The family name of Kelsey has been traced to a manor at Beckenham, County Kent, England, about 1250, during the reign of King Henry III. At that time the name was De Kelsey, showing evidence of a Norman origin. Many members of the family married titled men and women.
Early in the 1600's. William Kelsey journeyed to New England where he was one of the founders of Newtowne, now Cambridge, Mass., and also Hartford and Clinton in Connecticut. The Kelseys were very prominent in their church and their community.
John D. Kelsey (1809-1876), who had two brothers, David and Samuel, was a descendent of the traveler from England. He was born in Vermont, where he became a farmer, and later moved to Pennsylvania and then New York. He came to Lake County, Indiana, in the spring of 1860, an early settler in West Creek Township.
John D. Kelsey married Eunice Johnson and their children were: Mary, Emily and James J. When James J. Kelsey (1842-1920) was three years old, his mother passed away.
His father (John D.) later married widow Barbara Westfall Turner, who became the mother of Jane, John Jr., Wykoff and Emma. Her children by her previous marriage were Mary, Martin and Perkins Turner.
Wykoff Kelsey was well known in Lowell, and became a minister in Chicago, Ill.
James J. Kelsey was educated in an old hewn log school house in New York State. The seats were slabs on four wooden pins, with the desk being a broad board running part way around the room and resting on pins driven into the wall. He used a goose quill, studied the Davies Arithmetic, the Rhetorical Reader, and the Sanders Speller.
He began life at the bottom of the ladder, working for nine dollars per month to earn money to bring his parents to Indiana. They later arrived with only $20.
He worked at many menial tasks and farmed with his father until August 1862, when he joined Company K, 113th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served in Iowa and Tennessee until February 1863.
He returned to the West Creek Farm, and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. When he retired from the farm in 1899, he moved to a house that is still standing, directly across the street from Dante's Restaurant.
In September 1863 James Kelsey married Nancy Kile (1842-1927), daughter of Reason C. Kile (1817-1899) and Nancy Jane Hayden Kile (1823-1902), and granddaughter of Nehemiah and Harriet Kitchel Hayden, 1837 pioneers of West Creek Township. The children of James Kelsey and Nancy Kile Kelsey were Laura E. (1864-1957), Merritt W. (1866-1937), and Leroy E. (1878-1944).
Laura E. Kelsey married A. Byron Chipman and their children were Mildred, who married Frank Hosbach; Edith, who married Robert Engels; and Albert, who married Emily Nelson, daughter of prominent businessman Frank Nelson of Lowell.
The Chipmans first farmed in Kankakee County, Ill., but in 1900 purchased a 240-acre farm from William Brannon in West Creek Township. Chipman placed nearly 10,000 drain tiles in the fields during 1903 and 1904, and his farm was rated one of the best in the township.
Merritt W., the eldest son, became a prominent Lowell businessman, starting out just before the turn of the century. He began his Livery Stable business in 1898. The building was built on tall pilings directly over the bed of Cedar Creek on the south side of the bridge on Commercial Ave., but the Old Timer can only remember the rotting posts standing alone near the old wooden bridge. A story is told that some of the young men of the area would ask to rent a horse that would instictively return to the stable without guidance, so that they could sleep on the way home from a barn dance or a party!
An advertisement in the 1901 Lowell Souvenir Tabloid newspaper read: "MERRITT KELSEY, LIVERY, SALE AND FEED STABLE - Good service, prices reasonable and everything first class - Phone 99." That appeared in several papers in the following years.
About the same time, this item appeared in the Social Column: "Merritt Kelsey and wife took an excursion from Momence to Fulton (near Moline) Ill., then down the Mississippi River twenty-three miles by boat last Wednesday. Had a delightful trip viewing the most magnificent scenery; had a fine supper on board, came back Thursday.
The livery business was profitable, so in 1906 Merritt finished his new brick livery stable on the north side of Commercial Ave. across from the old one. The following advertiseement appeared in "Souvenir Album of Lake County, 1906": "A Model Livery Stable" - Merritt Kelsey of Lowell, with an experience in the livery business for over eight years, has completed a new two story brick building 38x80 feet on Commercial Ave. and has opened one of the best arranged and equipped livery, feed and stables in Northern Indiana. The cost of the real estate is $5,400 and the equipment $2,500. The basement is fitted up for 14 head of horses, while on the first floor is space for 16 more head; on this floor space has also been provided for vehicles, buggy washing, harness, etc. An elevator to hoist vehicles to the upper floor will be provided. At present, Mr Kelsey has eight brand new buggies, two surrelys, one three seated vehicle, and one bus, and is prepared to take care of weddings, funerals, and social parties on short notice. A share of your patronage is solicited by Mr. Kelsey."
Merritt was also a Lowell volunteer firefighter for many years, and was later associated with George Wilson in the garage business.
Kelsey (1866-1937) married Catherine Ann Stubbs (1873-1953) on Dec. 23, 1890. They were blessed with three children: Vernal, who married Lewis Shurte; Pauline, who married Russell Burroughs; and Glen (1906-1931). Vernal's daughter, Marcia Shurte, and Pauline Burroughs kindly helped with information for this story.
Pauline's children are Mary Ann, married to John Kelly, and James N.
Lewis Shurte was a well-known businesssman in Lowell for years. He operated a cream station in downtown Lowell, sold it to his brother-in-law Russell Burroughs, and started a fox farm, which he managed for many years. The farm was on the shores of Redwing Lake, northeast of Lowell, and was then called Shurtes Marsh. The big pond was a popular place for ice skating parties and the Shurtes would share their yard to park vehicles.
Merritt acquired a farm on Joe Martin Rd., but later moved into town and bought a house next to his father's on the west side of Lowell. He purchased the home from George Berg, founder of West Side Hardware, who moved to California with his family in 1922.
Merritt's brother, Leroy E. (1878-1944), was a machinist in the Lowell area. He married Mary A Ponto (1878-1950) in 1896. They had two sons, Garrett E., who passed away as a child (1898-1902), and Cecil G. Kelsey. Cecil (1900-1964) married Betty Reynolds in 1927. Their daughters are Phyllis Heintz, Anna Mary Long, and Nancie Wade. Leroy was called "Puddy" and played lineman in the "Beef Trust" semi-professional football team at Lowell, coached by the well-known Frank Maloy, a Monon Railroad station agent for many years.
Others on that team included Bernie Beckman, Tim Pattee, Christopher "Crip" Hill, Ned Regnier, Ben Lynch, Dr. Rigg, Smiley Anderson, Ed Brownell, Bill Purdy, Ralph Trump, Wells Ainsworth, Bill Callahan, Bird Viant, Ed Johnson, "Nub" Ray.
Descendents of the Kelseys of New England are now scattered the length and breadth of the North American continent, but only a few in this area boast the Kelsey name.
In 1903, John Zartman moved with his family from Grant Park, Ill., and purchased the Kelsey Livery Stable on the south side of Commercial Ave. in 1906. Later, he built and operated a filling station located between the Hardings Inc. and the Monon Railroad. This 'A' frame building was moved to the Buckley Homestead to use as an outbuilding. John's daughter was Martha Hathaway Smith, who operated a millinery shop in Lowell for decades.
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