Luke Kelly

Luke Kelly, early settler of Lawrence County, Ohio 

The Kelly family, left to right: Nannie, Lindsey Sr, Lindsey Jr; WD and Sarah Austin; Ironton Austin Jr, Mary Francis Kirker, Ironton Austin Kelly Sr.

Click here to read about the Kelly Archaeological Site artifacts and research

Click Here to visit the Kelly Family web site


Luke Kelley was born on April 3, 1757 in Shenandoah County, Virginia. Not much is known about his parents. It has been suggested they died during an Indian raid in Virginia, but concrete proof has not been found. We do know Luke was orphaned at a young age. He had one known brother, James.
On February 1, 1782, Luke Kelley married Mary Keyser.  Mary’s life was similar to her husband. She was born in the same county on August 6, 1760. Her father was named Charles Keyser. Like her husband, Mary was orphaned at a young age. The couple set up housekeeping in their home county with very little. Shortly after their first child, John, was born, the family moved to Bath County, Virginia. They lived on that property for nine years.
Over the years, Luke and Mary would have a total of seven children. John was the first born, but he was followed by Elizabeth, Joseph, Charles, Joshua, Mary “Polly,” and Reuben.
In 1790, the family moved again to Russell County, Virginia.
In 1797, Luke, his family, and his brother, James, came to Kelly’s Run. There they bought cabin from Josiah Lambert. Then, the family returned to their home on the Clinch River.
In April 1798, Luke returned to the cabin. He plowed the fields, fenced the land, and planted three acres. He then went back to the Clinch River to his family.
In August 1798, Luke brought his family to their new home. When the family left heir former home, they had $800 in specie (or gold coins). $300 came from their son, John, who worked outside the home. Unfortunately, upon arrival they realized $400 had been stolen from them on the trip. One of the ways the family made money was to raise mules.
Luke’s land grant was signed by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State, James Madison.
In 1799, Luke built the first grist mill in Lawrence County. It was located near Union Landing.
According to records, Luke owned 640 acres in 1802.
During his lifetime, Luke knew many pioneers. According to his son, Luke helped Daniel Boone load his boat  when he left for Missouri.
Mary Keyser Kelley died on August 10, 1824. Luke has died at the age of sixty-four on November 25, 1821.

Luke and Mary’s Children
John married Abigail Lambert
Elizabeth married Nathaniel Davidson
Joseph married Kitty Dollarhide
Charles married Mary Harshbarger
Joshua married Mary Lee
Mary married Vincent Powell
Reuben married Delilah Stewart

The heirs of Luke Kelley sell to Reuben Kelley

Deed book 3, page 162, dated 24 Dec 1821

Heirs listed:

John Kelley and wife Abigail

Joseph Kelley and wife Ritty

Charles Kelley and wife Mary

Joshua kelley and wife Polly


Davison and wife Elizabeth all the above of Lawrence Co. Ohio

Vinson Powell and wife Mary of Greenup Co., Kentucky

     Descendants of Rueben Kelley donated his family Bible to Briggs Lawrence County Public Library. Because of its condition, the Bible has been placed in storage. However, the pages were scanned and transcribed. These copies are located in the Kelley file in the Hamner Room.

 See more about this iconic family HERE.