Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and hope this blog will help with that. I am not an expert and I consider most of my research as a work in progress. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My Mayflower Ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Oliver Kelley (1795-1883) and Priscilla Chase (1796-1882), Harwich, Mass.

My 4th great-grandfather Oliver Kelley was born in Harwich, Mass., on New Year’s Eve--31 December-- 1795, the son of Patrick Kelley and Dorcas Chase.  I wrote about Patrick and Dorcas here.

Oliver’s childhood in the large Kelley household (he had 10 siblings) would have centered around the sea as his father was a shipbuilder and many family members were mariners. His father was an astute businessman as he also became part owner of a grist mill, a carding mill and a cotton and woolen factory.  Growing up in his North Harwich neighborhood, Oliver was surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins with the family even having its own cemetery.
Possibly Oliver's home in Harwich

At age 19, Oliver married Priscilla Chase in September 1815 at Brewster.  Note: His probate information states they were married 6 September but their marriage intentions were published on 8 September.

Brewster Vital Records: The intentions of marriage between Mr Oliver Kelley of Harwich and Miss Prissilla Chase of Brewster are here entered this 8th day of September A.D. 1815 and made public the Sabbath following. Joseph Smith T. Clerk

Priscilla was born Brewster 28 November 1796, the daughter of Richard Chase and Priscilla Snow. 

Oliver and Priscilla had 10 children, born Harwich:

1. Stillman, b. 16 February 1816, m. Olive Howes Sears and lived in East Dennis where he died in June 1894. He operated a packet business between Dennis and Boston and later owned a store and a fishing business.
2. Oliver, b. 17 October 1817, m. Angeline Baker, died 22 March 1878. He was a master mariner. I wrote about Angeline’s tragic death here.
3. Lorenzo born 09 January 1820, married Fanny Small (one of my favorite names ever!) and died 31 January 1895 in East Bridgewater, Mass.  He was a mariner.
4. Priscilla born 16 December 1822, married Zebina Doane, died 1896 in Somerville, Mass.
5. Richard born 11 August 1824, died before December 1840.
6. Valentine born 14 November 1828, married Rosana Eldridge, moved to Dennis Port and died there 18 March 1911. Valentine and Rosana are my 3rd great-grandparents and I wrote about them here.
7. Francis born 06 November 1830, married Betsey Howes and moved to Dennis where he died 09 March 1876. He was a mariner.
8. Mary Ann born 17 February 1834, married Anthony Megathlin, died 17 June 1915. Anthony was a sea captain and served as a Naval Officer during the Civil War, acting as master of the Winnebago and the Flambeau.
9. Rebecca, born in 1836, died in 1836, age 4 weeks.
10. Richard born 8 Dec 1840, died 05 January 1841.

In the 1850 Census Oliver, a farmer, is 44 (sic: should be 55) living in Harwich with his wife Priscilla, 53, sons Valentine and Francis (both mariners) and daughter Mary Ann.

In the 1870 census his is a 74 year old house carpenter, living with wife Priscilla in Harwich, next door to their son Oliver.

In the 1880 Census his is 84 years old living in Harwich with his wife Priscilla, 83, and their servant Elisabeth Long age 56. The family must have been comfortable financially as it was not very common for Cape families to have servants at that time. Oliver and Priscilla’s daughter Mary Ann Megathlin is living next door with her family.

In an 1880 map of Harwich, Oliver's house (as O. Kelly) is shown near Sand Pond, not far from railroad tracks, and near A. Megathlin, his son-in-law.

Priscilla died in Harwich on 13 July 1882, age 85, of old age.

Barnstable Patriot, 24 July 1882, page 3, Deaths: In Harwich, 13th inst. (current month), Mrs. Priscilla, wife of Oliver Kelley, aged 85 years, 7 months, 15 days.

Oliver died on Christmas Day, 25 December 1883, in Harwich.

Barnstable Patriot, 15 Jan 1884, page 1, Harwich: Mr. Oliver Kelley, the oldest man in town, died the 25th ult. (previous month), very suddenly, aged 87 years, 11 months.

