Letter from J.C. Mason, Okolona, Arkansas.
We also have in Pike county, old Bro. Elijah Kelley, now eighty two years
of age, who has been living on the same farm since 1815. He was baptized
in 1824, and has been preaching since 1836. He has been a tower of strength
to the cause of Christ in this country. May God help us who are younger
to be worthy to wear the mantle of those faithful old soldiers.
The Christian, St. Louis, Missouri, May 19, 1881, page 1.
Our Veterans by J.C. Mason, Okolona, Arkansas.
The other veteran is Elijah Kelley, who was born in Jackson Co., Tenn.,
Sept. 14, 1800. His mother instructed him to take the New Testament, study
it, and follow its teaching. This led him, at the age of 24, to confess
the Savior, and put him on by baptism, under the ministry of Wm. Clapp,
in Decatur Co., Ala. His parents moved to Pike Co., Ark. in 1815. In 1836,
Bro. Kelley was ordained to the ministry, and has been pretty actively
engaged ever since. He is now cultivating land that he helped his father
clear over 60 years ago (it still produces well). There is a congregation
of Disciples numbering about 150 in his neighborhood, as well as several
others in the regions round about, that were built up mainly by his
ministry. He has been a tower of strength to the cause in this country.
He still goes on horseback from 10 to 20 miles preaching, baptizing, etc.
He helped to frame the first constitution of this State, has represented
his county in the Legislature, and filled the position of county and
probate judge for several years, and is now esteemed a Christian gentleman
by men of all parties. He belongs to a noble generation of men, fast
passing away. I wonder if there will be any found worthy to take their
The Christian Standard, July 30, 1881, page 242.
Below we copy from the Arkansas Standard a communication over the
signature of Geo. W. Logan, giving a few points in the career of the
venerable gentleman whose name heads this article. We reproduce it with
pleasure, because it brings to The Gazette tidings that all is well with
one of the friends of its youth, and because it corrects a report
frequently published that Gen. Grandison D. Royston is the sole surviving
member of the constitutional convention of 1836. Gen. Royston will now feel
less lonesome, and be accredited with the youth he wears so well. Mr.
Kelley lives, hale and healthy, the patriarch of five generations--four of
them his descendants and numbering over 200 souls--near Murfreesboro, Pike
county, where he has lived respected, honored and venerated, since 1815.
We think Mr. Logan is in error in dating Mr. Kelley's birth in 1780. We
believe it should be not further back than 1790. When The Gazette's eyes
last beheld him--a member of the legislature of '66--he was "a gray-haired
happy boy" of 60, to all appearance. May the shadow of his person, example
and influence remain long in the land, and may his tribe increase: Eds.
Standard: According to promise I give you and the many readers of the
Standard, a few items in reference to the old men of this county. First,
and at the head of the list in many respects, stands Elijah Kelley, Sr.,
who was born September 14, 1780; moved with his parents to Arkansas at the
age of 15 years, that is in the year 1815, and settled with his parents on
Wolf Creek, in Pike county, Arkansas, where he now resides. He is, and has
been for many years a minister of the gospel in the Christian church. He
was a member of the constitutional convention of 1836, and helped frame
the first constitution of Arkansas as a state, and has, once or more,
represented this county in the legislature, of which body he was a worthy
member. He is by occupation a farmer, and in the year 1882, raised two and
one-half bales of cotton, and enough corn to do him this year. His
children, grandchildren, great grand-children and great-great
grand-children, number over 200, and notwithstanding his age, he is quite
lively and stout.
Arkansas Gazette, May 10, 1883, page 2, column 2.
A Patriarch by E.R. Childers.
Full of years, full of honors, and ready for the Master. Elder Elijah
Kelley is one of the historic men of Arkansas. He was born in Jackson
county, Tenn., in A.D. 1800, September 14. His father moved to Illinois
in 1804, and to Arkansas in 1815, and settled on Wolf creek, in Pike
county. Bro. Kelley still lives on the farm where his father settled over
68 years ago. Bro. Kelley was a member of the first Constitutional
Convention of the State of Arkansas, and has three times represented his
county in the State legislature, to the entire satisfaction of all parties.
He has always made his living by farming, and though now in his 84th year,
last year made one bale of cotton weighing 525 pounds, picking it all out
himself. He obeyed the gospel on the 22nd day of July, 1824, and began to
preach for the Disciples about the year 1826, and organized the church on
Wolf creek, called Antioch in 1833, and has been one of its elders ever
since its organization. He has been instrumental in the conversion of many
souls and the building up of many churches around him. Almost all his
children and grandchildren are members of the Christian Church, and he has
the respect of all, both in and out of the church. I spent a night with him
recently, and it did my soul good to have him recount the conflicts of the
early years of his ministry. He is doubtless the oldest preacher today
among the Disciples in the United States, as Antioch is the oldest church
in the State of Arkansas. He is full of honors and is ready for the Master.
The Christian Standard, April 26, 1884, page 130.
Update 03.19.01 David Kelley 2000 BIO-0002.HTM