Kitty and the Two Johns

This is the third entry in an on-going series of pretty much me writing out all of the weird stuff I’m finding about my third great-grandmother, Kitty James Bellamy James. To start this link, click here.

This post continues to discuss the research question: What were the names of Kitty’s parents?

So I narrowed Kitty’s father down to four men in my last post. After researching them further, I only found verifiable facts about two of them: John Jacobi James and his son, John Samuel James. I plugged John Senior and his wife into my Ancestry family tree to see if any DNA matches came up.

After seeing that I matched 13 of John James Senior’s descendants, I took a step further and plugged in John Senior’s parents’ names. I had 7 matches to 5 of John Senior’s siblings.

And I went back another generation and found that I matched to 8 descendants of John Senior’s grandparents. GRANDPARENTS!

We’re talking about people born in a section of the Holy Roman Empire known as Germania in 1714. There is no doubt in my mind that if John Jacobi James isn’t Catherine’s father then he must be her grandfather or uncle.

To read more findings, click here.


1. Personal records from DNA test.

Kitty James and the Unknown Parents

This is a continuation of my research on my 3rd great-grandmother, Kitty James Bellamy James. For the start of this thread, click here.

In this post, I am writing about my findings to the research question: What were the names of Kitty James’s parents?

If Kitty married in Gallia County when she was a teenager, it stands to reason that her family was living nearby. Right? Running with that theory, I gathered the names of all the Jameses in the county in 1820. My research for 1810 didn’t go very far because early records for Ohio are spotty.

I work in Excel spreadsheets. It’s just who I am.

Five Jameses lived in Gallia County in 1820: Bartlet, John in Gallipolis, John in Green Township, Joseph, and Henry. Let’s look at them one at a time.

Bartlet is 27-45 years old and living with a woman 19-26. I’m thinking because of the age of the woman and the lack of kids in the house that Bartlet is on the lower edge of the age range and newly married.

John of Gallipolis is between 27-45 with two women in the same age range. There are three children under the age of 10 and a young woman who is 19-26 in the house. With an older John nearby, I am thinking this is John Junior.

John of Green Township is over 46 years old living with a man and a woman between 27-45, two men between 19-26, a woman between 17-18, a girl between 11-16, and a boy under 10. According to the Gallia County Cemetery records, John James died June 1, 1845, in Gallia County at 92 years old. His wife Julia Ann died in 1851 at 83 years of age.

Joseph is over 46 years old living with 3 people between 19-26 and 8 kids under 16. This is pretty clearly a 3-generation household.

Henry is 27-45 living with a woman 19-26. No children in the house makes me think Henry is in the lower end of the age range and newly married.

Map of Gallia County Townships. Source: Wikipedia

Next, I researched all of the Jameses who married in Gallia County around the time of Kitty’s marriage in 1816 in the hope of compiling a list of possible siblings. I found four people with the last name James—Rachel, Polly, Henry, and Elizabeth.

  • Rachel married Jesse Allison in 1813
  • Polly married Samuel Boggs in 1815
  • Elizabeth married Samuel Callahan in 1818
  • Henry married Susan Williams in 1819 (my inferences about him above were correct!)

Interesting that the surnames of the non-James grooms match maiden names and middle names of people I found death information for. Interesting that the name Kitty gave her third son was Bartlett. Interesting that has a family tree for John and Julia James. Very interesting that I found DNA matches to descendants of two of the circled people below.

Entry for John Jacobi James on

For more of my findings, click this.

1. Federal Census Year: 1820. Location: Springfield, Green, Gallipolis, and Harrison Twp, Gallia County, Ohio; NARA Roll: M33_88; Image: 81. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.
2. Ohio Marriages 1800-1956, Film 004016313,
3. John Jacobi James profile on GQH1H-H1H.
4. Julia Ann Callaghan profile on L71R-6JB.
5. Personal records from DNA test.

