consider Old Court Days
the kick off to summer
runs in the Keller family
MADISON, Ind. Chances are, if you live in the Madison,
Ind., area, you know at least one member of the Keller family.
The Kellers have lived in this community all their lives.
In 1998, Jennie and Billy Keller opened Country Sawdust Woodworking
& Crafts on East Main Street. Billy inherited the family business
from his parents, Bill and Gwen Keller. He had to give up his fishing
pole for a power saw when he discovered his natural talent for this
The more Billy learned, the less he fished. And he loved fishing! The
Kellers will display their handcrafted wares this month during the Old
Court Days, a twice-a-year arts and crafts festival sponsored by the
not-for-profit Pilot Club of Madison. The festival runs Friday through
Sunday, May 26-28 and again Sept. 22-24 in downtown Madison.
The club funds its other activities from Old Court Days. The club helps
youth and the community through its involvements in the Canaan Fall
Festival, Vernon Christmas, Bittersweet in Vernon, Jac-Cen-Del Christmas
Show and Hanover College.
Bill Keller taught his son woodworking from age 11, making time in his
own busy schedule for that opportunity.
Bill fondly recalls his own father, Harry Keller, using no power tools
in the beginning days of the woodworking business. His crafting was
done with the handsaw. Gwen and Bill purchased the first scroll saw
for the business.
Each family member has a special individual choice piece of the
pie, creating the desired result. Bills specialty is woodworking
of benches, backboards and breadboxes. Billys preference would
be cedar chests. Gwen and Jennie both do finishing, but Jennie specializes
Gwen tells of her daughter-in-laws lack of confidence in the beginning
as the two sat on the tailgate of a truck during ballgames. She taught
Jennie the simple basic strokes on the back of that truck, practicing
on a sunflower.
There is no lack of confidence on Jennies part today. She smiled
with pride as her mother-in-law complimented her accomplishments derived
from creative and decorative talent. Not only did Gwen teach Jennie
the art of painting, it is interesting that this grandmother loves to
Any kid would love to have her for a grandma! Billy and Jennie have
three children with whom Grandma Gwen works in the business.
Josh, 15, attends Madison Consolidated High School. He is becoming an
expert on small cut-outs. Sarah, 14, attends Madison Junior High. She
enjoys painting (like Mom) and staining wood. Melissa was helping until
she joined the U.S. Navy. She now resides in Norfolk, Va.
All three have received awards for their crafting efforts. The girls
attained Re-serve Grand Champion and Josh accomplished the Grand Cham-pion
award at the county fair.
Bill was an integral leader of the Jefferson County Fair Board for 19
years. Gwen helps with the Pilot Club of Madisons events.
Three of the Kellers work at the Madison State Hospital. Bill has been
an employee there for 10 years doing carpentry. Gwen has worked with
adolescents for five years. Billys 13 years have been in geriatrics.
The Kellers say the difficult aspects of owning a business are time
and financial concerns. The Kellers have kept busy making their wood
items in a shop at home and participating in craft festivals.
Commercial landlords Jeff and Mary Burleson helped the Kellers by establishing
a healthy business relationship in a good downtown location.
Their customers include locals, tourists and many repeat tourists. All
ages take an interest in the Kellers merchandise. Other shop owners
have helped, and trade shows prove beneficial and enjoyable.
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