Alida Livingston Sturges

Alida Livingston Sturges

Alida Livingston Sturges was born August 9, 1846 in Fort Wayne, Allen county, Indiana, the seventh child in a family of eight children. Her eldest sister, Susan, died as a baby, so she and Louise were the only girls in a family with five boys. Her father, Charles Edmund Sturges had been born in Maryland; her mother, Louisa Ewing, had been born in Troy, Miami County, Ohio.

Alida married Percival Gates Kelsey at the age of 21 on New Year's Day, 1868 in Fort Wayne. Percival had served in the Civil War as a physician, ending his military service as a Captain. The family moved to Kentucky, where he was the owner and operator of the Shotwell Coal Mines in DeKoven. During this period the family lived in Caseyville, one mile to the south. Six children were born to them in the next twelve years, five of whom lived to adulthood.

It is not known when the family moved to Evansville, across the Ohio River in Indiana, but Percival became president of the Ohio Valley Railroad in 1885. In his obituary in the Fort Wayne paper, it notes that he practiced medicine in that city for several years, before moving to Evanston, Illinois, where he died January 15, 1921.

Alida was a tiny person, less than five feet tall, and weighing only ninety pounds, with one gray eye and one brown. It is said that her husband wrapped her in cotton wool when he married her, and never did unwrap her.

There is an amusing story told about Alida, who had been left in charge of her daughter, Alida's four children. One night, the house caught fire; the firemen came and carried the baby, Kelsey out, still sleeping, and laid him in a hammock. Alida followed with her chamber pot, and threw its contents on the flames.

Another story recounts how she went down town, and walking toward her image advancing in a store window, said: "I wonder who that tacky looking woman is?"

Alida moved to Morristown, New Jersey after her husband's death, staying on the third floor of her daughter Alida's house until her death on April 5, 1929. Her great-grandchild, Ann Thacher, remembers her sitting in the turret room doing crossword puzzles by the hour.

It is not known where her ashes were interred or scattered, but it was possibly in the rose garden where her son-in-law, Guilford Carlile Babcock, was disposed of in August of 1945. Her husband was interred in the Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, Indiana with Alida's parents, eight months after his death, in an unmarked grave. It is now marked.