19 - Harry L. Keller, First World War I Casualty From North Judson

posted Nov 10, 2015, 5:35 PM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library   [ updated Nov 10, 2015, 5:40 PM ]
For many, many months now I've been transferring our obituary listing from the local newspapers, going back to 1889, from a PDF file to Excel.  Almost 1,000 questionable entries have to be checked against microfilm copies of the newspapers and corrections made as needed.  While working on this project I came across the obituary for Harry L. Keller.  

Harry L. Keller?  Harry L. Keller?  Where have you heard that name before?  Well, he’s the World War I soldier for whom North Judson American Legion Post 92 was named.  So I thought that I would share his obituary with you on this Veteran’s Day. 

Picture from Indiana World War Records, Gold Star Honor Roll.  Published by the Indiana Historical Commission, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1921.  Page 595.  - A record of Indiana Men and Women who died in the service of the United States and the Allied Nations in the World War.

North Judson News
August 1, 1918

He Died For His Country

North Judson’s first soldier boy, and the second in Starke County, to give up his life for his country is Harry L. Keller, son of Mrs. Caroline Keller, of this city, who succumbed last Sunday afternoon in a Chicago hospital.  For the first time since the beginning of the war the blue star in a service flag decorating one of the windows of a modest North Judson home has been changed overnight to gold. 
Harry Keller joined the colors on June 27, 1917, enlisting in the engineers’ corps.  He landed in England on Aug. 15 of the same year and a little later was in active service in France. 

He was gassed while with the 17th engineers in the attack at Cambrai.  While engaged in railroad construction work his regiment was attached by a battalion of German infantry.  Using their picks and shovels they beat the Huns back.  Some of the gas thrown back by the retreaters “got” Keller. 

Because of his critical condition the army doctors sent him home, arriving in the U.S. on Jan. 23rd.  He was placed in a base hospital in Baltimore and later sent to the home of a brother at Gary.  His condition continued to grow more alarming and six weeks ago he was removed to a Chicago hospital, where he gave up the struggle on Sunday afternoon. 

At the time of his enlistment a year ago Harry was holding down a fine position as foreman at the Gary steel mills.  When the call to the colors came Harry was one of the first to step forward and proudly answer, “Here am I.”

Harry L. Keller was born at Ora, Starke County, Ind., April 4, 1891, being 27 years, 3 months and 24 days of age when the final summons came.  Most of his boyhood days were spent in North Judson, although the past few years he has been employed in Chicago and at Gary.  He is survived by his aged mother, Mrs. Caroline Keller, of North Judson, and by two brothers and one sister – Charles and William and Miss Goldia Keller, all of Gary, Ind. 

The remains were brought here from Chicago, Wednesday at 12:19 over the Panhandle road and taken direct to the Lutheran church, escorted by the Home Guard and Mayor Hodges and a squad of soldiers from Gary, including Lieut. Arthur R. Ahrend, Color Sergeant, W. Brown, Corporal Henderer, Privates Don VanLiew, Kemper, Shravsky, Shain, Brandt, Elkins, Stierer and Hutchinson and Bugler L. Russel, also by a host of friends, where services were conducted by Rev. Heine, interment being made in the old North Judson cemetery.

Floral offerings came from the Marks Mfg. Co., of East Chicago, where Harry formerly worked, the Patriotic Order of America, of Chicago, a flag, brought by Mrs. J. Watts, Mary Hawk and Grace Messner, a spray from the Home Guard and numerous pieces from relatives and friends.  After the services at the grave by Rev. Heine and Rev. Collier, the firing squad from Gary fired a volley over the grave and taps were sounded by Bugler Russel. 

A guard of honor was formed at the depot by a number of Jackies* who were being sent east, the train being held while they paid tribute to their dead comrade. 

*’Funk and Wagnalls’s dictionary, published in 1917, defines “Jackie” as meaning a sailor, and under the word “Tar” it gives “Jack Tar” also as meaning a sailor.’  Decisions of the Commissioner of Patents and of the United States Courts in Patent and Trade-mark and copyright cases.  Department of the Interior, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1919.