

RUDOLPH FREDERICK KELKER, son of Frederick, b. 1820, d.1906, began his career in the family hardware business and continued in the business until 1851 when he was retired because of failing health. He was a director of the Harrisburg Bank and the First National Bank, a manager of the Harrisburg Cemetery, was appointed by the Legislature to serve on the commission to lay out the streets and avenues in the new territory within its limits, served as a trustee of the Harrisburg Academy, was one of the directors of the poor for Dauphin County, was one of the founders of the City Hospital, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Lunatic Hospital at Harrisburg, a director of the Harrisburg City Passenger Railway Company, and a prominent member of the Reformed Church where he took charge of an adult Sunday-School class. He later organized the Salem Bible Class of Harrisburg, and in 1845 was elected a trustee of Marshall College which later became Franklin and Marshall College of Lancaster. He was, also, one of the founders of the YMCA and deeply involved with temperance work.

HENRY ANTHONY KELKER, son of Frederick, was born in Harrisburg in 1825. He was educated in the public schools, Harrisburg Academy and Marshall College. In 1846 he returned to Harrisburg to form a partnership with his brothers, Rudolph and Immanuel, in the hardware business which operated under the name of Kelker & Bros. In 1878 he withdrew from the company and retired from business, disposing of his stock to his nephews, Luther R. and William A., and his brother Immanuel. He served as director of the Harrisburg National Bank, the Chestnut Street Market Company, the Harrisburg Gas Company, the Harrisburg Steam Heat and Power Company, the Pennsylvania Telephone Company, the Harrisburg Traction Company, president of the Harrisburg City Passenger Railway Company, of the Harrisburg Burial Case Company, and Harrisburg Furniture Manufacturing Company. He was also one of the founders of the town of Baldwin, which later took the name of Steelton and erected some of the most substantial buildings there. He was active in the Reformed Salem Church of Harrisburg.

LUTHER REILY KELKER, son of Rudolph Frederick, was born in 1848, educated in the public schools and the academy and entered the family hardware business. He later opened a hardware store with his brother William A. Kelker under the firm name of Kelker Bros. He retired in 1892 due to ill-health and engaged in the insurance business. He was active in the Market Square Presbyterian church, a member of the Sons of the Revolution, and an officer in Blue Lodge.

WILLIAM A. KELKER, son of Rudolph Frederick, b. 1853, d. 1908, attended the public schools and Harrisburg Academy. He was a noted collector of Indian relics related to the tribes of the Susquehanna River and of first imprints of books published in Harrisburg. He was interested in nature and recorded daily weather observations. He was vice president of the Historical Society of Dauphin County, and served as its librarian and custodian of records for many years. He was a member, also, of the Pennsylvania German Society.

Date(s): 1738-1951

Extent: 3 cartons, 14 boxes, 772 enclosures