Patrick D. Kelly

Patrick D. Kelly, Black Hawk County Pioneer, 1836-1926.

Patrick Kelly was baptized at Allihies parish, west County Cork, Ireland on 6 November, 1836. His father, Daniel Kelly, died when Patrick, youngest of seven or eight children, was very young. His elder brothers, Timothy and John D. Kelly, migrated to America in the 1840s and settled in Wisconsin to begin lead mining at New Diggings, Lafayette county. Patrick, his mother, Catharine Fleming, and his sister Julia came to America when he was about 10 years of age. His other two sisters, Mary Harrington (who married in Ireland) and Margaret also came to Wisconsin. He received no further education, but instead began working at a young age.

When he and his mother and sister Julia lived for a short while in Philadelphia, while waiting for housing to be prepared for them in Wisconsin, Patrick received his board in return for turning a crank to provide water from a well. Later, as a very young man, he performed farm labor while living in Lafayette county, Wisconsin. He also traveled to Houghton, Michigan, where his sister Julia Kelly Dunn was living, and worked on farms and perhaps also in copper mining. By 1868 he had saved $300, and traveled by train and on foot with Michael Lynch, son-in-law of Patrick's sister, Mary Kelly Harrington, to Black Hawk county. There on July 23 they each purchased adjoining 80 acre plots for $500, land which had never been farmed.

Patrick now ventured west, to near Pioche, Nevada, and engaged in silver mining for the next three years, presumably to obtain money for animals and supplies with which to begin farming. He was joined there for some time by his nephew, Patrick Harrington. After his return to Wisconsin Patrick Kelly married his sweetheart, Catharine Barry. Catharine was born near London to Irish parents, James Barry and Catharine Condon, sometime around March of 1851. On 1 October of 1871, Patrick Kelly and Catharine Barry were married at St. Augustine church in New Diggings, Wisconsin. Sometime that same winter Patrick's mother died. The church where Patrick was married, which yet stands in 2006, was designed and built under supervision of Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, an Italian missionary priest who tended spiritual needs of immigrants in the upper Midwest.

Patrick's sister, Margaret Kelly, had been married by Father Mazzuchelli, probably in that same church, to Dennis Haggerty in 1854. In March, 1872, Patrick and his nephew Michael Lynch returned to Black Hawk county with a team of horses, wagon and plow. They began farming and starting preparing to build houses for their families, meanwhile staying in the barn of a neighbor, Jim Conroy. When, during the first year they lost a horse, their friend Mr. Conroy stood by them and signed a note so that they could purchase a replacement.

Fourteen children were born to Patrick and Catharine Kelly at their farm in Lincoln township, Black Hawk county. The twelve who survived to adulthood were Mary, Timothy F. (husband of Bride Stefflre), Thomas P., John (Jack, husband of Nora Duffy), James Edward (husband of Corinne Mae Decelles), Daniel Matthew (husband of Lillian Wade and Helen Meagher), Catherine (wife of Dr. Martin J. Hagan), Helena A. (Nell, wife of William J. Cavanaugh), William F., Raymond Walter (husband of Mabel Kathryn McKenna), Leo (husband of Mary P. Greaney), and Clement Joseph (Clem, also known as "Punch," husband of Azlene Dwyer and Elizabeth Bernadine "Brownie" Haley Johnson) Kelly.

Most of the sons farmed at one time or another in Iowa, South Dakota or Montana, and at least three children spent some time working as school teachers. James and Dan graduated University of Iowa college of law in 1906 and 1905, respectively, and their pictures now hang in a corridor of the law school at Iowa City. The two brothers practiced law together in Montana, where Daniel eventually became Attorney General of Montana and later legal counsel for Anaconda Copper.

Patrick expanded his farm with additional acreages (80 acres adjoining in 1880, 80 more from the estate of Thomas Cahill in 1891, and 120 more in 1912 purchased for one of their sons to farm). He and Catharine retired from farming in the 1880s and moved to a new house on their own land. In 1915 they moved to 516 Vermont street in Waterloo. Their oldest daughter, Mary Kelly, who had taught school in Montana for twenty years, returned to Iowa to care for them about 1922. Patrick Kelly died on 26 February, 1926. In 1930 the home on Vermont street was sold, and Mary Kelly kept a smaller place on 5th street for her mother, herself and at times her brother Thomas. Catharine Barry Kelly died there 14 March, 1931.

Patrick D. Kelly and his family came from Ireland with little education and almost no resources, other than their faith, courage, and willingness to work as hard as necessary to find opportunity and create better lives for themselves and for their children. Despite obstacles and by any measure they most surely succeeded, and among their hundreds of known descendants are doctors, lawyers, clergy and people of many other occupations. All of them can look with pride and gratitude upon the life and accomplishments of this man.

Kevin P. Kelly, Ph.D.
great grandson
16 Jan 2006