O'Kelley Migration

It is unknown when my immigrant ancestor actually arrived in America but Alethea Jane Macon who published in 1969 Four O’Kelley Sons and Some of their Descendants – Allied Families tells her readers that he came from Ireland to Virginia in the second quarter of the 18th century.  Harold O'Kelley in his 1985 book "Four Families Through Georgia" suggest our immigrant ancestor came in the first quarter as a William Kelley who found in Caroline Co Virginia and he was likely the the father of our ancestor who he like Macon believes was named Thomas O'Kelley.   I think it more likely that the ship record of the arrival of a William Kelly in Virginia in 1746 is my ancestor and he married Elizabeth Dean who was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Deane found living in in Tidewater area of Virginia near the time of William Kelly's arrival.  My ancestor, William Kelly, reportedly arrived in America as a protestant meaning he must have come from a minor Irish Landed Gentry family or from a family that operated a business and converted in their attempt to avoid having their business and what little wealth they had from being confiscated by the English Protestants.  In 1750 most common Irish were still mostly Irish Catholic. 

There were many events in Ireland that could have forced my ancestor out of Ireland and to America but the 1691 Willamette War forced many O'Kellys out of Ireland into Europe. The greatest and most deadly battle in Ireland occurred in Aughrim in 1691 and after that war some fled, some choose to move, others were forceable moved from Ireland which could be the time when our ancestor left his homeland supporting Harold O'Kelleys believe that iour ancestor parents and maybe grandparents had been in America long before the records report them in Mecklenburg Co Virginia about 1777.  There were other events in Ireland that could have forced him to America as n 1740 there was a great freeze and ice storm in Europe so in Ireland  the crops failed in 1741.  The harbors were frozen over for more than 7 weeks.  Many died all over Europe that year from starvation and disease.  It is also unknown as to where our first ancestor lived but documents first identify them in Mecklenburg VA, Granville, and Warren Co NC..  Harold O'Kelley surmised that because Benjamin Kelly b 1761 stated in his Revolutionary War pension application that he was born in Kings and Queen County that they first lived there but that application also says he was born in 1761 making it very unlikely that he was of our family as a very early bible record places the birth of Frances at August 31 1761.  Both J Fred and Macon did research at the DAR and our National Archives and neither mention this application.  According to both J Fred O'Kelly and Alethea Jane Macon our ancestors can be traced to Mecklenburg Virginia and then to Oglethorpe Georgia and a 1782 Mecklenburg Virginia Head of Household Census makes it certain that our ancestors name was William Kelley as he is the only Kelley, Kelly, O'Kelley, or O'Kelly found living with ten others in his household just three years after Charles Kelley appeared on a Mecklenburg Militia roster.   If William was native born Irish then he and his family woudl have been living like native Irish at that time, all living in the same home and that is why Charles Kelley would was marred with two children in 1784 does not appear as head of his household in Mecklenburg.  We know he was there, there are land records and military records proving he was there but he does not appear on this census and that must mean he and his family was lving with his father and mother, William Kelley and Elizabeth Dean.  This is further proven as the first gand child the first grandson was born to Charles and Mary and they named him William certainly after Charles's father and just two years later the first grand daughter was born and Charles and Mary named her Elizabeth Dean Kelley.

Both J Fred O'Kelly and Alethea Jane Macon make a claim that Charles sold his land in Mecklenburg in 1805 and moved to Oglethorpe GA but below there is an earlier land record for Charles O'Kelley before the creation of Oglethorpe Co GA.  I wonder if the sale in 1805 was made when they moved or if the sale came years later when tey knew they were never going to move back.  Also in Wilkes Co George we find two land records for a William Kelley so it may be the entire family moved to Wilkes Co and they were living there when their portion they were lving in became Oglethorpe Co.   There are also records showing Francis won a 400 acre land prize in the 1805 Georgia lottery.   Virtual Georgia has the land records for the Headright System online and so far I have only found Charles O'Kelley and several Kelley's who received lands in Wilkes Country from which Oglethorpe Co George was formed in 1795 but I have traced most of these Kelleys back to England, they never lived in Virginia.

Wilkes County Georgia
Kellay, John 400 Acres Feb 12 1785
Kelley, Barnard 90 Acres 10 May 1789
Kelley, James 750 Acres 13 June 1790
Kelley, James 217 Acres 10 November 1791
Kelley, John 200 Acres 09 June 1784
Kelley, John 200 Acres 14 December 1784
Kelley, Wiilliam 100 Acres 05 September 1787
Kelley, William, Sr. 500 Acres 12 May 1784
Charles O'Kelley

Migration of the descendents of William Kelley

I thing it possible that William and Elizabeth may have lived well into the nineteen century and are likely buried in Georgia.

