01 October 2010

Joseph Kelley Goes To Prison

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
October 2010

In an earlier blog I wrote about Eliza O. Kelly's tombstone in Klaiber cemetery. Eliza was born 23 February 1849 and died 18 November 1895 "the wife of Joseph Kelly". [Kelly on the tombstone Kelley on many records.]

After writing about her I realized I did not know as much about her as others in our cemetery so the last two weeks, when time has permitted, I have been on a quest to learn more about Joseph and Eliza O.

There certainly have been serendipity moments with this new quest. I no sooner began researching and received my Kentucky Explorer which included a picture of Joseph and Eliza's son Robert Lee Kelley. Within a matter of hours I was in touch with two descendants who had hit several brick walls looking for this family and had no idea that Eliza O. was buried in Klaiber Cemetery.

Review of death and marriage records for the issues of Eliza list the spelling of her last name from Byran, Bryan, Barnes, Baum and Buiram. The tombstone lists her as Eliza O.

I have kept copious cemetery notes and was also able to get in touch with descendants of yet another issue Samuel Franklin Kelley who had visited with me in 1997. Sadly their father, Harry passed away in 2003 in Muskingum County, Ohio. I am so glad I was able to meet him but he had not been sure about his family history.

Harry's grandfather "Frank" married first Emily Alice Lucas who died in 1896 and is also in Klaiber Cemetery [Boyd County, KY]. After consulting with descendants and doing general background research it appears that Joseph died between 1900 and 1910.

In 1900 he was residing, age 84, with son Robert just a few miles from our cemetery in Carter County, Kentucky. Logically [one would think] family would put their father to rest next to Eliza. And there is the crux. There is a large expanse on either side with what appears to be unmarked graves. There is no writing on the other 3 sides of Eliza O.'s pretty pyramid stone.

We are able to track Joseph through various records but could not locate him or his family in either 1860 or 1870. One family theory was that he had been arrested after the Civil War as a guerrilla and was in the state prison in 1870. Certainly we did find a Joseph born 1826 in the Kentucky State Prison but confirmation that it was the correct Joseph was needed. Kentucky Legislative reports listed the crimes of inmates in 1870 and war fare was not among the items for incarceration at Frankfort. With the idea that a whisper of family tradition might have some merit, I decided to investigate.

Criminal actions are filed in the county circuit courts in Kentucky. After reviewing the Boyd County records I found the indictment against Lafayette Lovejoy, Walker Rollin, Joseph Kelley Jr., Washington Bryan Jr., Taylor Bryant and Nat Edmonds for "breach of public peace". [Boyd Circuit Court, June 1869, page 286, 324, 364--Bryan and Bryant as spelled. Research confirms they are brothers].

Of these gentleman only Joseph went to trial and was convicted and sent to the penitentiary for a term of two years. The next step in this research exercise is to visit the Kentucky State Archives and review the surviving case packets to find out the details of the crime.

Now that we had determined where Joseph was in 1870 and confirmed that he returned to Boyd County where he appears on the 1873 tax records, I set out to fill in the previous 10 years. From issues records I knew that his first child, Samuel Franklin "Frank," had been born across the river in Lawrence County, Ohio in 1865. Their daughter, Maria J., was born in Kentucky 3 years later in 1868.

Being knowledgeable about locality and common surnames in a given area helps when formulating and processing clues and documents. Thus when I found the following New York Times article I immediately knew that members of the Shepherd family lived & still live in the neighborhood where Klaiber Cemetery is located. Not only does the article cite Carter County in Kentucky but Ironton is in Lawrence County, Ohio.

"16 Nov 1858: Another gang of Counterfeiters Broken Up - The Cincinnati papers of Wednesday state that an extensive organization of coin counterfeiters has been broken up in Lawrence County, Ohio. The police officers found at the houses of Joseph Kelly and Wm. H. Shepherd, near Ironton, a large lot of counterfeiters' machinery, tools and acids - a full and complete set, and all that was necessary to manufacture bogus coin - concealed in different parts of the dwellings. They then searched further for the men, who were absent at the time, and arrested them, Shepherd on Friday evening last, in Carter County, Kentucky, and Kelly not far from his own house, on Saturday morning about four o'clock. The apparatus is quite extensive, and includes almost everything necessary to the successful prosecution of the trade, although the implements are rather crude and awkward, just such as men in the country would be apt to construct or have constructed. there were exhibited at the examination implements of various kinds of mulling, stamping, galvanizing, polishing, chipping, etc., with muriatic and sulphuric acid, and various chemicals. A number of half finished coins were also shown."

