Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to That Research Plan

After being lured away from The Plan by the appearance of yet another bright, shiny research object, I promise to return to—and keep treading down—the decided-upon research path.

That is the repentant me speaking.

The bedazzled, wide-eyed, wonder-struck child genealogist in me is still jumping on the bed, shouting, “On to Ireland!” But I know I must wait and do this thing up right—as long as it hurries up and brings me to my stated goal fast.

So, back to Captain Richard Kelly and Fort Wayne we go, to line up all our vital stats, dot all our genealogical i’s and cross all our family history t’s.

There was one point I prematurely skipped. I mentioned Richard was out of his father’s household, come time for the 1900 census. I also mentioned that he traveled with his wife to the funeral of his mystery aunt in Toledo. Let’s take a closer look at what can be found about that wife.

According to Fort Wayne marriage records, her name was Louisa Miller, and she promised Richard Kelly, “I do” on October 23, 1895. Well, that’s what one index explains—and I rather believe it, as the image of the marriage license is also viewable online.

There’s only one problem with that date: another index transcribed another record, claiming the date was actually in 1896.

Could that mean there were two Richard Kellys? Or is this another transcription problem?

Thankfully, was able to include a digitized version of this marriage record, as well. Taking a closer look at this multi-page record, apparently an official someone inserted several records under the date 1895 in the midst of records clearly listed as 1896. Granted, that “5” was a little hard to see—what do you think? Was it a five or a six for Richard Kelly’s entry?

What is wonderful about this second source of material is that each marriage entry extends for several columns of information provided for both the groom and the bride. The “Record of Marriages” begins with the groom’s name in column one. From that point, you have to pay careful attention to the column numbers to keep straight which page you are on.

For the groom, the twenty four year old Richard declared that he was the son of Timothy Kelly (which we already knew) and Mary Barrett. Now, there’s the beginning of our problems. Granted, Richard was a mere child when his mother, Ellen, passed away in 1875. Perhaps she was really named “Mary Ellen” and people had dispensed with the formality of the first name. But I doubt that.

On the other hand, whatever Richard’s mother’s real maiden name was, all I know is that it is illegible. Here’s a sample of what it looked like on the 1860 document when Timothy and she were married:

About the only thing I can guarantee is that you didn’t think it looked like Barrett, either. I’m not sure what I should attribute that surname-out-of-left-field to, but I did take a look ahead to the very end of the long line of entries, and discovered that they were married by someone also having the name Barrett. Coincidence?

Richard’s bride was listed as Louisa Miller, daughter of August and Rose Palmer Miller. She was born in New Haven, a smaller town in Allen County. Louisa had claimed her age at next birthday to be twenty five, but it might have been a touch older, if we can believe what was reported by her parents on the 1870 census.

Whenever their wedding ceremony—my guess being 1895—Richard and Louisa were together almost as long as there are census records to help us tell. The childless newlyweds opened their house to Louisa’s sister Rosa in the 1900 census, but by the time of the 1910 census, baby “Ellen” (as it was recorded in that document) had arrived. The threesome can be found in the 1920 census, despite mangling of Louisa’s name and correction of their daughter’s name to “Helen M.”

That was the year a sweet newspaper announcement gave us a peek at the nature of their relationship and social engagement. With a nod to his former career status, The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette headlined the October 24 article, “‘Cap’ Kelly Married Twenty-Five Years.”
About thirty relatives and friends of the family gathered last night at the home of Police Clerk Richard Kelly, 127 East Leith street, to remind Mr. and Mrs. Kelly of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary which occurred yesterday. The affair was planned as a surprise which proved a complete success. A three course luncheon was served which was followed by music and games.

By the time of the 1930 census, Richard and “Louise,” rebounding from empty nest syndrome, had taken in a boarder. By this point, Louise had reached sixty years of age, and though still working, Richard was not far behind.

Before the time of the 1940 census could roll around, Louise was already gone—passed away on January 14, 1939. While Richard could be found in his daughter’s household for the 1940 census, he was not to remain there long. He joined his wife, buried at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne, upon his passing on February 22, 1945. If the age given in his record at the cemetery was correct, a birth date calculator pinpoints his date of birth as October 4, 1871—a long and productive life, sprinkled with some journalistic attention and administrative headaches.

In addition to the acclaim he received for his law enforcement duties, Richard had one other distinction within his immediate Kelly family: he was the only one of Timothy and Ellen’s children to have children of his own. Sisters Mary and Catherine had died, unmarried, in their youth. Brothers Andrew and Timothy were also left childless—Andrew through divorce and Timothy (as far as I can tell) never having married. Even their sole surviving sister, Deborah Kelly Pence, had not had any children of her own.

Richard and Louise’s daughter, Helen, leaves us the only family trail to continue pursuing in this particular Kelly line.


  1. That is an interesting record. It's odd that they would write the year in the places that they did. It seems like "fill in the blanks" at random times. It looks like a "6" to me. *scratches head*

    1. It does seem odd. That's why I was hoping the logic of it all was that they needed to insert some "1895" dates in the midst of the journal entries for 1896. Go figure. At least I have confirmation that they were married, whether the one date or the other.

  2. I don't know -- the record certainly seems chronological. I can't even imagine the circumstances that would cause someone to insert an old record in the middle of a new record. I realize that often such records were compiled after the fact, but ....

    1. Ah, those little puzzles of the research life...I guess this is one of those times when I get to insert one of those phrases like "the preponderance of the evidence..."

  3. I don't know it seems like a chronological list..unless, someone messed up, the certificate was found and entered out of sequence. It is one year or the other.
    Recently I went back to my Father In Laws obit, that my Mother In Law wrote, it gives his graduation date as 1933 when it is in fact 1932. I am certain it will mess someone up someday. Hopefully I have left enough 1932 info behind that someone runs across the correct info.

    1. Well, if you leave enough of a find-able trail, a careful researcher in the future will realize the mistake. We've all run across errors from past records--even government documents and headstones, for crying out loud!--and know that you can't just rely on the information on one solitary record.


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