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.


I tried to forgive them—the men in my life—but only one has managed to stay on my good side. Most of the time.

“Chase?” I toss my purse on the sofa, put Skylar down in her cradle and almost trip on Darrell’s backpack. The apartment is dead quiet, which is odd, because the house is never quiet. Chase can’t sit for more than two seconds without turning some crappy music up all the way. He says the music helps him think and that earphones plug up his creativity. Yeah. More like it helps him mask the sound of near-constant texting while he’s supposed to be doing homework.

Plus, we live in the back of that old three-story house at Peters and Lincoln—you know, the one that looks like a barn in the back? Anyways, the house is constantly creaking; you can hear it settling as you walk by on the street. It’s creepy.

My cell phone beeps: new voicemail. I didn’t even hear my phone ring. “Hello, this is Margaret Peters calling for Amanda Heyduk? Amanda, I’m the principal at Chase’s school? I was wondering if it would be possible to talk to you at your earliest convenience?” I stop listening. The careful way all her sentences end as questions means she’s not calling to tell me Chase made the honor roll. I take the stairs two at a time, knock real quick on the door, and I’m in the teenager’s bedroom.

“Mo-om!” he says. Two syllables, not one. He pushes his shaggy blond hair out of his eyes.

There’s nothing embarrassing happening; he’s just listening to his iPod, which, as you know, isn’t normal. Mental note: check what he’s loaded on that thing sometime when he’s gone. He obviously doesn’t want me to hear something.

“I just got a message from your principal. Any idea what that’s about?”

He pops his headphones back into his ears. I yank the closest one out again. “Talk. Before your sister wakes up,” I says.

He gives me this look: the one that tells me I’m not going to like what he’s about to say, not the one that tells me I’m being annoying. I feel sorry for him just then. He says to me, “Mrs. Eichorn heard me tell Linc something.”

“I’m listening.”

“I was telling him about the box under the couch. I think it’s Darrell’s. I didn’t touch anything once I opened it to see what it was, I swear. I put it right back, Mom.” But I was already up off the bed, and halfway down the stairs. I crouch down on the carpet and slide the super-light box out. I hear Chase behind me.

Prescription bottles—about fifteen of them—lay on their side in a small Amazon box: Xanax, Codeine, Adderall, Ativan, Seconal. Different people’s names on each label.

I am such an idiot.

Darrell’s this guy who works at a gas station, a “friend” I know from the bar who was talking late one night about hitting a rough patch and needing some help. I’m letting him stay on the couch for a few weeks. Should have known he was a loser as soon as I saw his stupid motorcycle helmet with the pierced nipple on the side of it.

“How long have you known about these?” I try hard to keep my voice even.

“Found them last night.” He looks down at the floor. “There’s more in the basement.”


I grab my phone from my back pocket. “Do me a favor? Put Darrell’s stuff in one of those boxes.” Chase grabs a diaper box and walks into the bathroom. I take a quick trip to the basement. Two more boxes full of them sitting next to my Christmas decorations. I shout up the stairs to Chase. “You okay with Sky for 20 minutes?”

“Where you going?” he says. I hear his footsteps above me crossing out of the bathroom.

“I have to run up to the gas station for something,” I says as I walk back up the stairs. Making a point not to look at my face, Chase hands me Darrell’s backpack and the box he’s filled.

“Call upstairs if you need anything, baby. Be right back!” And I’m out the door.

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The continuation of this story can be read here. It’s the one about the confrontation with the gas station clerk.

*Constructive criticism is always appreciated. I am not a parent; how convincingly did I write from the perspective of one?