Joseph Brigham Keeler
Teacher, Administrator, and Financial Genius
of Brigham Young Academy
Joseph Brigham Keeler, BYA HS Class of 1880
Joseph Brigham Keeler, Class of 1880

Brigham Young Academy High School
Class of 1880

Joseph Brigham Keeler was one of the original 29 students who registered on the first day of classes at Brigham Young Academy, January 3, 1876.

Joseph was born September 8, 1855 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents were Daniel Hutchinson Keeler and Ann Brown (widow of Benjamin Taylor, by whom she had five children: James Taylor; Sarah Taylor; Ann Taylor; Mary Jane Taylor; and Martha Tayor, who died early).

Fleeing Salt Lake Valley from Johnston's Army in 1858, the Keeler family reached Provo where the family located, and where Joseph grew into young manhood.

His desire for education and the opening of Brigham Young Academy coincided, and he was one of the very first students to enroll.

He concluded his studies at BYA in 1880, and in 1880 he was appointed editor of the local newspaper, The Provo Enquirer. He held the position for only a few months, because he was called on a mission in the Southern States, where he served until March of 1882.

After returning home to Provo, he held several public offices (City Assessor, County Recorder), after which he accepted a teaching position at Brigham Young Academy, as head of the Intermediate Department.

Joseph's new work at the school was to begin on January 28, 1884, but on the night of the 27th the Academy's Lewis Building burned to the ground. The school missed only two days, and Joseph began his teaching on January 30th, in temporary quarters.

Joseph Keeler was instrumental in handling financial affairs so that the struggling school did not close, including helping to start and maintain a boarding house for out-of-town students.

In July of 1888, Keeler was described in the Deseret News as, "Joseph B. Keeler, 1st Counselor to Karl G. Maeser, and head of the Academic Department: Bookkeeping, History and Civil Government."

Over the years, J. B. Keeler was a vital teacher and administrator, and mainstay which the Academy needed in order to continue. He was described as the financial genius of the school, that is to say, he showed leadership in sacrifice, and helped the school stay open when, by all financial standards, it should have closed.

Joseph B. Keeler deserves his own unique memorial in the history of Brigham Young Academy, and also later in the early annals of Brigham Young University.

By the time J. B. Keeler retired from Brigham Young University in 1921, he had achieved 37 years of service to the Academy and the University.

Without his dedicated service the institution may well have been forced to close its doors at any number of crisis points through those years.

Joseph Brigham Keeler was born on September 8, 1855 in Salt Lake City, Utah. BYA Faculty & Staff. Joseph B. Keeler, Theology teacher, 1884-1920. He married Martha Alice Fairbanks, who was born June 29, 1860. They were married on May 17, 1883. Her father was David Fairbanks. J. B. Keeler died on December 21, 1935 in Provo, Utah, at the age of 80. Interment, Provo City Cemetery.

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