Our History

The township was not even sparsely settled till about 1833-34, when emigrants began to come in from the east to look for lands and to locate farms.

The first to come in this township were John & James Nesbitt, natives of Ireland, who bought 120 acres of government land in the southeast quarter of section 13 in the summer of 1834. They built a tent of two crotched sticks driven into the ground, a pole placed across the top and poles down the sides, all covered with marsh hay. Here they lived until the middle of the summer of 1835, when they sold to Wolcott H. Keeler.

Wolcott H. Keeler was a native of Vermont, and on the last day of June, 1835, came into the township a week after Tobias Byers, and bought off Nesbitt the 40 acres in the southwest quarter of section 14, and 80 acres on the southwest quarter of section 13, at five dollars per acre, and then went to Bronson and located the west half and northwest quarter of section 24 at ten dollars per acre, this making a total of 480 acres of government land. He returned to Vermont, but in the fall of that year came back with his son Eleazer and his daughter Almina. They erected a log house, afterwards building to it a frame addition. This house was built where the brick dwelling of John Rosevelt stands.

Wolcott H. Keeler laid out a village at the place where he built his house. The house was made a tavern. The stage route passed through here on the Territorial road, and for a time it bade fair to become a village; but like many others, it was simply on paper. A store was kept here also by the Keelers in 1836.

Eleazer Keeler was the first town clerk of Keeler in 1839 and filled other positions of trust in the township. Mr. James Hill was supervisor in 1839.

Matthew Fenton a cousin of Wolcott H. Keeler was killed by the falling of a tree and was the first person buried in the town.

The Congress of the United States passed an act to construct a road from Detroit to Chicago in 1824, to pass through the lower counties in the State. Afterwards branches were surveyed and laid out. One of the branches came through the township of Keeler to St Joseph, and was commenced about 1834.

Keeler and Hamilton were part of Covington township until 1839, it was divided in separate townships and Keeler not only embraced the territory of township 4 south, range 16 west, had its first township meeting, 29 votes were cast and the following officers were elected: Supervisor, James Hill; Town Clerk, E. H. Keeler; Justices of the Peace, Lyman G. Hill, B. F. Chadwick, B. A. Olney, and R. B. Everett.

Records from 1839 to 1846 are missing. Theodore E. Phelps was Supervisor, Lucius E. Buck was Town Clerk, James A. Lee was Treasurer and Henry S. Keith was Justice of the Peace, all in 1846.

The first store in the village was by Loren W. Sikes. The village contained about forty families, two churches, one store, two groceries, post office, hotel, school house, two blacksmith shops, cooper shop, cabinet shop, two wagon shops, paint shop, harness shop, and shoe shop. The first post office was established in Keelerville in 1836. The office remained there until 1856 and was moved to Keeler Village. The residents of Keeler township whose names appear on the tax roll dated May 25, 1839 consisted of about forty and the total real and personal assessment of residents of the township in that year was about $15,000.00.

The Keeler Township fire department was organized in 1947, consisting of three officer and six firemen and an International John Bean Fog-pumper with 500 gallon capacity costing $7,478.00. The town board paid $15.00 a run to the department. Donald Putney was the first Chief, who served until 1950, followed by Robert Hall Sr, and then Robert Millhouse who both served for extended periods of time.

In 1981 township officers are Supervisor, John Gillesby, Clerk, Richard Johnson, Treasurer, Carl Davis and two trustees, Patrick Daly and Graham Brimhall.

This is a condensed version of the history of Keeler Township. It continues to this day.


As of the census of 2010, there were 2,601 people, 870 households, and 629 families residing in the township. The population density was 76.5 per square mile. There were 1,562 housing units at an average density of 45.9 per square mile. The racial makeup of the township was 88.85% White, 1.35% African American, 1.15% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 5.61% from other races, and 2.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 22.57% of the population.

There were 870 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.2% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.6% were non-families. 22.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the township the population was spread out with 29.1% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 105.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $42,955, and the median income for a family was $47,083. Males had a median income of $32,069 versus $26,016 for females. The per capita income for the township was $19,989. About 9.2% of families and 16.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.