Kelsoe ancestors came from Scotland to Baltimore in 1784

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 22, 2012

In the past two columns descendants of the Kelsoe family have been included as they were related to the Meadows family of Covington County. Currently there are members of the Kelsoe family residing in the town of Opp and surrounding areas.

The name Kelsoe is of Scottish origin and was known as Kelso in the early generations. It is understood that the original selling of the name was Calco or Chalcou, but Kelso/Kelsoe has prevailed. It is still unclear when the letter “e” was added to Kelso.

According to those who have researched this family, one became a Kelso after leaving the village of Scotland Kelso. Genealogist John Alan Kelsoe found that John Kelso left Scotland in 1748 and sailed to America where he landed in Baltimore. He and his wife settled in the Great Valley of Virginia at a site in the vicinity of George Washington’s Mt. Vernon.

The Kelso family was quite prominent in their home country of Scotland. A chronicle of the family formed the introduction of a published book that traces the Kelso family from ancient to modern times. A royal connection is mentioned, and several members of the family married into royal lines.

The Kelso name became somewhat prominent in this country through its use for labeling locations as well as its successful descendants. At least six communities have been identified that bear the name Kelso. In upstate New York, the William Rodger family settled Little Kelso in 1831 and named it after the small village in Scotland, which they had left. An historical marker identifies the site and states that a large log house was constructed there.

Kelsoe descendants have visited other sites bearing their name. Another location is Kelso, Tenn., which is located directly north of Huntsville. Currently, it is pretty much abandoned with the exception of a store or two and a church and cemetery. A third is Kelso, Wash., which was founded by a gentleman who was a native of Kelso, Scotland.

The John Kelso named above is the earliest ancestor identified in the research viewed by this writer. John was born circa 1702 in Scotland. He was married to Polly ?, and they came to America in 1748. After landing in Baltimore, they chose to settle in the Great Valley of Virginia. They reared three sons: Alexander Sr., Joseph and Hugh. The Alexander Kelso, Sr. line will be reviewed in this narrative.

Alexander Sr. was born in 1758 in Augusta County, Va. He was married in 1781 to Margaret Balch, and he served in the American Revolutionary War. He and his wife settled in North Carolina, and among their children was a son named, Alexander Kelso, Jr. Although this son’s birth date is unknown, he was found in the 1820 federal census for Bladen County, N.C. He was listed as being between 26 and 45 years old with four sons and five daughters. The family had moved to Macon County, Ga., by 1840.

Among Alexander Kelso, Jr.’s children was a son named Dr. William Kelsoe who was born circa 1814 in N.C. and died circa 1879. He was married to Mary A. ? who was born in 1820 in Ga. They moved to Macon County where they as well as his parents were enumerated in the 1840 census. By 1860, they have migrated further south to Troy, Ala. On February 18,1868, Dr. Kelsoe ran an ad in The Southern Advertiser stating he was “A ‘Batonic’ physician with particular care of cancers, tumors and ulcers.” In addition to practicing medicine, he was a farmer with large land holdings. A plat map shows his property as a large track of land, which now runs along the inside of Hwy 231 and 89 in Troy.

Dr. William and Mary reared the following two children: John William, m. Sara Amelia Cooper (1840-1913); Mary W., b. 1841, d. 1874, m. Samuel Trotter, no children. John W.’s wife, Sara, was the daughter of Newton D. Cooper and granddaughter of Joseph Cooper, landholder in Columbus County, Ga. Her Great grandfather was Captain Thomas Cooper who served in the Revolutionary War. The Captain was a member of the House of Burgesses in Frederick County, Va., in 1758 and represented Henry County in the Virginia Convention in 1788. He moved his family to Hancock County, Ga., and died in Green County.

John W. Kelsoe enlisted as a private in 1862 in Cusseta and was assigned to Company I, 8th Confederate Cavalry, Confederate States of America. This was a national unit made up of men recruited from Alabama, and John W. was promoted to second lieutenant by Brigade Commander Colonel Halleck in May 1863. About a month later, he was captured and imprisoned at Camp Chase, Ohio, and later transferred to Fort Delaware where he died. His widow, Sarah Amelia, later married William Jason Andrew Jackson Hilliard, also a Confederate veteran, who served as Probate Judge of Pike County for 18 years. This marriage produced two children.

