We Were Here

George Kelch
Unknown Publication Date
by Konrad Stump, contributing writer to The Logan Daily News

Talk to anyone in Hocking County, and you’ll more than likely find that their family has been here for generations. It is practically impossible for us to not trace our families back to Germany, and more recently, Pennsylvania. But how did they end up in Ohio, and what brought them here? Some families only settled briefly and continued west, but many were awestruck by the breathtaking landscape they’d heard of in the letters sent by the ones who came before.
I’ve heard tell that around Logan, Ohio, is “Kelch country.” The first Kelch to settle in Hocking County was George Thomas Kelch. George was born in Salem County, New Jersey, on Feb. 11, 1808, the son of George Phillip and Phebe (Armstrong) Kelch.
When George was just a small boy, in 1811, the family moved from New Jersey to Philadelphia. Shortly before George’s thirteenth birthday, on Jan. 12, 1821, his father passed away after a bout of nervous fever. Phebe continued with the family business of weaving, a business George would eventually take up himself. On Sep. 12, 1832, he married Prudence Robinson, the daughter of James and Elizabeth (Patterson) Robinson. Prudence’s family also came from Salem. Perhaps she and George even knew each other as children. Together they had five children (James Robinson, Horatio Gates, George Phillip, William Henry, and Phebe).
In 1843, George became Superintendent of Liberty Hall, therefore caretaker of the liberty bell. Perhaps they felt as though they were on their way to a better life, but on May 20, 1844, Prudence passed away after a battle with consumption. We can’t be certain that Prudence died in childbirth, but Phebe was born around that time, and in February of 1845, she followed her mother to the grave.
Later that year George, his sons, and his aged mother began the long journey toward Ohio. George’s brother James was already living there. Their brother William, and their sister Mary, followed a few years later. They more than likely came in a covered wagon along Zane’s Trace.
On Jan. 23, 1846, he married Mary McNichols, daughter of Nathaniel and Martha (Fawcett) McNichols. According to Mary’s obituary, she came from a family of Quakers. Her brother, Nathanial, married George’s sister Mary.
George's mother, Phebe, passed away in 1850, and in 1855 he and the boys moved to Laurel Twp. According to the family obituaries, they all united with the Pleasant Rock Baptist Church in the winter of 1856 – 1857. The church stood on their land, but it is unknown if they built it. By the time of William’s death, in 1894, the church was no longer in use.
All of George’s sons fought in the civil war. James was an assistant physician. George Phillip was killed in Texas. Horatio and Henry were privates, and mustered out at Camp Chase, in Columbus. Horatio and James came back from the war, got married, and had families, but William lived with his parents until their deaths.
George took up the occupation of farming, and for a few years served as Justice of the Peace.
A few years before his death a story ran in The Hocking Sentinel about a horse being stolen from George. The horse, seven years old with a black mane and tail, and a splint on the right foreleg, was stolen in the evening. The following morning “a son” (most likely Horatio, who lived across the street) went to Logan and alerted the authorities. A reward of fifty dollars was offered.
The thief turned out to be a man named Henry Lucre, who, according to the paper, had been raised by George. By the time Lucre got to Lancaster, the police already had his picture in their possession. He ran away and tried to sell the horse, but couldn’t find a buyer. He eventually left the animal and got on a train. He was apprehended in Cincinnati, having been turned in by his wife, who was afraid he might leave her.
George passed away on Sep. 3, 1888 at his residence. He was laid to rest in the cemetery on his land, a cemetery that would come to be known as Kelch cemetery.
Reprinted here with the permission of the author, Konrad Stump.

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