A Sense of Place: Following the Kelleys to Iowa, Part 4

Read Part 3 here. Some things I mention below refer to that post.

I’ve been back from my trip from Iowa for a few weeks now. I have a lot to record, but life got in the way, and this is the first time I have some time to write down what I’ve discovered. And there were some HUGE finds, but all in good time.

I heard back from the State of Iowa about John Kelley’s death record: They couldn’t find it. They sent back an official piece of paper saying they looked for him in the entire year of 1895 and came up with nothing. The thing is I have his obituary and death notice from the local paper and photos of his grave stone. I know he died in 1895, well after the recording of deaths began in that state. I feel like I just gambled away $33. *Shrug*

As for my trip, my first afternoon in Mount Pleasant was spent in the library. I started by looking through microfiche of the Mt Pleasant Journal. I didn’t come up with anything that hinted to John Kelley and Mary Stewart’s relationship. That particular newspaper was not reliable for printing death, birth, and marriage announcements regularly, and it did not seem to have a Local News feature where they reported on people who visited from out of town or who attended church socials like other newspapers did. Oh well.

I did find this plat map, though:

1859 Henry County Plat Map, Jackson Township

My pen is pointing to the lot John Kelley owned. It must have been pretty prime land wedged there between the Skunk River and the Keokuk Railroad line! I know this is my 2nd great-grandfather because the 1860 census lists him, Eliza, and their children living among all of the neighbors found on this map.

So I discovered exactly where my family lived in Henry County on my first day of researching! I went out to visit the farm the next day. The road it’s on (River Road) is dirt and winds up and down hills as it follows the river. It’s fairly remote, even now, though it’s only about 15 minutes from Mt Pleasant. It reminded me a lot of the land the Kelleys left in Ohio. There was even a little cemetery on top of a hill like Mt Tabor outside Urbana.

I didn’t see a soul—no cars, no cows, not even a crow—on my visit to the Kelley land. Just me and a lot of curious bugs.

Something I’ve learned in these past two genealogy trips is I really enjoy visiting where my ancestors lived. Even all these years later it gives me a sense of what their lives were like, and humanizes the names I see on papers.

Read part 5. Sources for this entry can be found here.