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AMONG those who came to Ohio when this section of America was in its primitive wildness, infested by wild animals, numerous and ferocious, and the scarcely less wild, but more savage Indians, was the sterling pioneer and veteran, Irad Kelley, and for over a century the Kelley Family has been influential and well known in Cleveland and vicinity. They have performed well their parts in developing cultural and industrial sections in the United States, and the elder Kelley, together with the other early actors in the great drama which witnessed the passing of the old and the introduction of the new conditions, in which are now in th fine farms and thriving cities of this country, are deserving of our consideration and appreciation. We of to-day cannot pay such sterling characters too great a meed of praise, in view of the sacrifices they made in order that their descendants, and others of a later epoch, should enjoy the blessings of life, only a few of which they were permitted to have.
Mr. Kelley was born in Middletown, Connecticut, October 24, 1791, and was the third son of Daniel and Jemima A. (Stow) Kelley. He was seven years old when, in 1798, his father removed with his family to Lowville, New York, and he spent his boyhood days in the Empire State. In May, 1812, when twenty years of age, Irad Kelley volunteered for service as a private in the war against the British, but served only a short time. In October of that year he came to Ohio and purchased a farm at Graughton, Huron County, near Green Springs, where he worked hard to clear and develop a good farm. While planting corn in the spring of 1813, a neighboring family named Snow, was captured by the Indians, who killed Mrs. Snow and her infant child, and carried the remainder of the family into captivity. This, and other similar atrocities, caused our subject to again should arms, in 1813. This time he fought under Gen. William Henry Harrison at Ft. Meigs, and during the same year he served as pilot to the lake fleet from Toledo to Put-in-Bay, arriving there shortly after Commodore Perry's famous victory over the British lake squadron. A record of his splendid career as a soldier would make a fair sized volume. Suffice it here to add that he was honorably discharged at the close of the war, and in after years received a substantial pension for his valuable services in that war, which pension was continued until his death.
In April, 1813, Mr. Kelley settled on the present site of the city of Cleveland, there being here at that time only a few log huts, but soon thereafter he started in business here, having the sagacity to foresee a great future for the place, owing to its fortunate geographical situation. In January, 1815, he had completed the first brick building in Cleveland, in which house he and his brother, Reynolds Kelley, lived and conducted a general merchandise store, building up a prosperous business. He continued in this line of endeavor until his retirement from active life in 1851, by that time having accumulated a comfortable competence.
Mr. Kelley was one of the first voters at the first election of the village in 1814, at which his brother, Alfred Kelley, was elected its first president. On December 31, 1817, our subject was commissioned postmaster of Cleveland, succeeding his father, who was also one of the influential pioneers of the place, and our subject continued the duties of postmaster until 1829, keeping the office in his store. At the time the annual receipts of the local office amounted to barely five hundred dollars, one-fourth of which amount he received for his salary as postmaster, and from this he had to pay all the expenses of the office. In 1834, he purchased Kelley's Island, which has been in the family ever since. His brother, Datus, originally owned part of the island.
Mr. Kelley was married on August 5, 1819, to Harriet Pease, in Cleveland. He became owner of a large amount of valuable real estate here, part of which is still the property of his heirs. He build, in 1833, what was at that time, a picturesque home on a magnificent piece of property on Euclid Avenue, in the vicinity of what is no Fortieth Street, extending to Superior Street on the north. The old homestead, in its palmy days, was a favorite gathering place for the friends of the family, who kept open house to all. He was a genial and generous host, hospitable and neighborly, and kind to the poor.
Mr. Kelley was an advocate of many reforms. Many of his favorite ideas, which at first met with ridicule, are to-day receiving the serious thoughts of the world. Among these may be mentioned phonetic spelling, women's rights, and arbitration. In 1854, he published a treatise on railroad routes to the pacific, pointing out several practicable routes, which have since been followed in the building of our trans-continental railroads. He was active in extending Superior and Ontario streets through the public square. He did many things for the permanent good of Cleveland.
Mr. Kelley was quite a traveler for those days. In 1856 he made a trip to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and purchased one hundred acres of land in San Diego. In 1875 he started to Brazil, but illness suddenly attacked him in New York City, and he died at the St. Charles Hotel there, January 21, 1875. His body was brought to Cleveland and interred in Lakeview Cemetery. His wife had preceded him to the grave on February 11, 1862.
To Mr. and Mrs. Kelley a large family was born, ten children, named as follows: Gustavus, born May 20, 1829, died October 11, 1824; George, born September 1, 1822, died March 26, 1893; Mary born November 9, 1824, died July 9, 1825; Edwin, born August 2, 1826, died November 11, 1862; Charles, born September 22, 1828, died in October, 1876; Franklin, born March 5, 1831, died September 29, 1871; Martha Louise, born February 23, 1833, died April 12, 1913; Norman, born July 9, 1836, died October 2, 1912; Laura Harriet, born March 18, 1829, who is not Mrs. William D. Hills, and lives in Cleveland; William henry Harrison, born May 27, 1841, died in October, 1886.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds