The Kelleys, Father and Son

Imagine arriving home after two years of fighting in a war only to have your family send you away again to complete a devastating task.

That’s the story of my relative David Kelly or Kelley*.

In 1814, David arrived home near what is now Urbana, Ohio, after serving in the War of 1812. He walked in the door all Fred Flintstone-like with the wife and kids and pet stegosaurus running out to greet him. And after they all kissed and hugged, his young brothers put his coat back on his shoulders and shoved him out the door.

A cabin built in 1806 in London, Ohio, near where David Kelly settled. Source: Ohio History Connection

At the same time David was traveling, his father Abraham was also walking home from the war. Sixty five years old, the father of fourteen children, and a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Abraham must have had some piss and vinegar for the Brits to have gone out to fight again.

There was a lot for him to be mad at. Decades after the Revolutionary War, British soldiers still occupied American territory. Britain was capturing American sailors, about 10,000 in all, and forcing them to work for the British cause. Some Native American tribes, rightfully concerned about land encroachment, allied themselves with the British to stop American land expansion. With multiple enemies, Americans found themselves fighting on several fronts: the Atlantic coast, the Canadian border, New Orleans, and the Midwestern frontier.

My people, David and Abraham Kelly, were probably walking home from the Michigan Territory, where the American colonel in charge of invading Canada from the west ran from British and Native American troops and surrendered Fort Detroit without a shot fired. How embarrassing.

An Ohio militia camp during the War of 1812. Source: Library of Congress

So that’s what David had just survived when he hit the road again, walking or riding southeast to Pickaway County, Ohio. 24 miles later, a farm owner showed David to the barn where he found the body of his father wrapped in a blanket. Not nearly as happy a homecoming as David had just received.

David Kelly, later in life

The following is an excerpt of the source article. It is a biography of Abraham’s youngest son and David’s little brother, Joseph.

*Probably. David Kelly is probably my relative. I don’t know how yet, but I’m linked genetically to three of his children and two of his brothers. It’s all a game of darts at this point.

Sources: Early History and Pioneers of Champaign County (Illinois), Milton W. Mathews and Lewis A. McLean, pp. 61-62, biography of Joseph Thornton Kelley, Champaign County Herald, Urbana, Illinois, 1886. Accessed 12 Apr 2021 on Google Books (

War of 1812, Jeanne T. Heidler, Encyclopedia Brittanica article. Accessed on 21 Apr 2021 (

“He is a coward”, National Park Service article, Department of the Interior. Accessed 21 Apr 2021 (

Something About Mary: Following the Kelleys to Iowa, Part 2

I suspect a woman named Mary Stewart is my 3rd great-grandmother. Read Part 1 to find out why. This post is all about me speculating if it could be true. Fun!

Mary Stewart, was born in Windham, Connecticut, on February 9, 1799 to Ozias Hibbard or Hebard and Polly Flower. According to her father’s census records, her family moved to Union County, Ohio, by 1830. Union County borders Champaign and Logan Counties on its west. In other words, the Hibbards lived very close to the Kelleys and Hurds in west-central Ohio.

She married John Stewart in Logan County, Ohio, in 1833. She was 34 years old; he was 55. They had five children: Thomas, Ann, James, Barbara, and Lorenzo. John Stewart passed away in 1855, which probably was the reason the rest of the Stewart family moved to Iowa with the Kelleys and Hurds a year later.

By 1870, the widow Stewart and her family lived in York County, Nebraska. York County had recently been the frontier. The village they lived near was called Stewartville because Mary’s son James was a semi-famous frontiersman who had founded the town. He knew and rode with such historic figures as Kit Carson and Jim Beckwourth. Probably due to James’s wandering nature, the Stewarts didn’t stay long. Mary was buried in Montesano, Washington, on February 12, 1883.

How does her story fit into my 2nd great-grandfather, John Kelley’s?

John was born in 1825, so eight years before Mary married John Stewart. She would have been 26 at his birth, which is plenty of time to have been married to another person and have a family. Mary’s son that I mentioned in Part 1 was 3 years older than my John Kelley. He must have been a step-son from John Stewart’s first marriage.

We’ve established that John Kelley and Mary Stewart were living near Urbana, Ohio, in 1850. They were neighbors in Henry County, Iowa, from 1856 to before 1870. It seems the Kelleys stayed in Henry County longer than the Stewarts. But in 1880, the Kelleys had moved west to Council Bluffs, Iowa, three counties away from the Stewarts in York County, Nebraska. The best part about that census, though, is the fact that John’s mother’s place of birth is recorded for the first time on any document (check the far right column):

So exciting, right? I’ve never been so happy to see the abbreviation Conn for Connecticut! The same state Mary Stewart was born in. But how else can I prove my theory that Mary Hibbard is John’s mother? Who is John’s father? Did John have brothers and sisters?

It wouldn’t be fair to not mention my cousin and friend Cathy and our new friend Kate, a genealogist friend of a Kelley relative. We arrived at different parts of this theory and synthesized the information together. I’m just the one recording it. Thanks, Cathy and Kate!

Read Part 3. Also, sources are on my Sources page.

A Lead!: Following the Kelleys to Iowa, Part 1

Last October, I visited Urbana, Ohio, to look into my 2nd great-grandparents, John Kelley and Eliza Hurd Kelley. More specifically, I went to figure out who John’s parents were because I was pretty sure they weren’t the couple most Ancestry researchers said they were. You can read about my trip and my ultimate conclusions starting with this post.

I’m getting ready for another research trip to the town John Kelley and his family settled in when they left the Urbana area in 1856 or so. I’m heading to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, which is in the southeastern corner of the state.

I’ve already figured out the people I need to research while I’m there. In addition to the Kelley family, Eliza Hurd Kelley’s father William and his family followed them there by 1859. But the biggest reason I’m going there is to try to find out more about this person:

What does a woman named Mary Stewart have to do with the Kelley and Hurd families?

Oooo. This is the fun puzzle-y part!

Mary Stewart and her husband James were living in the Urbana, Ohio, area in 1850 in the same township where I believe John was living. And she appears in Jackson Township, Henry County, Iowa, in the 1856 Iowa census, five households away from John Kelley. So they probably moved together.

You can’t see it in the picture above, but Mary here is part of a pattern in the census pages. Four households ahead of her is my 35-year-old great-grandfather John Kelley. Two households ahead is William Hurd, John’s father-in-law. And two households after Mary is William Hurd’s oldest son. The every-other house pattern seems to indicate that the census taker was crossing the street zigzag-style as he worked, instead of recording one side and then the other, which means John, William, Mary, and John Hurd were next-door neighbors.

Don’t you think there’s something about Mary living BETWEEN the two Hurd households that hints at a closer relationship than just neighbors?

You probably see where I’m heading here, but just because Mary moved from Ohio with my family doesn’t mean she’s also family. Right? Just looking at this census page, how could a widowed woman with the last name Stewart and a son three years OLDER than my John Kelley be his mother?

Read Part 2. Sources are on my Sources page.

Nathaniel Kelly, son of John and Elizabeth: Who’s The Daddy, Part 3

Candidate #3 on my list of potential 3rd great-grandfathers is Nathaniel Kelly, son of John Kelly and his first wife, Elizabeth Loar or Lohr.

Nathaniel Kelly was born January 13, 1806, in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia). He married Margaret Smith in Logan County, Ohio, on June 30, 1831, at the age of 25.

Logan County Marriage Records 1774–1993,

The 1840 census has Nathaniel living in Lake Township, Logan County, Ohio, with a woman his age, who I assume is Margaret. There is also a boy between 10 and 14 and a girl under 5 in his household.

In 1850, Nathaniel and Margaret are in Monroe Township, Logan County, Ohio. They are listed immediately after his brothers: Peter, John Senior. Included in the couple’s household are Samuel Smith, aged 28, who I assume is a relative of Margaret’s, and Sarah Burgess, aged 9. The ages of these two don’t match the ages of the boy and girl in 1840. Also, Sarah Burgess is a name that has come up before in two places: Nathaniel’s grandmother’s name, and the wife of Abraham Kelly, another prominent Kelly in the county who I believe is related.