Kitty James and Child Marriage

In the little free time I’ve had lately, I’ve been focusing on my 3rd paternal great-grandmother, Catherine “Kitty” James Bellamy James. No, the second James isn’t a mistake. All evidence points to Kitty’s second husband having the same surname as her maiden name. Whether or not they were cousins has yet to be proven (that I’m aware of).

My first question about Kitty was what year she was born.

Her age jumps around a lot from census to census. From them, though, I gleaned a range from 1796 to 1810. They consistently give Virginia as her birth state.

She first appears in a document by name when she married Elliot Bellamy or Bellomy in Gallia County, Ohio, just across the river from West Virginia.


Richard Newman and Polly Rickman.
Elliot Bellamy and Kitty James:
The State of Ohio, Gallia County.

I do hereby certify that Richard Newman and Polly Rickman was lawfully joined together in the holy bonds of matrimony, on the 15th day of August 1816, by me the undersigned; Also Elliot Bellamy and Kitty James, on the first day of September, was lawfully joined together in the holy bonds of wedlock in this present month, by me.

David Robertson J.P.

[End of transcription]

According to later records, Kitty would have been anywhere from 6–21 years old on her wedding day. Gallia County was frontier in 1816, so I can’t imagine marriage laws were very strict, but I doubt they’d let a 6 year old marry.

Unlike his peers, Justice Robertson did not expressly state that the wives whose marriages he officiated were of legal age. But he does use the term legal. I couldn’t find a specific age of consent law for Ohio for 1816, but I did find that the age of consent for women in Ohio in 1851 was 14 (p. 213; Statute 24). Probably Kitty was at least 12, so I’m putting her birth year between 1796 and 1804.

A year and a day after her marriage she had her first son, William, named for Elliot’s father. William’s birthdate was etched into his tombstone, and the 1820 and 1830 censuses corroborate that she had two living children before 1820. Doing the math, it seems she was pregnant three months after the wedding. Her quick pregnancy supports my inference that Kitty was at least 12 years old (probably older).

I know. I only covered Kitty’s birthdate in this post, not her whole life. I’m sorry. I write short things, and Ive been researching Kitty for a long, long time so I have a lot to say. For the next part of my research, click here.


1. Elliot Bellamy household. Federal Census Year: 1820. Location: Ohio Twp, Gallia County, Ohio; NARA Roll: M33_88; Image: 81. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.

2. Elliot Bellamy household. Federal Census Year: 1830. Location: Harrison Twp, Gallia County, Ohio; Series: M19; Roll: 131; Page: 126; Family History Library Film: 0337942. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.

3. Jacob James household. Federal Census Year: 1840. Location: Green Twp, Gallia County, Ohio; Roll: 395; Page: 61; Family History Library Film: 0020165. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.

4. Jacob James household. Federal Census Year: 1850; Census Place: Nile Twp, Scioto, Ohio; Roll: M432_727; Page: 74A. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.

5. Jacob James household. Federal Census Year: 1870; Census Place: Clay, Harrison, Missouri; Roll: M593_. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.

6. Frank Young household. Iowa State Census Year: 1885; Location: Ward 2, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.

7. Ohio County Marriage Records, 1774-1993; Film Number: 000317652; Page: 32. Elliot Bellamy and Kitty James, Gallia County, Ohio, 1 Sep 1816. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020.

8. Century Publishing of the American Digest, West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1902. Page 213, Statute 24. Accessed on Google Books, 7 Mar 2020 (

9. “Child Marriage, Common In the Past, Persists Today,” Andrea Dukakis, Colorado Public Radio, 4 Apr 2017. Accessed on, 7 Mar 2020 (

Mysterious Poisoning

Mysterious Poisoning.png

Minnie Benner is my 3rd great-grandmother. Paris green, also known as Schweinfurt green, emerald green, or Vienna green, is an insecticide, rodenticide, and pigment invented in 1814 in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Article: “Mysterious Poisoning,” Evansville Journal (Evansville, IN), 17 Mar 1896, p. 1, col. 2, art. 2. Accessed on, 19 Dec 2019.

photo credit: Wikipedia commons



Members of the Benner Family Ill.

