I don't know if this information will help but like you said, any possible clue is worth at least filing away for future reference. My great great grandfather was William Kellow (1839-1920's) of West Tennessee. While searching census records for him a few years back I jotted down the following census entries in West Tennessee in 1880.
Obion County Census 1880:
Stephen "Kelough" 75 years old, black, born NC, wife Mary born Tennessee age 60.
William "Kelough" age 72, listed as "mulatto," born NC, wife Rachel age 49 born TN, son William age 9 born Kentucky.
Joe "Killough" age 32 born TN, wife Sudie age 22, children Montana age 11 and Mary age 9. I didn't note in my files that this family was identified as black in the census but I have them with the others so I'm not sure.
Those first two look like pretty good clues. Overall, the "Kellough" spelling means that you could have gotten that name from the Kellow folks or the Killough/Kellough folks I guess. I have recently established my "Kellow" line as having a different origin in America than the "Killoughs", but when traced back to England/Scotland/Ireland they may be connected. In America, part of the "Killough" line (the most common spelling) used the "Kellough" spelling, but that was mainly further north in New England. A branch of my Kellow family (not my direct line) shows up as "Kellough" beginning 1830/1840 or so. They lived in Hardin County 1830's and 1840's after coming from Williamson County. My direct line even shows up as "Kellough" a time or two later (1870's+). My Kellows were in the county next to the ones I mentioned earlier in Obion County. In 1880, my William Kellow shows up in Crockett County.
In general, my "Kellow" line was pretty poor through most of the middle 1800's. I have an 1834 will (Williamson Co., TN) for my great great great grandfather and there is no mention of slaves which were usually willed if owned. My great great g-father lived till 1890 or so and I believe he was a poor "dirt" farmer his whole life.
Going further back, I have one more census record from North Carolina, Halifax County, 1800, for an Edward "Kelloe". His census code is 00000-00000-20, with the "2" in the column "free men of color." I have no idea were he came from or if he was a former Kellow/Kellough slave. I do have a Kellow will from the 1780's in Maryland that mentions a few slaves by name if you can get that far back.
Well, that's about all I know. Creek or Cherokee sounds like Carolina/Georgia/Alabama before Tennessee...I don't recognize any Dobbs relationship to my Kellows either. There were some Kellows who went to Arkansas and then on to Texas. There was a William Kellow from TN who went to Yell County, Arkansas (1870-80?), but I haven't been able to fit him into my Kellows yet, although I feel he probably belongs in my line somewhere as a cousin of some sort. I hope this little bit can help in some way! If I can ever be of help with other clues about where the Killoughs, Kelloughs, and Kellows were just let me know.
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