Thanks to many..
 
My journey to discover my ancestors began in my parents home in 1966 when I was only 12 and my father received his copy of J Fred O'Kelly's book, "Some Descendents and Ancestral Kin of James Stamps O'Kelley and Lucy Woodruff England".  I recall warm summer evenings visiting Love Cemetery and the graves of James and Lucy my second great grandparents in a cemetery only a mile from my childhood home and sometimes my grandparents would come and they would tell their grandsons about their paternal ancestors.  By the time I became a man, I was distracted by all the things that capture a young man's attention but my parents had given their sons a copy of the O'Kelley Coat of Arms so I was never that far from my desire to know more.  Over the decades the task to collect data about our ancestors was taken on by several of my aunts and in 1995 when I opened the first Internet business in Northwest Arkansas my aunt Kathleen O'Kelley came to visit my office and she asked me to host the first "Thomas O'Kelley" genealogy website. 

I had a lot on my plate in those days, running an Internet business took a lot of my time and effort so from 1997 until 2010 the Thomas O'Kelley website mostly set dormant, it was publicly available but rarely was any research or additions made to it but that was about to change.  In 2008 I near died from a Brain Aneurysm and by 2010 I was nearly healed.  I had put off working on the Thomas O'Kelley website always thinking there would be time when I retired, I nearly ran out of time so I slowly turned my attention, but I knew nothing about genealogy so I felt unqualified to mess with something my aunt had put so much of her life into then it occurred to me.  I am a retired homicide investigator, if I am not qualified to conduct a "cold case" investigation, then who is.  I took on the role but first I had to educate myself about the genealogy process and the damage from my aneurysm make this more difficult, but I slowly moved forward running into many brick walls and like a maze, down many blocked alleys.  I had my DNA tested and began to use the same methods that I used to solve murders and slowly my investigation began to take shape and produce results but only because many people opened up and provided me data that wasn't available to J Fred O'Kelly, Alethea Jane Macon, and Harold Earnest O'Kelley.   They would have likely come to different conclusions if they had access to what I have, so I am not making their work invalid, I am just on the same journey and I have traveled further down the road to the next place.  As more Irish records come on line, I am sure some of my work will become invalid but I think the "nucleus" will remain true.  We are the O'Kelley of Bregia and we have our own unique Coat of Arms.

The primary question now is who will take this on after I am gone?

I want to thank those who aided me in my journey.

   
My Father For caring about our ancestors and buying J Fred O'Kelly's book.
My Grandparents For passing on what they knew and for encouaring their grandsons to care about our ancestors.  Most families can't trace past their own grandparents, some don't even know who their father was but my grandparents could trace back to the ancestor who came from Ireland in 1748, they gave me a huge start.
J Fred O'Kelly For taking the time to research and compile his 1966 book which created my interest in my ancestors.
Alethea Jane Macon Who in her 80s she took the time to research and compile her book which is the cornerstone of all O'Kelley Pedigrees.  Macon's book is read even by the native Irish who seek to know what became of their American cousins.  I especially thank Ms Macon where on page 2 in her book she says "I think it advisable to leave this work to some other member of the family who, I hope will use this volume as a nucleus for a real history of the interesting O'Kelleys".  I hope I did Ms Macon justice because to challenge her work was like challenging the bible, it wasn't something that came easy.
Harold Earnest O'Kelley for his beautiful book, "Four Families Through Georgia" and the research and hard work he did in reporting his findings. 
Kathleen O'Kelley My aunt Kathleen who passed the torch and encouraged me to put her genealogy data about our family on the Thomas O'Kelley website. 
Dave McCullar Dave is an O'Kelley descendant via his mother, they descend via Thomas O'Kelley and Elizabeth Wyers.  Dave provided valuable information but more importantly he provided great wisdom reminding me that data is only one aspect of genealogy, it is how one interprets that data that is critical. 
Judith Ries Judith is a descendent Benjamin O'Kelley and Mary Williams and their great grandson Dr Thomas K O'Kelley and she possess the only know copy of our family pedigree written before 1908 and in her great grandfather's hand.  This pedigree begins with James O'Kelley and Anna Dean and while Judith shared this information, I had to do a lot of work to prove it and I an satisfied that it was written by Dr Thomas K O'Kelley, it is the oldest known pedigree and I believe 90% of it is likely valid and of the 10% that I find questionable, none of it is critical, it was likely just due to minor errors when the information was passed from one generation to the next.
Sandra Clare Thompson Sandra is a descendent of Francis and Delilah O'Kelley and a grandniece of Effie Kate O'Kelley who was one of Alethea Jane Macon's major sources for her book "Four O'Kelley Sons and their Descendents".  Sandra is also the daughter of Mary Evelyn O'Kelley who wrote her college paper in the 1960s identifying my ancestor as James O'Kelley and not Thomas.  This proved the before J Fred O'Kelly and Alethea Jane Macon's books that it was well accepted in the line of Benjamin and Francis that James O'Kelley was the name of our ancestor and the belief that Thomas was our ancestor's name came into being only because Alethea Jane Macon said it was so in her book.  Sandra provided me the source for how the O'Kelley of Hy-many Coat of Arms came to be associated with our family.
   
Ruth Barton Pullium She posted in Genforum in 2000 that her grandmother Selena Avaline O'Kelley handed down a story that we came from the O'Kelley at Tara Co Meath Ireland.  I had heard this story before but dismissed it but with DNA results always pointing me to Co Cavan and Co Monaghan this story took on new meaning.
   
Google For putting all the old books on line and giving us a great search engine.


This investigation was a challenge but all good puzzles are and while I think my "case" has been solved, there are still questions that in time will likely be answered, if not by me, by the next generations who will follow me.  Many people contributed and many will continue to contribute.

Rick O'Kelley