Priscilla and Oliver are buried side-by-side at the Kelley Cemetery in North Harwich. They have identical marble stones, with raised decoration and an engraved "K" on top.
Oliver Kelley's gravestone
Priscilla Kelley gravestone

Barnstable Co. Probate, Oliver Kelley of Harwich, son of Patrick Kelley and Dorcas Chase, born 31 December  1795 Harwich, m. 6 Sept. 1815 Priscilla Chase in Brewster, d. 25 Dec 1883, Harwich,  Case No. 8524, 1884. Spelling mistakes and "ditto" marks as written in records.

Next of kin:
 Stillman Kelley of Dennis, son.
Oliver Kelley of Rhode Island, son.
 Priscilla S. Doane, wife of Zebina S. Doanne of Somerville.
 Mary Magathlin wife of Anthony of Harwich, daughter.
Lorenzo Kelley, Dennis.
Ella Chase, wife of Isaiah Chase, Brockton.
Emma Kelley, husband unknown, Brockton
Mary Kelley, Brockton
Grandchildren and children of Valentine Kelley, deceased (referring to Ella, Emma, Mary)
Francis H. and May H. Chase children of Francis H. Kelley deceased
___ was son of Oliver deceased, the eldest son of said deceased.

Dated 12 Feb 1884.

Appointment of Stillman as admin of estate late of Harwich, admin. bond 12 Feb 1884.

In the Town of Harwich

Brush land near flax pond                                            9.00
Woodland called Abner Hall piece                            56.00
do called Leindry(?) Nickerson "                                38.00
do Elijah Nickerson "                                       20.00
" Squaw Road "                                                 50.00
" Tipper Bass "                                                   200.00
Cedar Swamp called Dry Brook "                               60.00
" near O.C.R. Road East Lot                                          14.00
"  "  "                        West Lot                                            20.00
Cranberry land North of O.C.R. Road                       100.00
___ land near Marshall Kelley                    21.00
Meadow called Tuttle point piece                            5.00
"              "   Nickerson Island piece                              5.00
Piece land called School House lot                            8.00
Homestead with dwelling house and ___ all other
                building thereon                                              266.00
Land south of homestead with dwelling
                house and all buildings thereon
                occupied by A. Megathlin                             150.00
Cleared land with dwelling and ___
                barn thereon occupied by
                Lorenzo Killey                                    110.00

Personal estate

In parlor desk 3.00 clothing in desk 4.50
                clock & looking glass 1.75                              9.25
" Bedstead 50, 7 chairs 1.25 table & cover 1.17
                dishes 2.00                                          4.92
" ___ and mats 1.000 Bedstead.50 clothing 1       2.50
Front bedroom bed & bedding 10 bureau &
                clothing inside 5.00                                          15.00
" 4 chairs & stand 1 __ 1.25 dishes 1.50
                knives & forks .50                                            4.25
Kitchen Desk 1.75, settee 1.00 Books 1.00
                5 chairs .75                                          4.50
2 tables 75 __ & mats .50 bedstead & under bed
                .75                                                          2.00
Sundries in closet .25 Box s__ings1.00 looking
                glass. .50                                              1.75
Pantry crockery 1.50 book room 1 large chest
                & clothing 10.00                                                11.50
Book room table & cloth 50 store 2 5 chairs 50
                lamp 50                                                                3.50
" Sundries in closet 50 looking glass & pail
                50 crockery 2                                      3.00
At Magathlins House 2 featherbeds 7, 4 pillows
150 bolster .60                                                   9.10
" 4 quilts 1.90 Blankets sheets shirts &
                pillowcases 3.33                                                5.23
Cash deposited in CC. Fire ___ Bank Harwich      114.84
Farm & carpenter tools 3, 2 wagons 2                     5.00
contents of woodhouse 1.50 contents of corn
                house 2.50                                          4.00
Contents of store 10.00 2 stores 3                            13.00
Boxes and sundry articles in store chamber         2.00
Boxes chests and sundry articles in house
                chamber                                                              3.00
Chest & clothing 5 bed & bedstead 4                       9.00
Chest & beding 3 2 boxes & contents & 2 chairs1               4.00
Bedstead & bed stead & chairs                  1.00
2 boxes & contents 75 womens clothing 1            1.70
1 trunk and clothing                                                        5.00


  1. There is a wonder image of Oliver and Priscilla in the Dennis Historical Society of the two of them on his catboat at Herring River. Tom Leach, Harwich, Mass

    1. Tom, Thanks so much for letting me know about this! I was able to find it quickly in DHS' digital archive. Happy New Year, Chris