Patrick Kelley biography: The Two John Kelleys, Part 5

Start from the beginning here or go back to Part 4.

Patrick Kelley was born on the southern coast of Ireland in Dungarvan, County Waterford. He was probably born in 1796. Other researchers cite his birthdate as March 17, but I have yet to find a corroborating document. He immigrated to the United States in 1813 and joined the army shortly thereafter. The timing of his enlistment would mean he fought in the War of 1812, which, despite its name, lasted until 1815. I have not been able to pinpoint his military records as there are many Patrick Kellys in the ranks.

After his time in the army, he accompanied his captain, Adam Swan, of Stonington, Connecticut, along with five other men to the wilds of the Western Reserve, a large swath of land adjacent to the western border of Connecticut and extending into present-day Ohio. He settled near Norwalk, Ohio, the hamlet named after the Connecticut town from which they had left.

History of Huron County, p. 202

I’m fairly certain this is our Patrick because his marriage record to Tamer (or Tamar or Tamour or Famour or Fanny) Wilson takes place in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1824. So I know they resided there at that early time in the history of the town.

Kelley Wilson marriage record.png

I also think it’s him because Patrick is the only Kelly/Kelley listed in the 1830 census of the area. His name appears on the same page as Seth Keeler, one of the men mentioned in the historical excerpt above as accompanying Swan and Kelley to the area. Kelley’s obituary also states he was “among the first settlers of this part of Ohio.”

Between 1830 and 1840, they may have moved from Norwalk to Milan, Ohio, or the boundaries of the proximate towns may have changed. Patrick and Tamer raised their 7 children: John W (born 1824), Celia (born 1826), Mary (born 1828), James (born 1831), Ellen (born 1833), and the twins, Amelia and Amanda (born 1838).

Patrick died on 29 May 1847 in Milan. The cause is not clear. He was laid to rest in Milan Cemetery. Probate records exist that name Tamer and John W. as executors. I believe a will exists in the records but it is not published online.

Patrick Kelley obituary 1847.png

Sources for this post can be found here. Read Part 6.

Amelia Kelley: The Two John Kellys, Part 4

Start from the beginning here or go back to Part 3.

After reviewing my research plan, I’m setting my sights on Amelia. In my experience, the people who come up quickly in search engines often have the most documentation of their life events. Plus, I’m curious if my hunch about Tamar and Amelia’s death records being next to each other is correct. So I’m going to see if I can find Amelia’s marriage record.

A quick search on Ancestry pulls up this file:

Homer Beardsley married Amelia Eliza Kelley in Erie County, Ohio, in December 1862. This record fits all of my parameters. But how do I know for sure it’s Tamar’s daughter?

Searching Homer and Amelia Beardsley in the censuses pulls up this record:

Amelia and Homer are living with her sister and her mother, who is listed as “Fanny.” That’s another name I can use to search for Tamar, besides Tamour and Famour. Amelia has a daughter Amelia born in April 1870. (See the column that says “Apr” in baby Amelia’s record? That’s for the birth month of babies born within the year.)

Wait a minute.

Didn’t Amelia’s death record say she died in childbirth in April 1870? And didn’t Tamar die a few days later? How could mother and daughter be listed together with the baby?

*looks back at Part 2 post* Yes. Amelia died on April 29, 1870; Tamar died 4 days later on May 3, 1870.

So when was this 1870 census taken?

July 29, 1870? How is that possible? Was the census taker interviewing ghosts?

*looks back at death records* The dates on the page are going back and forth between 1870 and 1871. Maybe Amelia and Tamar died in 1871 instead? Maybe Sister Amanda was the one being interviewed by the census taker and she mentioned them without explaining that they had passed? Or maybe she mentioned them in the interview and didn’t bother to correct the census taker that they were no longer living.

What happened to baby after Mama Amelia’s death? I have to know.

This is the 1880 census. In Norwalk, Ohio, a town 10 miles south of Milan, Amelia Beardsley is listed as the niece of John and Celia Collins. (Postscript: I also notice she is listed as being 10 years old here, not 9, the age she’d be if the recorder of Mother Amelia and Tamar’s death had made a mistake on their death year.)

Huh? Who are they? And where is Homer?

Okay so new questions to look into:

• Who are John and Celia Collins and why haven’t I encountered them before?

• I have somewhat solid dates on Tamar and Amanda’s deaths. I also know Patrick died before 1850 because he isn’t listed with the family in the census. Try to find their obituaries.

• Find Homer Beardsley after Amelia’s passing.

Sources for this post can be found here. Go to Part 5.

For Real: The Two John Kelleys, Part 3

Start from the beginning here or go back to Part 2.

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:

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 10.26.10 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 10.14.09 AM.png

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.

The Two John Kelleys, Part 1

[Author’s Note: I am taking some time off writing fiction to spend on genealogy research. The posts on this blog are going to read more like research notes than a full article. Just a warning not to expect answers. You’re finding out about things when I do!]

So there’s this guy in Milan, Ohio, a small town a stone’s throw from Lake Ontario, in the 1850 census who bothers me.

