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Monday, December 19, 2011

Calvary Cemetery Burial- The KELSEY Family

As Mike and I were about to return to the car after our visit to Calvary Cemetery, I spotted the grave marker for the KELSEY family.  I noted several things that were atypical of the grave marker:

1.  Four young people were listed on the marker.

2.  Three of the four decedents passed away in Nevada City, several hundred miles from this cemetery.

3.  The grave marker appears newer than the date of the last death craved on it (1904).

4.  On the left side of the marker was listed one Mr. Richard KELSEY, born in England in 1833 and having passed away in 1889.  He was likely the father of the children on the marker, but where is the mother?

And so my interest in the KELSEY family began.  I started my search with Nevada City by finding the KELSEY family in the 1870 Federal Census.  Richard, his wife, Mary, and two young children, Eddie and Richard Jr., were living in this popular mining community.  A decade, and several children later, the KELSEY family was located in the little township of Vallejo just a few miles south of Petaluma in Sonoma County (not to be confused with the city of Vallejo in nearby Solano County).  Instead of mining, Richard Sr. was now working a farm.  Research confirmed that Richard Sr. died in 1889. 

Having not been able to locate the Widow Mary after the 1900 Federal Census, I began to dig deeper into the KELSEY family history.  Fortunately, a couple of biographies had been written on the family.  The first biography told of Richard's youth and how he and his family had moved from England the state of Illinois when he was a young boy.  It also gave Richard's marriage date and the maiden name of Mary (MCCARTHY) as well as mentioned the seven children the couple had, including the two that had died.

The second biography was that of one Mr. John SKIFFINGTON, who married the Widow KELSEY.  This biography mentioned Mary's parents (Patrick and Honora MCCARTHY, nee CAIN).  The biography also discussed a bit about Richard KELSEY, telling how he had been a successful miner in Nevada City and that he owned 300 acres of good land in Sonoma County at the time of his death.

John SKIFFINGTON died in 1920.  Mary died two years later on March 17th.  I learned that both of them are also buried at Calvary Cemetery.

My guess is that the mysterious grave marker was erected by the children of Richard and Mary KELSEY between 1904 (the date of death on the marker for Daniel KELSEY) and 1922, when the youngest of the children, Alice, passed away in Sonoma County.  The family, wealthy from those early mining days in Nevada City, could afford such a beautiful tribute to their dearly departed family.


  1. 6/17/17 I am the great granddaughter of Richard and Mary Kelsey and still live on some of the Kelsey Petaluma property. Our private driveway is named Edwin Kelsey Way.
    Joan O'Brien

  2. I think that is wonderful that you still have ties to your family land! You probably have all the genealogical info. that you need, but do let me know if you need any free assistance.