JEFF AND THE KELLYS
(A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin, September 3, 2009)
Two villages have clustered around the spring that forms the headwaters of Indian Creek. The spring is still visible along Kelly Spring Road at its junction with Jeff Road. According to a story written in years past by Virgil Carrington (“Pat”) Jones, there was a small fort at the spring to protect early settlers from possible Indian attacks. Parcels of land in that area were patented from 1809 to 1837 by a number of pioneers. Among them were William Routt, Gabriel Moore, Robert Lewis, William and Charles Price, Samuel Jones, Jenkin Whiteside, Edmond Strange, and John Reasonhover. Benjamin Wilburn bought the land around the spring about 1828 and held it until his death. Pat Jones’ story mentions that a malaria outbreak probably led to the abandonment of the first village. Perhaps even Wilburn’s death was due to malaria, but that is not known today. The hypothesis is reasonable, as the area is low and swampy, possibly a malaria-carrying mosquito breeding ground.
In 1853 Joshua Oscar Kelly got the land from Wilburn’s estate. He added to it until he owned the entire section of 640 acres around the spring. It lies south of Burwell Road, east of Jeff Road, north of Kelly Spring Road, and west of David Douglass Road. William J. Kelly purchased parcels of nearby land at the southeastern side of Capshaw Mountain in 1853 and 1854. Deeds recorded in 1900 and 1914 show additional land was purchased near Harvest by members of the Kelly family. This land lay primarily between Old Railroad Bed Road and the Ardmore Highway, south of McLemore Road and north of Harvest Road. It was purchased by D. E., J. O., and Thomas B. Kelly to cover all of another complete section of 640 acres excepting 40acres purchased by William F. Garner. The Garner parcel is now the Harvest Hills Golf Course.
In the 1900s the Kelly family owned 2500 acres of land in the county. They initially grew cotton. When slave labor was eliminated after the Civil War, the Kelly emphasis shifted to grow apple and pear orchards and to raise cattle. Pat Jones stated in his story that at the end of the Civil War, J. O. Kelly gave his former slaves money and food to get them established in their new lives. Several of them remained with him and no doubt assisted in converting to fruit and livestock, entailing less labor than cotton. The Kellys took pride in the fact that through the years, their land was never mortgaged, and they were known to be a major fruit supplier in the region. They established a second village around the old homesite, setting up a post office, telephone switchboard, blacksmith shop, nursery, cotton gin, and a general merchandise shop. The post office led to the “Jeff” name of the community. The family had called it “Jefferson Davis”, in honor of the President of the Confederacy. According to Pat Jones, postal regulations required a shorter name for the post office, so it was shortened to simply “Jeff”. It perhaps could just as well have been called “Kelly”.
The Kelly family came to Madison County from Virginia. David Emmitt Kelly (1793-1857) and his wife Nancy Rebecca Wesson settled along what today is Pulaski Pike. It was there that the Kelly family cemetery was established, when their infant daughter Susan Jane died in 1832. Dorothy Scott Johnson recorded 48 names at graves in the cemetery in her book “Cemeteries of Madison County, Alabama, Volume 1”. Joshua Oscar Kelly (1826-1897) was a son of David and Nancy. He married Sarah Belinda Strong (1835-1915), and from 1852 to 1874 they had ten children: William Oscar, Charles Joshua, Martha Susan, David Edward, Joshua Oscar (Jr.), George Lawson, Sallie Lena, Lula Alice, Nannie Lee, and Laura May Kelly. The Kellys intermarried with many of the prominent pioneer families of this area, and they have numerous famous relatives. Among those are U. S. President Zachary Taylor and Martin Van Buren’s wife Angelica, Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), Eli Whitney, Elvis Presley, and several more famous authors, as well as more U. S. Presidents of later generations.
The Guntersville Democrat, Thursday, March 18 1897, Page 2
Entire Family Poisoned
A Huntsville special to the Chattanooga News says: A little dose of rat poison, placed carelessly on a shelf, has caused the death of one of the most prominent citizens of Madison County, and the probable fatal illness of several of his family.
The victim is J. O. Kelly, aged 73, of Jeff, Ala. On the morning of the 6th Mrs. Kelly placed a dose of rat poison on a shelf in her kitchen; below this shelf was another containing a box of coffee. At noon Saturday everyone who partook of the coffee was taken violently ill, showing unmistakable symptoms of poisoning. Mr. Kelly lingered until 8 o'clock this mornig, when he died in great agony. Mrs Kelly is suffering intensely, and may die. She is conscious and is able to see the terrible effect of her thoughtlessness.
The Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) Friday, May 14, 1897, Page 5
The Kelly Family of Madison County Again Victims
Huntsville, May 7, --(Special,)-- This community was terror stricken this morning to learn that the family and tenants of Hon. Joshua Kelly had been poisoned in some mysterious manner. There were six whites and eight Negroes affected. Messrs, D. E. and Lawson Kelly are critically ill, Mrs. D. E. Kelly is very sick. Oakley Woodard, clerk in the store who came near dying from other poisoning and a Tennessee drummer who spent last night wioth them were two other victims. Their physician has sent here for other doctors. About two months ago, several members of the Kelly family and a number of tenants were poisoned. All recovered but Hon. J. O. Kelly, Sr. who soon died.
1. Edward Albert Miller born on 18 - Mar - 1865 at Covington KY
died at Huntsville AL on 25 - Nov - 1933 and his ( 1st ) wife
Lucy Ada Gooch born on 18 - Apr - 1881 at Chappell Hill TX
died at Huntsville AL on 17 - Jul - 1959 married on 21 - Apr - 1909
2. The Said Lucy Ada Gooch was the child of
William George Gooch born on 8 - Mar - 1847 at Madison Co AL
died at Manor TX on 8 - Apr - 1885 and his ( 1st ) wife
Malinda Matilda Kelly born on 28 - Apr - 1844 at Lawrence Co AL
died at Decatur AL on 10 - Feb - 1888 married on 28 - Dec - 1865
3. The Said Malinda Matilda Kelly was the child of
Josiah S Kelly born on 29 - Mar - 1798 at _______________
died at Lawrence Co AL on - - 1844 and his ( 1st ) wife
Malinda Cornelius born on 28 - Feb - 1806 at _______________
died at Lawrence Co AL on 11 - Mar - 1849 married on 1 - Mar - 1827
4. The Said Josiah S Kelly was the child of
Jesse Kelly born on - - at Brunswick Co VA
died at Brunswick Co VA on a 29 - Dec - 1817 and his ( 1st ) wife
Martha Phillips born on - - at Brunswick Co VA
died at _______________ on - - married on 5 - Jan - 1787
married at Brunswick Co VA
5. The Said Jesse Kelly was the child of
David Kelly born on - - at _______________
died at Brunswick Co VA on a 29 - Sep - 1790 and his ( 1st ) wife
Lucy Wesson born on - - at _______________
died at _______________ on a 27 - Mar - 1789 married on - -
6. The Said Lucy Wesson was the child of
Edward Wesson Srborn on - - at _______________
died at Brunswick Co VA on a 23 - Jun - 1788 and his ( 1st ) wife
Mary born on - - at _______________
died at _______________ on p 20 - Aug - 1784 married on - -
ASSOCIATED ANCESTOR (REVOLUTIONARY) RECORD
Ancestor #: A123491
Service: VIRGINIA Rank(s): PATRIOTIC SERVICE
Birth: ANTE 1723 SURRY CO VIRGINIA
Death: ANTE 6-23-1788 BRUNSWICK CO VIRGINIA
Service Source: ABERCROMBIE & SLATTEN, VA REV PUB CLAIMS, VOL 1, PP 147, 153
Service Description: 1) FURNISHED SUPPLIES FOR BRUNSWICK CO MILITIA
KELLY CEMETERY Kelly Cemetery Rd, MADISON COUNTY ALABAMA
Mapping the Location
Area views of the cemetery:/0581/0582/0583/0584/0585/Row 1:0607/0648/0649/0650/0651/0652/0671/0672/0673/0674/0675
Spotting the nearby lost "Hammond-Routt Cemetery": 0579/This is the most hopeful place now covered in Kudzu vine, I did not go there for lack of permission:0580
COLE, Mary Ruth, Born & died August 31, 1934. Robert Lawson Rowe and Mary Ruth Cole were great-great grand-children of David E. and Nancy (Wesson) Kelly. 0586
DAVIDSON, Amanda Melvina Kelly (?) - (Concrete marker, No name or dates. It is believed to mark the grave of Amanda Melvina Kelly (1830-1870) who was the wife of Samuel Davidson. Samuel remarried after her death and is not buried in this cemetery.) 0589
