Monday, February 24, 2014

Community News

The Historicists

Chilliwack teen bestowed with rare honor

Submitted by Shirley Dargatz, UEL Chilliwack with special thanks to April Neave, Chilliwack Community Services

 

Brad Keller receives his special merit from Marlene Dance last Saturday.

 

hen 18-year-old Brad Keller was presented with a certificate last Saturday, it just wasnít a piece of paper, it was confirmation that he was part of history, over three hundred years of history! 

Brad attended the February 22nd meeting of the Chilliwack Branch of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada where member Marlene Dance presented him with a certificate that proves descent from a United Empire Loyalist. That makes him eligible for Canadaís only hereditary honor, the right to add the letters U.E. after his name, as established by Gov. Carleton in 1789. 

Attending the presentation were his parents Norm and April Keller and grandparents, Art and Bette Keller, all of Chilliwack.

While the entire Keller family history is still incomplete, a number of details have been confirmed through years of research by Bradís now 89 year old grandfather Art Keller and an aunt. They have discovered, for example, that it was eight generations ago in 1709 that Christian Keller, in a great exodus from the Palatine area of Germany, sailed to the colony of New York.  One of his descendents, Frederick Keller, was born in 1757 in Albany, New York. 

In his twenties, Frederick Keller was a private soldier in Rogersí Rangers serving for almost 4 years. Rogers Rangers were full time soldiers employed by colonial governments to patrol between fixed frontier fortifications and provide early warning of raids. When it came to the time of the American Revolution, Frederick Keller chose to remain loyal to the British Empire.  He and many others were relocated to southern Ontario where they were given raw land by the Crown to clear and make a living. 

After a full life, he died in Fredericksburg in what was then the province of Upper Canada in 1842 at age 85.

Accepting the certificate Brad said ďItís awesome to think that I am connected to someone that goes back that far and to such key pieces of American and Canadian history!Ē

The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada was established as a means of bringing together the descendants of those loyalists who left the American colonies at the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783). It is estimated 35,000 came to the Maritimes resulting in the formation of the Province of New Brunswick. At least 10,000 settled in what is now Ontario and Quebec. The Loyalists were multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious. It is estimated that more than 6 million Canadians today have United Empire Loyalist roots.

Established by Royal Charter in 1914, the association is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with a variety of activities across the country. The Chilliwack branch is one of 29 branches across Canada. It was chartered in 1990 with Bradís grandfather as a Charter Member. 

"This year 2014 is our 100th. year of the chartering of the UELAC Association established in 1914," said Shirley Dargatz in an e-mail to the Voice on Monday. "It is always exciting when a young person takes an interest in their heritage."

"I am 7th. generation Canadian. Brad would be 9th. Generation Canadian. His Grandfather, Art Keller was very pleased to see Brad presented with his certificate at our Heritage Week celebration last Saturday."

The UEL Branches across Canada have various special projects happening this year.

For further information on The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, contact the Chilliwack Branch President Shirley Dargatz via e-mail here or visit the web site at www.uelac.org/Chilliwack

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