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Dr Thomas K O'Kelley "Bible Pages"

August 12, 2022 New: A traceable male O'Kelley descendant of Benjamin O'Kelley has tested and his DNA results indicate the common family tree recorded in books by Aletha Jane Macon, Harold O'Kelley, and J Fred O'Kelly that lists Thomas, Charles, and Benjamin as brothers isn't valid.  The 111 marker test of descendents of Thomas, Charles, and Benjamin indicate that these three brothers were actually cousins of different degrees, the 111 DNA results indicate that Benjamin is likely a 4 or 5 cousin to my 4th Great Grandfather Charles and perhaps a 6 or 7th cousin to Thomas.  DNA also suggests that Charles and Thomas were likely 1st or 2nd cousins and suggesting they may have descended from someonne like Thomas and Hororna who were born in Ireland in 1665 and came to America in 1693 with five children and believed to have settled with the Hugenots in Manikan Town in Henrico Co Virginia which is today Goochland Co VA

I find it very understandable that this mistake could occur after all we find the names of Thomas, Charles, and Benjamin repeated over and over in both family lines giving reason to think they shared parents but this was extremely common in Irish families, it is how the Mac and O surname were invented, because they Irish reused both Christian and surnames so much in the same physical location their names actually became very long names that often included both Mac to indicate who their father was and the O to indicate who their grandfather was. 

What can be relied upon "as fact" is Benjamin has a Revolution War Pension Application in our national archives where he claims he was born in King and Queen County Virginia, a grandson of Charles wrote in his Bible that Charles was born in VA about 1760 and I know of no written documents to establish when and where Thomas O'Kelley was born.  It is doubtful that Charles and Thomas were also born in King and Queen Co.  Their parents likely lived elsewhere thus their children were born elsewhere. 

What I don't know is if Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's below family tree came from his personal knowledge of if it was created from folklore provided to him that originated from the Francis O'Kelley line.  Dr Thomas K O'Kelley may have known Dr Francis C O'Kelley whose son, Thomas Dean O'Kelley traveled to Ireland, likely met with Irish Charles O'Kelly "The O'Kelly" representing the Hy-Many line of O'Kellys in western Ireland and Thomas returned with the Hy-Many Coat of Arms most commonly associated with our family.  His son Fredrick Henry O'Kelley created copies of that arms for many members of his family and it is the copy that Macon uses in her 1969 book decades later.  Because the"maternal" name Dean is handed down often in the line of Charles and Francis and never appears in the line of Benjamin I suspect the belief that James O'Kelley and Anna Dean were the parents of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's ancestor Benjamin was manufactured by Dr Thomas K O'Kelley and not from any real knowledge anyone has in the Benjamin line but came from Francis O'Kelley's line a dispute that Macon writes about in her book.  To my knowledge no one from the Francis line has tested their DNA so it might be that Charles and Francis were not brothers but very close first cousins and over time this was forgotten and James O'Kelley and Anna Dean were the parents of Francis and William O'Kelley and Elizabeth Dean were the parents of of Charles and it is unknown who were the parents of Benjamin.   There are still may unknowns. 



Written before August 12, 2022.

A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Judith Knowles Ries a descendant of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley because if she hadn't "swam upstream" against the flow created by Alethea Jane Macon's 1969 book by posting in a forum that she held pages written by Dr Thomas K O'Kelley giving James O'Kelley and Anna Dean as our ancestors, this truth could have been lost for all time.   While I found her story was suspicious when I first learned of it, I used a technique that was often successfully in my homicide investigations, I took the negative view and spent my own money to verify and investigate it with the goal to disprove it.  Truth can survive such but falsehoods often are exposed when such methods are used.  When copies of the pages finally came into my possession in 2013 I concluded that while there are some problems with the data on these five pages, the basic and key information these pages contain is valid but these page only included part of our ancestor's story.  Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's pages didn't include the story of Elizabeth Dean and her descendants and that is what made this investigation so difficult.

