IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co.

William M. Kelly


During a period of residence in Allamakee county covering forty-six years, William Morton Kelly made many substantial contributions to its agricultural and business development and his name still stands as a synonym for progress, reform and advancement in the communities where he was known. A great many of the business enterprises in this part of the state profited greatly by his initiative spirit and his untiring industry and a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres on section 33, Paint Creek township, stands as a memorial to his life of energy and thrift. Upon this property he passed away January 18, 1907.

Mr. Kelly was born in Ohio on the 7th of April, 1833, and was of Irish descent, though his father, Daniel Kelly, was a native of Ohio as was his father before him. The public schools of his native county afforded William M. Kelly his educational opportunities and after laying aside his books he turned his attention to farming, engaging in that occupation in Ohio until 1861. In that year he came to Allamakee county and he remained an honored and respected resident of this part of Iowa until his death. He settled first in the village known as Sixteen, in what is now Linton township, and remained there seven years, removing in 1868 to Rossville, where he became very successful in the conduct of a general store. He went to Mason City in 1870 and became a merchant there, but after three years returned to his business in Rossville, building up in that community a large, well managed and profitable mercantile enterprise. However, in 1878, he again turned his attention to farming, buying on section 33, Paint Creek township, a one hundred and sixty acre tract which has formerly belonged to his brother Richard. It had been improved but was badly run down and Mr. Kelly turned his attention with characteristic energy to its development, repairing the buildings, erecting new ones and neglecting nothing which would add to the attractive appearance or value of the place. He made it an excellent property, provided with all the accessories and conveniences of a model farm and at his death was numbered among the representative and progressive agriculturists of his locality.

In Ohio on the 19th of August, 1858, Mr. Kelly was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Lewis, a daughter of Jesse and Esther Lewis, and they became the parents of thirteen children, eight of whom are still living: Nettie, who makes her home with her brother Daniel; Alice, twin sister of Nettie and the wife of Samuel Campbell of Nebraska; Mary, who married T. B. Campbell of Sheridan, Wyoming; Daniel, who is engaged in farming in Paint Creek township; Jesse L., also a farmer in Paint Creek township; William H.; Mattie, the wife of Albert Gast of Paint Creek township; and Fred, a resident of Giltner, Nebraska. William H. Kelly is operating the family homestead and is accounted one of the successful and representative farmers of Allamakee county. He was born in Rossville, March 2, 1870, and acquired his education in the district schools. After the death of his father he came into possession of the farm and has ably carried forward the work of development. He married Miss Sarah Klees, a native of this county and a daughter of Mathias and Emeline Klees, the former of whom has passed away. The mother lives upon a farm in Linton township. Mr. and Mrs. William H. Kelly have one daughter, Ruth. Mrs. William Morton Kelly survives her husband and makes her home upon the farm with her son and daughter-in-law. She is a lady of many excellent traits of mind and character and her long residence here has brought her wide-spread esteem and many friends.

William Morton Kelly was a member of the Presbyterian church and was a democrat in his political beliefs. He was prominent in the party’s councils and active in public affairs, being eminently progressive and public-spirited in matters of citizenship. For many years he rendered his township excellent service as trustee and was for three years a member of the county board of supervisors. Projects for the advancement and development of Allamakee county seldom lacked his ready and hearty cooperation, and meritorious business enterprises could always look to him for support. Thus he aided in the organization of the Waterville Creamery which is still in operation and which has proven through the years an important factor in business expansion. In Allamakee county where he was widely known, he held the esteem and confidence of all his associates and his death was felt as a personal loss by all who were fortunate enough to come within the close circle of his friendship.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Jan Miller

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