The Kelsey Family - The First Six Generations

The Kelsey family traces its beginnings in this country to the immigrant ancestor, William Kelsey who settled in Wethersfield, Hartford County, Connecticut. William was born in England about 1600 and died in Killingworth, Connecticut about 1680. He came to this country with the Hooker party in 1630 going first to Cambridge, Massachusetts and then to Connecticut in 1635. The name Kelsey comes from ancient Cornish British and signifies "Dryneck" from Kel, neck, and Syck, dry: hence a dry neck of land. Our line of descent is William, Stephen (1647), John (1680-1767), Ezekiel (1713-1795), Asahel (1743-1812), Asahel Allis (1772-1839), Frederick Mortimer (1814-1855), Percival Gates (1841-1920), Alida Kelsey (1874-1956), Guilford Carlile Babcock (1899-1955).

William Kelsey is supposed to have been married to Bethia Hopkins, but there is no written proof of this. There were nine children in the family: Mark, Bethia, Priscilla, Mary, John, Abigail, Stephen, Daniel and William. All but William, the youngest, lived to adulthood. The Kelseys moved to Killingworth, Connecticut in 1663. William was a representative on the Colonial Council in 1671.


Stephen was the third son and seventh child born to the Kelseys. He was born November 7, 1647 and baptized on November 17, 1647 in Hartford, Connecticut. He married Hannah Ingersoll, the daughter of John Ingersoll and Dorothy Lord on November 15, 1672 in Wethersfield. They had ten children: Dorothy, Mary, Hannah, Stephen, John, Daniel, William, James, Charles, and Ebenezer.
Stephen remained in Hartford after his father left for Killingworth, or returned there, since he lived in his father's house. It was deeded to him in 1671. He was proposed as a freeman at the General Court on October 11, 1683 and was accepted in May 1684. Stephen died intestate on November 30, 1710. His widow Hannah Kelsey and his son William were appointed administrators. His first two daughters and his youngest son had died young. The rest of the children were mentioned in the estate settlement which totaled over 358 pounds.
John Kelsey, the second son and fifth child of Stephen Kelsey and Hannah Ingersoll was born January 20, 1679 at Hartford. He lived at Wethersfield and at Berlin where he died January 3, 1767. He married November 23, 1704, at Wethersfield, Mary Buck, the daughter of Ezekiel Buck and Rachel Andrews Buck. Mary was born in Wethersfield in March 1682.

John and Mary had eleven children: Mary, John, Hannah, James, Charles, Ezekiel, Rachel, Comfort, Enoch, Esther and Ruth, all born in Wethersfield. John was a farmer, with land lying to the west of Wethersfield between Farmington and Berlin. There are records of him in all three communities. John died January 3, 1767.


Our descent is through John's fourth son, Ezekiel who was born January 26, 1713. Ezekiel was married to Sarah Allis, the daughter of William Allis and Mary Griswold Allis, on January 13, 1743 at Wethersfield.

Ezekiel and Sarah had seven children: Asahel, Israel, Ezekiel, Mary, Sarah, Patience and Patience. Ezekiel was a farmer who lived in that section of Wethersfield that was later separated from Wethersfield and called Berlin.

On January 11, 1770, he was one of a committee of twelve voted by the Kensington Church, 91 to 70, to protect the church building from being torn down or damaged. He was one of the original thirty eight male members of the Second Congregational Church in Berlin, which was organized February 9, 1775.

Although there is no record of his military service, we presume that Ezekiel served in the French and Indian War since he is called Sergeant on his gravestone.


Our ancestor is the eldest son, Asahel who was born October 30, 1743 in Wethersfield. He lived in Berlin, married Content Parsons, the daughter of David Parsons and Eunice Welles Parsons on May 21, 1767. "Tent," as she was called, was born February 5, 1742 and died in 1818. The Kelseys had eight children: Asahel Allis (1768-1839), Sarah (1771-1852), Francis (1773-1775), Zenus (1774-1775), Francis (1776-1849), Zenus (1778-1856), Lucinda (1781 -) and Urbane (1789-1865).

On December 7, 1767, Asahel was chosen collector of school rates (taxes). His wife was paid one pound and 5 shillings for teaching school for one five week period. On October 31, 1771, Asahel was paid five shillings for making a writing desk for the school and one shilling each for making three seats. He and his brother Ezekiel were elected rate makers on October 28, 1782. On January 21, 1776 he and his wife joined the Berlin Second Congregational Church, he being listed as No. 125 and "Tent" as No. 126.


Our descent is through the eldest son, Asahel Allis Kelsey, born July 17, 1768 in Berlin, Connecticut. Asahel married December 11, 1793 Anna (Nancy) Johnson, the daughter of Samuel Johnson and Anna Hopkins Johnson The Kelseys had ten children: Cornelia (1794-1796), Henry (1796-1798), Cornelia (1798-1889), Emily (1801-1823), Anna Content (1803-1804), Henry Bethuel (1805-1879), Mary A (1808-1833), Lucinda (1810-1812), Frederick Mortimer (1814-1855), and Lester Francis (1817-1819).

Like so many of our ancestors, the Kelseys tried moving to Vermont in the early years of the new century. They journeyed there in 1803 and returned the following year with their three surviving children.. They then went to Maine in 1806 with four children, returning to Berlin in 1812, possibly after the death of their latest baby, Lucinda. In 1819 they set out for their final pilgrimage to La Porte, Lorain County, Ohio, with their last baby He would die that fall in Ohio.

The trip to La Porte took six weeks in a wagon pulled by three yokes of oxen. There are two different versions how the trip was made; both agree that Asahel had gone ahead the year before to scout the area and find a homestead. In one version he returns with his brother-in-law, Phineas Johnson to escort the family; in another, young Henry, the thirteen year old eldest son, is left in charge of his mother and her five other children. The wagon was so full with the younger children and the family's possessions, that Cornelia, who was twenty and Emily who was eighteen were forced to walk most of the way. In her dairy, Emily recounted the rigors of the trip: of falling though the ice when they were crossing a stream, being soaked, and having to take shelter in a tavern to dry out; of being so tired that she felt "bruised all over" and "cryd."

Asahel was a man of mechanical and musical ability. He held a patent for a shingle machine, dated 1805, which was signed by the President, Thomas Jefferson and his Secretary, James Madison. Musically, he was able to play almost any instrument he set his hand to.

When the family moved into their new house on December 17, 1831, from the log cabin he had constructed when they first arrived in Ohio, he added a music room, where the neighbors could meet for musicales. He built a pipe organ for this room, which he played, doubling on the bass viol at times, which was also played by young Henry. The daughter, Cornelia, then Mrs. Joseph Merrick, played the guitar. It is not known if Frederick played, but it would be hard for him not to have caught this musical talent in some form or another. Asahel's great-granddaughters, Percival Gates Kelsey's daughters, Louise and Emily, were said to have lovely singing voices.


Frederick's wife, Caroline Terry was born on March 14, 1822 in Seneca, New York, the daughter of Samuel Terry VII and Laura Ellis Terry. The Terry family had moved west from Connecticut in the 1750s to Carmel, Putnam County, New York where they lived for two generations and and from there to Frederick, Dutchess County, New York.

Laura Ellis was the daughter of Daniel Ellis and Mary Crosby Ellis. She was born July 21, 1801 in Seneca County. Her mother through the Crosby family can trace her ancestry to the Mayflower passenger, Stephen Hopkins.