Nathaniel’s death is not known at the time I write this. His wife remarries a man in 1867, which most likely means Nathaniel passed away before then. His missing name from the 1860 census may mean he passed before 1860. 


I can’t rule Nathaniel out as the father of my ancestor, John W. Kelley.

Arguments against include the family bible only listing one marriage for him. Since Nathaniel married Margaret six years after my ancestor was born, Margaret is probably not the mother. 

Arguments for include that Nathaniel was within the age range, lived in the area, and had a boy living with him in 1840 that is about John’s age at that time. Nathaniel was 25 years old when he married, so that leaves room for him to have had another wife and family.

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.


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.

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.

Elizabeth’s Obituary: The Two John Kelleys, Part 13

Start at the beginning or just go back to Part 12.

I found an obituary for Elizabeth Kelley Enoch. It’s not terribly helpful. I have confirmation now that her husband was well-known. The article’s mention of his business and the fact that her obituary appears in a town 150 miles from where she lived tells me the Enochs were known. Also that John did business in Cincinnati. I know now that Elizabeth died of pneumonia. And I can safely assume that the West Liberty newspaper ran this article, probably with more details since that was her local paper.

Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 3.37.31 PM.png

Sources for this post can be found here.

Looking Up: The Two John Kelleys, Part 12

Start at the beginning or just go back to Part 11.

In my hunt for finding Elizabeth Kelley Enoch’s family, I’m homing in on the basics. I want to start with when was Elizabeth was born.

The 1850 census says she was born in Virginia and she was 47 years old. That means her birth year was 1802 or 1803. I find her in Salem Township, Champaign County, Ohio, in the 1860 and 1870 censuses. Her birth year is consistent at 1802 or 1803, and her birthplace is listed in both as Virginia. has a listing of an Elizabeth Enoch at the Mount Tabor Church Cemetery in Mingo, Champaign County, Ohio.

The county is right; the husband is right. The page also lists children buried nearby and their names match up as well. Doing the math on the gravestone, Elizabeth would have been born 9 April 1803. Those age breakdowns on gravestones are so exact I tend to trust them.

Plugging her and John’s name into the family search database, I pull up a death record.

This is the death record of Elizabeth and John’s son John Enoch III. It states that Elizabeth was born in Augusta County, Virginia. With that lead in mind, I go to Google looking for Kelleys in Augusta County. That’s where I find this:

These are a few pages from The Papers of John C. Enoch III, Sterling, Kentucky, a book by an Enoch family member! How perfect is that? I immediately see the info here matches what I’ve come up with so far. Looks like John Enoch Sr.’s death might be a typo since this page says he died three years before his first child was born. But mistakes happen. We have Elizabeth’s parents’ names, though. I notice, though, that this book either doesn’t have source documentation or it isn’t on a page that Google books allows me to see. So this info isn’t the most reliable at this point.

Further down on my list of Google hits, I find the following excerpt from David Enoch Family in Ohio, 1798–1953:

He [John Enoch, Jr.] lived with his family and aided in the operation of the mill at West Liberty until his marriage, which important event in his life occured on the 25th of July, 1822, the lady of his choice being Elizabeth Kelley, a native of Augusta County, Virginia, born in 1803. Her parents were Peter and Mary Mole Kelley. Mrs. Enoch came to Logan County, Ohio, with her parents, at the age of seventeen year, the family locating near West Liberty. There Mr. Kelley was engaged…

It’s an unfortunate place for an ellipses. What was Mr. Kelley engaged in? That’s the info I want to know! Mental note: Somewhere there’s a record where that paragraph continues! Argh.

There’s so much more about the Enoch family in this book, including:

He [John Enoch, Jr.] was married to Miss Kelly, a sister to Peter Kelly, now deceased, formerly Sheriff of Logan County.

The good news is that this book is well-documented. And now I know that Elizabeth left Virginia to live in Ohio with her parents in 1820. And she has a brother named Peter who was the sheriff in town. That’s quite a bit to go on. Things are looking good!

Sources for this post can be found here.