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 12.33.10 PM.png

I had to splice two sections of a census page to make the image work, so I’ll transcribe the important parts. On the sixth of December, 1850, in Milan Township, Erie County, Ohio, a John W Kelley is listed with, presumably, his mother, Famour or Tamour Kelley, and his siblings; Mary, James, Ellen, Amanda, and Amelia. A shoemaker named William Whiten is also listed in the household. John was 26 years old (which sets his birth year at 1824), working as a clerk, and was born in Ohio, as was the rest of his family.

So a dude lived with his mom and kid brother and sisters and clerked it up in some unspecified industry in 1850. What’s the big deal?

Well, for one thing, there’s this:

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 1.19.50 PM.png

This marriage record is the earliest verified document of my 2x great-grandfather, John Kelley or Kelly (spellings back in this time weren’t as commonly agreed upon as they are now). He married Eliza Jane Hurd on 21 December 1854 in Champaign County, Ohio.

I should tell you that in most of my John Kelley’s later documents (obituary, death record, death records of his children) his middle initial is very pointedly used: John W. Kelley, the same as the other John Kelley who I will now refer to as Milan John.

There’s this:

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 1.34.37 PM.png

These are snippets of census pages from Salem Township, Champaign County, Ohio. On 16 July 1850, a census taker recorded a 24-year-old John Kelley living with the Enoch family. The Enochs were farmers, and it’s pretty safe to assume that John, who is listed as being in the same household (the numbers on the far left match for John Enoch and John Kelley), was working as a laborer for them.

And there are these:

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 1.52.51 PM.png

You’re looking at a random sampling of my 2x great-grandfather’s entry in other public family trees on Many of the researchers of my Kelley family believe that Milan John and the John Kelley who married Eliza Hurd are the same person, therefore, Milan John’s parents, Tamour and Patrick Kelley, must be our 3x great-grandparents.

Here are two reasons I think they’re wrong:

Why would Milan John travel 121 miles to be a farmer in Champaign County in July 1850 only to return to his cushier clerk gig by December 1850? I suppose it depends on what type of clerk he was, but wouldn’t it be easier to get a farming gig somewhere closer? Plus, the 1850 census shows Tamer had $2000 worth of property three years after her husband passed. That’s more than anyone in the community. They weren’t hurting for money. It doesn’t make sense that Milan John would migrate.

Why would researchers assume Milan John, who lived 121 miles away from Champaign County, be the likeliest groom of Eliza Hurd in 1854 than the John Kelly who actually lived in the county in 1850?

I have more reasons, but this entry is long enough and will be continued. And so begins my attempt to prove or disprove that Tamour and Patrick Kelley are my John Kelley’s parents.

My research strategy from this starting point:
• Tamour is an odd name. Looking her up might bear some results.

• Obviously, research census and vital records of John, Tamour, Patrick,  involved. But also track Milan John’s siblings: Mary, James, Ellen, Amelia, and Amanda. Families tended to stick together.

• Who are the peripheral people in these documents? John and Elizabeth Enoch? William Whiten? Chances are they are either family or close friends.

• Google Milan, Ohio, records. History of the county. Special censuses.


Sources for this entry can be found here.

Here’s a link to Part 2.

Mother Tamar: The Two John Kelleys, Part 2

First things first: To understand this post you will need to read Part One.

My thought that Tamour Kelley’s odd name might yield search results paid off. There were two exciting hits at

Hit One:Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 3.48.48 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 3.48.58 PM.png

So this death record says Tamar Kelly died of “rheumatism” on 3 May 1870 in Milan, Ohio. She was 68 years old, widowed, and born in Cincinnati. She resided in Milan and her death was reported by A B Forster.

From this record, I can be pretty sure Tamar will be in Milan in the 1860 and 1870 censuses. If she lived in Milan in 1850 and died there in 1870, chances are she didn’t move away in between. Knowing she was born in Cincinnati in 1802 will probably come in handy later. The line in the “Month” column of the deceased’s age looks like a smudge so I won’t infer that Tamar was born in April. Since all of the records are signed by this Forster person, I assume he’s the town doctor and not a relative of Tamar’s to be researched. How did he know where Tamar was born, though? One of her children must have been there to help the doctor fill out the form. So at least one of her children lived close enough to be present at her death.

I have a habit of reading all of the names on a record and one stuck out to me: Amelia Beardsley. Didn’t Tamar have a daughter named Amelia? *looks back* Yes. Amelia Kelley was 12 in 1850, so in 1870 she would have been 32. That checks out. Could that Amelia be Tamar’s daughter?

Hit Two:

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 4.27.54 PM.png

Okay, the parents’ names match and the town matches. According to the 1850 census, James Kelley was 19 (born in 1831) so he was more than old enough to marry someone in 1856. This is probably Milan John’s brother James.

It’s strange that Tamar’s censuses didn’t show up in my search. She should be in 1860 and 1870. Maybe her name is misspelled. It’s also possible that she remarried and has a different name.

So what’s next?
• Look for Amelia Kelley marrying a Beardsley in Milan area sometime between 1850 and 1870.
• Look for James and Fannie Kelley in 1860 and 1870 censuses.

Sources for this post can be found here.

Here’s a link to Part 3.