I became aware of the Dr Thomas K O'Kelley pages in 2010 when I discovered Judith Ries, a descendant of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley posted the information in a forum as what she referred to as "Bible Pages".  Judith kindly shared the data that appears on the first page of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's pages in that forum  but declined my request to share the pages or to have them independently validated telling me she was working on updating her 1976 book "A Patchwork of Memories, a Knowles/O’Kelley genealogy".   Her refusal to share her pages was reasonable, and she actually did me a favor because it force me to follow my training and experience to not to accept the verbal word of anyone when there is written evidence available so while the pages were critical to my investigation, by not having them it force me to investigate this in great detail.  I needed to know if those pages really existed and if they were written by Dr Thomas K O'Kelley and having nearly died of a Brain Aneurysm in 2008, I knew that I had a limited number of years to complete my investigation so one might say I pulled out all the "stops" and good fortune came my way in 2013 when a descendent who came into possession of copies many years ago shared them. 

I found a copy of Judith's book in the St Louis Public Library and it was also helpful in a number of ways.  Her book tells of the discovery of the "old family records" in the home of Dr Frank Marion O'Kelley who died in 1957, he was one of the sons of her great, great grandfather Dr Thomas K O'Kelley.  It is said these five pages of handwritten records were created by Dr Thomas K O'Kelley to satisfy proof of age requirement for his 1904 Civil War Pension Application.  The story was Dr Thomas K O'Kelley didn't want to write this family pedigree into his 50 year old family bible so he copied from an old bible onto the pages of an old dictionary, then removed the pages and slipped them inside his family bible and this story caused me to believe that Dr Thomas K O'Kelley might not have believe the accuracy of the data in the first place of he was unwilling to commit it into his treasured personal Bible.  It was said he choose the old dictionary because pages were yellow and best matching the pages in his 50 year old bible and to an experienced investigator that told me the size of those pages and the description of the Bible might identify the kind of Bible he had and if that Bible had the customary family Genealogy pages within it.  Maybe he didn't write it within his Bible because his bible had no place for such and that would add more weight to the data in my opinion.  No one seems to know the origins of the old bible he copied from or what became of it but this story appears to be supported by the Civil War Pension Application as there is a hand written notarized document dated November 23 1908 that describes Dr Thomas K O'Kelley 's bible and describes that inside the bible "appears the entry T. K. O'Kelley ..." thus meeting the application proof of age requirement.  Of course Dr Thomas K O'Kelley actions were fraud but it was probably widely accepted in those days since it was rare to have witnesses or records proving birth so I don't find any criminal intent in what he did, he earned his pension and was making application the best method available to him. 

Judith's book provided another critical bit of data, she reports that James O'Kelley was an Episcopal Minister which I found credible because I have always had a problem with the more famous Rev James O'Kelly being a Methodist Episcopal Minister without coming from a family of such ministers because in those days heredity or high birth were the only paths to becoming a minister in the English Church and Judith's book provided me with a reasonable explanation how our Irish born ancestor could arrive in a very Protestant Virginia and be so well accepted that his children all marry founding families.  For this to exist in a line that also had the oldest known family pedigree gives me reason to believe it was true.  This just didn't happen for the Irish born of common families but if our ancestor was a minister in the English Church that would open a lot of doors for his sons like the more famous Rev James O'Kelly.

