A young man, probably a teenager, poses for his portrait at the Keller studio in Nappanee, Indiana. The young gentleman is well dressed and well coiffed. Either he, or someone else, spent a good deal of time and work to properly arrange his hair. John M. Keller (1867-1943) opened his photography studio in Nappanee in 1897. An ad in the St. Louis and Canadian Photographer (1900) advertised the business as being for sale. The 1900 US census listed him as working as a bicycle dealer. Keller married Clara Burbach in 1891. The 1908 Elkhart (Indiana) business directory reported that he had a store selling bicycles and sundries, as well as repairing sporting goods. By the time of the 1910 US census, Keller had a new occupation. He was working as a garage manager. The Goshen Democrat Newspaper (1912) reported that while Keller was testing an automobile, the flywheel came off and struck him below the knee. The unfortunate accident broke his leg. Interestingly, the newspaper also stated that after injuring Keller, the flywheel continued it’s journey and actually went through the side of the building. The 1920 US census found Keller working as a “garage mechanic” in Frankfort City, Indiana while the 1930 US census lists him as unemployed and living in Rochester, Indiana. It turns out that Keller was a real entrepreneur. According to the Rochester Historical Society, In 1921 Keller built and operated the Keller Inn which was located near the edge of Lake Manitou. He also made lures for fishermen. Apparently Keller had a shady side. During prohibition he made and sold liquor and “locals reported he also ran prostitutes out to an island in Lake Manitou”. Keller died at age 75 from heart disease. Much of the information about J. M.Keller was found at an internet site (http://www.folkartfishingtackle.com/#!john-keller/cadr). The image below was also found there. The image is a back stamp from one of Keller’s cabinet cards. It seems likely that the young man pictured in the image is Keller himself. I can’t resist supplying an interesting fact about the town of Nappanee. It is the longest city name in the US which has each letter in it’s name appearing twice.  (SOLD)


Published in: on June 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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