Peter Kelly, Jr.: Who’s the Daddy, Part 1

Now that I’m 97 percent certain I’m researching the right Kelley/Kelly family, my next task is narrowing down potential fathers.

Using Peter Kelly’s will, I determined that two of his sons, Peter Junior and John, could be my third great-grandfather’s father.

I had already known that Elizabeth Enoch had a brother named Peter because they were mentioned in a biography of Elizabeth’s husband, John.

Peter Kelly, Junior, was born in Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia, in 1799. He moved to Logan County with his family in 1820 when he was 21 years old. He married Sarah “Sally” Smith in Logan County in 1822.

The Ancestry community in general believes he and Sally had Mary in 1823, Jeremiah in 1824, Henry in 1826, Elizabeth in 1829, and John in 1830.

In the 1830 census, he is listed as having 2 sons between the ages of 5 and 9 and 1 son under the age of 5. Jeremiah and Henry are probably the two sons between 5 and 9; John is probably the one under age 5.

As the History of Champaign and Logan County excerpt above states, Peter Kelly was a county sheriff, not an easy job so early in the European history there. At the Logan County Library in Bellefontaine, Ohio, I confirmed that a Peter Kelly served as sheriff of the county twice: from 1831 to 1834 and again from 1839 to 1840. The couple had more children that I won’t mention here because I am only concerned about his children born around 1825.

In 1840, he has 1 son between 15 and 19 and 2 sons between 10 and 14, which corresponds with Jeremiah, Henry, and John’s birthdates.

In 1850, everyone except Jeremiah is present and living in the same county they were in the previous censuses.

A newspaper clipping index I discovered at the Logan County Historical Society lists a Judge Peter Kelly (Junior) dying in West Liberty, Ohio, on 10 December 1856 of Lung Fever. He was in his 58th year and was a native of Augusta County, Virginia. The index says this information was in the 12 December 1856 edition of the Bellefontaine Republic newspaper. I need to find this obituary because an index isn’t a strong source.

Findagrave confirms a Peter Kelly was buried in Fairview Cemetery in West Liberty, Ohio, in 1856. He is next to Sarah Kelly, Elizabeth, and Belle, and his other children are also linked in his record. They are Sarah Kennedy, Anna Deck, Martha Patterson, and John Kelly.

Analysis: I don’t think Peter Junior is likely to be the father of my ancestor John Kelley, who was born (most documents agree) in July 1825.

1. The censuses agree as to the number of sons Peter had in 1830, 1840, and 1850, and they consistently match the ages of Peter’s known children.

2. Peter’s son Jeremiah became a well-respected reverend in this county. His life is well documented. He was born in October 1824, exactly nine months before my John Kelley relative was born. It’s possible Sally bore two sons that close together, but not probable.

3. Peter and Sarah named a son John in 1830. It’s possible they named two sons the same name, but not probable.

4. As an upstanding member of the community—earning a mention in his brother-in-law’s biography I might add—Peter Kelly and his family would be well recorded even at this early time. All of his living children would have been recorded.

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