The Rose Keller Album

     These photos are from an album kept by John Keller's daughter Rose.  All but the last two were taken prior to 1926, when Rose married Gilbert McKenney.  A friend had given her a box Brownie camera when she was seventeen, and though some of these photos may have been taken with it, it is not now possible to be certain.  Unless identified, the people in the photos and the exact locations where they were taken are not known.
     These images are offered to give the viewer a glimpse of everyday life in the valley of the Little Femme Osage Creek in the years before the TNT plant brought the community's existence to an end.  The region depicted is referred to as "The Hollow" in Donald K. Muschany's book, The Rape of Howell and Hamburg (An American Tragedy) (1979).
     For more information about the farm where Rose Keller McKenney lived, click here.  To read recollections of a woman who lived in "The Hollow" as a young girl, click here.

The front porch of the Keller house.  The oak tree beside the porch held the
end of a hammock in the summer, and a swing from which it was possible
to look far out over the valley of the Little Femme Osage.
A cat, at home on the Keller porch.

A view from the fenced hilltop where the Keller house stood.  The Little
Femme Osage Creek and Muschany Hollow Road are in the middle of this photo.

Three women with fresh produce gathered on the Keller farm.

Women gathering blackberries. Both photos were taken on the western parcel of the Keller farm, on the south side of the Little Femme Osage Creek.  Wild blackberry bushes grew abundantly on these hills.  The photo on the right looks east toward the hills between the Kellers' property and that of Lena Mades, their nearest neighbor.  The one on the left is a different vista from the same location, overlooking a cropped field at the base of the hill.

A man with a horse-drawn cart.  This photo was not taken in
Muschany Hollow, but it might depict nearby Howell Prairie.
A man on a horse-drawn plow.  The location may be the Keller farm or a neighboring
farm in The Hollow.  Neighbors pitched in the help one another at plowing and harvesting time.
This and the next two photos may date from as early as 1900-1904.

The woman seated on this horse-drawn plow may be Daisy Muschany Sutton, Rose Keller's
neighbor and best friend.  This picture was taken at the same time and place as the preceding one.

Rose's father, John Keller, holding the team of animals seen in the preceding photo.

These horses probably belonged to a neighbor of the Kellers.  Rose's
mother Cora (Bacon) had a riding horse named "Babe," and her father had two
mules, "Jack" and "Jenny," to help with work on the farm.

                         Horse-drawn farm machinery.  These two photos may have been taken on Muschany Hollow Road.

Men operating a small, portable sawmill to produce wooden boards.
The road in the background may be Muschany Hollow Road.

A little girl feeding hens.  Like many of their neighbors, the Kellers kept chickens, though this
photo does not depict their flock.  It may be one of the oldest photos in the album.

Livestock: several  pigs, a cow, and a handsome animal that may be
"The Famous Tyler Bull."  The Tyler farm was situated between the
Keller farm and the Calamus Spring Schoolhouse to the west.
Teen-aged Rose Keller and a newborn calf.  This may be the earliest photo
of the Kellers' cow "Blackie," perhaps a daughter of "The Famous Tyler Bull."

A man milking a cow, with her calf at her side.  These may be the Kellers' Jersey cow "May"
and "Blackie."  Milk from the Keller cows was sent by train to Pevely Dairy in St. Louis.

The Kellers' barns were located where the driveway to the house met the
Muschany Hollow Road, downhill and to the west of the house.
The cow in the photo may be "Blackie."  Note the icicles hanging
from the eaves of the buildings.
This photograph was most likely taken on the Keller farm.  John Keller raised pigs, and
slaughtering was done on the farm every year in the fall, after the first frost.

Pictured are Charlie and Kate Baker, friends of John Keller who traveled with a circus
and visited the farm whenever they were in the area.  Kate is feeding the pigs.
Rose Keller (on the right) and Kate Baker gather walnuts in a little grove on the
Keller farm, down the hill behind the Muschany family cemetery.

This family group was photographed on a railroad bridge less than a mile from
the Keller home.  The location of the bridge is now part of the Katy Trail, just south of the
Lost Valley Trail parking lot (Weldon Spring Conservation Area).

These photographs are from a young peoples' outing along the railroad tracks, possibly in the early 1920's.  The girl in the coat with the epaulets is Rose Keller.  The last photo was taken the same day, back at the Keller farm.
Rose's aunt and uncle, Bertie and Al Keller, with two of their beloved animals in the early 1930's.  Their home was northwest of John Keller's farm, just east of Old Colony Road, at the headwaters of the Little Femme Osage Creek (outside the area affected by TNT events).  For many years Bertie Keller wrote a community news column for the county newspaper.

Visitors to the Keller farm enjoy wading in the Little Femme Osage Creek in the summer of 1936.
The Keller barns can be seen in the background to the east.  Muschany Hollow Road at that time ran along
the west side of the creek, but was later relocated to the same side as the barns.