Our Ancestors

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First Kelsey in America
William Kelsey 1600-1680
Son of George Kelsey and Elizabeth Hammond
William and his wife, Bethia Hopkins, had nine children: Mark, Bethia, Priscilla, John, Mary, Abigail, Stephen, Daniel and William. Our family is descended from John.

William Kelsey and Bethia Hopkins
-John Kelsey and Hannah Disborough
–Stephen Kelsey and Concurrance Hayden
—Nathaniel Kelsey and Martha Turner
—-Stephen Kelsey and Lois Griffing
—–Julius Kelsey and Sylvia Hill
——Austin Kelsey and Maria A. Bristol
——-Smith Ulysses Kelsey and Sarepta Ann Florentine Iler

William Kelsey was one of the original Braintree Company that came with the congregation of Rev. Thomas Hooker in 1632. Hooker had been pastor of the Non-Conformist Congregation of Braintree, Chelmsford, and neighboring parishes in Essex, England. He was forced to flee to Holland to escape imprisonment and his congregation emigrated to New England in 1832.

They arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and were told to locate in Cambridge, then called New Towne. William Kelsey was allotted three rods of land, a very small portion. He was made a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on March 4, 1635. Rev. Hooker arrived in Boston September 3, 1633 and joined his congregation. They were very dissatisfied with their location and petitioned the court to allow them to move.

In June of 1836, Rev. Hooker and more than 50 families removed to Connecticut to establish another New Towne, the name of which was changed to Hartford, Connecticut, on February 21, 1637. William Kelsey was one of the founders of this city and his name is inscribed on the Founders Monument there. His allotment was 16 acres.

In 1663, the Legislature decided to establish a town at the mouth of the Hammonassett River between Guilford and Saybrook. Originally called Hammonassett, it was changed to Kenilworth and later corrupted to Killingworth. William tranferred his house in Hartford to his son, Stephen, and moved with his children, John, Daniel and Abigail, to Killingworth. William’s wife, Bethia, possibly died about 1636. If so, William remarried and fathered the four younger children (and possibly John) will this unknown wife. There is no mention of William Kelsey’s wife in any known records.

Revolutionary War
Planning to join the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution? No problem. Our ancestor, Stephen Kelsey enlisted in the Revolutionary War in July 1776, and served six months under Capt. Baldwin. He reenlisted in the fall of 1777 and served two months. He applied for a Revolutionary War Pension on November 19, 1832, which was allowed. His widow was allowed a pension, applied for October 14, 1838.

Civil War
Events leading up to the Civil War were instrumental in our abolistionist ancestors coming to Wabaunsee, Kansas. Click HERE to read more on the why and wherefore of the migration. When the colonists began arriving in Kansas in 1856, the border war with Missouri was already in full swing. In August of that year, Capt. William Mitchell, Jr. organized the Prairie Guard Militia and the men of the colony, including our Kelsey ancestors, raced off to help in the defense of Lawrence for about six weeks.

Austin and Maria Kelsey helped found and operate a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Smith Ulysses was a member of Prairie Guard Militia and took primary responsibility for running the farm.

Elizabeth Kelsey’s daughter, Nellie Norton, married Dennis A. Kimberly who served as Corporal in Company H, 15th Regiment of Connecticut Infantry, drafted on July 1, 1863. In 1875, Dennis was a herder on the Kelsey farm in Kansas, where he met his future wife, Nellie Norton, Austin Kelsey’s granddaughter. In the 1880 census, they had a two-year old daughter, Fannie. By 1900, the family had moved to Orange, Connecticut, where both the Kelseys and the Kimberlys lived before moving to Kansas. Nellie and Dennis Kimberly had six children, the first three born in the Kansas and the remainder born in Connecticut.

Austin Hough Kelsey joined the 2nd Kansas Cavalry, Company K on November 6, 1861 and served as a private until January 20, 1865. Austin Hough had one child with his first wife, Clarinda Underdown, Stephen Richard Kelsey.

Harriett Eliza Kelsey married James Smith, who served as the Captain of Company C of the 7th Regiment of Kansas Volunteers. “Lieutenant James Smith, later captain, was a native of the East Tennessee mountains, and had an intense hatred for a rebel. He was a big, awkward fellow, with very light hair which he always wore close cropped; he never escaped the name of “Babe,” given him at his first enlistment. He was perfectly fearless and would fight an army rather than retreat, and when he held the command of the company, had always to be watched and ordered back in a most peremptory manner or he was liable to stay too long. He would have died any time rather than surrender, as the story of his death will attest. After his discharge from the service he went to southern Kansas, where he jumped, or rather took possession of, a claim deserted by the original preemptor; a party of men who considered him an interloper rode out to drive him off. He did not drive, and when they opened fire he promptly returned it and killed two of their number before he himself fell. As one of the posse bent over him to ascertain if he was dead, he suddenly raised his pistol hand and sent a bullet through the brain of his inquisitive enemy, and with a look of grim satisfaction joined him on his unknown journey. Poor old Jim! His men always loved him, and when he was twice deprived of promotion by the appointment of officers from outside the company over him, they made it so uncomfortable for the intruders that they were glad to be transferred to more agreeable surroundings.” (Except from “Story of the Seventh Kansas” by Simeon M. Fox)

Egbert A. Kelsey joined the 11th Kansas Cavalary, Company L on April 9, 1864 and served until September 26, 1965. After the war, he became a cattle dealer and lived with various family members. There is no record that he ever married.

The youngest son, Frank Henry Kelsey, is listed as a soldier in the 1865 Kansas census, but at age 10, that is probably not an official position. He may have assisted with the Prairie Guards. He moved west, married Margaret Ann O’Neal and lived in Colorado, Nevada and California, where he died in 1909.

Click HERE to read more about Wabaunsee County.

Click HERE to read more about the establishment of the city of Wabaunsee.

Click HERE to read more about the sack of Lawrence.

10 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Erin Gierke says:

    My son-in-law is also a direct descendant of John and I’m working on his family tree along with my own. Do you have an on-line tree?

  2. admin says:

    Yes, but people not in our direct line are not fully documented. Has he joined the Kelsey Kindred yet? They can make all the connections. We are in touch with other Kelsey researchers in John’s line. Check out http://www.thekelseykindred.org and they have a Facebook page as well. Here’s the link to our John: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=simon4geneaology&id=I3037

  3. Diana says:

    Hi, do you have any information on the descendents of Mark (John’s brother) and Thomas Potter Kelsey? Thanks for your time

    • admin says:

      You’ll have to contact the Kelsey Kindred. We only keep track of John’s line, specifically the ones who came to Kansas. Good luck with your research!

  4. Michael says:

    How do you know that your family was involved in the Underground Railroad? Are there family letters or diaries?

  5. Rose Anne Stevens Crews says:

    I am a descendant of John Kelsey also. There were some errors in the family tree with William Kelsey, the original settler from Essex England. Some people tried to connect him to the Mayflower and had all kinds of sources listed, but there was never any Kelsey that arrived on the Mayflower. It took me several hours to sort out the false stuff from the truth but I finally think I got it done. I have Vols. I, II, and IV of the Kelsey family Genealogy books. Easton Kelsey is my great grandfather. I descended through his daughter Rosannah Kelsey who was married to Charles Middlemass Walker.

    • Wanda Kelsey says:

      Yes, although many Kelseys share Mayflower ancestry, William Kelsey was not on that ship. He arrived later and his group did not stay in Massachusetts long. They moved on to found Hartford, CT. Several of us are members of the Kelsey Kindred.

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