Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leander Franklin Kelley

Since I started researching my family lines, I have always recognized the importance of the peripheral lines as well.  Just as I have spent a lot of time on my direct line, I have also spent a great deal of time on the siblings and families of my direct ancestors.I have always thought that Leander almost seemed like a feminine name to me, but I know it to be a male name.  My great grandmother was one of 14 children.   All but two of them lived to be adults.  Most of the children were born in Clay Co., KY until 1885, when John Ward Kelly and Melvina Robertson moved west to Chautauqua Co., KS.  Melvina died in 1890 after having three more children; the youngest and Melvina dying during childbirth.

Leander Franklin Kelly - abt 1909
  Leander Franklin Kelly was almost 10 years when his mother died.  I’m sure it had to be difficult for John Ward Kelley to take care of such a large family on his own, so within a short time after his wife’s death to a Laura or perhaps Sarona Spivey.  I’ve never found proof of either marriage.  Lee (as Leander was called) had problems with this step mother and he took off at the age of 13 to make his own way.  He started out working through northwestern Oklahoma (which was known as the Cherokee strip) and then within three years he ended up near the Arkansas line.  He stated there until 1902, when got the chance to ride a train to Seattle, WA.  That fall he headed down to Lewiston, ID.  Lee met and married Lucinda Ella Powell in 1906 and married her in Orofino, ID.  Lee and Lucinda quickly added children to their family.  By 1930, they had 5 living children – including 4 daughters and one son.  Lee worked ranch work around Idaho Co., ID and near Teakean, Clearwater Co., ID.  Lee died on 23 Jun 1936 after committing suicide.  Earl, his son, told me that he was in terrible pain from stomach cancer and took his own life to stop the agonizing pain.  His wife, Lucinda married a widower and died in 1961 in Lewiston, ID.
Leander & Lucinda Kelley

Several years ago I had the opportunity to meet Lee’s son, Earl.  I had wondered why Lee had committed suicide and wanted to know if he knew that he had family that had also moved to Lewiston.  Lee’s brother –in-law, John Lyons Tannahill moved to Idaho in the 1920’s.  He had followed his brothers up north from Oklahoma.  I found it interesting that they ended up the in the same area.  Earl told me that his father was aware of the family that had moved to Idaho.  He came home one day from work and told his family that he had helped his niece when she had car problems and had fixed the car.  That niece was my grandfather’s twin sister, Rachel.  I also learned later that John Ward Kelley had actually traveled up to Idaho to visit Lee before he died in 1910.  I’ve often wondered if he made the long trip to mend fences with his son.  Learning about Lee Kelley reminded me of the importance of researching these siblings.  I learned a lot about the Kelley family that I never would have known.
Teakean Cemetery - Teakean, ID

Lee Kelley's grave
Lee's baby's grave
One of the other significant things about Lee Kelley for me personally is that it was one of my first cemetery trips.  I had no idea where Tekean, ID was…and had never heard of it until I found out that Lee Kelley was buried there.  So, one stormy fall afternoon, my father and I took off to find Teakean, ID.  We traveled out through Juliaetta, ID and up through Southwick and further on through to the top of the high plain.  There - seemingly in the middle of nowhere – was Teakean, ID.  All that remained of the town were a few houses and a cemetery.   Dad and I got our coats on and started walking the cemetery, and found Lee’s grave quite easily…and 
buried next to him was their young baby that had died shortly after birth.

I have since located Lee’s wife’s grave in Normal Hill Cemetery in Lewiston, ID and all of his daughters and have learned recently that Lee’s son, Earl had passed away as well.  Leander Kelley was the first relative that I was able to research first hand.  I researched him through records, personal interview with his son, his obituary, and traveled a few hours to go and find his grave.  You might say that he helped me become addicted to genealogy.