John W. and Sarah Amelia Kelsoe had a son who was also named John William Kelsoe. Called J. Will, he was born in 1860 in Troy and lived until 1925. In 1880, he and Martha “Mattie” Josephine Rice eloped to the edge of Florida and were married without her father’s approval. The story is told that when they returned to face her father, he said, “If she had to marry someone, he would have picked J. Will Kelsoe.” The couple moved to Marlow, Okla., and bought a farm in “Indian Territory.”

The couple lost their oldest son there from an illness with high fever, so he was buried there. They then returned to Troy where they moved into a two-story house across from Troy University. They later settled in Coffee County on a farm in the Keyton community outside of Enterprise. They had the following children: John Rice; Peter Cooper, b. 1884, d. 1963, m. 1906 Ira Ethel Meadows; Alexander S.; Hilliard K.; Katie Amelia; Dora Josephine; John Wesley; Mary Winnifred; and Martha Elizabeth.

The second oldest son, Peter Cooper Kelsoe, was married to Ira Ethel Meadows, daughter of Meadows. They reared their family in Opp and were buried in the Opp City Cemetery. They had the following children: Ruth Elizabeth, Mary Emma “Joy,” William Jason, John Rice, and Robert Mcleod. William Jason, born 1912, was married to Maud Smith, and they had two children: James Cooper Kelsoe, Sr. and Eleanor Willene. James Cooper Kelsoe was married to Mary Jenelle Stokes, and they had two sons, James Cooper Jr. and John David.

The third son, Alexander S. Kelsoe, and his wife, Cleolia Key, reared the following children: Olen Alexander, Eugene Key, Ralph McRee, Martha Virginia, and Mary Helen. Mary Helen was married to Millard Otis “Bill” Bryant, and they had a daughter, Nancy Paulette, who married Hilary Wayne Owens.

The next son, Hilliard K. Kelsoe, born 1888, was married to Ada Lee Ellis, and they reared the following children: John Hilliard, Billy Frank, Mary Cooper, and James Clyde. John Hilliard, born 1888, was married to Ada Lee Ellis, and they had four children: John Hilliard and his wife, Norma Elise Spann, had two children: Karen Elise and John Alan. Billy Frank and his wife, Mary Eloise Bryson, had three children: Patricia Sue, Kathy Lynn and Billy Frank, Jr.

A daughter, Dora Josephine Kelsoe (1892-1944), was married to Isaac M. Wood, and they reared the following children: Moses, Gilbert, Sidney, Elizabeth, John, and Winnie Kate. Gilbert and his wife, Johnnie Mae Mathis, had three children: Phyllis, Carolyn, and Julie. Sidney and his wife, Ruth Mims, had two children: Sidney Jr. and Patricia. Elizabeth and her husband, Jimmy Butts, had a son, Jimmy Butts. John and his wife, Juanita Helms, had three children: Douglas, Harry, and Diane.

The next son, John Wesley Kelsoe (1896-1970), was married to Elizabeth Maye Heath, and they had one daughter, Mary Louise who married Willis Mann Howard. This couple had three children: Willis Mann Jr., Florence Elizabeth, and John Clinton.

The next daughter, Mary Winnifred Kelsoe (1898-1965), was married first to Harvey Creel, and they had two sons: William and Thomas Sylvester. She was next married to Seward Lott Thornton (1888-1963), and they had five: John Kelsoe, Cooper Seward, Eugene Bryant, Winnie Evelyn, and Hilliard Oden.

The youngest daughter, Martha Elizabeth “Bess” Kelsoe, born 1902, was married to John Wylie Layfield, and they had a daughter, Norma Elizabeth, who married Frederick Hilton Borland and after his death she married Bert Morrison. After Layfield’s death, Bess was married to Arthur Lifsey, and after his death, she married Steve Pickett.

Appreciation is expressed to James Cooper Kelsoe Sr. for sharing his family records, which served as the source for this writing. An interview with James and a Kelsoe Lineage compiled by John Alan Kelsoe were of particular assistance.

Anyone who might have any correction to the above is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: