I’m not starting with researching the two Johns—Milan John and Champaign John—for two reasons.
The first reason is John Kelley/Kelly is a common name, especially so in northern Ohio at the time. Take a look at this:
Guess why it’s called Kelleys Island. Yep, tons of Kelleys lived there in the mid-19th century. Milan, Ohio—the town Milan John hails from—is at the bottom edge of the map. For some reason, someone decided that Kelleys Island was in Erie County, the county that Milan is a part of. All of the other islands there belong to Sandusky County. Just my luck: the Kelleys on the island and the Kelleys in Milan show up in the same census.
The second reason I’m not researching Milan John and Champaign John right away is that I tried and got nothing.
My John Kelley relative married Eliza Hurd in Champaign County, Ohio, and moved to Iowa in 1854, staying put until he passed away in 1895. There is not one hint as to his roots in all of the documentation I’ve found on him.
Looking into Milan John and Champaign John in censuses PREVIOUS to 1850 isn’t an option until I know their fathers’ names. That’s because censuses before 1850 only named the head of household. The rest of the family was tallied into columns for their age group. So in the 1840 census, both Johns would be a number in the column “Male: 10-15 years old” in the box to the right of their fathers’ names.
Looking for Milan John AFTER 1850 turns up little. A John Kelley married a Fanny Daniels in Erie County in 1847. But, like I said, the county includes all of the Kelleys on the island, so who knows at this point if that’s Patrick and Tamar’s son.
My strategy is to track John’s siblings and hope I find records that list the family. Obituaries usually give names and places of residence. They also provide the married names of the sisters. Those married names will eventually help me search for DNA matches.
It makes sense for me to do the same for Champaign John. But my only lead there is Elizabeth Enoch. I have verified Elizabeth’s maiden name was Kelley (more on that later), but she is 23 years older than John. She was born in Virginia; John was born in Ohio. Is she a much older sister, or an aunt, or a cousin?
I don’t know.
And how do I know the other Kelley family researchers are wrong? Maybe someone did the research and proved it, but didn’t post any of their documentation on the site. My theory that Milan John isn’t my guy is just that: a theory. Better to look into commonly held line first in this case, I think.
That’s why I’m taking a circuitous route to first prove Milan John isn’t my ancestor.
Sources for this post are here.
Read Part 4 here.