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Benton County, IAGenWeb Project
The IAGenWeb Project

History of Benton County, Iowa
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1910; Luther B. Hill, Ed.

Pages 477-478

MICHAEL KELLY was born in county Kilkenny, Ireland, in February, 1846, but nearly his entire life has been spent in the United States, for he was but eight years of age when he crossed the ocean with his parents, Patrick and Mary (Ryan) Kelly, also from county Kilkenny, to become American citizens. The father was born on the 27th of December, 1818, and died on the 17th of May, 1906, while the mother was born in 1822 and died February 25, 1904. They became the parents of thirteen children, but only the following are now living: Michael; Thomas, also a Union township agriculturist; James, of Van Horne; Patrick, Charles and John, also in Union township; Bridget, the wife of James Hickey, of the same place; Mary, wife of James Lawler, of Cedar Rapids; and Nellie, wife of Lawson Brain, state treasurer at Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1853 Mr. and Mrs. Kelly with their family set sail for the United States, landing on American shores after a voyage of seven weeks, and their first home was in Kane county; Illinois, near Geneva. But in the following year they again packed their goods, and with ox teams drove to Benton county, spending two weeks on the road and locating in section 26, Union township, Mr. Kelly entered one hundred acres of land in sections 26 and 35. He had no time at first to build a dwelling, for he was obliged at once to put in sod corn and potatoes; so they cooked for a time in a tent made by piling up their trunks and covering with a canvas, and they slept in the wagon. Mrs. Kelly was bitten by a rattlesnake while living in this primitive manner. Soon a log cabin, twenty by twenty-eight feet, was erected, which served as their home until a frame residence was erected in 1865. In 1894 they retired from farm work and moved to Van Horne, there to enjoy rest and peace after many years of toil and hardships. They were among the earliest of the pioneers of Union township, and they were loved and honored for their true worth of character. Mr. Kelly served his township as a treasurer for several years, and he became a wealthy man, owning at one time eleven hundred acres of land.

Michael Kelly, the first born son of these brave and hardy Benton county pioneers, received what schooling he was permitted to enjoy in the district schools of Union township, and leaving home at the time of his marriage he secured one hundred and sixty acres of unimproved prairie land in section 15, where he has erected a comfortable residence, and has since added to the boundaries of his first purchase until his farm now contains four hundred acres of splendidly improved land. He is quite extensively engaged in stock raising, breeding Short-horn cattle and Poland China hogs, and he was one of the organizers of the Farmers Bank of Van Horne, of which he is a stockholder and since 1907 its vice president. He has served Union township as a trustee, one term as assessor, and since 1875 has served continuously as secretary of its school board.

Mr. Kelly married on February 8, 1868, Bridget Ryan, who was born in county Clare, Ireland, in 1846, and she came to the United States in 1864. Ten children have been born of their marriage union, but only the following five are now living: Mary, wife of Patrick Crelly, of Larchwood, Iowa; Patrick, of the same place; Annie, wife of Thomas Burke, of Egan, South Dakota; John, at home with his parents; and George, living in Union township. Mr. and Mrs. Kelly are members of the Van Horne Catholic church. grocer of Vinton already mentioned, and they have one daughter, Rachel, aged two years. Henry, who was born October 30, 1874, is a druggist at Clarion, Iowa.

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