Family History Tree Memento by Evelyn Jackson
O'Kelley Family Tree

Disclaimer: This tree was drawn in the 1970's based on oral history.  There are a few known discrepancies.  Family members are welcome to submit updates or corrections for our growing family tree.  This tree drawing is a  family memento.

O'Kelley Family Reunion Logo
O'Kelley Family Logo

O'Kelley Name Crest
O'Kelley Crest

In honor to the descendants of Ellen (O'Kelley, Johnson) Mathews-Fisher and her sons,
Daniel, Will & Charles O'Kelly/O'Kelley*

St. Louis, MO O'Kelley Family Reunion 2012
O'Kelley Family Reunion, St. Louis, MO, 2012

Join the Black O'Kelleys Facebook page to get the latest updates, meet and catch up with family as they share their photos, jokes and more!


2016 Reunion Banner

2016 O'Kelley Family Reunion in Atlanta, GA
Hosted by Nikki W. Sebastian
Date: Thursday, July 21 through Sunday, July 24, 2016

This will be the second reunion hosted by Nikki in Atlanta, GA
Another descendant of Helen O'Kelley-Smith Pickens takes the lead!

Since 1930 our reunions have celebrated the arrival of new family, memorialized those who have departed and joined together cousins from across the country. Our reunions have historically provided safe havens for fellowship and relaxation. Recent unrest across the country has underscored the need for reunions; to take time to celebrate and honor life with family.

The reunion will be held at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North hotel located at 7 Concourse Pkwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30328. Call 888-627-8407 to make your reservations and refer to the ‘O’Kelley Family Reunion’ block. Room rates are $99 for single and double rooms.
The hotel is also offering a few suites at $149.


The Westin’s customized website to book your room is:

Early Bird registrations are due February 01, 2016

Early Registration

Adult (20-64)

Senior Discount (65+)

Teen (13-19)

Youth (6-12)

Child (2-5)







Click here for registration form for the registration form and you may also register online at the following website if you prefer to pay with a credit card:

Please contact Nikki with any questions you may have. We, the Atlanta based O’Kelleys, are looking forward to welcoming you in 2016. And thanks again to hosts Patricia and her husband Earnest Dozier for hosting a wonderful 2014 reunion in Dallas, Texas.

Peace and Blessings to you and your family,

Nikki Williams Reunion, Hostess
O’Kelley Family Reunion 2016 – Atlanta
(678) 661-9613,

Check out our family Newsletters!


Dan, Will, Charles O'Kelley - The Originals

About the O'Kelley Family:
Our African-American O'Kelley family started through the union of Ellen (O'Kelley) Mathews-Fisher, a Mulatto woman born in 1843, and her slave owner James Edward O'Kelley.  Family legend states Ellen was purchased in order to bear children and that she refused to succumb to the advances of the "massa" until she was beaten, blinded in one eye, and threatened to be tossed into a burning bush.

We have found a historical deed record which includes an entry regarding a slave named  "Ellen", who  was willed to Elizabeth Ann Middleton - a minor child.  The difference in age makes this a questionable resource of "our" Ellen matriarch.  Elizabeth would later become the wife of James Edward O'Kelley (also spelled O'Kelly) who is listed as a planter and slaveowner in the 1860 Wilkinson County, MS Slave Schedules.  Slave schedules did not list the actual names of those counted, but the census enumerations for this particular schedule does show one 17 year old female in the O'Kelley plantation. Ellen would have been 17 years old in 1860. Her marraige certificate shows her name prior to William Fisher to be Mathews. One of her sons is named Amos Mathews. Ellen bore three (3) O'Kelley sons; Daniel Smith (May 1862 - Dec. 25, 1930), Will Dock (Nov. 1867 - Mar. 4, 1927), and Charles Edward (Jun. 1871 - Apr. 1943).  There was speculation that a relationship was continued between Ellen and her O'Kelley slaveowner after the abolition of slavery and that there were two brothers involved.

  • According to the death certificate for Charles E. O'Kelley, his father's name is John B. O'Kelley.
    • John B. is the brother to James E. O'Kelley. 
  • James E. died in 1867 so he could not have fathered the last O'Kelly son.  >
  • This latest finding confirms the stories of Ellen's involvement with the two Irish brothers. Thanks to white and black participants in our DNA project, our heritage has been confirmed to be from the white O'Kelley brothers.

Ellen gave birth to a total of seven children known at this time including; Amos Mathews (b.1874), John Archie Hilliard/Hillery (b.1872), Theresa (Saresta) Fisher-O'Neal (b.1880), and Cordelia Fisher. Cordelia is said to have died early in her life. Census records of 1880 show Ellen Fisher, 37, resided in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, in the city of Woodville, with her husband William Fisher and children.  Ellen's three O'Kelley sons raised their families in Woodville, MS  near Natchez (Adams County), and near the city of Greenville - in the now defunct town of  Magenta, MS (Washington County).  They were self-contained and educated business men with farms and a barber shop.   Daniel ran a school house and sent several of his children to college back in the 1920s.

Our first O'Kelley family reunion was held in St. Louis in the early 1930s which was spurred following the death of the eldest black O’Kelly son, Daniel Smith. Daniel died on Christmas day, December 25, 1930.  His eldest daughter, Evelyn/Evelina Cordelia O'Kelley suggested the family start holding family reuions. Reunions were held each of the next two years but were discontinued in 1940, due to a large number of family members serving overseas during World War II.  Our family served as military police, nurses, WACs and aerial photographers during the war.  The reunions resumed in 1943 and were held yearly until 1968, when due to the large turnouts, the decision was made to hold them at hotels every two years rather than in homes of various family members  The tradition continues on today. The O'Kelley family combined the year 2000 reunion with the Darris family originally of Louisiana--our cousins.

We have created this website to help close all gaps in our family tree.  We want this website to reach all those who are involved in genealogy searches for their families as well. Hopefully this website will answer questions for others in their search and visitors will help us answer questions we have as well. Please feel free to send comments, questions and suggestions.

*Census and vital records have been found with both spellings of O'Kelly & O'Kelley

Go to page more family history...

Seeking Historic Photos pre-1960s for inclusion to the Smithsonian Institute

The African-American center of the Smithsonian Institute is seeking family photos from the early 1900s to include in the museum.

If we are selected, our history will be preserved forever in American history in this prestigious museum.

For more information please contact:

©1999 Joyce Ann Huston - All Rights Reserved.
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