I did a careful examination of the handwriting on these five pages comparing them to the known handwriting of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley I found in his 40 page National Archive file and in my opinion the handwriting that appears on these five pages are consistent with the handwriting found on the pension application for the person who identifies himself as Dr Thomas K O'Kelley making these page a genuine 100 year old family pedigree of our family but I think there are other things we can conclude from this story and the data found on these pages.  First it is clear that Dr Thomas K O'Kelley is not engaged in family genealogy, he isn't doing research as J Fred O'Kelly, Alethea Jane Macon and
Harold Ernest O'Kelley, his only motive appears to be profit or to obtain his pension and I don't report this to be critical, I report this only so researchers can make their own evaluation about the data that appears on these five pages. I believe there is a difference in data presented by a family researcher and someone who is presenting data to support a pension application after all who can that data be verified with on a civil war pension application?  Family researchers are going to experience a "peer review" from living family members but not so with a pension application that is only seen by distant strangers. Dr Thomas K O'Kelley could have just made it all up and who would know or care?  In her book on page 50 under Dr. Henry Thomas O'Kelley, a grandson of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley, Alethea Jane Macon tells her readers that they co-authored a book together so clearly Dr Thomas K O'Kelley had the means and ability to engage in genealogy and publish about his research but I don't find any evidence that he was so inclined.  These five pages that were created on or sometime before November 23 1908 appear to be the only genealogy material that we can attribute to Dr Thomas K O'Kelley and they were of so little importance to him that they were not worthy to be recorded in his family bible so I wonder how much faith we should give the data contained on his pages.  While the pages were described to me as "Bible Pages" the only connection to a bible is the data is claimed to have come from an old bible which has never come to light and it seems Dr Thomas K O'Kelley slipped the pages he created into his bible to compete his deception to try to obtain a pension but having said that, I think it must also be consider that maybe the reason Dr Thomas K O'Kelley didn't publish this information is because in his time it was widely accepted by O'Kelley descendants.  What would be the point in publishing something that is already "common knowledge" and I think it worth of repeating, if Alethea Jane Macon had published in her book that James O'Kelley was our ancestor, you wouldn't be reading my page because this would be settled as "common knowledge" and I think that might be how it was in Dr Thomas K O'Kelley time, James O'Kelley was widely accepted as the name of our ancestor otherwise we would have competing pedigrees from that time that his name was Thomas and we don't have that and James O'Kelley doesn't just appear in Dr Thomas K O'Kelley family pedigree, in the line of Francis and Delilah O'Kelley via their descendent Mary Evelyn O'Kelley James O'Kelley is given as the name of our ancestor to leave Ireland and come to America leaving us with the huge unanswered question; where is and what was the "Best Evidence" that caused Alethea Jane Macon to claim that our ancestor was named Thomas O'Kelley?  I have turned over every rock and I have found zero evidence to support Thomas O'Kelley and I have trip over James O'Kelley at almost every turn and this causes me to conclude that the data on Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's pages is mostly valid and James O'Kelley is the name of our ancestor and Anna Dean or Nancy Dean was his first wife and the mother of half of the children.  I now think that Alethea Jane Macon confused the story handed down that Thomas O'Kelley was the grandfather who become Protestant as meaning that was the name of our protestant ancestor who left Ireland and came to Virginia and Macon should not be blamed for this, hers was an impossible task.  I had considerable advantage and it took me more than four years to figure this out and I am 25 years younger than when Macon attempted it so we are lucky that she cared enough to try.

I have post the pages as they are a treasure for everyone who is related to Dr Thomas K O'Kelley.  Judith deserved the thanks of everyone for making us aware they exist and for sharing them and if you download them and use them, please give the credit to Judith Knowles Ries.  I hope the originals might eventually be passed down to someone like the Elon University who will keep them for public use and better copies will enter the public domain and maybe Judith will make good on her desire to publish a new updated book a out this subject.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5


I describe the contents and provide my comments, page one begins, "This James O'Kelley of IrelandJames O'Kelley born about 1710, Anna Dean born about 1710".  Notice that this doesn't say James O'Kelley was born in Ireland, it states "of Ireland".  From the beginning I have difficulty with the data as their first child is reported to be born in 1735 and the last child born in 1763 when Anna would be 53 but if Anna died and James married her younger sister Elizabeth Dean this all falls into place nicely including the inclusion of the famous Rev James O'Kelley who was said to have been born in 1735  but I suspect was born closer to 1740.  The only son of the Alethea Jane Macon O'Kelley Pedigree that is missing from these five pages is the third son William D O'Kelley and I think that al the others are included is critical as it tells us that as far back as 1908 there were O'Kelleys who believe that Thomas D, George, Charles, Benjamin, and Francis were brothers, that is the golden nugget in these five pages, that as far back at 1908 the brothers appeared on paper.  These pages are the oldest known pedigree and based on my training and experience I have no doubt that it was written by the man identified at Dr Thomas K O'Kelley.   The children in the order listed on page one are given as:

Dr T K O'Kelley's 1908 Pedigree     Alethea Jane Macon's 1969 Pedigree     Rick O'Kelley's Pedigree
James O'Kelley & Anna Dean     Thomas O'Kelley & Elizabeth Dean     James O'Kelley & Nancy Dean
Name Year of Birth     Name Year of Birth     Name Year of Birth
James O'Kelley 1735     Thomas O'Kelley 1750     Rev James O'Kelly abt 1740 Ireland
Charles O'Kelley 1746     George O'Kelley       Thomas O'Kelley 1750
Thomas D O'Kelley 1748     William D O'Kelley       George O'Kelley  
Benjamin O'Kelley 1757     Benjamin O'Kelley 1758     William D O'Kelley 1754
Francis O'Kelley 1760     Charles O'Kelley 1756     Benjamin O'Kelley 1757
Elizabeth O'Kelley 1738     Francis O'Kelley August 31 1761     James O'Kelley & Elizabeth Dean
Polly Ann O'Kelley 1742     Macon has Benjamin and Charles reversed in her book.     Charles O'Kelley 1760
George Washington O'Kelley 1763     but she provides their year of birth     Francis O'Kelley August 31 1761
              John O'Kelley abt 1769
              Elizabeth O'Kelley Tucker abt 1774
              Nancy O'Kelley Tucker abt 1776

On page two the children of Benjamin and Mary are given and I show the family as suggested by records:

Page Two Records Suggested by Records
  Name Year of Birth     Name Year of Birth Named After
1 Solomon Sept 9 1785 | 1 Nimrod 1780 Nimrod Williams
2 Francis Marion June 12 1787 | 2 (James) Solomon Sept 9 1785 James O'Kelley and Solomon Williams
3 Anna 1789 | 3 Francis Marion June 12 1787 Revolutionary War Hero
4 Nimrod 1791 | 4 Elizabeth    
5 Elizabeth 1793 | 5 Polly Ann    
6 Charles 1796 | 6 Benjamin P 1801 father
7 Polly Ann 1799 | 7 Annie    
8 Martha 1800 | 8 Martha    
9 Benjamin 1802 | 9 Charles 1804  

A critical error is presented on page two as it states, "Mary Williams daughter of Solomon Williams was married during the year 1784".  There is considerable evidence that Nimrod Williams was Mary's father and Solomon Williams was her brother, Nimrod Williams posted the marriage bond for Benjamin and Mary and he is found living next to them in the 1790 Census.  Author, attorney, and professor Ronald Lansings wrote a book in 2005 about Nimrod O'Kelley and he points out that Nimrod O'Kelley testified in court that he was born in 1780 something also presented in an early newspaper article thus making Nimrod O'Kelley the oldest and first born and mostly likely named after his maternal grandfather.  Mary Williams  was Dr Thomas K O'Kelley grandmother and her father was his maternal great grandfather and if the bible records that Dr Thomas K O'Kelley was said to have copied were unable to correctly identify the father of Mary Williams or identify which of her sons were first born, how can we trust that these pages have correctly identifed the father and mother of Benjamin O'Kelley?   How old could the bible records be that Dr Thomas K O'Kelley copied if they are unable to correctly give the father of a women who lived and died less than one hundred years before Dr Thomas K O'Kelley copied the records?  For a criminal investigator who has presented evidence to a jury in murder cases, I find this to be a very big error causing me considerable doubt about all the records.

