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.