The German KEITHLEYs in North America

The German KEITHLEYs are generally thought to have arrived in North America around 1775, first settling in what was then Rowan County, North Carolina, near Blanket Bottom Creek. The KEITHLEYs are known to have been active in the German Baptist church (commonly called the "Dunkers.")

There is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence, and some primary evidence that four (or perhaps five) brothers were in this area. John, the youngest (???) of the four brothers is listed in the DAR registry, although what he might have done to earn that honor is not known as he does not appear in any of the Revolutionary War pension records. Some have speculated that perhaps he delivered food or other materiel to the revolutionary troops. The father of the brothers is often given as Samuel, but there is no evidence to support this.

There is said to be a KEITHLEY Bible which mentions Koblenz, a town on the Rhine. Whether this is a reference to the familial home of the KEITHLEYs, or the Bible was merely printed in Koblenz is not known. It would be nice to know the location of this Bible.

One old write-up about the KEITHLEY family mentions a visit in the early part of the 19th century to the Rhine region in Germany where, the author states there are many KEITHLEYs. Almost certainly none of these German KEITHLEYs would have spelled their name the way we do today and in modern Germany there is a dearth of names that even come close to looking or sounding like they could be the origin of the name.

And there are those who claim that the German KEITHLEYs must have originated in England, and emigrated to the Rhine before ultimately coming to the colonies in the new world. I haven't seen or heard of any primary evidence to support this notion though.

Squire BOONE, the father of Daniel, was a neighbor of John KEITHLEY when he was in Rowan County, and as the west was opened by Daniel and others, the German KEITHLEYs also migrated west, settling in Kentucky, southern Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, etc.

Searching for KEITHLEYs in the old public records can be challenging. Many of the census takers, tax collectors, and clerks often spelled phonetically. I've seen a copy of a document that spelled the name with a (hard) C, i.e. CEATHLY, and in the flowing script of old hand writing a K often looks like an R. When these old documents are transcribed into print or computer records it's not impossible for a KEITHLEY to turn into a RUTHLEY at the hands of a careless transcriber. And there is an old marriage bond which the bride's father signed his name, which is all but illegible, but is the basis for spelling KIECHELI.

A partial Genealogy of the German KEITHLEYs, starting with the ficticious Samuel KEITHLEY.

This differs from Belle Myers RootsWeb Genealogy in that her list of children for Jacob (son of John and Mary RIBLEN, married to Sarah ROBERTS) is completely different than mine.

Much of the information that I have came from the following sources, to which or to whom I am indebted: