Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I've come across some pretty interesting facts and people lately in my research. Sometimes I spend too much time on shirt tails but it's so interesting I can't help myself! Here is the obituary of a man who is kind of related to us. He is a 2nd cousin, three times removed. He won't be in my book so I want to share his story with you here. That is why I started this blog - to share interesting things I come across but won't put in my book or the family history portion of it. 

John Kelso comes to our family through the Dillon branch; he was born and raised in Iowa. Here is the obituary I found: 


     John Kelso was born at Canton, Jackson county, Iowa, October 19, 1852. When three years of age his parents moved to Scott county, where they lived until John was fourteen years of age, at which time they moved to Benton county. Here the deceased spent the rest of his life.
     In 1883 he married Miss Lilla Francis, and they took up their residence on his farm just north of Spencer's Grove. There was born to them six children, five of whom with the bereaved wife survive the father and husband. The oldest of these children is fourteen and the youngest not quite two years of age. The father and mother of the deceased died some years since, but several brothers and sisters are living and all of them but one were present at the funeral services.
     Mr. Kelso had not been in robust health for some years but was able to work until two years ago last December when he was taken much worse and since that time has been a very great sufferer. He sought medical aid in various places and at much expense but received only temporary relief. During the last few weeks he failed rapidly, and on Jan. 10, 1899, passed away.
     Two months before his death he professed conversion ad expressed regret that (he) had not earlier accepted Christ, that he might have had a longer time to prove by active service his appreciation of what God had done for him.
     The funeral services were conducted by Rev. W. E. Ross at the Spencer's Grove church.

Miss Lilla Francis was 19 years old when she married John Kelso, 12 years her senior. They married in September of 1883. A baby was born in 1881 and died at birth. I'm assuming it was fathered by John but I do not know that for a fact. The other children were: 

  1. Ada V 1884-1902 (died at 18 yrs)
  1. Olita V 1886-1891 (died at 5 yrs)
  1. Edna 1887-1928 (died at 41 yrs)
  1. Jesse Lee 1888-1913 (died at 25 yrs)(male)
  1. Vernon 1890-1918 (died at 28 yrs)
  1. Alta 1893-1903 (died at 10 years)
When John died in January of 1899, Olita had already passed on. Within three years of his death, Lilla would lose two more children. That is a lot of heartbreak. 
Lilla Francis and Victor G. Spencer
On their wedding day. 
Feb 1909

Lilla remarried in February of 1909 to Victor G. Spencer. Both he and her first husband were farmers. Lilla was 45 years old when she remarried. Spencer was about the same age as Lilla. 

In the 1920 Census, Polk, Benton County, Iowa, Victor and Lilla are enumerated with Ronald T. Kelso, age 7, and Harold L., age 2. They listed the two boys as "grandsons." However, in 1930, two more boys are enumerated with them: Donald Smiley, age 12, and Dale Smiley, age 10. As Head of Household, Victor Spencer listed these four boys as "Step Sons." So your guess is as good as mine about the parentage of the four boys. I think they might all be grandsons and I came to that realization because of the early deaths of John and Lilla's children. I would consider the two with the last name of Kelso to have been either Jesse Lee's or Vernon's children, however research revealed that Jesse was single at the time of his death.  

More research. Vernon filled out his World War I draft registration cards on June 5th, 1917. At that time he had a wife and two children. I found a wife for him and some of the questions were answered but left more needing to be answered. He married Amelia Virginia Engler on April 5, 1911. Amelia gave birth to Ronald T. Kelso on April 27, 1912. Vernon John Kelso was born on November 13, 1913 but he died on October 18, 1914. Another son, Charles Wayne Kelso came along on May 14, 1915. And lastly, Harold Lee Kelso was born on November 22, 1917. 

Vernon and Amelia both died in 1918. I do not know the circumstances of their deaths. So we now know why Ronald and Harold were listed on the 1920 Census with Lilla and Victor Spencer. 

You may have noticed that Lilla Francis Kelso Spencer had the two boys, Ronald and Harold, living with her and Victor, but what about Charles. Where did he go? I found him on the 1930 Census living with Cornelius and Goldie Fox. The census taker put "charge" under the column for relation to Head of Household. He then drew a line through it and wrote "lodger." He or she also put a line as to indicate that his surname was Fox, same as Cornelius and Goldie, but then wrote over the top of the line "Kelso." I am going to assume that Charles, or Wayne, as he was called, was fostered out or was raised by someone other than a relative. Whomever raised him should be proud - he turned out to be a pilot in World War II, and had attained the rank of Lt. Colonel. 

Charles Wayne Kelso
Birth Date:14 May 1915
Death Date:9 Feb 1997
Service Start Date:13 May 1942
Interment Date:12 Feb 1997
Cemetery:Houston National Cemetery
Cemetery Address:10410 Veterans Memorial Drive Houston, TX 77038
Buried At:Section G1 Site 190

I would assume the two Smiley children belonged to one of Lilla and John's daughters, either Edna or Ada. Further research did not reveal the parentage of the two boys. If these two were definitely "ours" and not "shirt tails" I would spend more time looking for their parentage. As it is, I've spent way too much time on this already and will end it, hoping I haven't thoroughly confused you by now. 

Watch for another obituary soon. With an added twist. 

Ta ta for now,

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