DAVISON, David Kelly, Son of S. E. A. M. Davison. Born June 30, 1853, died Dec. 27, 1855 aged 2 yrs. , 5 mo., and 27 days. 0631/0630
DAVIDSON, Sam, (Concrete markers; no dates. From family Bible 1855 - 1926, never married). 0662
DAVISON, Nanna V., Dau. of S. E. & A. M. Davison. Born April 25 and died Ray 1, 1957 aged 7 days. 0629C/0629
DAVIDSON, Walter, (Concrete marker; no dates. From family Bible: 1858-1911, never married.) 0664
DAVIDSON, Lee, (Concrete marker; no dates. From family Bible: 1862-1918. never married.) 0663
DAVISON, Tom, (Concrete marker; no dates. From family Bible: not recorded but born c. 1860 and died c. 1935, never married.) 0608
DAVISON, Lillie, (Concrete marker; no dates. From family Bible: 1865-1930, never married.) 0609
DAVISON, Infant daughter of S. E. & A. M. Davison, Born and died Nov. 6, 1865. 0628/Family History note
GOOCH Sirris, (Concrete marker; no dates. This was William Josiah "Sirris" Gooch, born 1873, died 1889. He was a grandson of Josiah S. and Malinda (Cornelius) Kelly). 0600
HOUSE, Elizabeth, (Concrete marker; no dates. From family Bible: Elizabeth Kelly (1832-1906), daughter of Josiah S. and Malinda (Cornelius) Kelly, married her first cousin, James A. House. who is not buried in the Kelly Cemetery; they had no chldren). 0588
HOWSE, Ida N., Dau. of J. A. and L. A. Phillips. Born Jan. 17, 1855 - died Jan. 6, 1894. 0601/0602/Family History note
KELLY, David E., Born in Brunswick Co., Va. , May 9, 1793, departed this life in Madison Co., Ala., May 3, 1857 aged 63 years, 11 mo. & 25 days. 0626/0627
KELLY, Nancy R., Wife of David E. Kelly, born Jan. 2, 1797, died Feb. 20, 1867, aged 70 years, 1 month & 18 days. 0625/0627/Family History note
KELLY William, (Concrete marker; no dates on stone. Family Bible shows he was born in 1808 and died Nov. 24, 1862.) 0595 **
KELLY Katherine, (Concrete marker; no dates on stone. Family Bible she was born Aug. 10, 1809 and died Dec. 26, 1884.) 0596
KELLY, Josiah P., Son of David E. and Nancy R. Kelly, born April 19, 1822, died June 19, 1841 aged 19 years & 2 months. (unmarried) 0632/0633/0642
KELLY, Martha E., Daughter of D. E. and N. R. Kelly. Born August 5, died August 6, 1876. (unmarried) 0654/0655
KELLY, Joshua O., Born March 17, 1826 - died March 7, 1897 aged 70 years, 11 months, 20 days. 0614/0615/military: Pvt 4th Ala Calv. C.S.A.: 0616/C.S.A. cross #396 set beside tombstone: 0617
KELLY, Sallie B. Strong, Wife of J. 0. Kelly. Born Feb. 6, 1835 - died May 19, 1915. 0614
KELLY, Susan Jane, Born Jan. 29, 1832-died Aug. 14, 1832. (Note: Susan Jane Kelly was the dau. of David E. and Nancy R. Kelly and was the first person a to buried in this cemetery). 0638/0639
KELLY, Caladonia C., Born May 25, 1833 - died Aug. 24, 1834 age 1 yr. 3 mo. 0636/0637/0640
KELLY David E., Jr., Born Nov. 21, 1836 - died Oct. 24, 1837 aged 11 mo., 3 days. 0635/0634/0641/0643
KELLY J. L. P., (Concrete marker, No dates on it. Name: Jesse Littleton Thales Kelly; youngest child of David E. and Nnacy R. Kelly. CSA iron cross #0411 by this stone. From Bible: J. L. P. Kelly, 1838-1913.) 0665/military marker: Pvt Co C 4th Ala Cavalry, Confederate States Army, 1838 - 1913: 0666/0667
KELLY Jane, (Concrete marker; no dates. Jane was the wife of J. L. T. Kelly. Her maiden name was Davison and she was born c. 1842 and died in 1897.) 0653/Family History note
KELLY R. O.,(Robert Oscar Kelly, 1848-1915, , son of William J. and Katherine Kelly. His wife was buried in Athens, Ala., her former home and their descendants live there now.) /0668/military Marker: Robert O. Kelly, Pvt Co I 4th Ala Cavalry, Confederate States Army, 1848 - 1915. 0669/0670
