Woman of the Century/Elizabeth Catharine Keller
ELIZABETH CATHARINE KELLER. KELLER, Mrs. Elizabeth Catharine, physician and surgeon, born in a small town near Gettysburg, Pa., 4th April, 1837. She was the eighth of a family of twelve children. Her father, Captain William Rex, born of German parents, a native of Adams county, Pa., was a man of uncompromising integrity and great intelligence. The mother, also of German parentage and born in the same county, was a woman who moved in the orbit of her home with all the gentle, motherly and wifely graces. Both father and mother were strong adherents of the Lutheran Church. Elizabeth with her brothers and sisters attended the district school. Her father was a farmer. That necessitated much help from his children, in which Elizabeth added her energy to that of her brothers. She understood all the details of farm work, from the building of stone walls, the clearing of fields, the shearing of sheep and the picking of geese to the spinning of flax and wool, and especially to the caring for sick and wounded animals. She was endowed with a deeply religious nature and at an early age became a zealous worker in the church, leading class-meetings, giving Bible-readings and teaching in Sunday-school, and at one time she was almost persuaded that a missionary life was her vocation. In 1857 she became the wife of Matthias McComsey, of Lancaster," Pa., and within two years was a mother and a widow. In 1860 she was appointed superintendent of the Lancaster Orphans' Home, where, duiing seven years, she had charge of the hundreds of children who were provided for in that institution. Her management there was characterized by faithful and energetic devotion to the interests of the institution. She was not only the mother and teacher of the children, but she was their physician, treating the various diseases incident to childhood with success. In 1867 she became the wife of George L. Keller and went to Philadelphia, Pa., to live. Thrown among medical women there in connection with the Woman's Hospital, her natural taste for medical work assumed definite shape, and with the approval of her husband she entered the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1868, graduating in March, 1871. After graduation she almost immediately opened a dispensary and hospital. During the year following graduation, she was appointed successor to Dr. Ann Preston on the board of attending physicians of the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, a position which she held until 1875, when she was appointed resident physician of the New England Hospital in Boston. In 1877 she entered upon private practice in Jamaica Plain, one of the suburbs of Boston, where she is still in practice, rapidly making her way to the confidence of the public. From the time of her residency in the New England Hospital she has held the position of senior attending surgeon to that institution. The surgical work there embraces major as well as minor operations, amputations, abdominal sections and fractures. Within the last fifteen years she has planned and superintended the building of seven houses and remodeled another. She has provided home and education for an adopted daughter and three orphaned nieces. In 1890 she was elected a member of the Boston school board.