SAMUEL ALEXANDER PAGON KELSEY
(1805-1894) married Jennet Averett, sister of Elijah Averett
Taken from the book, "Averitt Lines and Related Families" by Christine Shumway Solomon Walser.
Chester County, South Carolina is in the northwestern part of the state, near the North Carolina borderline. It is a county of rolling hills. The soil is red clay. At that time it was well covered with timber. Before farming could be done the timber was cut off the land, and piled to burn. In 1805 it must have been a back woods section and only partly settled. We do not know just what part of the country they lived in, but that could be found from the records, because his parents were landholders.
Samuel Alexander’s father was born in Ireland. He came to America and fought in the Revolutionary War before his marriage. His mother was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but her parents were natives of Ireland.
We know little of the conditions, which surrounded Alex in his early childhood. He learned to chew tobacco when he was six years old. Later in his life he used to tell the story of a balky mule belonging to his father. It was the duty of a negro slave to drive this mule. The slave made the remark, "If Massa Kelsey gave me dat mule, he didn’t lose nothing, cause I gib him right back." We learn from this story that there was at least one negro slave in the family. We do not know whether or not there were more. However, the family was not a wealthy one, so they could not have had many slaves.
The stories which he told of his childhood indicate that his parents were stern and required obedience. One time when he asked for something to eat his mother gave him a bowl of buttermilk and bread. He disliked buttermilk and wanted something besides bread alone. He lay down on the floor and cried and kicked. She put the buttermilk and bread down beside him and remarked that she supposed he would eat the buttermilk and bread before it ate him.
At an early age he started school. He was perhaps about six years old. During his life he looked upon school as a model for efficiency and discipline. The school started at seven o’clock in the morning. It closed at six o’clock in the evening. The teacher always kept a long hickory stick handy, and used it whenever occasion required. On one occasion, because of some imaginary offense, which Alex had committed, the teacher struck him a vicious blow across the thigh with the hickory stick. Alex was not guilty of the offense, yet he forgave the teacher.
In the short time he was permitted to attend school, he got the rudiments of an education. He was able to read and to write; though his spelling was rather poor. He also could do the figuring that was necessary for carrying on his business in life.
His friends and associates familiarly knew him as "Alex".
Alex was not more than twelve years old when he was bound out to be an apprentice. He served his time as an apprentice for seven years. He received his board and clothing during the seven years. He received ninety dollars as the final payment for his services.
Sometime before his marriage, Alex moved to Maury County, Tennessee. We conclude that he moved to this county before his marriage because his wife was born in Maury County. I believe that the family moved there. When he was nineteen years old he married Jenett Averett. Their first son Thomas Monroe Kelsey was born in Maury County, Tennessee, not far from Rattling Springs. Before Thomas was four years old the family had moved from Maury County to Hamilton, Illinois, and there several children were born.
Then came another move. They moved to Caldwell County, Missouri. Another child was born to them in Caldwell, Missouri.
One day, in 1835, while still in Illinois, they noticed two Mormon Missionaries were to preaching in the neighborhood. Alex and his wife did not belong to any church. They had not been satisfied with the creeds that had been taught to them at various churches. They were looking for something better. When the news got out that Mormon missionaries were to preach, Alex’s wife, Jennet remarked, "They should be hickoried out of the country." To which Alex replied, "Well, perhaps they’ve got what we’re looking for. We better go and hear them." They went and heard the Mormons preach, and after one sermon they were ready to be baptized. Alex was baptized 3 July 1835. They were with the Church when they were driven from Far West to Illinois. Alex was one of those chosen to assist the poor in going from Missouri to Illinois. When Nauvoo was settled, they were among the early settlers of that city.
Several children were born to them while they resided in Nauvoo. However, all of those children passed away in infancy. They had ten children. Six of them lived to maturity, and five of them lived in Utah. Those who came to Utah were Thomas, Diannah, Matilda, Elenor Jennet, and John. Alex was endowed in the Nauvoo Temple on the 12 January 1846.
