George H. Keeler, alias “George Clay” or “George Klay,” was born in 1837 in England.
George left England and immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in western Michigan.
He stood 5’3” with gray eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion and was a 24-year-old blacksmith possibly living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. He was reported on “extra duty” at the Columbian College hospital in Washington, DC, from August 1 to August 30, 1861, at the rate of 25 cents per day, but by January of 1862 he was present for duty with the Regiment. Sometime in early May he was hospitalized, probably in Alexandria, Virginia, and was possibly transferred to the hospital at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, where he may have been placed aboard a transport.
In any case, by late July he was listed him as among the sick and wounded soldiers in the U.S. general hospital at Annapolis, Maryland, and he remained hospitalized until September 24, 1862, when he was discharged at the convalescent hospital, Fort Ellsworth, Virginia (near Alexandria), for “debility, and uncertainty in the action of the voluntary muscles, consequent upon an attack of inflammation of the brain.”
It is possible that George returned to Michigan after his discharge. He may have been the same George Keeler who enlisted the service in Company I, Seventh Michigan cavalry on January 27, 1863, at Assyria, Barry County for 3 years, crediting Assyria, and was mustered February 19 at Grand Rapids. (The First Battalion of the Seventh Michigan cavalry left Grand Rapids for Washington on February 20, 1863; the balance followed in May.) In any case he was reported “absent in charge of horses in transit from Michigan” during February, and was transferred to Company F on March 17 or 19. By May he was a nurse in a hospital at Fairfax Court House, Virginia. George was reported to have deserted near Hanover, Pennsylvania, on June 29, 1863.
In any case George gave his name as one George H. Klay or Clay when he enlisted in Company B, One hundred thirty-seventh Pennsylvania infantry, on January 26, 1864, and was mustered the same day. He was mustered out on August 3, 1865, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He may have also served in an organization called Ramsey’s Battalion of Pennsylvania Infantry.
It is not known if George ever returned to Michigan.
He was married to Sarah A.
By 1880 he was apparently residing in Pennsylvania when he applied for and received a pension (no. 1129379).
He may have been the same George Keeler, born c. 1836 (place “unknown”), who was a widower living with his niece and nephew, Rebecca and Edward Ashenfelter, on a farm in West Hanover Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in 1910.
In 1898 Sarah was listed as his widow and residing in Pennsylvania when she applied for a pension (application no. 668966) but the certificate was apparently never granted.
In fact, George reportedly died on December 31, 1917, at the National Military Home in Dayton, Ohio, although he does not appear to be buried there.