Some have dismissed outright the possibility that Nimrod could have been born in 1780 because Benjamin and Mary have a marriage record in North Carolina dated November 22 1784 but those who have studied this time in American history have reported that many couples "common law" married due to the lack of marriage authority during our revolutionary war period, the English church ministers were the only marriage authority and most left the colonies when war broke out and with them went the marriage authority but after the war when it was clear the English church would have no governmental role in the new American government, these new states began to establish their own marriage authority and some who "common law" married during the war did seek a marriage bond or license despite having lived as married and having children which is likely what Benjamin and Mary did and it is likely that because of the 1784 marriage date some family researchers failing to understand the time in which their ancestors live just adjusted Nimrod's year of birth so it would come after the marriage record but Nimrod served in the war of 1812 and if born in 1780 he would have been 22 but if born in 1787 as some claim he would have been 15 or born in 1791 as Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's pages claim making him 11 years old when he served in the War of 1812.  I think 22 is a more likely age mostly because that is the year of birth that Nimrod gave in court during his trial.  Nimrod added to this confusion in the later years of his life when he was near 80 and he gave different years of birth on US Census but I find this understandable, my own father couldn't tell me what year he was born in the last four or five years of his life so who knows what Nimrod ending was like.  I suspect that a failing memory from old age is was what caused Benjamin to claim he was born in 1761 in King and Queen Co Virginia, he was very old and admittedly confused in his pension application and I can find no connection between my 4th great grandfather Charles or Francis and King and Queen or Caroline Co Virginia so I think because Charles and Francis married women from Bristol Parish Prince George Co and Benjamin married a woman with family roots from that same place, a place where a William and Sarah Kelly appear with the birth of Mary their daughter in 1725, I think it is likely that Bristol Parish Prince George Co is the birth place for our first ancestors.  

Another example where the records disagree can be found with Charles the son of Benjamin as Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's pages gives him as born in 1796 but two US Census places his birth in the year of 1805 making him the fifth and last son of Benjamin and Mary and that fits with the naming order of that day, the naming of a son after the eldest brother of the father so this pedigree has many errors that conflict with official government records.

An 1838 Bible Records for Francis O'Kelley gives his birth as August 31, 1761 while the pages of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley gives his birth as 1760 so there is disagreement between these pages and numerous documents but we have no method to know if the 1838 Bible Records for Francis O'Kelley are correct.

Alethea Jane Macon on page four of her book tells her readers that some believed that our ancestor's name was James O'Kelley and that some erroneously believed him to be the Rev James O'Kelley and I have wondered where that information came.  Judith Ries in her "A Patchwork of Memories, a Knowles/O’Kelley Genealogy" reports on page 5 that James O'Kelley's faith was the reason he left Ireland and came to America, that he was an elder in the Methodist church and that their son James O'Kelley born in 1735 was Rev James O'Kelley the founder of the "Christian Church" and she describes this as if it were proven fact but nothing in these five pages make any mention of faith so how Judith came to these conclusions isn't explained but her explanation answers several very large questions.  The English and Irish are still fight wars between the Catholics and Protestants so how did an Irish born O'Kelley land in Virginia and all these English descended daughter marry his son?  I think the only explanation must be he wasn't just a Protestant minister but he came from a long line of Protestants who had generations of good relations with the English that was well known.  I now believe that the two Rev James O'Kelleys have been used interchangeable, that our ancestor Rev James O'Kelley likely lived and was a minister at a church in Mecklenburg and his son Rev James O'Kelly who founded the Christian Church was always in North Carolina but road his circuit through Mecklenburg and over time the two ministers got fused into a single person and that is how some came to believe that the son was our ancestor.  My investigations indicates that at the time James O'Kelley came to America the Methodist movement had not yet taken hold in Ireland or America, it had newly been introduced and more than a decade and a half would pass before it came to America and that is when Rev James O'Kelly of the Christian Church begins to appear.  John Wesley had come to Georgia and failed miserable decades earlier so James O'Kelley likely came to America as a Presbyterian Episcopal Minister and that gave him considerable favor with the Scots Irish he settled around. 

I have also heard some claim that the Catholic Kellys spelled their names with one "e" and the protestants with two "e" and the only time I have found that claim in a publish source is also in Judith Ries's 1976 book but I have heard this explanation also given in my own family, my grandmother use to tell her grandchildren that our ancestors were the "Old Kings of Ireland" and we spelled our name with the double "e" because we were protestant and the rest, the common O'Kellys were Catholic.  I have investigated the spelling of my name greatly and I have to agree with Harold Ernest O'Kelley, I don't think this Catholic vs Protestant last name spelling cannot be proven, but it might be true but I can find nothing that proves it true and to be clear, I doubt any Irishman decided to become protestant, most English didn't choose to become protestant, this was a conversion forced upon the world by King Henry VIII in his lust and desire for Anne Boleyn and many converted because the English allowed them to plunder the riches of the Catholic church.  Many became protestant solely for profit and I am certain my O'Kelley ancestors became protestant solely to avoid the confiscation of their property and the lose of their title.  Many innocent men, women, and children were caught in the middle and put to death by the sword, burned alive, hanging by strangulation after first being disemboweled, or killed by starvation by those creating the protestant faith and most people live in ignorance about that shameful period in Christian history but I believe the primary reason for the single verses the double "e" has more to do with education and profit.  When the printing press was created, by reducing words, by making them shorter, printers saved a lot of paper and ink which saved a lot of money and created more profit and educated people read books and were influenced by the spelling of the words in those books and this resulted in the English favoring the more modern single "e" and the Americans seeking to preserve some of their heritage favored the much older double "e". 

