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April 22, 1982


PIX #1 - George W. Caldwell

PIX #2 - Richard Keckler

PIX #3 - Caldwell's watch still runs.

Like a face from a novel of long ago, or an old melody from childhood, or an unusual outdoor vacation scene, the face of George Caldwell has stuck in my memory for 65 years or more. In recent years, his name escaped me even though his face remained clear. I even knew where he lived at one period of his life.

Then, when I did the East Center Street series of articles, I discovered his name listed as a resident in one of the upstairs residences, 123 1/2 to be exact, above Henry Peters' restaurant. I knew that he had lived there when I was a young man, working for The Daily Review. But since I had forgotten his name, I would not have known where to locate him. It was like a fourth of July roman candle bursting into brilliance when I discovered his name and place of residence.

Later, March 4, my article dealt with "people" whom I had not included in the East Center Street series, and Caldwell "the hackie" was one of them along with a photo of the horse-drawn hack he drove. Shortly after that article was published, I had a telephone call from Richard Keckler, 115 E. Allen St., telling me that George Caldwell was a relative, and that perhaps he could provide additional information and a photo, if I was interested.

Keckler's call was like a "new toy" to me. He had made my day, and I could scarcely await the day when he would bring some memorabilia of Caldwell and additional data to my home. That day was March 30.


The one accompanying photo of George Caldwell, brought by Keckler, confirmed my memory of him accurately, except my recollection was of a lter period in his life, perhaps after there were no more horse-drawn hacks, and he had retired. Back then he still carried the large American Waltham watch, shown in another photo, and he always wore a vest, as is shown in his photo.

I can still see him in my mind's eye, taking the watch out to see the time, and on the end of the watch chain was an Elk's tooth as he belonged to the BPOE (Benevolent Protective Order of Elks). I'm sure John Burke, Harold Davis and other older members of that lodge will recall Caldwell too, as well as his timepiece.


I had always presumed that Caldwell had never married, a fact which Keckler confirmed. Caldwell, a great uncle of Keckler and his brothers and sisters, was born in Hancock County Feb. 12, 1860, to William and Susan (Wineland) Caldwell. He died Oct. 29, 1950 in Fostoria City Hospital having been in poor health for many months. He was a member of the First Hope Lutheran church.

The Keckler family of German origin, moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio in the late 1700's or early 1800's. Being farmers they discovered the excellent farm land in the vicinity of Kenton, where they settled. Gradually the Kecklers kept moving northward until they finally settled in West Independence.

Harrison William Keckler, grandfather of Richard, was part Wyandot Indian. Mary Jane Caldwell, sister to George, was the first wife of Harrison. That establishes the relationship.


Here is one hair-raising story told to me by Richard: because one of the Kecklers had married an Indian woman, certain ones of their race objected. The consequence was that on a certain day when two of the Keckler boys were sent to roundup the cattle, the Indians had removed the cowbells from the cattle, which made it difficult to find them. When the boys didn't return with the cattle as soon as normally, two more of the boys were sent to find them.

The Indians had captured and scalped the first two boys. One of them reached home but died shortly afterward. The other one died before reaching home. The two older boys who were sent to locate them were also captured by the Indians and carried away to the Indians camp in the vicinity of the Greater Miami River. In later years the boys escaped and returned to their family.


And how did Richard Keckler come in possession of Caldwell's Waltham watch? Older readers may recall William "Bill" Caldwell who for many years was Fostoria's health commissioner. Your author recalls him because of the several times he quarantined our house when I was a boy, taken down by diptheria, scarlet fever and other contagious diseases. Bill and George Caldwell were brothers.

Lillian Elarton, daughter of Bill Caldwell, had been entrusted with the Waltham watch before George's death, with instructions to pass it on to Richard Keckler, who also inherited other items of George's estate.

The photo of George Caldwell used in today's article was in the possession of Blanche Rothget, Carey.

Police Chief James T. Keckler is a nephew of Richard Keckler. The chief's father, Harrison, the brother of Richard is deceased. Besides Richard, there are four sisters still living: Ilene Gualtny, Petersburg, Ind.; Blance Rothget; Helen Stone and Joan Church, both of Fostoria. Other brothers and sister died young during the flu epidemic of 1913. The parents were Thomas and Irene Keckler.


There is one more interesting story I must tell in closing this article, as related by Richard.

The Keckler family was large and always had yearly reunions. The Kecklers in this area always received announcements, and someone managed to attend. Richard said he never attended but Harrison did, reporting that they came from every state in the union except Hawaii. At one of the reunions attended by Harrison, over 600 were in attendance.

It must have been a gala event, with old told family tales and reminiscing plentiful.

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