Sunday, March 8, 2015

John Kelly of Fairfield District, South Carolina

© Kathy Duncan, 2015

A word of warning before any John Kelly researchers start digging in here. These pages will be revised and tweaked extensively over the next few weeks as I review the pages and pages of notes that I have handy, and that's before I dig back through several extensive file folders. But, aren't we always supposed to take data with a grain of salt and a heavy dash of our own research?? 

The exact birthdate of John Kelly of Fairfield Dist., SC is unknown. Regrettably, the name of his wife is currently undocumented. It is known that she predeceased him. Here is what is known about John Kelly. The Kelly's also spell their name Kelley. As I edit and revise data, the spelling will be changed to match the documents in which the name appeared.

First let me take up the matter of John Kelly's wife. Most secondary sources reference her as being Charity. It is necessary to look at the origin of that reference to understand why it is a problem. The documentation for John Kelly's wife being Charity is the book The Old Cemeteries of  Hinds County, Mississippi: From 1811 to the Present by Mary Collins Landin. Her book states that John Frost Kelley, buried in Utica Cemetery in Hinds County, MS, was the "son of John and Charity Kelly" and that Lydia Ann Kelley "Seastreak," buried in the James Lee/John Kelley Cemetery, was "wife of S. Anill Seastreak, daughter of John and Charity Kelley."  The manner in which her book is organized leads the reader to believe that these are transcriptions from the tombstones. However, when I visited Utica Cemetery, I found that this was not the case for many of the tombstones - information that appeared in her book was not always actually on the tombstones so that her work cannot be taken as a word for word transcription of the tombstones. My feeling is that her text is a combination of tombstone transcriptions and her own research. To make matters worse, I could not find a tombstone for John Frost Kelley or any other combination of his name in the Utica Cemetery. I have made a photograph request for his tombstone through findagrave, and am still waiting for a photograph to materialize. Frost Kelley died in Mt. Pleasant, Texas not Utica, Mississippi. Of course, it is possible that his family shipped his body back to Mississippi for burial. The tombstone for Lydia Ann Kelley "Seastreak" presents a different set of problems. The little family cemetery in which she is located is on private land that is not open to the public. I have also made a request for a photograph of her tombstone through findagrave. The transciption that was made of her stone indicates that there is likely to be erosion that has made the stone difficult to read. Further discussion of this will follow in a post devoted to Lydia and her husband Samuel P. Seastrunk. If either of these tombstones can be photographed and can be seen to be period stones with the inscription that either occupant was a child of "John and Charity Kelley," then we will have the long awaited for documentation for John Kelley's wife because so far, no land deed or estate settlement has come to light that would also provide documentation. Until then, Charity is a big question mark.

Additionally, given the wide age range in John Kelly's children, it seems likely that he had more than one wife.

According to a Revolutionary War pension filed after John Kelly's death, he was living in Fairfield Dist., SC when he volunteered to serve in the Revotionary War.

17 Jan 1799, Fairfield Dist., SC, John Kelley was named security for William Pettipool who was appointed guardian of Ephraim and Thomas Pettipool, orphans.  They had chosen William Pettipool as their guardian. [Fairfield County, SC Minutes of the County Court 1785-1799 by Brent H. Holcomb]

On 29 Sept 1817, serveral of John Kelly's slaves were runaways. He ran the following advertisement in the Camden Gazette of Camden, SC:

John Kelley died 9 Jan 1842 in Fairfield Dist., SC, having lived there continuously in the years following the Revolutionary War. The following individuals bought slaves at John Kelley Sr.’s estate sale held on 5th and 6th of April 1843 in Fairfield District, South Carolina. A total of 33 slaves were auctioned and all were bought by John Kelley’s sons or son-in-laws.  Some of the slave names on the sale list are not completely legible but are on the inventory. Notice the repetition of some the names that appeared in the advertisement.

Frost J. Kelley:  Sally, Henry, Young Tucker, Jenny, Jesse
Lyttleton Kelley:  Dave, Gilly, Diann,
William Fair:  Nelly, Tom, Serena
Obadiah Kelley:  Elihu, Ben, Prince
Hyram Kelley:  Matilda, William, Sylvia, Sarah, Patience
Sam Seastrunk:  Stephen, Lewis
Middleton Kelley:  Old Tucker, Maria, Sam, Lucinda
John Kelley:  George, March
Hampton:  Peggy, Little Maria, Dan
Samuel Seastrunk:  bible and hymn book
Frost J. Kelley: trunk

John Kelley's estate papers named the following heirs:

