December 9: Jonas Pascal Keller (1871)

Jonas Pascal Keller was the long-time chief clerk of the Ordnance Department, a branch of the U.S. Army in charge of supplying soldiers with weapons and ammunition. During the Civil War, the Ordnance Department furnished 90 million pounds of lead, 13 million pounds of artillery projectiles, and 26 million pounds of powder for a Union Army of over one million soldiers. Keller was born in Bordeaux, France. Little is known about what brought him to America and how he gained employment with the army. An 1858 Congressional appropriation of $750 was made to Keller for his services “as a watchman or overseer of the executive building, at the corner of F and Seventeenth streets” from April 1848 to September 1850.

According to parish register entries, Keller first becomes associated with the Church of the Epiphany in 1851. He is perhaps with the Ordnance Department by this time as both the Chief and Assistant Chief of Ordnance were Epiphany parishioners. In 1851, Keller’s third and fourth children, Charles and Felix, were baptized at the church. Within a year, Felix was buried from the church. Keller, his wife and older daughter were all confirmed at Epiphany. The marriage of this daughter and subsequent baptism of a grandson took place at the church during the Civil War. Following Keller’s death in December 1871, his funeral took place at Epiphany prior to his interment at Congressional Cemetery. His tombstone (shown here) features a line from the hymn Rock of Ages – “In my hand no price I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

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