Capt. Albert W. Keller
Son of Goddard Dodge & Betsey (Simonton) Keller
Husband of Laura Angeline Munson


Capt. Albert W. Keller
1832 - 1914

Capt. Albert W. Keller was born in Rockland, Me., in 1834, and commenced his marine career running to the West Indies.  He arrived on the Pacific Coast in 1853 as sailor on the schooner L. P. Foster, which reached Port Gamble that year.  From the Sound he went to San Francisco, and worked on the Panama route as quartermaster on the John L. Stevens.  He left her after making a few trips and returned East, coming out again in 1858 as master of the well known schooner Towanda, which he sailed on the Coast for two years.  He next handled the barkentine Constitution in the Sandwich Island trade for a year, leaving her to take charge of the brig Martha Worthington.  He next commanded the bark Palmetto and the venerable bark Gold Hunter, which is still afloat in Australia after at least fifty years of usefulness.  Later he took the bark Kutosoff for a year and the bark Vernon for two years.  He then took command of the ship Elizabeth Kimball, sailing her for seven years, until she was waterlogged and lost on an island in the South Pacific, where Captain Keller, his wife who accompanied him, and their companions in misfortune, lived for three months.  During this time they built a 19-ton schooner from the wreckage and lumber on the Kimball, and sailed for Tahiti, where they sold the craft for $650.  Captain and Mrs. Keller and six of the crew then took passage for San Francisco, the Captain piloting the vessel into the harbor, much to the surprise of his friends, who had supposed him dead.  The ship Roswell Sprague was his next command, and after sailing her two and a half years he took the King Phillip, being in charge at the time she was lost near the Clff House while outward bound from San Francisco.  During the next three years he was captain of the barks Fresno, Emerald and Arkwright, and then on the James Cheston four years, bark Cowlitz two years, ship Bonanza two years, and the ship Carondelet.  December 1, 1891, he took the bark Palmyra, of which he is still master.  (Above text and photo from Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, by Lewis & Dryden, published 1895, page 77, courtesy of Washington State Library, "Classics in Washington History" project).

More about the ship Elizabeth Kimball, from American Clipper Ships 1833 - 1858, "On Mar. 24, 1873, the Kimball left Port Gamble for Iquique [Chile] and on Apr. 20th, in 28 degrees South, 122 degrees West, about 600 miles from Easter Island, she sprung a leak and the deck load of lumber was jettisoned.  Every effort was made to free her, but unsuccessfully, and it was determined to beach her on Easter Island.  She was run ashore with 15 feet of water in the hold, which was 18 feet deep.  The population of the island was found to be a Frenchman and about 75 Kanakas [Hawaiians].  All the provisions in the ship and part of the rigging and sails were saved.  A ten-ton schooner was built of materials saved from the wreck and on July 29th, Captain Keller, his wife and eight others, left for Tahiti.  They made the distance, 2550 miles, in 24 days.  The two mates, with eight of the crew, remained on Easter Island with plenty of provisions and were finally taken off by a French steamer sent to their assistance."

Gravestone of Albert's wife Laura Angeline (Munson) Keller
at Port Gamble, Buena Vista Cemetery

The stone reads, "In Memory of Laura A. wife of A.W. Keller, DIED 27 Feb 1877, Aged 38 yrs.
Also her 2 children."  (Unfortunately, the stone is broken and Bob Munson is planning to have it repaired).

Albert and Laura had four children. Mary b 28 Sept 1861, Teekalet (Port Gamble), Washington Territory, d. 1865, buried Eureka, CA.  A boy was b at Port Gamble but lived only a few hours and was unnamed.  Most likely this child is buried at Port Gamble.  In Feb 1877, Laura delivered a stillborn twin baby boy at Port Gamble.  She was rushed to a hospital in Seattle where she delivered another the other twin, also stillborn baby boy.  She died in Seattle 27 Feb 1877 and is buried in Port Gamble, Buena Vista Cemetery, with the unnamed twin boys.  (The same cemetery as Josiah P. Keller).

Albert's obituary


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