Alex was of a retiring disposition. He did not like publicity. He was always willing to take the back seat. Even though he was a very strong Latter-day Saint, preaching and praying in public were entirely out of his line. Because of this disposition, we hear little from him about the history in Nauvoo or at a later date. While living in Nauvoo Alex practiced his trade as a blacksmith. When the perilous times came the Saints were expelled from Nauvoo. Instead of moving across the river with the body of the church, he and his family moved quietly down the river. They settled in Quincy, Illinois. In Quincy he made his home until 1851. While residing here his daughter Diannah met Nicholas Hendrickson. Nicholas was not a member of the Church yet, but they were married. Alex’s son, Thomas met Sarah Everton, also a non-member, and they were married. Alex’s daughter, Jennet met Levi Walter Everton. Levi was also a non-member, and they were married. Celia Eliza had also married. In 1851 Alex decided to move to the body of the Church in Utah. Alex, his wife, and two children, John and Matilda formed the party.
We know little of this journey to Utah. They settled in Cottonwood, just south of Salt Lake City. In Cottonwood he continued to play his trade as a blacksmith.
When Cache Valley was settled, the Kelsey family was among those called to settle there. With others they settled in Smithfield. Smithfield is now known as Summit Creek. They helped to build the fort that formed the first residences in Smithfield. The Kelsey home was near the southeastern corner of the fort, which was not far from where the public library now stands in Smithfield.
The move to Smithfield had hardly been made until Alex left his wife, and went with their son John to start back across the plains to get their daughter, Elenor Jennet. She was left a widow with two children. Alex made his way to Quincy in 1860, and was prepared to leave there and return to Utah immediately. Alex’s son, Tommy and his daughter, Dianah persuaded him to wait until the next spring. They promised that if he would do so they would make the journey with him in the spring. Apparently started on his journey homeward with his daughter and her two children when the decision was made to wait until the next spring. So, he and his daughter and her children made their home with Thomas Kelsey and Nicholas Henderickson during the winter of 1860-61. The next spring they made there way westward with one of the companies of emigrants that were going across the plains.
In this company there were quite a number of Saints from Europe, Wales, Scotland, England, and Scandinavia. They came across the plains without any great misfortune. They landed in Smithfield in the late summer of 1861. Alex and his family lived in the fort until it was abandoned. Then, Alex secured a city lot on the East Side of Main Street. On this lot he built a little log cabin that his family lived in. Next to the sidewalk of their log cabin he built another log cabin which served as a blacksmith shop. Here, he worked at his trade for about 25 years until old age came upon him and he could continue no longer.
In about 1875, a new frame residence was built in front of the log cabin. It had two rooms in front and porch at the back. On either end of the porch two small rooms were built, which served as butteries and closets. It was here that I first knew Grandfather Kelsey. Nearly all the first part of his life was spent as a pioneer. He went to Kentucky when it was a new country. He helped to clear the land and make the farm there. He then moved to Illinois while it was still a new country. After a very few years, he moved on to Missouri while that was still a new country. He then went with the Saints over to Nauvoo to help make a city of a swamp. After only a short time there he moved on to Salt Lake City while it was still a new city. After a few years near Salt Lake he helped to pioneer the way to Cache Valley. He naturally became accustomed to hardships and privation. Very few of the comforts of life did he ever enjoy.
In the early days of Smithfield, the story is told that one year the crops failed. There was not enough wheat to go around. The Kelsey’s had their wheat ground into course graham flour. They sifted it and took out the coarse part. They then made bread out of all that would go through the sieve. When this process had been completed they made bread out of all that wouldn’t go through the sieve, and still it didn’t last out. They had to live on weeds for a few weeks before the new crop came in. However, after they had established themselves in Smithfield, Grandfather and Grandmother Kelsey lived in comparative comfort for quite a number of years. His health was still good. He continued to serve the people as a blacksmith until he was about 75 years of age. As his wife advanced in years she became childish, so that it was necessary for him to watch her. He gave up his work at the blacksmith shop. He and his wife moved in with Aunt Diannah Hendrickson. She assisted Alex in taking care of her mother.
