Kelker, Henry Anthony, youngest son of Frederick and Catharine Kelker, was born in Harrisburg, Pa., December 16, 1825. He was carefully trained and instructed at home, and was afforded all the advantages of the best primary schools in the borough. Later he was for several years in the Harrisburg Academy, then under the superintendence of Prof. Alfred Armstrong, and in November, 1842, entered the preparatory department of Marshall College at Mercersburg, Pa. His careful instruction in the home schools and his diligent application enabled him to enter college in a short time, when he took the regular course of study until May, 1846. He then returned to Harrisburg to arrange for a partnership with his brothers in the hardware business at the old stand established by his father in 1805.
After having consummated this object, he returned to college with the view of completing the course and obtaining his degree, but was unexpectedly summoned home by the severe illness of his mother, which terminated fatally, August 15, 1846. He then decided to abandon his college studies and to remain in Harrisburg, where he could give personal attention to his business.
The firm, composed of the three brothers, Rudolph F., Immanuel M. and Henry A., under the name of Kelker & Bros., continued in business until May, 1851, when Rudolph F. retired, and Henry A. continued with his brother Immanuel under the firm name of Kelker & Bro., at the old stand No. 5, now No. 9, South Front street, until September, 1857, when they removed to the southeast corner of Market square. During this partnership, which continued until April 1, 1878, a large and profitable trade was secured and the enviable reputation of the house fully sustained. At this date Henry A. withdrew and retired from business, disposing of his stock partly to his nephews, Luther R. and William A., and partly to his brother, Immanuel M.
Mr. Kelker has always held the opinion that it was better for the citizens to invest their surplus capital in home enterprises, since they can in this way more certainly benefit their own private interest and more effectually promote the growth and prosperity of the community. That he has made this principle the foundation of his own course, his prominent and wide connection with important commercial and industrial local organizations will show. He has served for many years as a director of the Harrisburg National Bank, as well as of the Chestnut Street Market Company, of the Harrisburg Gas Company, of the Harrisburg Steam Heat and Power Company, is also a director of the Pennsylvania Telephone Company and the Harrisburg Traction Company, president of the Harrisburg City Passenger Railway Company since its reorganization in 1874, and of the Harrisburg Burial Case Company, and Harrisburg Furniture Manufacturing Company. He was one of the proprietors and founders of the town of Baldwin, which subsequently took the name of Steelton, and became the seat of the magnificent plant of the Pennsylvania Steel Company. He has erected some of the most substantial buildings in Steelton, among which are the bank and postoffice blocks.
In matters of a political nature, Mr. Kelker has clear and decided views and finds himself more nearly in harmony with the Republican party, but is not in any sense an active partisan. He has served as a member of the common council of the city of Harrisburg, not however as a politician, but in the fulfilment of duty as a conscientious and patriotic citizen. Mr. Kelker is now and has been for a number of years a trustee of the Reformed Salem church of Harrisburg, with which church he united April 6, 1845, by certificate from the Reformed church at Mercersburg, Pa., which he had joined while at college.
On the 11th of October, 1855, he married Ellen, daughter of Col. John Roberts and sister of Alexander Roberts, of both of whom biographical sketches appear in this volume. The children of this union were: Frederick A., John Roberts, Mary Anna, Anne Roberts, Henry A., Rudolph F., Ellen, Edith V., and Katherine M. Of these, Frederick A., John R. and Rudolph F. died in infancy; the others are residing in the homestead with their father. Mrs. Kelker departed this life on the 8th of February, 1893. She was a most affectionate mother, faithful wife and a worthy member of the Reformed Salem church, and adorned her profession by a godly life.
Kelker, Henry Anthony, p. 309 & 310
Transcribed by Gwen Bixler Drivon at GGDGEN@aol.com for the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription
3 & 4 Nov. 2000
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