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Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl (1804-1872) Collection, 1830-1872.

Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl
  • Collection Number: M-0010
  • Collection Size: 2.25 linear feet


Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl

Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl

Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl was born 22 May 1804 in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany, where he spent his childhood and his youth. In 1829 he graduated from the University of Leipzig and followed his first call as a pastor to Niederfrohna, Saxony. According to the Sächsische Kirchenbuch he also served the parish Mittelfrohna. Prior to his departure to America, Keyl married Ernestine Amalia Walther (C.F.W. Walther‘s sister) on 15 November 1836. The couple came to the United States in 1839 with their infant son, Stephanus (b.27 June 1838). There Keyl was called to be the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Perry County, Missouri. He also served as the rector and teacher of the log cabin college in Altenburg, Missouri.

His first wife, Ernestine Amalia Walther, died on 23 May 1842, at the birth of their second son (who also died a couples of days later). In 1843 he married for the second time, Ms. Catherine Popp, who also died at childbirth two years later. In 1845 he married Sophie Amilie Vogel. Ten children stemmed from this marriage.

In 1846 Keyl accepted a call to Trinity in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he served until 1850. In 1850 Keyl moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he served a variety of churches for 19 years. During this time he became the President of the Eastern District and held this position from 1855 to 1868. As his health was declining in 1869 he assumed charge of a smaller congregation in Wilshire, Ohio. His health did not improve and he died on 4 August 1872 in Monroe, Michigan.

E.G.W. Keyl published four volumes called Katechismus-Auslegung in 1853, Predigt-Entwürfe über die Sonn- und Festags-Evangelien in 1866 and also contributed many articles to Der Lutheraner.


The E.G.W. Keyl collection consists of a book from his personal library, a diary, correspondence, general material, photos, sermons and writings. The folders are arranged in alphabetical order.

The sermons were originally thought to have been C.F.W. Walther‘s sermons, as they were filed in his collection. An in-depth look at the handwriting as well as sermon style determined that they were done by E.G.W. Keyl. Consequently, they were moved from the C.F.W. Walther Papers to the E.G.W. Keyl Collection. They are arranged according to biblical text. Only about half of the sermons are dated. Often the Sunday of the church year is given but not the calendar year. About 90 percent of the sermons reveal a biblical text; however, some sermons could not be clearly identified because of peculiarities and abbreviations, including:

  • The gospel of John may be at times confused with 1 John and 2 John. There may also be some texts of Joshua and Jesiah (Isaiah) found in the John folder due to difficulties with the handwriting. It was hard to determine whether the abbreviation was “Jes,” “Jos” or “Joh.”
  • Keyl abbreviated the letter of Paul to the Philippians as “Phil,” but this abbreviation could also apply to the letter to Philemon. Care must be used in looking through this folder.
  • For ‘Hebrews’ Keyl used two different abbreviations: “Heb” and “Ebr.”

Several folders contain “Special Sermons.” If the biblical text on which these sermons were based, could be identified, then they are filed under the text. If this was not the case, then they are filed under the title: Baptism (Taufhandlung), Confession (Beichtrede), Day of Humiliation (Busstag), Funeral (Leichenpredigt), and Wedding & Engagement (Traurede & Verlobung). The “Miscellaneous” folder contains speeches or sermons of special interest, such as the sermon preached by Keyl one week before the deportation of Stephan.

Several sermons show an abbreviation in the title of where these sermons were held. For example, “Ndfr” stands for Niederfrohna and “Mtfr” for “Mittelfrohna,” both locations in Saxony.

The folder titled “Erbauungsstunden” (hours of edification) contains outlines for catechism and/or adult bible studies taught on Sunday afternoons. The notes are not in E.G.W. Keyl’s hand but were found in his collection (f.9). A handwritten book (front cover missing) containing what looks like sermon notes and/or outlines (f.8).


f.1 Biographical
f.2 Book (Dogmatics), Diary (1839-1840)
f.3 Correspondence, 1838-1861
f.4 Erbauungsstunde
f.5 General Information
f.6 Offene Bekenntnisse
f.7 Photos
f.8 Sermon Notes
f.9 Unidentified Sermons (different handwriting)
f.10 Various Writings


f.11-30 Old Testament
f.31-58 New Testament
f.59-66 Special Sermons
f.66 Miscellaneous
f.67 Text Not Visible
f.68 Fragments


The material has been donated by various donors over the years.

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