Nancy Kelsey

Nancy Kelsey Grave
Santa Barbara County, California


Nancy Roberts Kelsey was born in 1823 in Kentucky. She moved with her family to Missouri and at age 15 married Benjamin Kelsey. The couple and their daughter joined a group of 64 emigrants who left Missouri in early May 1841. Of this group, 34 people, including the Kelseys, headed for California in 1841 as part of the Bidwell-Bartleson Party that reached the John March ranch in the San Joaquin Valley on November 4. Nancy Kelsey was the first American woman to reach California by the overland route that became the main California Trail. She and her husband had 10 children and lived in both California and Oregon. Her husband died in 1889, and Nancy died on August 10, 1896.


Approximately 50 miles east of Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County, California

This grave site is located on the rim of Cottonwood Canyon in the foothills of the Sierra Madre in southern California, about midway between Bakersfield and Santa Maria.

The site is on a private ranch.


Source: Randy Brown and Reg Duffin, Graves and Sites on the Oregon and California Trails, OCTA, 2nd edition, 1998, pp 132-133

To learn more: This publication is available for purchase.