One of the very early pioneers of southwest Arkansas was Elijah Kelley. He
was born in Jackson county, Tenn., in (1800), and came to Arkansas with his
father in November, 1815. They located on Wolf Creek, in what is now Pike
county, but all that country was embraced within the geographical limits of
(Clark and) Hempstead county when the Territory was organized. Their
stopping there was purely accidental. They started out from (Illinois)
to go to Texas, but they became water-bound at Wolf Creek. It was a
beautiful valley - a modern Arcadia - and old man Kelley, believing that
he might go further and fare worse, gave up all idea of pushing on to
Texas and located there. A man by the name of Halifield, who was then 70
years old, and had been living there several years, sold the Kelleys the
first corn they consumed in their home. They paid 12 1-2 cents a pound for
bacon the first year of their residence. There were then (1815) just six
settlers on Wolf Creek and the Antoine, and the same number in what is now
Clark county. At that time Christopher Anthony, William Grayson and Stephen
Vaughan were the only settlers in the country west and south of the Little
Missouri. There is today a stream near Prairie d'Ann known as Vaughan's
Creek, which was named after Stephen Vaughan. He was the first white
settler in that whole region, and must have located there somewhere about

Elijah Kelley had (sixteen) children born to him, (most) of whom grew to
maturity and married. He has living ... over two hundred descendants. He
was for more than fifty years a minister of the Campbellite or Christian
church. He occupied many positions of trust. He was a delegate to the
Constitutional Convention of 1836, and outlived every member of that body
except Gen. G.D. Royston. He also served in the State Legislature, and was
for several years County Judge. He was a man of great personal dignity, and
was endowed with the strictest integrity and the purest and simplest
christianity. He was plain and unassuming in his manners and simple in his
mode of living. While he was a man of no great acquirements in learning,
Elijah Kelley possessed an extraordinary fund of common sense, and was
always an ardent Democrat. His brother, William Kelley, who was his senior
in years, settled and lived within a few hundred yards of Elijah. He, too,
was a Campbellite preacher for more than ahalf-century. He was County Judge
of Pike for several years. He was gifted with phenomenal memory, and
possessed the extraordinary acquirement of being able to recite by heart
the entire New Testament. William Kelley also raised a numerous family,
and his descendants are scattered throughout Southwest Arkansas. William J.
Kelley, who was a lawyer, and for a long time Clerk of Pike county, was his
youngest son. All of the younger Kelleys were proverbial for their probity
and many of the male members of the family were preachers. Rev. Samuel
Kelley, at present, I believe, living in Howard county, who served in the
Legislature in 1852, and in the Constitutional Convention which passed the
ordinance of secession in 1861, was the eldest son of William Kelley. He,
too, is a Campbellite minister, and has preached the Gospel for more than
forty years. He is a man of strong practical sense and sterling integrity,
and commands much respect. Until within a few years he lived in Pike

                              S.H. Williams

271 Franklin St., Chicago
Washington Press, 1887, Samuel H. Williams, Memorabilia, No. L, excerpt.
Sam Williams: Printers Devil, Mary Medearis, editor, 1979, page 288-289.
Update 03.31.01              David Kelley 1997                 BIO-0033.HTM