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.

Whoa.

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.

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.