Paris Green Though to Be the Cause of the Attack.

Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Minnie Benner and her daughter, Anna Benner, living at 1007 Outer Fifth avenue, were taken suddenly ill. They symptoms were those of poisoning, and a physician was at once called.

The suspicions of the ladies were verified by the medical attendant, who told them they had probably taken something poisonous in their food. The two ladies were very ill, and for a time the attack threatened to prove fatal. They are thought to be out of danger now.

The only explanation for the poisoning is that there might have been some Paris green on the potatoes, which had been a part of their dinner. Another member of the family felt the effects of the poison slightly, and those three were the only ones of the family to partake of the potatoes at the meal. The others felt no ill effects.


And She’s Dead Again

Two weeks ago, I wrote that finding an obituary had resurrected my 2x great-grandmother, Fannie Grace. This post won’t make much sense if you don’t read that post first.

I found an obituary of another of Fannie’s brothers.

This time Mary, who I believed to be my 2nd great-grandmother, has the last name Elder, has moved to Oklahoma, and had been identified as a half-sister to Willis Grace. I know that Thomas Grace, the brother whose obituary appeared in the previous post, and Willis are full brothers to my 2nd great-grandmother, Fannie, so I did a little more digging.

Turns out that, while I was correct that Fannie’s father did not have any other daughters, I had forgotten that Fannie’s mother, Rachel Boyt Grace, had been married previously.

So Mary Price Elder is my half-2nd great-grandaunt, Mary McGinnis.

And my 2nd great-grandmother, Fannie Grace Romine, is presumed to have died between 1901 and 1910. This theory is strengthened by the fact that on Fannie’s son’s (my great-grandfather’s) death certificate a different woman is listed as his mother. It seems like Fannie’s name would be there if she had been around much in her son’s life.

A Resurrection

A while back, I plugged in a simple family tree on the genealogy website MyHeritage and signed up for their notification emails. I like that, even though I’m not a paying member, the emails update me on records the site has found for my ancestors.

Here’s a recent one I received showing a hit on a 2nd great-granduncle, Thomas Grace:

As you can see, this newspaper hit is for an article that ran in Prescott, Arizona, but I know that Thomas Grace lived near Parma, Missouri, all his life. Why would a Missouri man’s obituary run in an Arizona newspaper?

Since I’m not a member of My Heritage, I searched on the internet and found free issues of the Prescott Evening Courier on Google Newspapers.

This article is from the November 12, 1938, edition of the newspaper.

Turns out Tommy is mentioned because his daughter, Trulia Grace Head (that’s a whopper of a name, right?), and his brother Charles were living in Prescott at the time.

This standard funeral notice is an ASTOUNDING find for me because it resurrected an ancestor that I had presumed dead.

My 2nd great-grandmother is Fanny Grace. She appears with my great-grandfather in the 1900 census. But in the 1910 census, she disappears.

Her husband, Edward Romine, had remarried in 1901. In most of her son Albert Clayton’s records, Edward’s second wife is listed as his mother. So, I concluded that Fannie had passed away.

But, Nate, no one named Fanny is listed in this obituary.

True. But listed in the survivors is a sister named Mary Price. The thing is, based on Fannie and Thomas’s father’s military records, Thomas only had one sister. Fannie.

So I believe Mary and Fannie are the same person. Perhaps my great-grandmother’s full name was Mary Frances Grace.

There are a few things I can do now that I know Thomas had a sister living in 1938. I can search for Mary Prices, which you know I already tried. There’s only one Mary Price in Nevada, Missouri, in the 1940 census, and I’ve proven she isn’t my gal.

I can try to find divorce records from around 1900 from the Parma area now that I know Fannie didn’t die. I can check the obituaries of Fanny’s siblings who passed after Tommy to see if she is listed and where she is living. I can check the Missouri Vital Records website to see if any Mary Prices are my 2nd great-grandmother.

Do you have any other suggestions? I would love to hear them!

Sources for this entry will appear here shortly.

