KELSEY FAMILY
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Mrs. Francis Choate
In 1887 the Theodore Bascom Kelsey family left Iowa in a covered wagon for Montana. The family consisted of Mr. Theodore Bascom Kelsey, his wife Rhoda Gray, three sons, Arthur R., S. Walter, and Frank T., and one daughter, Mary Etta. Two sons, William and Bryan were already in the Miles City area, working on the Northern Pacific Railroad.
The family had been corresponding with Mr. George Daniels, Sr., who lived at that time on a part of the present Kolka ranch, near the Stacey area. They left Iowa on June 6, 1887, and reached the Daniel's ranch on September 6, of that year. In their possessions were a small number of cattle, horses, chickens, furniture, personal goods, and even a pump organ. Of course, pets were included, dogs and cats.
In a short time they took up homesteads, bought "Script" land, etc., and put together a small ranch about four miles north of the Daniel's ranch, just three miles west of where the Stacey post office was located for many years. This ranch became the home of the Kelseys for sixty-three (63) years, as Arthur Kelsey made it his home when the elder folks retired. The first house consisted of two rooms, built entirely of logs with a "puncheon" floor (split logs). No nails were available. The roof was dirt.
A few years later it was possible to buy Northern Pacific Railroad land; so Walter Kelsey established a ranch ten miles west of the old ranch on Beaver Creek. He married Mae Miller, a teacher from Shenandoah, Iowa. They lived there between 25 and 30 years, running sheep in partnership with Arthur Kelsey at the home ranch where they raised cattle. The firm was known at "Kelsey Bros." for over twenty years, with the old brand of (two-hanging K) on the left rib. Arthur Kelsey married Bertha E. Miller, a sister of Mae Miller (Kelsey) in 1899.
The Walter Kelsey family consisted of seven children, Emerson, a minister who was killed in a mine accident in the '50's; Monroe, killed by a train in the '30's; Marion, died at Bear Creek; Eugene, accidently shot; Frances, now living in Berekley, California, married to a Navy Admiral; Ethel, in Idaho, on a ranch; and Natalie on a farm in Michigan. After the Kelsey Bros., dissolved partnership about 1920, the Walter Kelsey family moved to Miles City, and later to Bear Creek, Montana. The ranch belonging to the Walter Kelsey's is now part of the Terrett ranch.
Arthur Kelsey had three daughters, Irene (Mrs. Francis Choate) living in Billings at this time; Ione (Mrs. Cole) in Lewistown, and Alice (Mrs. Rufus Choate) living in the Aleutian Islands. A son died at birth in 1907. The Arthur Kelsey's lived on the ranch near Stacey sixty-three (63) years. They moved to Miles City to retire, turning the ranch property over to their daughter, Alice and her husband, Rufus Choate. Rufus Choate
The Rufus Choate's sold the ranch to the Gary Wiltse's in the '60's. During those sixty-three years at the ranch the Kelsey's raised cattle and conducted a Dude Ranch and thus "weathered" the Depression Days, saving the ranch. In the '20's Mr. Kelsey built the huge rock house which is still the ranch house of the Wiltse's. The stone was all hauled from Elk Ridge near Big Pumpkin Creek by Hugh Rooney, about twenty miles, by horses and wagons. Swan Peterson of Sweden was hired to carve the stone and erect the walls, taking about three years time. Then Mr. Ross Decker, a neighbor, did finishing work with lumber, windows, and roof. When the Depression stopped all building, Arthur Kelsey, himself, did much of the finishing of the inside to complete the home as it stands today.
The other Kelsey's who moved away from the old ranch, were Mary Etta, who married Arthur Hotchkiss and lived many years near Moorhead, Montana, on the Powder River; Frank Kelsey, who married Lula Belle Miller, a sister of the Mrs. Arthur and Walter Kelsey's. They lived just across the Powder River at Moorhead from the Arthur Hotchkiss home. Their history is in another account in this book.