Biography - John Keiser

JOHN KEISER. This influential farmer of Montgomery County, like many of the other prominent citizens, is of foreign birth, born in Ostfriesland, Hanover, Germany, June 3, 1842. He is the fifth in order of birth among seven children born to J. H. and Johanna (Juergena) Reiser, both natives of the Fatherland. The father was a man of great mental ability and was well educated. He was a powerful debater, a deep reasoner and thinker, and for many years a prominent school teacher in his native land. At the time of the birth of our subject, he had retired to a farm, and on this the boyhood days of the latter were passed.
Young Reiser attended the schools of his native country until 1851, at which date the family emigrated to America, sailing from Bremen to New Orleans, the trip occupying fifty-one days. After touching American soil, the family proceeded at once to the Prairie State and located on a farm near Alton, Madison County, where they tilled the soil for two years. From there they removed to Macoupin County and located near what is now Mt. Olive. Here the father purchased his first land in the States. He was industrious and progressive and was fairly successful in his undertaking.
The advantages for receiving an education were not the best for our subject in the locality where his parents had settled, and it being the desire of the elder Mr. Reiser that his son should be a minister, John was under his father's tutelage preparing for college. In 1863, he entered the Concordia College of St. Louis and there diligently prosecuted his studies for one year. Then it was that he thought the time had come for him to do something in defense of the flag of his adopted country, and, leaving his books and college life, he tendered his services to the Union. October 12, 1864, we find his name on the rolls of Company E, One Hundred and Forty-fourth Illinois Infantry, as a private. He was mustered in at Alton, and about thirty of his company, including himself, were detached, mounted, and sent on an expedition through Central Illinois for the purpose of breaking up Copperhead camps that were being formed in different sections.
After a number of months in this line of duty, and having accomplished their mission, the men returned to Alton, but were soon sent to St. Louis where for some months our subject was engaged in escorting and guarding prisoners, doing garrison duty, and guarding bridges through Missouri. The company had received orders and was about to embark for Memphis from St. Louis when the word came that Gen. Lee had surrendered. They were then held in St. Louis until the first part of July, when they were ordered to be discharged. This occurrence took place on the 25th of July. As stated above, Mr. Reiser had entered the ranks as a private, but he was promoted to be Corporal, then Commissary Sergeant, later to Orderly Sergeant, and was acting Second Lieutenant at the time of his discharge. During the time he was in the army, his father had died, and upon his return to the parental roof he was unable to resume his studies at the college, being obliged to take charge of his father's estate.
In the spring of 1869, Mr. Reiser came to Montgomery County and located on the farm where he now lives, in Roundtree Township. This he had purchased about two years previously, giving f>9 per acre. He has been successful in all his undertakings and has acquired a comfortable competence. For a number of years past, he has not been actively engaged in farming, preferring to rent his land, and is now enjoying the fruits of his labor. He is a man of sound sense and good judgment, and his counsel and advice are much sought after among his people. Much of his time is devoted to the settling of estates, etc. He has ever been a Republican in politics and his first Presidential vote was cast for Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Keiser has held the office of Township Clerk three years, Supervisor three years, and has served as Highway Commissioner. Ever active in educational matters, he has been one of the Board of School Trustees for years. He is also an active worker in the German Lutheran Church, of which he has been a lifelong member and Superintendent of the Sunday school since it was first organized. For twelve years, he has been President of the Church Board, and for many years served as its Secretary. He is a strong advocate of temperance and is a total abstainer.
Mr. Keiser selected his wife in the person of Miss Hilka, daughter of Cornelius Croon, a prominent German farmer of Christian County, who died in 1872. Mrs. Keiser died in 1879, leaving two children of three born to them, one having died in infancy. Miss Johanna is a young lady of good education and keeps house for her father. Cornelius, a boy of thirteen, is a studious, intelligent lad, and is now attending school. The mother of our subject died on the 23d of September, 1889, when eighty-two years of age. Of her seven children but two are now living, our subject and Martin, a wealthy farmer of Christian County, Ill. Harbert, who was a successful school teacher residing at Mt. Olive, died August 1, 1892.

Extracted 10 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 301-302.

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