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Mike Watson: Chelf family - in honor of Knifley Revisited

Knifley Revisited is an all-day celebration which will be held in Knifley, Adair County, KY, on Saturday, September 6, 2014

By Mike Watson
Adair County Historian

Here is a short biographical sketch of William P. Chelf, Casey Creek region, that I'd like to submit in honor of Knifley's upcoming celebration... MW

Chelf has been a prominent name in Adair County for generations. Lee Roy “L.R.” Chelf operated a very successful mercantile business at Knifley for many years. In honor and support of the Knifley Homecoming and Festival, coming up on September 6th, here submitted for review of CM readers, is an 1887 biographical sketch of William P. Chelf, Casey Creek, and his family. This bio first appeared in Kentucky: A History of the State . . . , by W.H. Battle, J.H. Perrin, G.C. Kniffin, 4th edition, Louisville, Ky, F.A. Battey & Company, 1887. The writing was the style of the day; long, long sentences and quaint turns of phrase were the accepted order. No additions or corrections have been made, except for the brief items that follow the sketch, taken from The Adair County News upon the death of Mrs. Rhoda Chelf. - Mike Watson

William P. Chelf was born in Taylor County, Ky., September 19, 1842, and is the third of six children born to William J. and Rhoda A. Bailey Chelf, the former a native of Virginia and the latter of Marion County, Ky., both of English descent.

William J. Chelf was born April 18, 1818, and at the age of eight years, in about 1826, came with his parents to Kentucky, first settling in Marion County, where the family remained for many years. There William J. grew to manhood, was married and soon after moved to Taylor County, where he remained about six years. He then moved to Adair County, where he bought a partially improved farm on Casey Creek, near Roley, upon which he remained until 1861, when he sold out and bought another farm some three miles further down the creek, upon which he resided until his death, May 26, 1879. For several years he was engaged in general merchandising in connection with farming and also in buying and shipping tobacco to Louisville, which at that day had to be hauled all the way on wagons. For some three or four years he also operated and owned a tan yard in connection with his other business. He and wife were from early life members of the Christian Church, in which he was a ruling elder for many years. He was also a member of the Masonic fraternity.

His father, Presley Chelf, was born and reared in Virginia and was one of the early settlers of Marion County, Ky. Afterward he removed Taylor County, remaining some ten years, and in his old age, moved to Adair County where his death occurred in his sixty-fifty year, in 1855.

Mrs. Rhoda A. Bailey Chelf was born March 27, 1819. She is still living and resides on the old home farm where her husband died. Her father, Hezekiah Bailey, was also born in Virginia, where he was educated and married, and soon after immigrated to Marion County, Ky., being among the early pioneers. Here he remained for many years. His death, however, occurred in Adair County, at the ripe old age of eighty-two or eighty-three years, in May 1863, to which county he had removed only a short time before.

William P. Chelf remained with his parents on the home farm until he attained his majority. In September 1863, he enlisted in Company I, Thirteenth Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry, Federal, and served until the expiration of his term of service, being mustered out at Camp Nelson, Ky., in January, 1865. After his return from the army, he farmed on rented lands for some five years. He then bought a partially improved farm of 125 acres on Casey Creek in Adair County, and adjoining the old homestead, to which he has since added other lands, now owning a well improved farm of some 475 acres. Here he has ever since extensively and successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits and also in the livestock trade, mainly in the buying and selling of mules. The farm is not only well improved, but is also in a high state of cultivation. August 29, 1865, he married Miss Louisa Hendrickson, a native of Adair County, born October 27, 1846. She is a daughter of Felix and Mary A. Monday Hendrickson, both natives of Adair County, and of English descent. Nine children have blessed their union: Anna M.F., Sarah A., Perry A., Mary L., Felix J., and Laura E.—twins, Jake, Patrick and Melissa B., deceased. Mr. Chelf and wife are consistent members of the Christian Church. In politics he is a Democrat.

From The Adair County News, Knifley letter, 30 December 1903: Died at the residence of her son, W.P. Chelf, Nov. 30, 1903, Mrs. Rhoda Chelf, aged 84 years.

Sources: Kentucky: A History of the State... , by W.H. Battle, J.H. Perrin, G.C. Kniffin, 4th edition, Louisville, Ky, F.A. Battey & Company, 1887; The Adair County News. - MIKE WATSON

This story was posted on 2014-07-28 08:47:36
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