Keppler Passenger List Mystery Solved?

In the last year, I have made serious efforts to jump into my German lines.  German Genealogy has long intimidated and terrified me, and while I’ve half-heartedly attempted to get over this fear in the past (by attending lectures, reading books, asking questions, etc), this time I am actually jumping in.

But the first step to jumping in requires actually getting some U.S. research done on my German ancestors – something I’ve avoided over the years because eventually, I’d get to the German part and have to actually jump the pond.  I haven’t jumped the pond just yet, but I am getting closer to doing so.

My great grandmother, Marie Keppler married my great grandfather, Maxamillian Doerflinger on September 17, 1902 in Butte, Silver Bow, Montana.  From the newspaper articles I’ve read, it sounds like it was a fun occasion.

Marie Keppler’s parents, Anton and Rosalie Keppler.

With the help of a distant cousin that I found through research, I was able to find Anton Keppler listed in New Haven, Connecticut city directories from 1883 to 1892.  Sometime between 1892 and 1895, Anton moved to Butte, Silver Bow, Montana because in 1895, he is listed on the Butte city directory.  He is again listed in the Butte city directory in 1896, but in 1898, the city directory lists him as having passed away – and even gives the date he passed away and his age.

I know that Anton was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Butte, Montana and I’m waiting for a lovely volunteer from FindaGrave to take the photo for me.  (Volunteers are awesome!).

Before I go any further, let me tell you what I know about this family:

Anton Keppler, born abt 1847 in Germany and he married Rosalie, born in March 1845.  While in Germany, the couple had four children: William A. Keppler (Dec 1873), Adolph Keppler (Mar 1875), Marie Keppler (Apr 1876), and Annie Keppler (Sept 1880).  Once in New Haven, Connecticut, the couple had Anton Keppler (7 Mar 1884) and Frank Keppler (May 1886).

So based on where their children were born, my hypothesis is that Anton and Rosalie immigrated to the United States between late 1880 to early 1884.  With this information in mind, I began a search on  I began my search by using Anton as the main person, but I wasn’t finding anything.  I then started searching for Rosalie and look what I found:

Possible Passenger List for Anton and Rosalie Keppler

Source: “Hamburg Passenger Lists,” digital images, ( : accessed and dowloaded 12 March 2011), Ship Name: Frisia, Departure Date: 27 Apr 1881, Port of Departure: Hamburg, Port of Arrival: New York, J Keppler and Rosalie Keppler.

The above image of of the Hamburg Passenger Lists database on  It shows the lists compiled during departure from Hamburg, Germany.  Here are the people I’m looking at:

  • J A Keppeler
  • Rosalie Keppeler
  • Wilh Keppeler
  • Ad Keppeler
  • Ernest Keppeler
  • Otto Keppeler
My heart began to race as I saw this.  Could this J Keppeler be my ancestor?  His age matched up with Anton Keppler’s.  The ages for Rosalie, Wilh, and Ad were about correct.  But if this is my family, then where are the two Keppler daughters, Marie and Annie?  And who are the two extra boys, Ernest and Otto?  It seemed I was left with more questions than answers.
So I started going through my old research notes and I noticed two things:
  • According to family stories, my great-grandmother Marie Keppler came to this country separately from her parents.  According to these stories, she came here and lived with an “Aunt Annie”.  Looking at the 1910 Census for Marie, I noticed that she listed her immigration year as 1889, which is different than the year her brother’s listed.  Could this family story be true?  Could “Aunt Annie” actually be Marie’s sister Annie?
  • The above passenger list says that the family is from Stuttgart.  Family stories also say that the family is from Stuttgart.
  • While searching for Rosalie’s death certificate, I found a Keppler death certificate that I couldn’t fit into my tree.  The death certificate was for a 20 year old Ernest Kepler, who died on 19 Aug 1898.  There was little information contained on the certificate – no parental information or information about an informant.  Could this be the Ernest Keppeler listed on the above passenger list?
With a little further searching, I found a New York Passenger List:
Possible New York Passenger List for Anton and Rosalie Keppler
This passenger list shows the arrival of the Keppeler family into New York on 11 May 1881.
While I haven’t confirmed that this is the passenger list for my Keppler family, I would say that I am 90% sure that it is.  My gut just tells me that I’ve finally found it.
In order to confirm my gut feeling, I am going to need to find the following:
  • What about Marie and Annie?  Were they left behind in Germany for a few years and then brought to the United States?  If that is the case, then why?  Why bring the sons but not the daughters?
  • Is the Ernest Kepler in the death certificate I found the same Ernest Keppler as listed on the passenger lists?
  • Who in the world is Otto?
Do you have anything to add?  Did you catch something I missed?  Please let me know!  I love the research advice!
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7 responses to “Keppler Passenger List Mystery Solved?