Dr Thomas K O'Kelley doesn't appear to have any interest in the genealogy of his family, according to Judith's book Harry H O'Kelley the grandson Dr Thomas K O'Kelley wrote a letter to Northern Ireland in 1956 making inquiries about the O'Kelley family in Ireland.  In the family of Francis and Delilah, their grandson Dr Francis C O'Kelley a contemporary of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley also had a descendant who became interested in his family genealogy, Thomas Dean O'Kelley born 1856 after graduating college went to Ireland in 1883 and in the 1960's his granddaughter Mary Evelyn O'Kelley wrote a college paper where she claims:

“There was a man, James O’Kelley, with six sons.  (landed in Virginia 1815)  Three of the sons were married and the other three did not get married.  All three of the married sons moved to the state of Georgia, and all the O’Kelleys that are now in the state of Georgia, and all the O’Kelleys we have been able to trace in ancestry that knew anything about it were traceable back – all the O’Kelleys in the United states that we could find – were traced back to one of those three sons in the state of Georgia.” 

Clearly the date is wrong but we have two different lines of O'Kelleys, one descending from Benjamin and the other from Francis and both lines seem to independently believe that "James" is the name of our ancestor and in the case of Benjamin it can be proven by National Archive documents that the belief was before 1908 or six decades before Alethea Jane Macon wrote her book.

We often neglect the maternal side of our families and Mary Williams family originates in Bristol Parish Prince George Co Virginia the same place that George Crowder was born and his daughters who married Charles and Francis were likely born and they same place where we find William and Sarah Kelly and the birth of their daughter Mary Kelly in 1725.  We tend to think of our ancestor's marriages as they are today, a man and a woman meet and fall in love but in their time marriages were often a business transaction between the father of the bride and the groom so it makes sense that the bride's father would marry his daughter to men they grew up with as that would be the best method to know the nature of these men.  Nimrod's father, Robert Williams is mentioned twice in the Bristol Parish Vestry Records and it was a Williams who Rev John Wesley sent to Ireland in 1747 to begin his Wesley movement so I suspect there is a connection.

Conclusion - No matter if one agrees or disagrees with what is contained upon these five pages, the pages were created by Dr Thomas K O'Kelley and it seems certain he created them before November 23 1908 and that makes them a very important and early piece of O'Kelley history.  They predate the 1936 Family Chart created by John Daniel McCurry a descendant of Rev James O'Kelly by two and a half decades, they predate Alethea Jane Macon 1969 O'Kelley Pedigree found in her book by six decades and what strikes me of greatest importance is how much Dr Thomas K O'Kelley's pages share with Alethea Jane Macon's O'Kelley Pedigree.  The birth years are different, the first names of our ancestors are different but both pedigrees place our ancestors living along the Roanoke River in Southern Virginia which is where records place my grandfather Charles living in the last half of the 1700s and five of the six sons appear in both pedigrees and their mother is a "Dean" so these pedigrees share more than they dispute and they are separated by 60 years and hundreds of miles so I can't find where one influenced the other, it seems that the two pedigrees sprung up in different places, with different lines, and in different times and that makes it likely that parts of both are valid.  It makes it likely that at the time Dr Thomas K O'Kelley lived that an older bible that contained family records existed probably in the hands of one of the Missouri lines of O'Kelleys.  Given that Alethea Jane Macon provides no supporting evidence for her belief that Thomas O'Kelley was the name of our ancestor, and we have two different lines embracing James as the name of our ancestor, I think that the oldest tradition of James O'Kelley must be given considerable consideration especially when one considers that James is a name that appears in the descendants of all the sons.  If Alethea Jane Macon had come down on the side of James in her book, I don't think anyone would give this matter a second thought.

