William was born November 15, 1854 in Kane Co., Illinois. When ten years of age he came to Palo Alto County with his parents, they came in covered wagons and homesteaded on what was known as the Brier Farm southwest of Emmetsburg.

The family lived there until 1878 when they moved into town. William was a typical "Irishman". He at one time along with a cousin Bill Kelly, walked to Fort Dodge, Iowa to board a train to Chicago, Illinois, to view the aftermath of the A Great Fire. William worked there several months before returning to Emmetsburg, but his cousin Bill remained in Chicago, and was never heard from again.

On October 22, 1879, he was united into marriage with Miss Mary Cullen the daughter of William and Catherine Cullen. Mary was born April 6, 1861 in Lake Co. Indiana, but at an early age moved to Palo Alto Co., and grew to womanhood there.

After the death of his wife, William did everything within his power, to make a comfortable home for his family. When working in the county, he would often walk eight to nine miles night and morning to be with his children at night.

In Early days William along with Thomas Slater would take contracts to dig cellars and wells. This work was all done by hand in those days and William was known far and wide as a capable, honest and a trust worthy workman. He could be depended upon to do well any work he undertook. He was jailer for two terms with Terry McDowell when the latter were county-sheriff. William was kind hearted and neighborly. He would do a good turn at any time for anyone and was never known, to retaliate any injustice done to him. His responsibilities were great and burdensome, but he met them bravely and did exceedingly well by his family.

Accordingly to his one grandson Arthur Kelly, Grandpa during his life was handy at various jobs, but was an expert lumberjack, fence builder and grain stacker. It is said that he planted about half of the trees in Emmetsburg, by the time of his death. He would get the trees from the timber along the river, sell them to and plant them for the townspeople. Arthur can remember when his granddad, would hang his lantern on a nail, and split firewood until the wee hours of the morning.

Mary died at the early age of 39, on July 23, 1900. William died on December 11, 1923. William died of a heart attack, at age 69, at his daughters home, Mrs. Otto Cooklin of Ayrshire. They are both buried at St. Johns Cemetery in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

Mary and William had nine children: Ella, Edward, Elizabeth, William, Thomas, Agnes, Coletta, Florence, and Joseph.

Collected by Karen (Genser) Butcher Kelly

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