WILLIAM H. KESSLER, M. D.
A successful medical practitioner of West Milton, Dr. Kessler is numbered among the native sons of Miami county, his birth having occurred in Monroe township, January 13, 1839. He traces his ancestry back to Ulrich Kessler, who came to America in 1716, landing in Philadelphia. He was born in Switzerland and with his parents and one sister started for the new world, but the mother died on the voyage and was buried at sea. The father and his two children landed at Philadelphia, but he was very poor and they were sold on the auction block to pay their passage. Ulrich was then ten years old, and he served for eleven years in order to compensate the man who had paid his passage money. During that time he ]earned the weaver's trade. As soon as he was free he began seeking for his father and sister, but after a fruitless search of many weary months he abandoned it, feeling that he was indeed alone in the world. He then applied himself to the weaver's trade and was quite successful, but an unprincipled man swindled him out of his property. He then went to Virginia, where he remained for several years, after which he removed to North Carolina. In the meantime he had married and reared a family, and his sons were married in the last named state. He came to Ohio with his sons, John and Joseph, and died in Montgomery county.
Joseph Kessler, the great-great-grandfather, of our subject, was born in Philadelphia, February 17, 1767, and on the 4th of February 1787, married Mary Steel, of North Carolina, who was born November 11, 1768. They died in Montgomery county, Ohio, and were buried in the old cemetery near Union. They were members of the Dunkard church and he was chosen as one of the ministers of that denomination. In his business he was quite successful, following farming and wagon-making. He and his son, John B., made the first windmills ever constructed in Montgomery county. Joseph Kessler died August 21, 1840, his wife September 22, 1843, and they were laid to rest by the side of Ulrich Kessler, the founder of the family in America.
The Doctor's grandparents were John B. and Susanna (Feese) Kessler, both natives of North Carolina. The former was born November 12, 1786, and on the 2d of June, 1807, he wedded Miss Feese, whose birth occurred January 21, 1787. She died June 3, 1850, her husband surviving until September 22, 1866. They came to Miami county among the first settlers who established homes in this section of the state. The grandfather was a farmer and wagon- maker; and resided in Monroe township until well advanced in years, when he removed to Troy, where his death occurred. He was a Whig in his political belief and a Methodist in his religious faith. His son, Martin Kessler, the Doctor's father, was born in Miami county, November 17, 1816, and was reared upon the home farm, where he spent his entire life, with the exception of the period passed in the south at the time of the civil war. He enlisted in Company D, Ninety-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as a private and served about a year and was wounded at Tate's Ferry, Kentucky. He was then taken to the hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, but never recovered from the gunshot wound, and after several months of suffering died, July 23, 1863, when about forty-seven years of age. He was an active Republican in politics and held a number of township offices. Socially he was connected with the Masonic fraternity of Tippecanoe, and, religiously, with the Presbyterian church, in the work of which he took a very active part. He was a loyal defender of the Union and bravely laid down his life on the altar of his country that the nation should not be robbed of any of the states which form the splendid galaxy of the republic.
The boyhood days of our subject were spent on the home farm and his elementary education, acquired in the common schools, was supplemented by a course of three years in the high school of Tippecanoe. He afterward engaged in teaching in the district schools of the county until July, 1862, when he put aside the text books and left the school room in order to march forth to the defense of his country, whose safety was imperiled by the attempt at secession in the south. In July, 1862, he enlisted as a member of Company D, Ninety-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and after three years' service was honorably discharged as orderly sergeant. He participated in the battles of Tate's Ferry, Perryville, Stone River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Peach Tree Creek, Kenesaw Mountain, Rocky Face Ridge, the engagements of the Atlanta campaign, and went with Sherman on the march to the sea, participating in the capture of Savannah. He was also in the battles of Bentonville, was present at the surrender of General Johnston and then went with Sherman's army to Washington, where he participated in the grand review, the most celebrated military pageant ever witnessed on the western hemisphere. At Camp Chase he received an honorable discharge and with a creditable military record returned to his home. He was wounded at Missionary Ridge, being shot through the left leg, near the knee. For a time he was in the hospital at Chattanooga, and on another occasion the sight of his right eye was destroyed by the explosion of a shell.
After his return from the war, Dr. Kessler engaged in teaching school near Milton, and also took up the study of medicine. He attended lectures in Buffalo, New York, and in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was graduated in the latter place in June, 1869. He began practice in Milton, where he has since been located, and within a short time he had secured a liberal patronage, for his skill and ability were recognized and the people therefore gave him their support. In 1894 he formed a partnership, for his health was failing, and he found that it was not possible for him to attend to his practice unaided.
Dr. Kessler has been twice married. He first wedded Lydia A. Cratty, of Miami county, daughter of James Cratty. She was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church and died in that faith. At her death she left a daughter, Althea May, wife of F. M. Townsley, of West Milton. For his second wife the Doctor chose Miss Martha A. Funk, of Miami county, who is also a member of the Methodist church, and a lady of many estimable qualities. In his political views Dr. Kessler is a stalwart Republican, has taken an active part in the work of the party, and for four years has been pension examiner. Socially he is connected with the Masonic Lodge, of West Milton, and is a charter member of Duncan Post, No. 477, G. A. R. He, too, is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He has long held rank among the leading physicians of the county, among the reliable business men and loyal citizens, and as his life history forms an integral part of the annals of West Milton, we gladly present to our readers the record of his honorable career.
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