FREDERICK, son of Frederick and Catharine (Fager)
Kelker, was born
February 17, 1820, at Harrisburg, Pa. In
March, 1835, he entered the hardware store of Oglesby & Hinckley, successors
of Oglesby & Pool, who were successors to his father, to learn the business
and continued with them until May, 1838, when, owing to delicate health, he left
the establishment and gave attention to the improvement of his father's lands in
the vicinity of Harrisburg. On
November 18, 1842, he purchased the interest of Mr. Hinckley and carried on the
hardware business with his partner, Mr. Oglesby, until the death of the latter,
March 21, 1846. He continued the
business alone until May following, when he associated with him his two
brothers, and conducted the same under the firm name of Kelker & Brothers,
remaining in business until May 14, 1851, when on account of failing health he
retired from mercantile pursuits. In
1852 he was elected a director of the Harrisburg Bank, in which institution he
has served for a number of triennial terms.
For several years he was a director of the First national Bank, and a
manager of the Harrisburg cemetery. In
the corporation of Harrisburg as a city, he was appointed with seven other
citizens, by the Legislature, on the commission to lay out the streets and
avenues necessary in the new territory included within its limits.
From 1854 until 1891 he served as a trustee of the Harrisburg Academy,
and was for a long time its secretary and treasurer.
From 1866 to 1872 Mr. Kelker was one of the directors of the poor for the
county of Dauphin, and through his instrumentality proper legislation was
secured, new additional buildings erected and such improvements made in the
general management of the almshouse as greatly alleviated the condition of the
unfortunate inmates. He was one of the founders of the City Hospital, a manager
from its organization in 1873 until 1889; from March, 1878, until his
resignation, its treasurer, and was on the committee to superintend the
construction of the new building erected in 1883-4.
In 1873 and 1874 he was one of the trustees of the Pennsylvania Lunatic
Hospital at Harrisburg, and at the organization of the Harrisburg City Passenger
Railway Company, in 1874, was made a director, and was treasurer from November
2, 1874, to May, 1891, when he resigned because the company began to run their
cars on the Lord's Day. Apart from these active duties of citizen life, Mr.
Kelker's labors in the Reformed church, of which he is a prominent member, it is
here deemed proper to summarize. His
parents were also members of the Reformed church, and on April 27, 1823, he was
enrolled as a scholar in the Sunday school.
December 27, 1835, he was confirmed by Rev. J. F. Berg, D. D., as a
member of the church; a deacon of the church from 1841 to 1849, an elder in the
same from 1849 to 1875, excepting the year 1867, and since May, 1883, has filled
the same position. From October,
1836, until April 29, 1950, he served as a teacher, and from the latter date
until January, 1870, as superintendent of the Sunday-school, when at the request
of the consistory of the church, he took charge of an adult Bible class, which,
during the first year increased from twelve to ninety members and at the close
of December, 1874, it numbered one hundred and sixty-one, when the class was
assigned by the consistory to the pastor of the church on account of Mr.
Kelker's anti-ritualistic views. Being
thus relieved of his work in the Sabbath-school he accepted an invitation or
organize and take charge of an adult Bible class of both sexes, to be composed
of persons of all denominations as well as those who had no church relation,
which organization was effected under the name of the "Salem Bible Class of
Harrisburg," which now has a large membership and has had connected with it
during its existence more than nine hundred persons, the class is incorporated,
has a valuable library and for the last twenty-three years has been one of the
established religious institutions of the city.
For many years Mr. Kelker was one of the vice-presidents of the
Pennsylvania State Sabbath-school Association and has been for a number of years
one of the vice-presidents of the board of managers of the American
Sunday-school Union, and of the American Tract Society.
In 1845 Mr. Kelker was elected a
trustee of Marshall College,
subsequently, until 1869, a corporate trustee after its union with Franklin
College of Lancaster, as Franklin and Marshall College. The Eastern Synod of the
Reformed Church was incorporated in 1859, and he was one of the five trustees
named in the charter and the first president of the board, and subsequently for
a number of years treasurer of the same. Since 1863, with the exception of three
years, up to October, 1890, he served as treasurer of the board of foreign
missions of the General Synod of the Reformed Church.
He was a member of the synodical committee to prepare the "Triglott
Tercentenary Heidelberg Catechism," published in 1863, but dissented from
the final action of that body, believing that many changes made in the new
English translation were wholly unwarranted and uncalled for.
He repeatedly represented his congregation in Classis, and the Classis
as delegate to the
Synod. He was a member of the Synod
of York in 1866, and made powerful opposition to the adoption and reference of
the "New Order of Worship" to the General Synod.
In 1867, with others, he united in a call for a convention of two hundred
and twenty-five ministers and elders of the Eastern Synod, which assembled at
Myerstown, Pa., to protest against the "Order of Worship," as being
contrary to the doctrines and cults of the Reformed church.
One of the results of this movement was the establishment, in 1869, of
Ursinus College, at Freeland, Montgomery county, Pa., under the presidency of
Rev. J. H. A. Bomberger, D. D., with a university charter, thus enabling the
institution to teach theology as well as the classics.
1879 Mr. Kelker served
as a member of the "Peace Commission," a body consisting of twelve
ministers and twelve elders, chosen by direction of the General Synod of the
Reformed Church of the United States by the several District Synods to assemble
at Harrisburg, Pa., and adjust the differences existing in the church in
doctrine, cultus and government. After
eight days' discussion a basis of union was unanimously adopted, and a new era
in the history of the church was opened up, which brought peace and harmony. The
work of the commission was unanimously approved by the General Synod and the
same persons were at once appointed by it to prepare an "Order of
Worship" for the denomination suited to its wants and evangelical in its
character, which work was accomplished in 1884, and was constitutionally adopted
as the Directory of Worship of the Reformed Church in the United States.
In June, 1839, at his suggestion, the
Sunday-school teachers of