Footprints: Edgar Keller: Del Norte's artistic son

April 27, 2007 12:00 am

Henry Keller was born in in the Black Forest region of northern Germany.

In the early 1860s, Henry left Germany to escape the iron heel of militarism, which was very prevalent in Germany at the time. He sailed to America, and then boarded a steamer heading for San Francisco, via the Horn. Also sailing on the steamer was Mary Margaret Kenny. She was a real beauty from Ireland. She had blue black hair, flawless skin as white as milk, and vivid blue eyes. Henry Keller was totally smitten and courted her for the entire trip.

When the ship landed in San Francisco, Henry Keller and Mary Margaret Kenny were married in St. Mary's Church.

The newlyweds took a ship to Crescent City where Henry became a bootmaker. His cobbler shop was on Front Street between I and J Streets.

Henry and Mary Margaret had eight children, all born in Crescent City. Edgar Mason Keller was the youngest child. When he was only two years old, his mother died.

Edgar meets his destiny

Maximilian Lipowitz was a young man who arrived in Crescent City and became a school teacher and ultimately an administrator for the schools. He was Polish and had been educated in the European style. He was highly educated, very cultured, and spoke half a dozen languages. Maximilian was to play a very decisive roll in shaping Edgar Mason Keller's life.

Maximilian sensed that Edgar had a special talent in art. Edgar was also eager to learn about everything.

Maximilian spent extra time working with Edgar, teaching him all about art and techniques. He also got Edgar interested in classic reading material. By the time that Edgar was 10, he was reading Shakespeare.

Edgar became a Shakespearean scholar and performed many rolls in Shakespearean plays beginning at the age of 16. However, his real love was art. He was a painter and a sculptor.

In the limelight

Edgar Keller married Nell Adams Clark of Seattle, Washington. Nell was a well known and respected stage actress. After she married Edgar, her career became intermittent as she considered her primary task to be promoting Edgar's career.

By 1905, Edgar Keller's paintings began to be accepted in the New York Academy exhibits and in all of the Eastern galleries.

Edgar Keller was invited to send his work to the Union Internationale des Letters in Paris, France and to become a member of that organization.

Edgar and his wife Nell were writers of screen plays, and were engaged in motion picture work in Hollywood for a number of years.

Edgar was also commissioned to do the sculptural work on the Douglas Memorial Tablet located on the center of the Douglas Memorial Bridge across the Klamath River.

Edgar Mason Keller was a true son of Del Norte County. He never forgot his roots. Edgar Keller died in 1932.

Reach David Gray, a Del Norte Historical Society volunteer, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it