So the question is posed: had Joseph been released from prison in Ohio only to return to prison in Kentucky? I decided to find William H. Shepherd. Yes, by 1870 Shepherd was back in Kentucky residing in Greenup County. To confirm that the family resided in the portion of north eastern Kentucky near Klaiber Cemetery I decided to see if I could locate his large family in 1860. My heart sank as I found William Shepherd listed with Margaret and children in 1860 in Carter County. The counterfeiter was in prison in Ohio. Had I jumped to the wrong conclusion? Was it another William Shepherd from Carter County? Was I on the right track?

It is extremely important to read every line of every document and not rely on extractions or indexes. In this instance, William Shepherd, age 44, born Kentucky, has a listed occupation as "counterfeiter." Following the census column to the right is a notation "convicted in Columbus."

The 1860 Federal Census for the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus lists William H. Shepherd age 44, born Kentucky and Joseph Kelly, age 34 [born 1826] born Ohio as counterfeiters.

Further work needs to be done on the exercise and several problems present themselves. First most records of Joseph in Kentucky, that we have located thus far, place his birth as Kentucky, not Ohio. So while William Shepherd is from "our" neighborhood and the age is exact, it is not conclusive, but circumstantial, that the Joseph Kelley who went to prison in Kentucky is the same one who went to prison in Lawrence County, Ohio. And while Joseph Kelley, the husband of Eliza O. interacted with Bryant's for the indictment in Kentucky further research is still needed to connect Eliza to her paternal family. Nor have I yet located Eliza and her two children [Samuel Franklin born 1865 OH and Maria J. born 1868 KY] while Joseph was in prison.

The descendants are excited to learn so many new things about the issues and burial of Eliza O., and like all good researchers they want to know more. As the trustee of the cemetery, it would be wonderful to be able to confirm another unmarked grave in our cemetery and add to the growing wealth of history on top of our hill.

And that 7 degrees of relationship - or is that six degrees of separation - holds true to the cemetery. Like the song "...the shin bone is connected to the leg bone..." the Kelley family is connected to the Lucas family connected to the Sexton family connected to the Klaiber family. Can you tell I am as excited as the descendants? Well of course! I love the genealogical hunt. And with open arms I await the next serendipity moment in this research exercise. I'll be watching the comment box!


  1. Ah, ha... I am with you on that trip to Frankfort to sort through the dusty musties. D

  2. I am researching the Joseph Kelley (1826)married to Eliza(1824) the daughter of George Eli Chadwick and Diadema Lockwood.

    They had two sons Joseph (1848) and John (1852) but in the 1860 census they are living without either parent with her family. Included in the mix of people living with the boys are Eastham, Lockwood, White, Bryant, Hutchinson, Chadwick and the Kelley boys.

    I assume the mother died and the the father went off to remarry and all that.
    Anyone can correct me as this is just best guess at this point...My mother started this research in the 1960's. It would be great to have this section of my genealogy make sense.

  3. Here is another newspaper article concerning the above mentioned

    I have Grant relatives who also it has been said were counterfeiters.

  4. My fathers name is David Kelley, son of Robert Kelley and Anna Adkins. Robert Kelley had other sons who are my cousins. We have YDNA test now to find relatives. I don't mean to upset anyone on here however genetically we are Lockwoods. Thus we can't depend on who are grandmother was. On Roberts death certificut the mother is listed as unknown. Thus if Eliza Chadwick is our grandmother then we have a double line of Lockwoods from her. The father of Robert was a Lockwood or Joseph himself was a Lockwood. None of the Lockwoods will talk to me. They have a surname group at FamilyTreeDNA where me and a cousin from this line tested. The curator of the Lockwood surname group won't even answer my emails. One of my 37 exact match markers lives in England. Thus it is doubtful if the Lockwoods are Kelley's. If it were just me then I would look at my own mother being unfaithful however my cousin has a different mother though his dad is my uncle. I would figure it had to start with Joseph and his women. I am angry at Joseph at this point for trying to hide things. Also whatever woman gave birth to Robert my grandfather.