  1. I love finding those records, but I hate that limbo area where your gut feeling is it’s the right record, but there is that little itching feeling that you can’t make that decision just yet. I’m pretty sure I have lots of documents saved for just that reason. Though, I have come across new information that has proven those documents, so it’s always worth it. Good article.

  2. Yay, Elyse! I had to laugh because my German ancestry research intimidates and terrifies me too! :o)

  3. Hey Elyse… It’s good to know that I’m not the only one intimidated about their German research!! I have put off my mom’s paternal side, for a long time. My grandfather was the first generation born in the US. I feel like I am at a point that I have done about everything I can on US side but I have no idea where to start for the German stuff. Good luck!!

  4. I am also looking into the Keppler name. My Great grandfather , William Anthony Keppler was born in 1865 and left Hamberg at the age of 19. he went to Iowa of all places. When I looked at the Keppler name and googled it, there are hundreds of Kepplers that went to Iowa. Whats up with Iowa and Germans ? My Dad is sending me a bunch of info on William and his origins. If you want to contact me my email is

  5. They left in 1881 is real close to when Wihl? Keppler left Germany. We may be related. email me cause I have been in the dark about my bloodline and it is really bothering me.

  6. I might have info on William Kepplers (Whil) brothers and sisters when I get info from my Dad. Email me

  7. Richard Heier

    Astronomer Johann Kepler 1571-1630

    Johann Georg Keppler, is listed as her father and also as a farmer & owner if the inn called THE SPOT. Both he & his daughter MDK, had 10 children each. He is the father of:
    Maria Dorothea Keppler, born 9 March 1779 in Oberkollbach in the Black Forest, Germany.
    Aktenlager: Ev. Kirche in
    ( PLZ 75328 ) Schömberg bei Neuenbürg,
    Brunnenstraße 44, BRD
    (auch für Oberlangenhart, Igelsloch, Bieselsberg und Schwarzenberg )
    Familienregister I, Schömberg PAG: VI, Seite 40, Eintrag 45.

    Data location: Evangelical church in
    ( Postal zip code 75328 ) Schömberg near Neuenbürg
    Brunnenstrasse 44, Germany
    ( also covers the villages of Oberlangenhart, Igelsloch, Bieselsberg und Schwarzenberg )
    Family Register I, Schömberg PAG: VI, page 40, entry 45.
    I have been aware of our Keppler (sic) family connection since the summer of 1978 when I first compiled and drew the genealogical chart of my maternal grandmother, nee Anna Finger 1874 -1952. In 1978 I had personally transcribed the Anna Finger data out of the original church records in Schömberg and found her great-grandmother Maria Dorothea Keppler. At the time, when those records were in front of me, I opted not to search further into her ancestry. I mistakenly assumed that all the namesakes of this famous individual will have done their genealogy and that I would later have no difficulty in finding an attachment point on their charts. The thought was: Why duplicate an effort which has already been done by others? The unforeseen consequence was that none of the Keppler, which were later contacted, responded to my queries. The obvious implication was that they in fact had no charts, or if they did, did not wish to share them. All these postal contacts had been made decades ago in the pre-Internet era.

    The 2012 deep space voyage of the Kepler observatory reawakened my dormant interest. Combing through the Internet, I assembled a family chart which focused only the astronomer Johannes Kepler 1571-1630 and about 45 of his then contemporary relatives. A half dozen other Keppler from the Black Forest region, and of unknown hierarchy, were also included. If the data found is correct, then it suggests the following:

    There are no living male descendants of the astronomer
    Johannes Kepler (JK) which have inherited his name.

    Those that currently carry either the Kepler or Keppler name
    seem to be descendants of JK grandfather’s two brothers, Melchior and Daniel.
    The double ‘p’ spelling variation seems to be of no consequence.

    A supposed descendant of Melchior was Peter Kepler, born in 1620,
    is said to be the last of the Melchior line.

    JK’s father had a brother named Johann, born 1544,
    but any additional Internet details on him seem non-existent.

    When we backtrack the generations between MDK, born in 1779, back to JK’s grandfather Sebald’s brothers, born circa 1519, we have a stretch of 260 years, let’s say 250 years. Assuming 25 years per generation, that suggests a gap of 10 generations. Without actual examination of those church records, finding this link seems to be an insurmountable, if not impossible hurdle.

    On the other side of this research coin, when you consider that MDK came from a family of 10 children and in turn had 10 of her own, and that we a dealing with 10 generations, then we suddenly have an incomprehensively large number of Kepplers. Even if we remove 33% as infant deaths and from that remnant another 50% as girls, meaning they didn’t transfer the Keppler name, then the end count is still staggering.

    Without re-examining the church records, the only hope is in eventually finding another Keppler family which has preceded us in this search. Even if successful, an exact lineage overlay would be a miracle. Never the less, as of this writing, it remains the goal to see if this missing link can be uncovered.

    Please feel free to comment, correct or to contribute.

    Richard Heier

    N69W15427 Macallan Court
    Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
    53051- 59086 USA

    Tel: 262-502-1057

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