(1) Thomas O'Kelley appears as appears as Thomas Killey in the 1771 Militia Rolls for Granville Co NC.  His marriage document to Elizabeth Wyers was also in Granville May 1785.  The next document that he appears in is the 1800 Oglethorpe Census which gives him as Thos. OKelly and the last document is his will executed in 1818 in Madison Co Georgia. 

(1-1) Francis Dean O'Kelley was very mobile.  Unlike his father he owned slaves and in mid adulthood he made several moves to Arkansas and then back to Georgia as did several of his sons.  I have found no proof that this Francis is the one who Thomas named in his will.  Francis named his first born son John P but the tradition at that time was to name the first born grandson after his grandfather, Thomas was Francis Dean's their son.  The marriage record for Thomas and Elizabeth puts their marriage but Francis Dean reports on his marriage record and two US Census as born in 1779 and in North Caroline and not Virginia as given by Alethea Jane Macon.  Francis may be the son of a missing brother of Charles, a John O'Kelley but that is pure speculation on my part.

(1-1-3) Thomas O'Kelley (1808 GA) 1850 Census puts this family in Old River, Arkansas Co, Arkansas.  This may be the first O'Kelley in Arkansas.  I believe this is the source of the O'Kelley's living in central Arkansas and parts of Oklahoma.

(1-1-5) Overton O'Kelley was born in Georgia, likely Walton Co.  He married the daughter of Charles Dean O'Kelley, Mary O'Kelley and they moved to Arkansas and back to Georgia several times and their daughter Susan was born in Alabama so it seems likely they moved there for a brief time to be near Mary's father and mother, Charles Dean O'Kelley and Mary Stamps.  To my knowledge this marriage is the only known record that puts a descendant of Thomas and Charles with each other.

(1-1-5-1) Charles Francis Dean O'Kelley was born and died in Arkansas.  He was nanmed after his maternal grandfather Charles Dean O'Kelley and his paternal grandfather Francis Dean O'Kelley and this was not unusually.

1-1-5-2) George Washington O'Kelley was likely named after Mary's uncle who was likely the grandfather she never had.  When Mary's grandfather Charles O'Kelley died in 1810 or almost two decades before Mary's bith, Charles Dean O'Kelley was still a minor and his older brother Rev George Washington O'Kelley became his guardian.  He died just a few years before Overton and Mary's son was born. George Washington O'Kelley was born in Walton Co Georgia and died and is buried in the Friendship Cemetery in Rison Cleveland Co Arkansas.

(1-1-5-2-?) Henry Overton O'Kelley was born in Rison Cleveland Co Arkansas but he died and is buried in Oroville, Butte, California.

(1-1-5-2-?-3) George Washington O'Kelley was born November 11 1923 in Alameda, California.  He died November 13 2001 in Oroville, Butte, California

(3) William Dennis O'Kelley (abt 1754)  It is unknown what happened to William after the war. Alethea Jane Macon only gives him as William D, J Fred O'Kelly gives him as William and neither author mentions service in our Revolutionary War but Harold O'Kelley tells his readers that he was the Lt William Dennis O'Kelley who appears in our National Archives documents.  Because Wm D Kelly as he signed his name could read and write and was an officer and Thomas, Charles, and Francis all made only markes, I have growing doubt that Lt William Dennis O'Kelley could be their brother.

(4) Charles O'Kelley (1756) There is no evidence to tell us where Charles was born.  He could have been born in America, Ireland, or even France.  He first appears in the written records in Mecklenburg Co Virginia in 1777 and J Fred O'Kelley and Alethea Jane Macon claims that he and his family migrated to Georgia in 1805.  Charles reportedly died and was buried in Oglethorpe.  It is from this ancestor that most of the Arkansas O'Kelleys seem to have originate.

(4-3-1) William Kelley was the first born grandchild and was most certainly named after his paternal grandfather, William Kelley who we find represented in the 1782 Mecklenburg Census.  Alethea Jane Macon reports that William remained in Mecklenburg when his family moved to Georgia in 1805.  It is difficult to know exactly what happened to him but there is reason to believe he married, had children and moved to Kentucky and later to Ohio.  He may be buried in Ohio but his grandson also named William Kelley moved to Washington Co Arkansas and was one of the original founders of the First Christian Church in Fayetteville. 

(4-3)George Washington O'Kelley (1783 Virginia) was living in Oglethorpe GA according to the 1830 Federal Census. 

(4-3-10)William Alvin O'Kelley (1831 Oglethorpe GA) and he is buried in a yet to be located Cemetery in Benton Arkansas having died in 1905.

