WILLIAM V. KELLY, who was one of the early settlers of Rush County and for a quarter of a century has been identified with business affairs at McCracken, has enjoyed both long years and a satisfying degree of prosperity. As a young man he gave his services to the Union during the Civil war, was a teacher in early life, has done farming, has filled public offices with credit and efficiency, and has spent many years in business.
He was born in Shelby County, Indiana, April 6, 1842. His grandparents were Virginia people, his grandfather being of Irish stock and his grandmother of Scotch-Irish blood. The grandparents and Mr. Kelly's parents are all buried near Boggstown in Shelby County, Indiana, The grandparents had the following children: John, father of William V. Kelly; Patsy, who married Rev. Thomas Shipp, Mrs. William Shipp; Matthew Kelly, who was a mechanic and farmer; and Samuel, who spent his life in Kentucky.
John Kelly, father of William V., was born in Virginia, went to Kentucky, where he spent a number of years, and from there moved to Indiana. He was a farmer, and died in 1864, at the age of fifty-seven. He was married in Bourbon County, Kentucky, to Elizabeth Boggess. Her father came out of Virginia to Kentucky. Elizabeth Kelly died in Shelby County, Indiana, in 1882, at the age of seventy-eight. Both she and her husband were active members of the Missionary Baptist Church.
William V. Kelly was the only child of his parents. He grew up on a farm, and though his early life was spent in a time and location where most schools were supported on the subscription plan he acquired a liberal education. He was in college at Franklin, Indiana, when the war broke out, and he gave up his college studies to become a soldier. So many of the students of that institution went into the army that the school was discontinued until after the war. Mr. Kelly enlisted in August, 1862, in Company I of the Seventieth Indiana Infantry. His captain was William Fisher and his regimental commander was Benjamin Harrison, who afterward attained the distinguished position of president of the United States. The Seventieth was assigned to the Twentieth Army Corps, and it was drilled and put in condition for active service at Bowling Green, Kentucky. From Bowling Green the regiment marched to the front, but Mr. Kelly was left behind in the hospital. Continued illness finally caused his discharge from the army without having seen any active service except participation in a skirmish at Russellville, Kentucky.
Having contributed what he could toward the defense of his country, Mr. Kelly became a teacher in his home county, and taught several terms there and in Johnson County. At Amity, Indiana, he had his first experience as a merchant, but after two years sold and returning to Shelby County resumed teaching in the winter and farming in the summer. That was his varied occupation until the spring of 1885, when he abandoned the Hoosier state as a place of residence and contributed his energies and influence to Western Kansas.
Mr. Kelly was not a homesteader in Rush County, but he proved up a tree claim and bought lands from the Union Pacific Railway Company. He improved his timber claim, and that quarter section was the scene of his active work as a farmer in Rush County. This farm was in Fairview Township. His first location in Kansas was at Hays City. For three years after his arrival there in 1885 he was employed as a merchant's clerk. Leaving his farm, Mr. Kelly moved to McCracken in 1891 and engaged in business as a merchant. He gave up his store to become proprietor of the Commercial Hotel, and was landlord there fifteen months. Mr. Kelly was then appointed postmaster of McCracken under President Harrison, and served throughout his term, during the administration of President Cleveland and also through the McKinley and into the Roosevelt administration. He spent almost twelve years in the office. Since leaving the postoffice Mr. Kelly has served as trustee of his township, as city treasurer and also as mayor of McCracken.
Based upon his experience as a voter he has a practical knowledge of American politics going back to Civil war times. He cast his first vote for president in 1864, supporting Mr. Lincoln for a second term. Since then he has never missed a presidential election, and has given his votes to republican candidates for more than half a century. The only important exception to the rule was when he supported Mr. Roosevelt on the progressive ticket. While living in Shelby County, Indiana, he was elected township assessor and public land appraiser. He has been a delegate to various county and congressional conventions. At Hays City, Kansas, Mr. Kelly became identified with the Grand Army of the Republic in 1886, and has served as commander of Rush Post, No. 48, has attended state encampments and was present at the national encampment in Kansas City in 1916. He became a member of the Missionary Baptist Church in Indiana, and that has always been his religious faith. He served as a director of the school board at Hays City.
At Amity, Indiana, January 17, 1864, Mr. Kelly married Laura J. Brown, daughter of Shadrack Brown. Mrs. Kelly died at Denver, Colorado, October 12, 1910. Mr. Kelly's children by this marriage were: Mary, who married M. C. Long, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Streator, Illinois, and is the mother of two daughters, Bessie and Mildred. John F., the second of the children, is now a captain in the Denver fire department, and his wife's first name is Carrie. William E., who is custodian of the convention hall at Hutchinson, Kansas, married Annie Kelly and has a daughter, Lucile. Harry E., superintendent of the Big Thompson Milling Company of Loveland, Colorado, has two children, Ruth and Paul, his wife's first name being Sadie. Ralph W. is an official in the Colorado Mill and Elevator Company, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, have a son, Eugene, they having also lost their two younger children, Dorothy and Herbert. Paul V. is a bookkeeper for the Colorado Mill and Elevator Company at Caldwell, Idaho, and his wife's first name is Cleo.
On May 7, 1914, Mr. Kelly married for his present wife Mrs. Frances A. (Rush) Scranton. By her first husband she has four children: Clifford B. Scranton, of Rush County, who married Myrtle Blair and has three children, Clifford B., Elmer and Frances; Charles F., of Rush Center, who first married Dora DeMoss and has a son, DeMoss Scranton, and afterward married Eva Miller and has children Fern and Flossie; Allie L., who is the wife of E. C. Mott, of Sacramento, California, and has four children, named Mamie, Rush, Clifford and Manetta; Grace E., is the wife of Arthur Hayes, cashier of the Farmers Bank at LaCrosse, Kansas, and the mother of three children, Hazel, Gladys and Clifford.
Mrs. Kelly was born in Fayette County, Ohio, November 15, 1844, a daughter of Hiram and Maria (Baldwin) Rush. Her father was born in Pike County, Ohio, and her mother in New York State. Besides Mrs. Kelly the other children in the Rush family were: William B., of Cloud, Florida; Emory L., of LaCrosse, Kansas; Sarah E., who died in Star City, Indiana, as the wife of Dan S. Hall.
Mrs. Kelly, with her first husband, Mr. Scranton, came to Kansas in 1877. He homesteaded and took a timber claim in Rush County, spent four years in developing them, and then removed to LaCrosse, where he built the first hotel. This was known as the National Hotel, and he remained its proprietor three years. He afterward engaged in the grocery business, served two terms as a county commissioner and at one time was mayor of LaCrosse. His death occurred in the Soldiers' Home at Leavenworth. As a soldier he had fought with the Second Illinois Cavalry.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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