Starting Over: The Two John Kelleys, Part 11

Start at the beginning or just go back to Part 10.

Okay, then. We have one DNA match to the Enoch family. I want to look again at the 1850 census in Champaign County, Ohio, where a John Kelley is listed with them.

John Enoch household 1850 census

My first question is: Are Champaign John and the Enochs related? Or, put another way, is Elizabeth Enoch a Kelley?

Enoch and Kelley marriage record.png

Transcript: Marriage Licence Given to John Enoch & Betsy Kelly – 26 July 1822 groom of lawfull age

State of Ohio Logan County Thereby certify that on the 25 day of July I joined together in the holy State of matrimony J[ohn] Enoch & Elizabeth Kelly of lawfull age. [illegible] have this 26 July 1822 Wm Hopkins J.P. [Justice of the Peace] file 10 August 1822 & register 10 Sept 1822

Elizabeth and her husband would have been 19 in 1822 (since they were 47 in 1850). Logan County is next door to Champaign County. There weren’t many people in this part of Ohio at the time, so I think it’s pretty safe to assume I have the right people.

My next question is: What is the relationship between Elizabeth and Champaign John?

In the census, Elizabeth is 47 and Champaign John is 24. That’s a pretty dramatic age difference. I don’t think I can be sure they are siblings, although it’s possible their poor mother was still having children 23 years after having Elizabeth. They could be cousins. Elizabeth is even old enough to be John’s mother. Maybe John was born out of wedlock and that’s why he has her last name?

How closely related am I to harryenoch, the descendant of Elizabeth Kelley and John Enoch I found in my DNA matches?

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 1.33.38 PM

We only share 22.3 centimorgans (cM) of DNA. That’s not much. Using a tool that tells me all of our potential relationships based on the centimorgans we share, he could be anything from a half first cousin three times removed (Half 1C3R on the tool) to an 8th cousin (8C).

(Sidenote: Are you wondering what “removed” means? True cousins belong to the same generation. If they are not of the same generation, then they are removed. Think of your first cousin. Now think of her/his daughter. See her pigtails? She is your first cousin once removed because she is not of your and your first cousin’s generation. That daughter and your child are second cousins.)

Looking at the tool whose link I shared above, I notice the relationship that has an average of 22 cM shared is 4th to 5th cousins. Plotting out harryenoch’s and my lineage, we would be 4th cousins once removed if Champaign John and Elizabeth Enoch are siblings, 5th cousins once removed if they were first cousins. That checks out.

If Elizabeth were John’s mother, harryenoch and I would be third cousins once removed. 3C1R share an average of 48 cM, so while it’s possible, it’s not as probable.

Whew! Okay. So where do I go from here?

I want to get to know Elizabeth Enoch a little better. So my plan is to:

  • verify her birthdate
  • find a death date
  • find a death record
  • find an obituary
  • dig up the censuses in between
  • Google her and John Enoch

That should point me in a direction, I think.

Sources for this post can be found here.

Screeching Tires: The Two John Kelleys, Part 10

Did you hear that tire squeal a couple days ago?

Yeah, that was me.

I ordered all of the documents I came across, checked all the newspaper archives for obituaries, and I googled and googled and googled. Pretty sure there’s not another record of this family on the Internet. None of the documents indicated Milan John was or was not my family.

I made a list of death records I could order and genealogy organizations I could contact. Hopping online, I looked up Milan John’s family in my DNA records. Typed in Beardsley and Shailer and Collins, the married names of Milan John’s sisters, and Erie County, where Milan is located. A few matches came up, none of them seemed to connect to Milan John’s family.

I looked up Champaign County, Ohio, in my DNA matches and there were so many. To narrow things down, I searched the family Champaign John lived with in the 1850 census: Enoch.

Really? First entry? That’s all I had to do?

Yup. That’s the Elizabeth Kelley Enoch who housed John Kelley in the 1850 census in Champaign County, Ohio.

So that’s the squeal you heard—me stomping on the Milan John brakes and turning south to look into Champaign John.

Anybody need some obituaries and death records of a family I’m fairly certain now are not my relatives?

More to come.