I've been interested in history for most of my life. Some of my earliest memories involve sitting and listening to stories by my great grandmothers. So a degree in History and later an obsession with genealogical research seemed to be a natural progression for me. The older that I get and the more I learn about history, the more I am frustrated at the knowledge of History exhibited by many of the younger generations and many in my own. My family stories are not necessarily unique, but I am certainly glad that I have taken the time to learn about them.
One of the topics that I remember studying a bit in high school was about the Cumberland Gap. Essentially, I knew it was a pathway where immigrants coming in from the north would travel to the south and that Daniel Boone was one of those responsible for establishing the trail and that it was part of the Wilderness Road. I didn't realize how much that passage way would impact my own family history. I have family members that came through Philadelphia and stopped in West Virginia (Shawvers & Amicks) and I have families that continued clear down to the Clinch Mountain's in TN such as the Kelly's and Hammer families.
Kinchen W. Kelley was the son of Johnathan H. Kelley and Margaret E. Matherly who were most likely Irish immigrants who came in through Philadelphia like many other immigrants from the Pre-Revolutionary War period. Kinchen was born on 19 Jun 1759 in Pennsylvania and probably traveled down to Tennessee as a young man. He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Hammer in abt 1787. I believe from what I have read that the Hammers were already in Tennessee by the time that Betsy married Kinchen. Like Kinchen, Betsy was born in Pennsylvania on 14 Dec 1764. She was the daughter of John Melchior Hammer II and Maria Margaretha Kaupp who were both from Oberjesingen, Wurttemberg, Germany. According to some sources, the Hammers traveled down about 1780 and settled near Knob Creek, Washington Co., TN. The family got two land grants of 200 acres and had a home that was built at the first spring above Jonesborough. John Hammer was an important man in the area - serving as a Missionary, Farm, Census Take, Property Assessor, Counter of Taxables and served on several juries. In addition, he was appointed by John Sevier as a Magistrate after the State Constitution was formed. He died in 1817 and his wife, Margaretha died 10 years later in 1827.
When I first started studying the Kelley family, I talked to the granddaughter of William Kelley and Ailey Allen. She was the youngest child of one of the youngest children of William Kelley and Ailey Allen and actually spent her young years on their farm. Family legend said that William Kelly as a boy came to Clay Co., KY with his family probably in the 1840's. They had a wagon that carried their goods...but the older children walked along side the wagon. They came from the Clinch Mountains in Tennessee. Researchers before me had pieced together that William's father John Kelley was the son of Kinchen Kelley. This information seemed to be confirmed by a copy of Kinchen Kelley's will. Even though it seems strange to have a John and Johnathan mentioned in the same will. That seems to me to be practically the same name. The connection also seemed to confirmed to me by the prominent use of the name Kinchen within the Kelley family.
So, in just a few generations the Kelley family traveled from Pennsylvania (Kinchen b. 1759) to Tennessee (m. Elizabeth "Betsy" Hammer abt 1787) and then moved to Clay Co., KY around 1840 (John Kelley & Elizabeth Hunter). My Great Great Grandfather was the son of William Kelley and Ailey Allen and the grandson of John Kelley and Elizabeth Hunter. John Ward Kelley moved his own family out of Kentucky and to Kansas and Oklahoma in 1885. Sarah Rachel Kelley, John Ward's daughter, married John Lyons Tannahill and their son, Oliver Richard Tannahill was my grandfather. My grandfather's family didn't stay that long in Kansas and Oklahoma and left in the 1920's although I don't think it was for better opportunity but rather running from the law...but that is a story for another time.
I wonder how many Americans who had ancestors who traveled the same pathway from Pennsylvania to Tennessee and how many have tried to trace that pathway back. I'm not sure I would have ever known where the Kelleys and Hammers had lived if it wasn't for some genealogists and historians who spent time and effort to locate the Killey Cemetery in Knob Creek, Washington Co., TN (See Killey "Kinchen" Cemetery for more info) Here is a link to Kinchen Kelley (Killey)'s gravestone on Find A Grave and that of his wife Elizabeth "Betsy" Hammer. Here is my Kelley Line:
Kinchen Kelley m. Elizabeth "Betsy" Hammer
John Kelley m. Elizabeth Hunter
William Kelley m. Ailey Allen
John Ward Kelley m. Melvina Robertson
Sarah Rachel Kelley m. John Lyons Tannahill
Oliver Richard Tannahill m. Capitola Esther Friddle
My Parents...then Me