Kelley moved family here from South Carolina

Published 1:20 am Saturday, October 3, 2015

Today’s column will feature the Kelley ancestry of Mary Elizabeth (Kelley) Burke, the Arrant descendant identified in last week’s story. Her parents and relatives lived mostly in the Slocomb area of Geneva County, Ala. Her Grandfather Reese Algerdina Kelley, was the son of William Henry Kelley (1817-aft. 1880), who is different from the William Henry Kelley (b. 1838) whose descendants resided in the Pleasant Home community.

Today’s Kelley line begins with the earliest ancestor identified on, John Kelly, who was born in 1650 in Bradden, Middle Isle of Man on the British Isles. He married Jane Christian (1655-1719), and they had a son named Robert Kelly. Robert was born in 1686 also in Bradden. In 1714 he was married to Margaret Christian (1695-1761), daughter of Edmond Christian (1658-1723) and Margaret Curphey (1662-1739).

Robert and Margaret Kelly had a son whom they named Robert Ray Kelley. Robert Ray was also born in Bradden in 1717. In 1763 he was married to Elizabeth Lewn, daughter of Robert Lewn Sr. and Margaret ?. Robert Roy was the Kelley ancestor to immigrate to America during the 1700s, and he lived until 1793. His son, Isaac Kelley, was born in 1751 in Bedford, Va. Isaac was married in 1776 to Rebecca Woods, daughter of Andrew Woods (1722-1781) and Martha Preston Poage (1728-1818). Isaac lived until 1828 at which time he died in West Virginia.

Isaac and Rebecca were the parents of Simon Kelley who was born in 1787 in Darlington, S.C., or possibly Wheeling County, Va. Simon was married to Sarah DuBose (1780-1879), daughter of Andrew DuBose (1751-1806) and Elizabeth Mims (1755-1827). Sarah was a native of Sumter County, S.C., and that is where this family settled for some time. Simon and Sarah reared 15 children. They died in 1852 and 1879 respectively.

Among Simon and Sarah’s children was a son named William Henry Kelley who was born in 1817 in Sumter County, S.C. (He is mentioned above in the introduction.) In 1842 he was married to Elizabeth Taylor (1827-1880. They reared a large family of 12 children in Sumter County. William Henry died there sometime after 1880.

Their children included the following: Sarah C., b. 1841, d. 1928; Simon K., b. 1846, d. 1870; Reese Algerdina, b. 1848, d. 1929, m. Emma Vermelle Arrants; Mary, b. 1852; William Welborn, b. 1853, d. 1934; Margarette, b. 1856, d. 1933; Laurence Brooks, b. 1857, d. 1928; George Buller, b. 1859; Baron B., b. 1862, d. 1938; Harriett “Hattie” Almira Josephine, b. 1863, d. 1931; Simon Hartwell, b. 1866, d. 1935; and Ann, b. 1868.

The second oldest son, Reese Algerdina Kelley, is the ancestor who moved his family south circa 1889 to Geneva County, Ala. They resided in the general area of Geneva and later moved to the Slocomb area where Reese continued his work at a wheelwright He was married to Emma Vermelle Gray Arrants (1846-1913) who was also a native of South Carolina. Reese and Emma reared the following four daughters: Anna Elizabeth, b. 1871, d. 1963, m. James Joshua “Jim” Kelley; Dana Eugenia, b. 1872, d. 1957, m. John Henry Crutchfield; Ida Camilla, b. 1880, d. 1902, m. George W. Dunn; and Minnie Vermel, b. 1882, d. 1956, m. James David Clark (1872-1940).

The oldest daughter, Anna Elizabeth Kelley, married a Kelley who has now been proven to have been a distant relative. It is also fascinating that both their mothers were Arrants descendants. This means the marriage union created close double cousins. Jim and Anna Elizabeth migrated along with her parents, Reese A. and Emma Vermel Kelley, in 1888, from Sumter County, S.C., to Geneva County adjacent to Covington in South Alabama. They settled first in Eunola and later moved to Thurston. There Jim donated land for the construction of the Methodist Church and also assisted in establishing the Thurston School. The couple later moved in 1908 to Slocomb, which became their permanent home. Jim again helped build a Methodist Church and the first Slocomb High School. He became involved in numerous community affairs such as being a member of the Board of Directors of the Slocomb Bank where he worked as a vice-president. Anna Elizabeth was also an active member of the community along with caring for their 12 children. She served as a mid-wife in the area and helped prepare the body for burial of when anyone died. In addition, she operated a small hotel out of their home.

The above couple was married in 1888 and reared the following children: Maxie Standmore, b. 1889, d. 1970, m. Vera Reynolds; Hattie Alma, b. 1890, d. 1892; Reese Fred, b. 1892, d. 1967, m. Minnie Griffin; Claude Postel, b. 1893, d. 1964, m. Annie Griffin; Ettie Camilla, b. 1895, d. 1939, m. Bryant Austin Newton; William Charles, b. 1896, d. 1899; James Walter “Jim,” b. 1900, d. 1971, m. Ina Clark; Dan Algan, b. 1903, d. 1920; General Clyde, b. 1904, d. 1992, m. Agnes Vernette Black; Anna Bernice, b.&d. ca 1896; Mary Elizabeth, b. 1908, d. 1999, m. James K. “Jake” Burke; and Joseph, b.&d. 1914.

The family of Mary Elizabeth Kelley and her husband, James K. “Jake” Burke, appear to have lived most of his life in the household of his parents. They resided mostly in Covington County in the Searight community north of Gantt, but they drove into Andalusia to work and operate a mattress business. They were married in 1926, and reared the following children: Mary Frances, m. Harold Thomas Grimes; Maxie Janette, m. Judson Rudolph Carroll; James Kelley, b. 1933, d. 1940; and Charles Danny, b. 1936, d. 1970, m. Ernestine McLeod. After Jake’s death, his widow, Mary Elizabeth, resided in Andalusia.

Jim and Anna Elizabeth Kelley’s next to youngest son, General Clyde Kelley, and his wife, Agnes Vernette (Black), reared the following children: Mary Virginia, b. 1925, m. James Metzger Murphy; Quinton Parker, b.1926, m. Helen K. Nelson; Max Allen, b. 1928, m. Sarah Jacqueline Hagler; Charles Clyde, b. 1933, m. Carrie Mae Clark; Sarah Kathryn, b. 1935, m. Jessie Ralph Tidwell; Emma Frances, b. 1937, m. James Robert Wood; and Tony Marvin, b. 1943, m. Linda Clark.

Sources include for the earlier generations of this family and family records researched by Sarah (Hagler) Kelly and her husband Max Kelly.

Anyone who might find any error in the above writing is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email:


The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veteran will be joining other camps in Southeast Alabama for a brigade meeting at the new Confederate Park with monument and flags, which is located about three miles north of Brantley on US Hwy 331. Meat will be provided for the meal, but everyone is asked to bring a covered dish. Anyone interested in Confederate heritage is invited to attend.