William Kelly, deceased, his heirs
John Kelly
Elisha Kelly
William Fairor Farr or Farris for his wife Mary
Samuel Seastrunk for his wife Lydia
Joseph Douglas for his wife Louisa
James or Saml Loughlin for his wife [not named]
Littleton Kelly
Hiram Kelly
James F. Kelly
Frost J. Kelly
Obediah Kelly
Middleton Kelly
[Source: Fairfield Co SC Estate Papers, Apt. 79, File 114]

Nearly ten years later, son Hampton H. Kelley executed an application for a Revolutionary War pension for his father John Kelly. The purpose of the application is somewhat confusing. John Kelly had not applied for a pension in his lifetime, claiming that he had no need of one. Upon making the application, son Hampton H. Kelley relinquished all claims to the pension. No other children of John Kelley, either living or deceased, are mentioned as having an interest in John Kelley's pension. Many of John Kelly's sons were deceased by the time this application was made.

“His son, Hampton H. Kelley, executed a pension application on 29 July 1851 and alleged that John Kelly while residing in Fairfield Dist., SC volunteered as a horseman in the light dragoons under Capt. Jacob Barnett, Lt. Col. Henry Hampton, and Gen. Sumter. He was in the battles at Kings Mountain, Cowpens, and Eutaw Springs. Kelly died 9 January 1842 in Fairfield District, South Carolina. A reference was made to another son Frost Kelly, who moved to Mississippi. FPA R5845; Salley, Doc., p. 53; AA 4208; M273.”  Source: The Patriots at the Cowpens  by Bobby Gilmer Moss

On 29 July 1851 Hampton H. Kelly, a resident of Richland District swore that “his said father, John Kelly, deceased...left no widow, this Despondent’s mother having died previous to his father. That after his father’s death and at the sale of his father’s property this declarant’s brother, Frost Kelly, who has since moved to the State of Mississippi, bought an old trunk containing the old papers of his said father and a portion of his said father’s horseman’s uniform which he had in his lifetime declared was part of that which he wore in said service in said war.”
[Source: Revolutionary War pension application]

Census Records:

1790 Fairfield District South Carolina, p. 170:

John Kelly 2 4 4

two males 16 and older:
four males under 16:
four females:

1800 Fairfield Dist. South Carolina, p. 224A:

John Kelley  4 2 0 1 - 0 1 0 1

John Kelley household:
four males under 10: Middleton, Hiram
two males 10 - 16:
one male 26 - 45:
one female 10 - 16:
one female 26 - 45:

1810 Fairfield Dist. South Carolina, p. 575:

John Kelly
3 2 2 0 1 - 0 0 1  - 9 slaves

three males under 10
two males 10 to 16: Middleton, Hiram
two males 16 - 26
one male over 45
one female 16 - 26

[The female age 16-26 in the household is more than 10 years younger than John Kelly, which makes it questionable whether she is the same adult female in the household in 1820 and 1840. She may be a daughter of John Kelly's instead of his wife. This would mean that his wife was deceased and open the possilbility that John Kelly had more than one wife.]

1820 Fairfield Dist., South Carolina, p. 37:

John Kelley 1 1 0 1 0 1 - 2 0 1 1  [11 slaves]

John Kelley Household:
one male under 10
one male 10 -16
one male 16 - 26:
one male over 45
two females under 10: Louisa W.
one female 16 - 26
one female over 45

Other Kelley's on the 1820 Fairfield Dist., South Carolina census, p. 37:

Benjamin Kelley 3 1 0 0 1 - 4 1 0 1  [ 1 slave]
James Loughhorn 1 0 0 1 1 - 3 1 0 1   [ 3 slave]
John Kelley Jr 0 0 0 0 1 - 0 1    - [1slaves]

1830 Fairfield District South Carolina, p. 363

John Kelly 0 2 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 - 1 0 2 0 0 0 1

two males age 5 - 10 = Frost John Kelley
one male 15 - 20
two males 20 - 30
one male 60 - 70
one female under 5
two females 10 - 15: Louisa W.
one female 40 - 50

[John Kelley's wife is at least 10 years his junior]

1840 Fairfield South Carolina, p. 189:

J. Kelly 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2

[no women]

The following individuals lived in Fairfield Co., SC in 1800 on Sawney Creek, which flows into the Wateree River:  Seals, Kelly/Kelleys, and Frosts.

John Kelley's known children:

William Kelly, deceased, his heirs
John Kelly
Elisha Kelly
William Fair for his wife, Mary
Samuel Seastrunk for his wife Lydia
Joseph Douglas for his wife Louisa
James or Saml Loughlin for his wife [not named]
Littleton Kelly
Hiram Kelly
James F. Kelly
Frost John Kelly
Obediah Kelly
Middleton Kelly b. 20 June 1798
Hampton H. Kelly

Keywords: John Kelley, Fairfield County, Fairfield Co.


  1. Replies
    1. You are very welcome. Any chance you connect to this Kelley/Kelly line?