Ralph Keeler, Hartford Founder

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Compiled by Timothy Lester Jacobs, SDFH Genealogist

RALPH1 KEELER, HARTFORD FOUNDER was born abt. 1613 in England, and died bef. Sep 1672 in Norwalk, CT (inventory). He married (1) PROBABLE DAUGHTER BETTS abt. 1644 in Hartford, CT, daughter of JOHN BETTS and MARY ____. She was born abt. 1621 in England, and died bef. 11 Aug 1659 in Norwalk, CT. He married (2) SARAH HOWES abt. 1663, daughter of ROBERT HOWES. She died abt. Nov 1684 in Fairfield, CT.

The origin and date of emigration of Ralph Keeler, and the date of his arrival in Hartford are unknown. He is considered a founder, but not a proprietor of Hartford, as he was one of those inhabitants “who were Granted lotts to have onely at the Towne’s Courtesie wth liberty to fetch wood & keepe Swine or Cowes was By proportion on the Common”. In the Hartford land inventory of March 1639/40 he held: one acre on which his dwelling house stood with other outhouses, yards and gardens located on the road from the Mill to the Country between the house lot originally allocated to John Friend and that of John Wilcox; two roods of swamp in the North Meadow; and a parcel of unknown size abutting the formerly land listed in the North Meadow.

Ralph Keeler was a carpenter, not known to have held any public offices in Hartford, except that of chimney viewer in 1645. His name was on the agreement of 19 June 1650 between the new proprietors of that which would become the town of Norwalk and Roger Ludlow of Fairfield, who had purchased the land from the Indians in 1640. Ralph Keeler removed to Norwalk approximately 1652, and on 18 December 1653 it was agreed by the townsmen that he and Walter Hoyt should build a house for Rev. Thomas Hanford, Norwalk’s first minister.

He built a house on his original home lot of four acres and one rood, but sold it on 20 October 1662 to Richard Raymond of Salem, Massachusetts. He then removed to Jamaica, Long Island where his name appears in the town records of 2 March 1663. He returned to Norwalk by 1 September 1665 when he purchased a dwelling house from Thomas Ward.

He made his will 20 August 1672, inventory taken in September and October 1672 and the will which was proved 5 November 1672.

Recommended genealogy: “Keeler Family: Ralph Keeler of Norwalk, CT, and Some of His Descendants”, Wesley B. Keeler, Gateway Press, Baltimore, 1985 (An excellent genealogy, carefully researched, including Jacobus’s works on New Haven and Fairfield families, along with primary and other secondary data.)

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