Kelsey, TX

By: Christopher Long

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: February 1, 1995

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Kelsey, on Farm Road 1795 seven miles west of Gilmer in central Upshur County, was named for Dr. W. H. Kelsey, one of the earliest settlers in the county; a nearby creek also bears his name. During the antebellum period there were a number of large plantations in the area. In 1901 two brothers, John and Jim Edgar, of Andalusia, Alabama, founded a settlement of Mormons on Kelsey Creek. After the colony was established, Mormons from all over the South flocked to the area. A school run by Mormon missionaries from Utah began operating in 1901, and a post office opened the next year. In 1910 the Marshall and East Texas Railway was built through the town, and Kelsey became a stop on the line. By 1911 Kelsey had five stores, a brick kiln, three sawmills, a shingle mill, a cotton gin, two blacksmith shops, a gristmill, and a school. A red brick school, the Kelsey Academy, was built that year and was operated as a public school staffed by Mormon missionaries. The town's economy was largely agricultural. Many of the residents depended on dairying for their livelihood, but cotton, grain, and truck farming also played an important role in the economy. Kelsey reached its largest size around 1917, when it had 750 residents; several hundred additional Mormons also lived in Enoch, a nearby community. Kelsey began to decline in 1917, when the railroad was abandoned. The post office closed the following year, and during the 1920s and 1930s many of the residents moved away. In the mid-1930s Kelsey had a church, several stores, a cemetery, and a number of houses. The population in 1938 was 350. After World War II the decline continued. The school was consolidated with the Gilmer Independent School District, and by the mid-1960s all that remained of Kelsey was a church, a cemetery, and a store. In 1990 Kelsey was a dispersed community populated mostly by descendants of the original Mormon settlers. Some 200 inhabitants lived in the area in the 1990s. The population fell to fifty in 2000.

G. H. Baird, A Brief History of Upshur County (Gilmer, Texas: Gilmer Mirror, 1946). T. Lindsay Baker, Ghost Towns of Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). Dallas News, May 8, 1938. Doyal T. Loyd, History of Upshur County (Waco: Texian Press, 1987).


  • Religion
  • Mormon


  • Communities

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Christopher Long, “Kelsey, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 18, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995