Telling Me What I Need to Hear: Charles Kelley

I’ll be honest. This summer has been rough. Nothing serious. Just several unexpected life changes happening in the course of a month that have upset my very routined life. It’s been the kind of time where I’ve had to stop and remind myself of the things that ARE going well, you know?

Yeah. You know.

Okay, so keep that in mind while I tell you about my great-grand uncle, Charles Russell Kelley.

Charley was born near Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in July 1871. He was the eighth child and fourth son of John W. and Eliza Hurd Kelley. When he was four, he moved with his family to the western edge of Iowa. His parents were farmers, and they settled in Lewis Township, just outside Council Bluffs. He went to school, of course, and, when he was 21, married Mary Cleary, the daughter of an Irish immigrant who worked for the railroad. Charley and Mary married across the river in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1892. Quite a few of the Kelley siblings married there. Perhaps it was the fashion to go to the big city to tie the knot, or maybe that’s where the Kelleys attended church. In either case, they settled in Council Bluffs proper afterward.

The couple had two children: Charles Jr., born in 1893, and Florence May, born in 1897. Charley was listed as a teamster—someone who drove a team of work animals for a living—in the 1900 census. Not the most lucrative of jobs, but they must have been doing all right because they had a servant to help take care of their children.

In 1910, Charley was a caller at the railroad. If my research is correct, he was the one that announced arrivals and departures at the train station.

In April 1912, he was appointed as a detective in the Council Bluffs police department.

He and his partner, Joe Rauterkus, saw all sides of their small city while solving crimes to be sure. According to city records, they dealt with a lot of burglary, assaults, and domestic disputes. Not a lot of murders in the small Midwestern town. Every day after work, Charley would take the bus home to his family and have dinner. He had worked hard for this life, moving up incrementally from farmer to teamster to become a cop when he was 41 years old. He found that the police force demanded an energy that is more plentiful in a younger person.

One day in the winter of 1927, Charley woke up, washed himself, had breakfast, and said goodbye to Mary and the kids. The usual. He got on the bus, probably thinking about the day ahead, and completely unaware what was in store for him.

Council Bluffs Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, IA), 9 Dec 1927, page 7, column 7-8, item 1.

Detective Kelley laid in bed for two weeks after his stroke, being cared for by family and friends who most likely knew what was coming. People prayed for him in churches and delivered food to the family. What a terrible time it must have been for them. Everything falling apart in the time it takes to ride the bus to work.

Yes, the moral here is a bit cliched.

Don’t take any of it for granted, all the Christmas stories tell us. Every second is precious, the self-help books profess. But I think the reason we hear that message so much is because WE NEED TO HEAR IT SO MUCH.

I certainly needed to hear it. Yeah, I’m unemployed and have some health issues. But that’s temporary. I can walk outside right now and take the bus anywhere I like. I can have dinner with my loved ones at the drop of a hat. I can still have that nice, quiet life because I’ve worked hard to move incrementally up the career ladder, despite my work being better suited perhaps to someone much younger than my 44 years. These are important reminders. All is not lost.

Sources for this post will be here shortly.

This was written for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors. #52Ancestors

Satisfaction: Following the Kelleys to Iowa, Part 7

In Part 6, I found documents proving that Mary Stewart and my great-grandfather John Kelley were more than friends and neighbors. My cousin also found bible records listing John Kelley’s birth and marriage in a Stewart family bible. It was pretty safe to infer that John Kelley was Mary Stewart’s son, but we didn’t have anything that said it outright.

Later that night, my cousin was on Ancestry researching all of the new family members we’d just learned about. After leaving York County, Nebraska, Mary Stewart moved to Chehalis County (now Grays Harbor County), Washington Territory. Her son, Walter King, and her daughter, Elizabeth Stewart Tyler, were both living in the Montesano area in 1883 when she passed away. We found the following obituary in the York Republican (York County, Nebraska) on March 21, 1883:

Died, at Montesano, Washington Ter., Febr 12th 1883, Mrs Mary Warren Stewart, age 85 years.  The deceased, a cousin of Thomas Burgess, was born at Windham, Conn.  She came to York County with her son J. H. Stewart, of Stewart Precinct, in 1868, sharing with him the rigors of the wild pioneer live.  Eight years ago she went to Washington Ter.

