APOSTOLIC HERITAGE

HISTORY & GENEALOGY

NEWSLETTER

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SERVING THE GREATER LIVINGSTON COUNTY AREA

NUMBER 1 / JANUARY 2001

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THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF THE FAIRBURY CHURCH

 THE FAIRBURY APOSTOLIC CHRISTIAN CHURCH

IT IS ASSUMED THAT JACOB VON TOBEL AND NICHOLAS KEELER WERE THE FIRST MINISTERS. JACOB VON TOBEL MIGRATED FROM MEILEN, ZURICH, SWITZERLAND IN 1869, AND SENT FOR HIS FIANCEES, KATHERINE KELLER A YEAR OR SO LATER. THEY WERE MARRIED BY ELDER BROTHER RUDOLPH LEUTHOLD, MARCH 19, 1871.

NICHOLAS KELLER CAME TO WOODFORD COUNTY IN 1863 AND LATER FARMED NEAR WING IN 1896. DUE TO ILLNESS, HE MOVED TO FAIRBURY AND ENGAGED IN BUSINESS WITH HIS BROTHER, JACOB, AND JACOB VON TOBEL IN 1874.

JACOB VON TOBEL 1839 - 1933

JACOB VON TOBEL HAS GONE TO REST. HE PASSED AWAY AT HIS HOME IN THIS CITY YESTERDAY MORNING, MARCH 2ND 1933, AT 5:20 O'CLOCK AT THE AGE OF 93 YEARS, 11 MONTHS AND 7 DAYS. HIS DEATH CAME AFTER AN ILLNESS OF ABOUT TWO AND A HALF MONTHS DURATION.

MR. VON TOBEL WAS BORN MARCH 26 1839, IN MEILEN CANTON, ZURICH SWITZERLAND. HE RECEIVED HIS EARLY EDUCATION IN HIS NATIVE LAND, AND IT WAS THERE THAT HE TOOK UP THE TRADE OF CABINET MAKER. IN 1868, LURED PERHAPS BY THE LETTERS HIS FRIENDS SENT HIM ABOUT THE LAND BEYOND THE STORMFUL ATLANTIC, HE DECIDED TO MIGRATE TO AMERICA. THIS WAS ABOUT THE TIME THAT AMERICA WAS UNDERGOING MANY CHANGES DURING THE PERIOD OF RECONSTRUCTION FOLLOWING THE CIVIL WAR. THIS AMBITION-FIRED YOUNG CABINET MAKER, HOWEVER, SAW IN THIS LAND ONLY OPPORTUNITY, AS IT HAD NEVER BEEN OFFERED TO HIM BEFORE.

UPON HIS ARRIVAL IN AMERICA HE CAME DIRECTLY TO FAIRBURY. HERE HE FOLLOWED THE TRADE OF CABINET MAKER FOR A TIME AND AFTER A FEW YEARS ENGAGED IN BUSINESS FOR HIMSELF. AFTER A TIME HE BROADENED HIS BUSINESS TO INCLUDE BUILDING OPERATIONS, AND ONE OF HIS FIRST UNDERTAKINGS WAS THE REMODELING OF THE OLD MITCHELL HOUSE, WHICH LATER CAME TO BE KNOWN AS THE FAIRBURY HOUSE.

EVER PROGRESSIVE IN SPIRIT MR. VON TOBEL BECAME A LEADER IN BUSINESS ACTIVITY IN THIS COMMUNITY. HIS NEXT MOVE WAS HIS ENTRANCE INTO THE LUMBER AND BUILDING MATERIAL BUSINESS IN THIS CITY. HIS FIRST YARD WAS LOCATED ON WHAT IS NOW KNOWN AS CENTRAL PARK. IT TOOK IN THIS ENTIRE SPACE BEFORE ITS EXPANSION WAS COMPLETE. IN 1900 HE WAS READY TO RETIRE. HIS SON-IN-LAW, J. N. BACH, CARRIED ON THE BUSINESS WHICH HE LEFT, AND THE BUSINESS HE FOUNDED IS STILL IN EXISTENCE TODAY.

ON MARCH 19 1871, MR. VON TOBEL WAS UNITED IN MARRIAGE TO MISS CATHERINE KELLER, A GIRL FROM HIS NATIVE LAND. MR. AND MRS. VON TOBEL WERE THE PARENTS OF TWELVE CHILDREN, FOUR OF WHOM SURVIVE. HE ALSO LEAVES A SISTER, SUSAN VON TOBEL, WHO HAS MADE HER HOME WITH HIM FOR MANY YEARS; TWENTY-ONE GRANDCHILDREN AND NINE GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN.

MR. VON TOBEL SO LIVED HIS LIFE THAT ANYONE MIGHT WELL PROFIT BY HIS EXAMPLE. FAIR IN HIS BUSINESS DEALINGS, KIND TO HIS FAMILY, LOYAL TO HIS FRIENDS AND TRUE TO HIS FAITH, HE WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED AS A MAN AMONG MEN.

HE WAS A MEMBER OF THE APOSTOLIC CHRISTIAN CHURCH AND ONE OF ITS MOST FAITHFUL MEMBERS AND FOLLOWERS. FOR MANY YEARS, UNTIL HIS INCREASING YEARS WOULD NO LONGER PERMIT HIM TO OFFICIATE, HE WAS A PREACHER IN THE LOCAL CHURCH. UNDER HIS GUIDANCE THE CHURCH GREW TO BE ONE OF THE STRONGEST BODIES IN THIS COMMUNITY.