KELLY, Mary, (Concrete marker; no dates. From family Bible: Mary, dau. of Elizabeth Moore (Kelly) and Isaac House, married her first cousin, David Lafayette Kelly (1834-1864), son of William J. and Katherine Kelly. David Lafayette Kelly died in a Northern prison during the Civil War and was buried there. He and Mary had issue but have no living descendants.) 0597
KELLY, William Oscar, Son of J. O. and Sally B. Kelly. Born March 16, 1852 - died Nev. 5, 1858 aged 6 years, 7 months and 20 days.) 0622/0621/0623/0624
KELLY Charles J., Son of J. O. & Sally B. Kelly, March 31,1854 - Nov. 17, 1858 aged 4 years, 7 months and 18 days.) 0620/0621/0623/0624
KELLY David E., June 11, 1858 - March 22, 1939. 0660/0661
KELLY Eva Thompson, Wife of D. E. Kelly. Born July 24, 1868 - died Dec. 8, 1945. 0658/0659/0661
KELLY Joshua Oscar, Jr., - Oct. 3, 1860-July 28, 1928. (unmarried). 0611/0613
KELLY George Lawson, Sep 21, 1863 - Nov 2, 1946. (unmarried). 0610/0613
KELLY, Lula Alice, Jan 14, 1869 -Sep 24, 1917. (unmarried). 0612/0613
KELLY Laura May, Infant dau. of J. O. & S. B. Kelly. April 25, 1873 - October 6, 1874. 0618C/0618/0619/Family History note: William Oscar, Charles J., David E. , Joshua 0. Jr., George Lula Alice and Laura May Kelly were the children of Joshua 0. and Sallie B. Kelly. They had three children who were not buried in this cemetery.
KELLY, Addie A., Died Jan. 2, 1876 age 2 yrs., 2 mo. & 21 days. Child of T.L. & E.J. Kelly. 0645/0644/0647
KELLY, Thomas D., Died Dec. 22, 1870, age 9 mo. 24 days. Child of T.L. & E.J. Kelly. 0646/0644/0647
Note: Addle A. and Thomas D. were the children of Jessie Littleton Thales, and Jane (Davison) Kelly. Jane was a sister to the Samuel Davison who married Amanda M. Kelly.
KELLY T. O., (Concrete marker; no dates. This was Thomas Oliver Kelly, born 1859, died 1894 and never married. He was the son of David Lafayette and Mary (House) Kelly. 0598/Military Marker: Thales Kelly Pvt 4th Alabama Cav Confederate States Army Aug 31 1838 - 1913. 0599
KELLY Fayette, (Concreter Marker; no dates. This was Lula Fayette Kelly, born 1863, died c. 1912. Never married. Dau. of David Lafayette and Mary (House) Kelly.) 0587
PHILLIPS, James A., Born Dec. 6, 1826 - died July 8, 1901. Our father and Mother 0603/military marker, "James A. Phillips Pvt Co F 53rd Ala Partisan Rangers. C.S.A.":0604/0605
PHILLIPS, Laura Kelly, Born June 3, 1828-died April 5, 1902.) Our Father and mother. 0603/0605
PHILLIPS, Solon W., 1865 - 1936 0606
PHILLIPS, Mary Pettus, 1877- 1959 0606
ROWE, Robert Lawson, March 28, 1930 - April 14, 1932. Son of Aurora L. and Homer M. Rowe. 0656/backside:0657
VERNON, Dicey Wesson, 1784 - Jul 1850, married 1st to Jessee Walker May 18, 1805, 2nd to Melkijah Vaughn Sep 25, 1816, 3rd to James Vernon May 26, 1836; erected in 2001, Initials: D. W. V. There is an unmarked grave with no marker of any kind next to Dicey 0592 and it may be that of her third husband, James Vernon. These two graves are near the graves of William and Katherine (Wesson) Kelly.) 0590/0591/0592
WESSON Littleton, Died October, 1834 aged about 61 years. 0593
WESSON, Elizabeth, Wife of Littleton Wesson. Died May, 1860 about 83 yrs. 0594/Family History note: The Wessons' were from Brunswick Co., Va. Littleton Wesson was a son of William Wesson; Elizabeth was the daughter of William Justice. Littleton and Elizabeth Wesson were the parents of Nancy R. and Katherine, the wives of David E. and William J. Kelly, respectively.