Two facts are mentioned in the obituary that we hadn’t known before: the name Warren, and Thomas Burgess. Is Warren Mary’s middle name? Is it a married name? It certainly feels like a family name, but so far we have turned up no Warrens in her lineage.

And then there’s Thomas Burgess. Mary’s aunts on her father’s side did not marry any Burgesses. That leaves her mother’s side, the Flowerses. I don’t know much about them yet, but the name Burgess gives me a place to start. To be named so prominently in Mary’s obituary, Thomas must have been a big deal in York County. He should be pretty easy to find.

The last name Burgess is also interesting because John Kelley’s unknown father probably has Burgess relatives. Long story short: The descendants of John Kelley (me included) share DNA with descendants of several children of a Sarah Burgess and Abraham Kelly. They are most likely John’s paternal grandparents. Could it be that Mary Stewart and John’s father were related?

While all of these questions were swirling in our heads, my cousin found the will of one of the people listed in the family bible, Walter King. In it, he gives some of his estate in Washington Territory to a familiar person:

“I hereby give and bequeath to my half brother John W Kelly, one third of my property…”

There it is! It’s not Mary saying John is her son, but it is very close. Walter’s will goes on to bequeath the other two-thirds of his estate to his half brothers, J. H. Stewart and Thomas Stewart, thereby linking the four men.

I’ve personally been trying to track down John’s parents for 10 years. This blog has at least 20 entries on the dead ends I’ve encountered and the false leads I have followed. I even started this blog series by researching an entirely different family! So this find is deeply satisfying. We know who John’s mother was. We know he had several siblings, some of whom lived near him. These are the kinds of finds that keep me digging into my family tree.

What’s even better? That descendant of Mary and James Stewart who gave us the bible pages sent us another treasure.

May I present my 4th great-grandmother, Mary Hibbard King Kelley Stewart.

Sources for this entry are here. Start at the beginning of this thread here.

Goldmine!: Following the Kelleys to Iowa, Part 6

In Part 5, I found a connection between my 2nd great-grandfather, John Kelley, and a woman named Mary Stewart while working at the Henry County Heritage Trust, which is the local Historical Society of sorts.

John and Mary had bought and sold land together in Henry County, Iowa. Together, they plopped down $750 to buy 44 acres of land in 1857. That’s a lot of money, and it suggests that John and Mary were more than just casually acquainted. They invested in their mutual livelihoods. Together, they were buying land where they and their families would live and work. Below is the contract of the land purchase.

But how do I know this is the right John Kelley? Well, there’s also a land sale record for the same acreage in 1864.

The underlined script reads “That we Mary Stewart & John Kelly and Eliza Kelly his wife…”

Then, we looked for other names in the records. We found several listings of sales and purchases for a Henry Hebard and an Ithamar Hibbard, who turned out to be Mary’s brother and cousin, respectively. (Side note: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mary’s grandparents, who gave their sons bizarre names: Ithamar, Ahimaaz, Ozias. It’s easier to find them in records.)

I was so excited by this find I immediately wrote my cousin to tell her the news. She hopped on Ancestry to dig up more information on Mary Stewart. She made so many more connections that night while I was packing up my stuff and driving out to what had been the Stewart/Kelley farm.

First off, my cousin found a DNA match on Ancestry to a descendant of Mary’s through the Stewart line. She wrote to the match, explained the possible connection to John Kelley, and asked if they had any information they could share.

The DNA match, who turned out to be the husband of Kathy Barber Morley, a descendant of Mary’s son Thomas Stewart, sent back this page from an old Stewart family bible.

Listed above are the birthdates of John and Mary Stuart, Walter D. King, John W Kelly (!), Mary M Kelly, Thomas H Stewart, Elizabeth Ann Stuart, J. H. Stewart, Barbery Stuart, and Loranzo H Stewart.


