My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in The History of Washington County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Thomas J. Kelly, one of the old and much respected citizens of Prairie Township, was born in Ray County, Tenn., May 5, 1816, and is the son of Thomas and Nancy (Peters) Kelly. The father was born in Virginia, and when young went to Grainger County, Tenn., where he married Miss Peters, a native of Virginia. In a canoe they floated down the Tennessee River to a place near Washington, Ray Co., Tenn., where he established Kelly’s ferry, across the Tennessee, and ran this until his death. The mother then came west with her children, and died In Texas. The father was a Democrat in politics, and for about twenty-seven years represented Ray County in the State Legislature. The mother was a member of the Methodist Church. Thomas J. Kelly was the youngest of six children, three sons and three daughters, born to his parents. He grew up to farm life and received a limited education in the common schools. Having served twelve months in the Florida War, he was appointed subsisting agent at Gunter’s Landing, where the Indians were being collected preparatory to their removal westward. With them he came to Benton County, Ark., where he bought a large tract of land. In 1844 he married Miss Margaret D. Dixon, a native of Middle Tennessee. To them were born two children: William T. and Margaret. During the Mexican War Mr. Kelly served as wagon-master for Col. Yell’s regiment, and during his absence from home his wife died and he was reported dead. So firm was the belief of his death that when he put in appearance all his property had been divided. In 1848 he married Miss Elizabeth Rieff, who was born in Wilson County, Tenn., and who, by her marriage, became the mother of three children: Josephine (deceased), Madline and John H., who has served eight years as a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Six years of that time were spent in teaching and in his ministerial duties in the Cherokee Nation. In 1848 Mr. Kelly came to this county and settled where he now lives. He served as sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives two terms, 1874 and 1875. He is a Democrat politically, and he and his wife are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as was also Mr. Kelly’s first wife.

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This family biography is one of 300 biographies included in The History of Washington County, Arkansas published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Washington County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

To view additional Washington County, Arkansas family biographies, click here

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