John Kelly, son of Peter and Mary: Who’s the Daddy, Part 2

So with Peter Kelly, Jr, off my potential daddy list, I turn to his brother, John.

According to a family bible and his father’s will, John Kelly, son of Peter and his first wife Sarah Burgis, was born July 18, 1781, in Shenandoah County, Virginia. He married Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 2.10.53 PMElisabeth Loar in Augusta County, Virginia, on May 6, 1803. He and Betsy had two children: Polly, born in 1804 in Staunton, and Nathaniel, born in 1806 in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia).

John married Susannah Osborn on August 3, 1806, in Greenbrier County. (Since John remarried the same year Nathaniel was born, I am inclined to believe Elisabeth died in childbirth.) Susannah was the daughter of a well-known Baptist minister, Josiah Osborn. A biography of one of their sons states that John and Susannah had 12 children. I have only been able to nail down 6 from records so far: John in 1807, Sallie in 1809, Elizabeth in 1812, Martha in 1814, Peter in 1816, and Harriet in 1819. Other researchers of this family have listed children younger than Harriet, but how do we know whose children they are. As you will read in the next paragraphs, this family was big into housing extended family. In 1820, the family moved near Bellefontaine, Ohio.

There’s a John Kelly in the Logan County census records for the years 1820, 1830, and 1840. As this family has so many Johns in it, I wasn’t sure these records were for this John Kelly and his family. Remember that censuses before 1850 listed just the head of household’s name and their families were recorded as hash marks representing their age and sex.

The 1820 census has 8 people total in the family. The hash marks match the ages of John and Susannah’s children. The only kids missing are Polly and Nathaniel, John’s children by his first marriage, who would have been 16 and 14 years old. It could be that they may have stayed behind in Virginia with other family members.

The 1830 census lists 18 people in John Kelly’s house. That’s certainly more than the 14 (12 children, 2 parents) I was expecting. But even 14 is too many because it assumes John and Susannah had a dozen children who survived. Three of the new people are easily spotted; there are a thirty, a sixty and a seventy-year-old man in the hashes. Their presence on the census makes me believe John is housing more than one family—probably his or his wife’s parents and a brother or brother-in-law. Four of John’s children would be in their twenties at this time so they may not be living with their parents. Most interesting, there’s a boy between 5 and 9 years old, and a boy under 5 years old on the record. My John Kelley ancestor was born in 1825 or 1826. More on this in a few paragraphs.

John’s family is back down to 8 people in the 1840 census. Of course, most of his children were married and gone by this time. Harriet, the youngest daughter that I know of so far, would be 21. I looked ahead and noticed she would marry in 1842. There is a 90-year-old man listed. The two boys listed in the 1830 census also appear on this census, ten years older. Could one of them be my John Kelley?

John the elder’s wife passed away in 1844.

In the 1850 census, John is listed with people this time. John is 68, Martha Price is 36, Jonathan Yeck is 18, Mary Ann Williams is 16, John Price is 9, and Harriet Fuson is under the age of 1. I’ve verified that Martha is this John Kelly’s daughter, and Harriet Fuson is his granddaughter. I’m not sure who the others are yet. The fact that this is the right man in the right county makes me think the previous censuses are also him. My thinking here is, if we know he moved there in 1820 and he is listed there in 1850, he most likely stayed there in between.

In the winter of 1859, John Kelly dies in Logan County.

Analysis:

I can’t rule out this John Kelly as the father of my ancestor.

Reasons I’m leaning toward him not being the daddy: John Senior already has a son named John. The family bible lists Senior’s children rather meticulously; there are only 8 births listed, which leads me to believe 4 children did not survive birth.

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 2.14.43 PM.png
page 9 from the family bible in my possession (but procured from Margaret Gerdeman)

On the other hand, John was 43 in 1825 when my ancestor was born, so he could still have children. My ancestor named one of his son’s John Henry Osborn, which makes me think there’s a connection to Susannah. There’s the question of the missing six children John and Susannah are to have had, and the question of the two boys in the 1830 and 1840, who may be John’s or maybe somebody else’s. Of course, there’s also the possibility that John and Betsy or Susannah are my ancestor’s grandparents. John’s sons Nathaniel and John Junior are old enough to be my ancestor’s father. I guess I have my Who’s The Daddy? Parts 3 and 4 now.

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