In the corner of this cemetery not far from the stones of William and Katherine (Wesson) Kelly, there is a large area with no tombstones. It is said that two infants and two unmarried daughters of William and Katherine Kelly are probably buried there. The would be (dates from Bible) Josiah Phillips Kelly, (1841-1841); Joshua Littleton Kelly (1844-1845); Emma Louise Kelly (1846-1874); and Nancy Rebecca Kelly (1852-1872).
About 1920, after the cemetery had been neglected for many years, Messrs. D. E. Kelly, J. O. Kelly and G. L. Kelly, brothers (all deceased), undertook a reclaim and preserve the lot. They enclosed it with the present fence and as there were many graves with no stones they had a number of concrete markers made. They did the best they could to place these at the correct graves. The names were
put on but they made no attempt to put dates on the markers and there may still be some unmarked graves.
In the early 1930's, when a grave was being dug for a member of the Phillips family, those digging the grave found they had dug into an unmarked grave. The Kelly family attempted to determine the identity of the person buried there but was unsuccessful, therefore, the site of this grave has no marker.
**David E. and William J. Kelly were brothers and the sons of Jesse and Martha (Phillips) Kelly, both of whom lived and died in Brunswick Co., Va. Another brother of David E. and William J. was Josiah S. Kelly who is not buried here. The only sister of these Kelly brothers (there wore 4 other brothers not buried hem) was Elizabeth Moore (Kelly) House, the wife of Isaac House. She also has some descendants buried here although she and her husband lived and died in Williamson Co. , Tenn. The Bibles of David E. , William J. , and Josiah S. Kelly have been preserved and many of the dates missing on the hand concrete markers have been supplied from these Bibles.
Some census info:
Census, Oct. 28, 1850
Kelly, David (57) Va, farmer - $8000. (David Kelly m. Nancy Wesson, License Feb 5, 1822)
Kelly, Nancy (54) Va
Kelly, Martha E. (25) Ala (never married)
Kelly, Joshua P. (23) "
Kelly, Laura (21) " (Laura Kelly m. James A. Phillips Jan 15, 1852)
Kelly, Amanda (19) "
Kelly, William (14) "
Kelly, Jesse (11) " (Jesse Kelly m. Jane Davison)
Kelly, Josiah ( 8) "
Kelly, Malenda ( 6) "
Census, Oct. 26, 1850
Kelly, William J. (42) Va , farmer, $1,200 (William J. Kelly m. Catherine Wesson Mar 19, 1833)
Catherine (40) Va
David (15) Ala
Martha (13) "
Thomas (12) "
James (11) "
Emmet ( 9) "
Ammer ( 4) "
Robert ( 2) "
Wesson, Elizabeth (77) Va
Kelly, Lycurgus (12) Ala
Kelly, Benjamin (19) "
The information on this cemetery and the Kelly genealogy was supplied by Mrs. R. H. Gilliam, Jr. (nee Catherine Kelly). The information supplied by Mrs. Gilliam is so thorough and her notes are so interesting that I have chosen to include them in their entirety. The only additions are the marriage and the census records. Dorothy Johnson 1978. Listings & Links developed by C Wayne Austin using photos dated 19 Oct 2013. Added here with appropriate commentary & editing 7 Apr 2014.This cemetery was shown in the book Madison County Cemeteries Vol II pages 169-172 by the Dorothy Johnson. She did a tremendous job on it and no one can top her presentation given the original sources she had. I don't know why this cemetery book was not in print. Well yes I do know because there was no enough support from the Historical Society, as should have been. I for one don't plan on replacing her book. my county coverage will fall short much more so than hers. If you get a chance to obtain this two volume edition you will be pleased with its completeness. While Findagrave.com seems to have much family history, as a site it is sadly lacking in graveyard location & science with minor exceptions. That is because it often misses grave locations by many miles and and across county lines due to the complex issue that there are so many cemetery names that are the same the unwary researcher easily falls into the trap of error there in a split second of indecision in completing the record. Most have no knowledge base of the county research by previous cemetery researchers.