Peeking in the House of the Widow Kelley (52 Ancestors #10)

kitchen-630790_1280Elizabeth Kelley was a widow for half of her adult life. Her husband, Joseph, died in 1834, leaving Elizabeth to raise their young children. Their oldest child was only 14. Surprisingly, Elizabeth never remarried. Instead, she spent the rest of her days as the Widow Kelley.

Elizabeth — or Betsey, as she was sometimes called — lived in Hopewell Township, Perry County and it was there that she died in 1852. I’m confident that her house is no longer standing. I don’t have photos of it and I don’t have a time machine to go back and visit, but I can still get an idea of her household by looking at her estate papers. The inventory of her personal property included:1)FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Elizabeth Kelley estate, Perry County estate cases 171-173; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio.

6 bedsteads and bedding
1 bureau and 1 chest
Window paper and a bread bowl
Coffee pot and coffee mill
Crockery
A table with 6 chairs
Sheep shears
A copper kettle and a large iron pot
A cider mill and press
A wool wheel and reel
6 bread baskets
A 2-horse wagon and a 2-horse plow
3 cows and 4 hogs

The item that caught my eye:

kelley-estate

“1 atlas, old books, geography, &c &c”

All in all, a fairly typical mid-19th century Ohio farm house. But there’s something intimate about seeing the specifics of her household items. We can imagine a table with 6 chairs. We can imagine her covering her windows with window paper and grinding coffee beans in coffee mill. We can wonder who read the old books and did they use the atlas to learn more about their world?

I wouldn’t turn down a photo of Elizabeth’s house, but even if I had one, it wouldn’t give me such a good look inside.

References   [ + ]

1. FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Elizabeth Kelley estate, Perry County estate cases 171-173; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio.

11 thoughts on “Peeking in the House of the Widow Kelley (52 Ancestors #10)

  1. Jo Henn

    What a wonderful window into her life! You write so well you make them come alive! I hope I find something like that on one of my ancestors some day.

    I just wanted to say that I got my “favorite blogs” page back up today and you’re on it (at jahcmft.blogspot.com) I love your blog!

    Reply
  2. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

    Thank you, Jo! That’s very kind of you.

    (And keep looking for those probate papers — you can find all sorts of neat things like this!)

    Reply
  3. pen4hire

    Love the peek inside the house. My thought is always, “THESE are the things this person thought were important.” No question there were many other things in the house–but the books and the sheep shears were important enough–valued by the owner–to be listed in probate.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      I always enjoy seeing what a person had. Sheep shears -> probably had sheep at some point. Cider press -> making cider; did they grow their own apples? One thing, though — it wasn’t so much that they were important enough to her to list in probate. They were listed on the inventory of assets that the appraisers put together. (I still need to finish reviewing her estate to see if her assets were greater than her debts.)

      Reply

Leave a Reply to msgenealogyuk Cancel reply