Picture of Dennis Prue

Dennis Prue

Dennis has been researching family trees for more than 30 years. His expertise has been invaluable in helping to break through brick walls.


This Old Tree, June 2019

This column is about death records. I have sent for and received two death records for members of my family. The two were Tallman Kelley, a 2nd great-uncle, and the other family member was Melvin Kelley.

Melvin Kelley died on May 28, 1936. His parents are listed as Lawrence Kelley and Elizabeth Kelley. Tallman Kelley died on Nov. 6, 1927. His parents were listed as Walter Kelley and no mother was listed.

Going on face value from the two death records, this is how my family should look:

Lawrence aka Larry Kelley and his wife Elizabeth had 13 children, but we are keying on only four children, three being their own: a daughter, Mary b. 1840 (my direct ancestor), and two sons Walter b. 1823 and Melvin b. 1855. Tallman, who was born in 1849, would be listed as a grandson to Larry & Elizabeth, his father being Walter.

What the tree actually should look like is thus: Larry & Elizabeth had 13 children with the following four family members: Walter b. 1823, Catherine b. 1827, Mary b. 1840 and Tallman b. 1849

Melvin was a grandson who was raised by his grandparents. It appears from various write-ups on the family that Melvin is the son of Catherine. When Tallman was born, his brother Walter was not married. Also, Walter and his family did live with his parents in the beginning. They later would live very near his parents. Tallman is never listed in Walter’s household, but always with Larry & Elizabeth.

That Tallman is a brother to Walter is found in Land records. In June 1871, Larry was an old man and in ill health, so he was settling his affairs. Larry sold most of his property, but he kept the home farm. He recorded a Life Rent Deed.

The home farm was to be split into two parts: the Northern section to his oldest son, Walter, and Southern section was going to the youngest son, Tallman.

Tallman would have the family home. The deed was written so that the sons were to care for both parents for the rest of their natural lives and land could be not sold without the consent of the parents. If the sons did not care for the parents, the deed would be null and void and the sons would lose the farms.

Also in 1927, there was a brief write up which states that Tallman was the tenth and youngest son of Lawrence and Elizabeth Kelley, early settlers of Eaton Grant.

There was also a write up on Melvin telling how he was a step-brother to Catherine’s two children from her marriage to Joseph Shaw. Suzanne Reynolds, a daughter of Mary Kelley, stated on an oral taping that Melvin was her cousin and Catherine’s son. She also stated that her grandparents raised Melvin. Melvin grew up in Larry and Elizabeth’s family and they acted as his parents so when he died, the informant listed his parents as Lawrence and Elizabeth.

When Tallman died most people did not remember who his father was. Larry Kelley died in 1873 and Walter Kelley in 1882. Therefore, death records are not always accurate – further research may be needed.

Creative Commons License
This Old Tree, June 2019 by Dennis Prue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at ac-gs.org.