Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Inventory of the Matthew Keller Papers, 1851-1961
Consult repository  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (112.73 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Persons represented by 6 pieces or more (not including accounts and receipts)
  • Important or interesting items

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Matthew Keller Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1851-1961
    Creator: Keller, Matthew
    Extent: 525 pieces
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Gift of Mrs. S. Bartley Cannell, Jr., granddaughter of Matthew Keller, Feb. 26, 1976


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Matthew Keller Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Matthew 1 Keller was a Los Angeles pioneer businessman, vintner, and ranch owner who was born in Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland, in 1810. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1832 came to New York. He moved to Texas in the mid-1830's then spent the next twelve to fifteen years in Mexico. While in Guadalajara he met Andrew A. Boyle (who later was to become owner of the Los Angeles property developed by his son-in-law William H. Workman, Jr., into Boyle Heights). Keller and Boyle returned to the United States and later the two married sisters. Upon his return to the States, Keller went first to New Orleans, then in 1849, to San Francisco. He finally settled in Los Angeles in 1851, opening a general merchandise store at the corner of Los Angeles and Commercial streets. He purchased property on Alameda and Aliso, where the Union Station is now located. There he built his home, planted fruit trees and vineyards. In 1852 he established his winery and brandy still, to be known as the Rising Sun and Los Angeles Vineyards winery. He had warehouses in San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia. In addition, he experimented with various agricultural crops--fruit trees, castor oil plants, hops, and cotton.
    Keller was active in public affairs--he was Public Administrator for Los Angeles County from 1854 to 1858, on the Board of Supervisors from 1864 to 1867, served on the Los Angeles City Council, was a member of the Los Angeles Rangers, the Vigilance Committee, and the Pioneer Fire Department. He was one of the original directors of the Farmers and Merchants Bank and of the Pioneer Oil Company. He became owner of many pieces of property in Los Angeles and of the 13,000 acre Rancho Malibu, whose title was finally confirmed to him in 1864 after much litigation regarding its clouded title. Keller did not develop this land; during his lifetime it was leased to cattle ranchers. Later the property was sold to Frederick H. Rindge.
    At the time of his death in 1881, Matthew Keller was survived by three children: Caroline E. (Keller) [Shafer], Alice (Keller) [Shafer], and Henry Workman Keller. Henry was in France attending school when his father passed away. He was then, at the age of 13, made a ward of Isaias W. Hellman, founder of the Farmers and Merchants Bank. As an adult, Henry became a director (and later president) of the Automobile Club of Southern California. He was honored for his part in working with the Mexican officials for the planning of the West Coast Highway of Mexico running from Nogales to Mexico City. He was also a financier, active in real estate and in various companies. There is a large collection of his papers in the Library (q.v.). Since there are papers pertaining to Matthew Keller in the Henry W. Keller Collection and also material relating to Henry W. Keller in the Matthew Keller Collection, both collections should be consulted in studying either person.
    1The spelling "Matthew" has been adopted for this collection since most reference works use that form. His grandson John Mathew Keller entitles his biographical sketch "Mathew Keller", so the family may have preferred the spelling with single "t". Keller himself used either the signature "M. Keller" or the Spanish form "Mateo".

    Scope and Content

    Los Angeles from 1850 to 1880, particularly with deeds and land papers for the Los Angeles area (a few of these relating to petroleum development); the wine industry; photographs of the Los Angeles area at the turn of the century; biographical information on Matthew Keller and Henry Workman Keller

    Persons represented by 6 pieces or more (not including accounts and receipts)

    Hellman, Isaias William a
    14 pieces (1877-1879)
    Keller, Henry Workman
    19 pieces (1892-1957)
    Keller, Matthew
    22 pieces (1859-1880)

    Important or interesting items

    • Box 1 (57) - Judson, Gillette & Gibson (firm). Abstract of title to land on Alameda St. known as the Los Angeles Vineyard (with map made by George Hansen and Alfred Solano). 1880, July 21
    • Box 2 (8) - Keller, Henry Workman. To Standish L. Mitchell. 1936, Oct. 17. (Letter written while Keller was in Mexico working on plans for the West Coast Highway from the U.S. border to Mexico City-see also his diary kept while in Mexico in 1936 in Box 4 (6)
    • Box 4 (2) - Keller, Frederick. Speech re Matthew Keller, Henry Workman Keller, and the Malibu Ranch. 1960?
    • Box 4 (3) - Keller, Henry Workman. The Amateur in Los Angeles. Before 1900 (This contains 15 photographs of the Los Angeles area)
    • Box 4 (10) - Keller, John Mathew. Mathew Keller: biographical sketch. 1959, Sep. 23
    • Box 4 (11 & 12) - Keller, Matthew. Diaries. 1874, 1878-1879
    • Oversize roll - Color photograph of Matthew Keller's wine labels