Grandmother Kelsey died in 1887. After after her death, Grandfather moved back into one room of his old home. His son, Thomas Kelsey and wife, Sarah lived in the other rooms of his old home. Aunt Sarah cooked for him and did his washing. When he became sick his son, Tommy cared for him. He continued to live there until he passed away in 1894.
Grandfather Kelsey was about five feet ten inches tall. He was broad shouldered. He had large muscles. In his youth he was strong. During the later years of his life he had weak eyes. This probably was caused from his working so many years looking into a blacksmith’s fire. At least, he blamed his job for the condition of his eyes. During the latter part of his life he was hard of hearing. It was necessary to speak quite loud in order to make him understand you.
Grandfather kept his face clean shaven, but under his chin and around his neck he did not shave. During the latter part of his life he used a cane. His cane was a plain hickory stick, which was brought to him from Virginia from a returned missionary. He always walked straight and erect. He did not appear to need a cane. He learned to chew tobacco as a very small boy and did not break away from the habit.
For many years he started out every Sunday morning to visit all of his great grandchildren who resided in Smithfield. They were located in different parts of the town. I remember very well when he came to see how we were every Sunday morning. After a few minutes visit he would excuse himself and say that he had to see how his other great grandchildren were.
He did the work in the Temple for his ancestors as far as he knew them. When he joined the Church his brothers refused to have anything to do with him. He did not hear from them, so he did not know when they did. I remember of him speaking of doing the work for one of his brothers whom would be more than a hundred years old. He said that even though he had not heard from him, he felt sure that he had passed away. He did the work for him in the Temple.
Grandfather Kelsey was a man of strong likes and dislikes. Most of the things he liked were the things, which he had when he was a young man. The new fangled ideas, which came into existence in his old age, were all foolishness to him. During the latter part of Grandfather’s life the shirts for men were made without buttons down the back or on the shoulder. He refused to adapt to this style. He continued to have his shirts made with buttons down the front. Likewise, he refused to adopt the new style trousers that opened down the front. He continued to wear the old-styled trousers with openings on the sides. They were called ‘barndoor trousers’ because the front let down like a barn door. As long as his wife lived she made his clothes, sewing them by hand. After she passed away, other members of his family made his clothing. All of his clothing had to be made according to his specifications.
He was very regular in his habits. He had a certain hour to rise, and a certain hour to retire. He ate at certain times of the day. The cow was milked at a certain hour in the morning and a certain hour in the evening. The pigs were fed regularly. The clock would ring every Sunday morning at nine o’clock. I remember when they changed the time of High Priest’s meeting and he was late because he had to wait to wind the clock to nine o’clock.
Two years before Grandfather’s death, as a boy I moved with my parents to Logan. We came here so that I could attend college. A few days before we moved I saw him. He asked if it were true that we were moving to Logan. I told him that we were. He asked if I were going to attend the B.Y. College. I told him I was. He said, "Well, I hope that you will become a school teacher. I hope that none of my children or grandchildren will ever try to get out of earning an honest living, and the teacher who works from nine o’clock in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon in not earning an honest living according to my way of thinking."
During the latter part of his life, Grandfather was afflicted with a skin disease, which caused him great distress because it itched. He received temporary relief from bathing with medicated soap. This disease was probably one of the causes of his death. In his last sickness he suffered greatly with pain. However, he retained his faculties and was able to talk intelligently until the last minute. My father was with him at the time of his death. He said that Grandfather turned over in his bed and asked what time it was. When he was told the time he remarked, "Well, it can’t last many minutes longer." And within one minute of that time he passed away. He was buried in the Smithfield Cemetery by his wife's side. His wife died a few years before him. He was only one month away from being 89 years old at the time of his death. He lived a quiet peaceful life. He had a kindly disposition, was slow to anger, had many friends, and did not have any enemies. He paid his way so that he did not have any debts. He was always willing to help those around him, but was independent in his nature and did not like to take help from his friends.