First off, John has a sister we didn’t know about. Mary. The years of John and Mary Kelly’s births also tell me that their parents were together for at least 8 years. Oh! and… AND! Based on those years, we know that the Kelly father was living in 1830, had a 30-year-old wife, and a 6-year-old son, which means we can look for this family in the 1830 census in Ohio. Maybe with this information we can figure out who John’s father was.

Secondly, the Stuart/Stewarts on this page are definitely John and Mary’s children. I know this because of census records and histories of the family. Not only are they listed in the same handwriting, they are listed in chronological order. I can think of no other explanation for this other than they are all Mary’s children.

But how do we know this is my ancestor John Kelley?

Here’s another page the DNA match sent from the Stewart family bible:

The date here matches the date of John Kelly and Eliza Hurd’s marriage record from Champaign County, Ohio, found in Ancestry and Familysearch. This gives us more information on John’s sister: she married a Criss McCluskey in 1850. We need to track her down. And we know Walter King married Elizabeth Jones in 1850 as well.

Holy cow! We’re 98% sure now that Mary Stewart is John Kelly’s mother. We just need something in writing saying as much. Stay tuned! There’s more to tell.

Read Part 7. Sources for this post are here.

Where to Start on Genealogy Trips: Following the Kelleys to Iowa, Part 5

I haven’t gone on many genealogy trips, but in all cases I’ve found the most noteworthy information at the local Historical or Genealogical Society.

Sure, the libraries have a room or a section dedicated to Local History. There will be marriage and death records, histories of the county, and some cemetery information there. But the librarians are not terribly eager to help.

When I asked for the genealogy information at the Mt Pleasant Library on the Friday morning of my trip, the librarian’s face dropped. She asked me if I just needed the room unlocked or if I needed help. She said that last part apprehensively. From her cue, I said I just needed the room unlocked, and she said, “Good,” and lifted her hands up to indicate the information desk behind her. “Because I’m the only one here until lunchtime.”

Okay. So. No tips from the librarian, I guess. Got it.

Later that day, I went over to the county courthouse. Since it was Friday and I was leaving Sunday, I knew it would be my only chance to find records there. The county clerk opened a room for me. There were books and files literally from floor to ceiling on two of the walls. It was intimidating. I just started looking through all the drawers marked “K” to find records on Kelleys, since that was the main family name I came to research. I found an heir book, a list of family members named in wills. That was interesting. I learned there was another John Kelley family in the town at some point. I spent three hours in there, but I didn’t find anything solid. I had no clue what to look for.

Counterpoint: On the Saturday afternoon of my Iowa trip, I went to the Henry County Heritage Trust. There I was helped by two genealogists who had done their own research using the information they housed. They were super knowledgable of their inventory and very eager to help.

Toward the end of five hours researching, one of the women pulls out this dusty book from the bottom of the files. I’m not paying much attention at first; I’m looking through newspapers for any mention of my family. After about 15 minutes, she says “Aha!” and she tugs my elbow.

It turns out the book was an index to all of the land sales in the county going back to the 1840s when Iowa was first opened to white people. In it, she found a record for John Kelley, his wife Eliza, and Mary Stewart (!) buying and selling land together.

There it was! The connection I’d been searching for. Since it was just an index, though, I had to ask her to go to the county courthouse the following Monday, after I’d returned to Chicago, to that very same room of books and drawers I’d been in, and look up the actual record.

Moral of the story: If you’re going on a trip to dig into your family tree, I highly recommend you go to the local History or Genealogy Center first, if possible. That way you can ask a local genealogist/historian about the records available, and you have a better idea of what to look for when you visit the library or the courthouse. The centers are usually volunteer run, though, so they may have limited hours.

I’m not trying to diss librarians or libraries here. Librarians are often underpaid and overworked, and libraries often have the largest collection of local history documents. I am just saying start with the local societies first.

Read Part 6. Sources can be found here.