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