Initially, it was a search for the grave site of John Kelly Stevens’ wife that led me to Lot 232. Though he had been born in Lafayette, Indiana, John Kelly Stevens had spent his entire adult life in Fort Wayne, so naturally, I expected him to be buried in Fort Wayne.
I knew, also, that—contrary to what Fort Wayne Church records seem to indicate—John Kelly Stevens’ first wife was buried back in his hometown, along with the tiny body of his second, infant daughter.
But what of the second wife, Catherine Kelly Stevens? Where was she buried?
When I finally found the answer to that question—and believe me, it will take an entire separate post to explain that—I asked my customary three questions. I wanted to know if it was a family plot. I wanted to know who else was buried there. And I asked who owned the plot.
Keep in mind I first undertook that exercise before widespread use of the Internet for genealogical research. This was the kind of grunt work one carried out over the phone or in person.
When it came to exploring who, exactly, owned the Kelly family plot, Lot number 232, I expected it to be Catherine’s father, John T. Kelly. However, once I discovered the list of nine Kelly family names included in that roster—many of whom I couldn’t identify—I began to wonder if I had uncovered a research bonanza.
Now, I’m not so sure. And that is after many years of puzzling over the pieces, trying in vain to make them fit.
You see, the owner of the family plot wasn’t exactly John Kelly.
It was John Kelly and someone else.
That someone else was named Timothy Kelly.
Now, don’t go figuring out ways that a sixteen year old could go prescient on us and foretell his own murder. It was not like that at all. The owner of the plot was a different Timothy Kelly.
Those pieces I’ve been puzzling over for years? They are the family members of this Timothy Kelly. I’ve learned a lot about that family—even emailed a descendant of that family who has worked on that family for years, too—but I still can’t figure out what, if any, relationship that Timothy had to our Timothy.
Maybe there isn’t any.
Maybe it was just a case of one Irish immigrant helping out another. And they both happened to have the same last name.
Of those nine Kellys buried in Lot 232, there were two that predeceased our Timothy. One—a child, one year of age, who died in 1874—I still know nothing about.
The other was a woman named Ellen Kelly.
When I first found her, I thought perhaps she was the reason the family plot was purchased at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne. Now that I see the entry for baby Willie Kelley (as it was listed in the death index), I realize that he was undoubtedly the reason the plot was first purchased. But at first glance, I had pursued the mystery of Ellen.
Over the years, I was able to find out quite a bit about this Ellen. She died less than four month before our Timothy was shot. I discovered that Ellen was born in County Cork in Ireland, and that she lived barely thirty seven years.
And I realized that Ellen was the wife, not of John Kelly, but of Timothy Kelly—the co-owner of the family plot.
That was enough to set me on a desperate search to find the connection between the two Kelly families, hoping the end of the trail would lead me to the information I needed on their origins in their homeland. Though still lacking the answers I crave, with the details I’ve accumulated, I may as well review what I know about this other Kelly family—a process we’ll begin tomorrow.
Once again, with faith in the searchability of the Internet, I’ll cast my data to the winds of the digital ether and hope something—or someone—will eventually return to me, offering just the right missing link to make sense of this family history.