After four years of intense investigation which included the spending of about a thousand dollars, I think the only valid answer is:

James O'Kelley was the name of our ancestor and he was born about 1715 AD somewhere in Co Meath Ireland and he was as Ruth Barton Pullium claimed, of the O'Kelleys of Tara or the O'Kelleys of Bregia, he was of the Irish Gentry who became Protestant in the 1500s in their effort to keep property and title and he came to America  likely influenced by the Quaker and Methodist Protestant and he may have been a minister just as Judith wrote in her 1976 book and I believe this must be true because unlike the common Irish, James O'Kelley was so accepted by his English neighbors that they allowed their daughters to marry his sons.  I believe he first married Anna (Nancy) Dean one of the daughters of a Thomas Dean and Nancy Turner  (daughter Francis Turner born 1699) Anna bore him Rev James O'Kelley, Thomas Dean O'Kelley, George, William Dennis and likely Benjamin O'Kelley then Anna died about 1758 and James O'Kelley married her younger sister Elizabeth Dean who was born about 1735 and she bore him Charles , Francis, John, Elizabeth, and Nancy O'Kelley.  Elizabeth and Nancy have marriage records in Mecklenburg Virginia showing they married Tucker brothers and Nancy named her son James (O'Kelley) Daniel Tucker after his paternal and maternal grandfathers.

I believe James O'Kelley was the James Kelley who joined the 10th Virginia Regiment 7th Company formed from Caroline Co Virginia recruits and at the age of 62 he was killed at the Battle of Brandywine and is buried in a mass grave in the Birmingham-Lafayette Cemetery in West Chester PA.  Elizabeth Dean was about 42 and with a home full of young children when she was widowed and I believe because her natural sons were teenagers and Rev James O'Kelley her eldest step son was fully engaged in ministry that Thomas O'Kelley took to caring for his step mother until her eldest son Charles became grown, married, and able to provide for her.  I believe this explains why Thomas was 34 when he married Elizabeth Wyers and is why some believe he had been previously married and how the belief that Elizabeth Dean's husband's name was Thomas and not James.  Elizabeth Dean O'Kelley lived with or maybe Thomas O'Kelley took to living next to his step mother for a time and their relationship got falsely merged into a married relationship but I think it likely that in later generations, the knowledge that James O'Kelley married his deceased spouse younger sister and had children by her may have been in conflict with religious beliefs of that time and our ancestors story was altered and it must be understood that at the time James O'Kelley lived there wasn't any religious prohibitions in taking a sister of your deceased spouse as a wife, it was commonly done in that time. 

I base my opinion in part on the naming of the granddaughters of Thomas who he named "Ann" and Charles who he named "Elizabeth Dean" and the Lottery win of an Elizabeth O'Kelley in Oglethorpe Ga in 1827.  I believe this to be Elizabeth Dean living with Mary Crowder the widow of her eldest son Charles and they are living on Francis O'Kelley's plantation and that makes Elizabeth Dean too young to be the mother of Thomas O'Kelley.  Perhaps the real proof can be found in Nancy O'Kelley marriage to Tarpley Turner as they named their first born son Thomas Dean Turner and their second born son James O'Kelley Daniel Turner, James O'Kelley after Nancy's father and Daniel Turner after Tarpley's father.  Tarpley is found listed in the 1860 Gwinnett Co Census living with two of Francis and Delilah's children, Benjamin and Delilah.  Charles O'Kelley's daughter Elizabeth Dean O'Kelley first married Mark Harwell then secondly married William Turner the son of Tarpley and Nancy.

Nothing I have stated should be taken as anything other than comments made by an experience investigator.  My goal is always to make as much truth available as possible and sometimes that truth might be a bit embarrassing or unsavory to some but that is never my intention.  I think if one takes on the responsibility of family research they owe it to their ancestors to be fearless and confrontational when necessary.   Rick O'Kelley