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By R. L. James
SECTION III OBITUARIES AND CEMETERY RECORDS
To the Readers of the Alabama Historical Quarterly: (The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 07, No. 03, Fall Issue 1945)
I am releasing another section. No. 3, of my article “Colbertians.” I hope it will be possible for me to add one more section but I am sure there will still be many interesting people whom I cannot include. In addition to those to .whom I expressed thanks in the preface (See No. 2 Vol. 7) I wish to acknowledge my appreciation to Mr. James Carloss of Elkmont; Mrs. J. F. Craig, Jasper; Mrs. William Malone and Mrs. W. D. Brotherton, Cherokee; Mrs. Emma Scruggs and Miss Mattie Guy, Tuscumbia; and there are probably others who deserve to be mentioned in this connection whom I cannot at this moment recall. Mr. Woodruff Delony gave me quite a bit of information. I was at his house on August 6, 1946, which incidentally, was his eighty-sixth birthday, and had a long conversation with him. Since then this venerable citizen of Leighton, has passed away. He was a son of Dr. Edward B, Delony. I hope to write more about the Delony family in some future issue of the Quarterly. Sept 4, 1946 R. L. JAMES
MARY F. KELLER
BIOGRAPHY and GENEALOGY
(January 12, 1796 – September 28, 1875)
Virginia, Colbert County, Alabama
Throughout the world the name of Helen Keller is known. She was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1880, and was the daughter of Hon. Arthur H. and Kate (Adams) Keller. I am very happy to present to the readers of the Alabama Historical Quarterly a reproduction of the original obituary of her paternal grandmother Mrs. DAVID KELLER, and here it is:
“DIED In this city on Tuesday the 28 inst. Mrs. Mary F. Keller aged 79 years 8 months and 16 days.
“Mrs. Keller was born in Charles City County, Virginia, near ‘Shirley’ on the 12th of January 1796. She was a great-granddaughter of Gov. Spottswood, first colonial Governor of Virginia, and on her mother’s side was lineally descended from Lord Delaware. She was also second cousin to Gen. Robert E. Lee. “With her husband, David Keller, she came to Tuscumbia in the year 1818, and with the exception of two years, which were spent in Russell’s Valley, she has lived in Tuscumbia ever since. During this long period no one has been more highly esteemed or occupied a wider sphere in society. All who knew her, or who came in contact with her felt that she was no ordinary woman, and they ever entertained for her the highest respect and regard.
“She raised ten children—seven sons and three daughters— five sons and one daughter are now living and the position which they have taken in society and in the walks of life, speaks eloquently of the influence and training of their now sainted mother.
“Forty-seven years ago Mrs. Keller united with the Presbyterian church, here, under the ministry of the Rev. Ashbridge. During these long years she was an humble, devoted and consistent member, and, at the time of her death was the oldest communicant in the church. Seldom does the death of a good and pious woman cause a greater void in the church and in the society where she dwells.
“Having been faithful in every relation of life, a confiding wife a fond mother, a constant friend, and a true and faithful Christian, she was ready for her departure.
“The dying hour found her house set in order, waiting for the summons, and in her case was beautifully illustrated the truth of the scripture promise ‘at evening time it shall be light.’ Not long before death she said to those around her, ‘surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life’ and the light of God’s countenance shone up on her to the latest moment of life. Without a struggle or a pang, as gently as the Summer cloud fades away, she fells asleep in Jesus, and her death as well as her life, was a sublime demonstration of the Power and blessedness of the Christian religion.
Mrs. Keller’s obituary is from the North Alabamian for Sept. 30, 1875. Her husband, David Keller, was a native of Maryland and his father, Caspar Keller, was born in Switzerland, David Keller was very prominently associated with the old Tuscumbia-Decatur Railroad. Perhaps Arthur Henley Keller was the best known in Colbert, of any of the children of Mr. and Mrs. David Keller. He was a lawyer and was appointed U. S. Marshal for the northern district of Alabama by Pres. Cleveland. He was perhaps best known as editor of “The North Alabamian” for a great many years, and to the present generation, as the father of Helen Keller.
Of the Presbyterian minister, Mr. Ashbridge, under whose ministry Mrs. Keller united with the Tuscumbia Presbyterian congregation Col. James E. Saunders said:
“For several years . . . Previous to 1830 a young minister of Tuscumbia, named Ashbridge, occasionally preached in Moulton. He was a man of fine intellect, of high culture, and of a rich imagination, He died early, and his death was very much lamented by people of all denominations. Had he lived to middle life he would have been an orator of the first class.’