HIS FRIENDS HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED PASSING HIS WAY AND IN THESE LATER YEARS IT WAS A REAL SATISFACTION TO HEAR HIS ASSURANCE OF THE FUTURE WHEN THEY PAUSED TO PASS THE TIME OF DAY WITH HIM. ALWAYS HIS ANSWER WAS THE SAME TO THE QUESTION OF "GOOD MORNING. MR. VON TOBEL, HOW ARE YOU?"

"WELL, THANK YOU. BUT I AM AN OLD MAN NOW, AND I HAVE LIVED A LONG LIFE AND I AM READY TO GO."

FUNERAL SERVICES WILL BE HELD FROM THE APOSTOLIC CHRISTIAN CHURCH SUNDAY, WITH BURIAL AT GRACELAND CEMETERY.

NICHOLAS KELLER 1831 - 1890

DIED.

NICHOLAS KELLER, WHOSE SERIOUS ILLNESS WAS MENTIONED IN THESE COLUMNS LAST WEEK, DIED SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT TUESDAY. THE ATTENDING PHYSICIANS GAVE THE FRIENDS BUT LITTLE HOPE OF RECOVERY FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE FATAL ATTACK, AND HE GRADUALLY GREW WEAKER, UNTIL HE SANK TO THE SLEEP THAT KNOWS NO WAKING, SURROUNDED BY HIS SORROWING FAMILY.

MR. KELLER WAS A MEMBER OF THE GERMAN APOSTOLIC CHRISTIAN CHURCH, AND ONE OF ITS MINISTERS AND HIS NAME IS FAMILIAR TO EVERY MEMBER OF THAT DENOMINATION IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS. HE HAD A WIDE PERSONAL ACQUAINTANCE IN THIS VICINITY. HIS STERLING CHARACTER AND STRICT BUSINESS INTEGRITY ENDEARED HIM TO ALL WHO KNEW HIM. HIS DEATH IS DEEPLY DEPLORED.

THE FUNERAL WHICH TOOK PLACE FROM THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH, THURSDAY AFTERNOON, AT 1 O'CLOCK, WAS VERY LARGELY ATTENDED, MANY FRIENDS OF THE DECEASED COMING FROM A DISTANCE TO PAY THEIR LAST TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF A GOOD MAN. THE CLERKS AT WALTON BROS. STORE, WHERE MR. KELLER HAD HELD A POSITIONS FOR SOME TIME, ATTENDED THE FUNERAL IN A BODY, AS A MARK OF RESPECT TO THEIR LATE FELLOW CLERK.

NICHOLAS KELLER WAS BORN IN CANTON ST. GALL, SWITZERLAND, NOV. 20 1831, AND WAS, THEREFORE, 59 YEARS, 8 MONTHS AND 28 DAYS OF AGE AT HIS DEATH. AT THE AGE OF 19 HE GRADUATED FROM A SEMINARY, AND ENTERED UPON THE PROFESSION OF A SCHOOL TEACHER, WHICH HE FOLLOWED FOUR YEARS. HE EMIGRATED TO AMERICA IN 1856, MAKING THE TRIP ON A SAIL BOAT IN 37 DAYS, AND LOCATED IN WEST VIRGINIA, WHERE HE WORKED AS A FARM HAND WITH SLAVES. IN 1857 HE REMOVED TO MONROE COUNTY, OHIO, AND WAS MARRIED TO MARIA SEGGESSEMANN, THE WIFE WHO SURVIVES HIM. TO THEM WERE BORN A SON AND A DAUGHTER BOTH OF WHOM, NOW MARRIED, ALSO SURVIVE HIM. IN 1863, MR. KELLER MOVED TO ILLINOIS AND LOCATED IN WOODFORD COUNTY, ENGAGING IN FARMING, REMOVING THENCE IN 1869, TO LIVINGSTON COUNTY, SETTLING WITHIN A MILE OF WHERE THE VILLAGE OF WING NOW IS. AFTER A SEVERE ILLNESS IN 1874 HE CAME TO FAIRBURY AND ENGAGED IN THE SASH AND BLIND MANUFACTURING BUSINESS WITH J. VON TOBEL AND J. KELLER UNDER THE FIRM NAME OF THE GERMANIA MANUFACTURING CO., WHICH BUSINESS HE FOLLOWED FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS. SINCE THEN HE HAD BEEN ENGAGED DIFFERENT LINES OF MERCANTILE BUSINESS,-- BOOTS & SHOES, GROCERIES, ETC. IN 1876, MR. KELLER IN COMPANY WITH HIS TWIN BROTHER VISITED HIS OLD HOUSE IN SWITZERLAND. THE TWO BORE SUCH A STRIKING RESEMBLANCE TO EACH OTHER THAT THE ONE WAS FREQUENTLY TAKEN FOR THE OTHER. AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH MR. KELLER WAS CONTEMPLATING TAKING UP HIS PERMANENT RESIDENCE ON HIS FARM, AS HE WAS TIRING OF BUSINESS LIFE. OWNING TO HIS LIBERALITY AND GREAT CONFIDENCE IN HIS FELLOW MEN, HIS BUSINESS VENTURES PROVED UNSUCCESSFUL, AND TO RETRIEVE A PORTION OF HIS LOSSES HE ENGAGED IN CLERKING, BEING PHYSICALLY UNFIT FOR THE LABOR OF FARM LIFE. HE JOINED THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH IN 1840 AND WAS A CONSISTENT MEMBER OF THE SAME TO THE HOUR OF HIS DEATH.

 


This web page was prepared and is maintained by Adam J. Barrone of Fort Wayne, Indiana for the author,
Derrick K. Babbs


Last Modified: 21 April 2002
Apostolic Christian Heritage and Genealogy by Derrick K. Babbs
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