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Stephanus Keyl Collection, 1838-1906.

  • Collection Number: M-0011
  • Collection Size: 0.3 linear feet



Stephanus Keyl

Stephanus Keyl was born on 27 June 1838 in Niederfrohna Saxony (Germany), the oldest son of Pastor Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl and his wife Ernestine Amalia Walther (sister of Dr. C.F.W. Walther). As an infant he accompanied his parents in the fall of 1838 on the ship Johann Georg to America. The Keyl family settled in Frohna, Perry County, Missouri, where E.G.W. Keyl became the pastor.


Stephanus’s mother died in 1842. His father accepted calls to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1847 and to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1850. Stdphanus remained in Perry County under the care of his uncle, C.F.W. Walther. He graduated from college in June 1857 and immediately entered Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, where he graduated in 1860. In the same year he accompanied C.F.W. Walther on a trip to Germany and attended the University of Leipzig for three semesters.

On his return to the United States, Stephanus accepted a call in February 1862 to St. John Lutheran Church, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He served this congregation for almost six years. In 1867 an immigrant mission was started in New York City. Two years later the Missouri Synod called Stephanus Keyl to become the head of this new mission, which he served until his death in 1905. For twenty years Pastor Keyl was also the caretaker of the “Lutherische Pilgerhaus,” which sheltered a total of 84,00 immigrants over the years.

Stephanus Keyl married his first cousin Magdalena Walther on 29 October 1862. They had four sons and three daughters: Theodore, Walther, Martin, John, Clara, Emilie and Julia. He died in his home on 15 December 1905 at age 67 and was buried on 18 December 1905 in Port Richmond, New York.


The Stephanus Keyl Collection consists of correspondence, legal documents, photographs, two diaries, university transcripts and some original handwritten documents such as baptismal sponsor records of Gottlob Heinrich Walther (C.F.W. Walther‘s father) as well as the baptismal certificate of Stephanus and a poetry album. The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of document.

The general correspondence as well as the condolence letters written at the time of Stephanus Keyl’s death (f.4) are arranged chronologically. The two diaries were kept during his student years in Perry County and in St. Louis. The notebook bears the following dedication in German: “Christian Dogma in Questions and Answers by my Uncle C.F.W. Walther, presented and collected and copied by Stephanus Keyl.” (f.8)


Most documents where donated by his son, Pastor Theodore S. Keyl (of Newark, NJ), and various other donors.


f.1 Album
f.2 Biographical Sketch
f.3 Call Document
f.4 Correspondence, 1905-1906
f.5 Correspondence — General
f.6 Diaries
f.7 Legal Documents
f.8 Notebook
f.9 Photographs
f.10 Poems
f.11 Sermon (Ordination)
f.12 Sponsorship Letter (baptismal)
f.13 University Transcripts
f.14 Wedding Invitation

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