Daniel Kelso was born on a farm in Venango County, Pennsylvania, December 18, 1803. As a young man in Dearborn County, Indiana, he worked on a farm during the summer, doing surveying when called upon to do so, and taught the neighborhood school during the winter. He, himself, had only ten and a half months of schooling, but would read by the firelight long after the family had retired and would walk miles to borrow a book.He studied law.
After his marriage May 3, 1825 to Margaret Ricketts, daughter of Robert and Susannah Ricketts, he began earnestly to prepare himself for the law profession. Books were scarce. Since he lived midway between Lawrenceburg and Vevay, he would, when possible, attend sessions of the courts at both places to study the proceedings. He became a well known lawyer and judge, over the river in Kentucky as well as in his Indiana circuit
Although Col. Kelso always participated largely in politics, he was not as good a politician as he was a lawyer, He chafed under the restrains of party discipline and a desire to act independently sometimes took him outside of the Whig organization with which he was supposed to be in sympathy. He served several terms in the State Senate, being elected in 1834, 1842, and 1848. In 1850 he was the representative delegate from Switzerland and Ohio Counties to the Indiana Constitutional Convention.
He was at one time prominently connected with the Freemasons, serving in the Lodge of the state as Deputy Grand Master, Grand Master and Grand Brand Secretary. He was also prominent in Odd Fellows.
Margaret Ricketts was born in Dearborn County, April 24, 1806 and died in Versailles, March 3, 1854. She and Daniel had ten children.
After her death, Anna Lawless was Daniel’s housekeeper and on May 13, 1855 she gave birth to a daughter, Mary Mollie Kelso, at Dillsboro, this child was adopted into the home of Zerelda Kelso Dickerson, October 5, 1856. Daniel married secondly, Isabella Kinnear in Jefferson County, November 1, 1855. They had no children. Toward the end of his life, Daniel was for some time an invalid. He died at Versailles, in Ripley County, November 25, 1857 and is buried there.