(4-3-10-1)John Henry O'Kelley (1854 Banks Co GA) and he is buried in a yet to be located Cemetery in Benton Arkansas

(4-3-10-1-1) Leonard Alvin O'Kelley (1879 Benton AR) and he is buried in a yet to be located Cemetery in Benton Arkansas

(4-10) Charles Dean O'Kelley (1795 VA) appears to have lived in Oglethorpe most of his life.  He reportedly died and is buried in Alabama.  It is unknown if he was living there at the time or died while traveling or working in Alabama but given that he died in 1865 he may have been living with the Stamps to avoid the war and could be buried in the Stamps Cemetery in Lafayette Alabama.  He was a Justice of the Peace for Walton Co GA.

(4-10-2) James Stamps O'Kelley (1824 Walton County Georgia (created in 1818 from Jackson Co)).  James and his wife Lucy lived in Gordon County Georgia (created in 1850 from portions of Cass (Bartow) and Floyd) with their children until sometime after the 1870 Federal Census and before the 1880 Federal Census they moved to Lafayette, Crawford, Arkansas.  James and Lucy are buried in the Love Cemetery just east of US 71 Hwy north of Alma Arkansas at 35° 31' 53.44"N 94° 13' 0.43W Row 9.   James and Lucy may be the source for most all of the O'Kelleys who now live in Washington, Crawford, and Sebastian Co Arkansas.

(4-10-2-1) Charles William O'Kelley (1848 in Gwinnett Co GA)  Appears to have moved with his father and mother to Crawford Co Arkansas.  He homesteaded property just north of 81 Church Community north of Rudy, Crawford Co Arkansas.  Charles and his wife are also buried in the Love Cemetary at Alma Arkansas on the same row as his father and mother.  35° 31' 53.44"N 94° 13' 0.43W Row 9

((4-10-2-1-9) Thomas Milburn O'Kelley  (1893 Landcaster Crawford Co, AR) He married Julia Cress but they had no children.  Thomas was drafted in WWI and served from Sep 1917 to Feb 1918.  He was registered for the draft during WWII.  in my lifetime he lived in Fayetteville Ar and worked for Senator Fulbright as a grounds caretaker for Senator Fulbright's Maple Street Manson.  Thomas is buried in the National Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR.  I have memories of Uncle Tom as we knew him traveling by train to Rudy in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Later when the train passenger service shutdown, he would ride the bus and at the Dean Springs stop near my childhood home.

(4-10-2-1-13)  Albert Henry O'Kelley (1900 Crawford Co Ar) He was my grandfather.  My father told me that the Charles O'Kelley homestead passed to my grandfather Albert when his father passed away but he allowed it to go back to the county for taxes during the depression believing land would never again be worth as much as the taxes owed on it.  My grandfather and grandmother lived just down the road from the old O'Kelley homestead when I was born.  Albert and his wife are buried at Morrison Cemetery near Rudy Arkansas.

(4-10-3 Mary O'Kelley married Overton the grandson of Thomas O'Kelley.  See above Overton to view their children.

(6)Benjamin O'Kelley (1757 Virginia)  He is believed to have died in 1850 in Buncombe Co NC which interestingly because for a brief period around the turn of the 19th century the area now known as Buncombe County North Carolina was Walton Co in Northeast Georgia (1802-1811).  Benjamin and his family may have moved to the first Walton County Georgia during the headright system and while they lived there the state boundary changed after the Walton Co War and Buncombe Co NC was formed.  Georgia later created another Walton Co on the western side of the state.  Benjamin O'Kelley is the ancestor that most if not all of the Missouri O'Kelleys originate.

(6-2)Francis Marion O'Kelley (1787 NC)  The 1850 Federal Census puts the family in Rhea Tennessee.  The 1860 Census puts the family living on the Kings River in Madison Co Arkansas.   My records came to me with his death in 1865 in Bollinger Co Mo but the 1870 Census puts him living in Union, Bollinger MO

(6-2-5)Dr Thomas Katlett O'Kelley (1833 Henderson Co NC)  Military records show a Thomas O'Kelley joined the Union Army in Mo during the Civil War and the 1870 Federal Census puts the family in German, Bollinger Co MO. 

(6-3)Nimrod O'Kelley

(6-3-1) Charles O'Kelley (1811 TN) AAppears in the 1840 Census Wonagle, Madison Co Arkansas Might be the first O'Kelley in Arkansas. 1850 Federal Census put the family living in Barry, Missouri.

(7-1) Francis O'Kelley (1760 Va1830 Federal Census puts him in GeorgiaHe won 400 acres in the Georgia Land Lottery in 1805.  It appears most if not all descends of this family line remained in Georgia and did not migrate before or after the Civil War.

(8-1) George O'Kelley (1763) Nothing is known of him.  Please contact me if you believe you descended from this ancestor.  My contact info is on the main page.  His birth is recorded in Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's Bible but I have no documentation on his death and burial, that came to me from my Aunt.