Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Charles Kelly

The scenes familiar to the boyhood of Charles Kelly were those of old Ireland, where he was born in 1818, in County Donegal, and where from earliest recollections he was injured to poverty and hardship. Owing to the humble circumstances of the family it was not possible for him to secure a good education; in fact he learned more from observation than from textbooks and in the school of Nature he was an apt pupil. Early in life his thoughts were directed toward America as the land of opportunity and he had resolved to immigrate as soon as the necessary means could be earned. This was not accomplished until he was about twenty-five years of age.

Landing as a stranger in New York City, Mr. Kelly remained in the metropolis about two years, after which he took passage on a vessel bound for the Isthmus of Panama, and after crossing that body of land he again embarked on a vessel that finally landed him in San Francisco. At that time San Francisco was the busiest center of activity on the coast and he saw a good opportunity for work at his trade of blacksmith. Opening a shop, he gathered about him a good business during the five years that he maintained it, giving it up at the end of that time to try his hand as a miner. Although the records do not so state, it is quite safe to believe that his efforts as a miner were satisfactory, for it is known that he followed the calling for about five years altogether. It was following these varied experiences that he came to Sonoma county, coming directly to Vallejo township, where he purchased the property which was his home up to the time of his death. This property consists of three hundred and twenty acres of fine land, six miles from Petaluma. The greater part of the land is in hay, from which a very satisfactory income is derived, and only such stock is kept as is necessary to conduct the ranch, besides one cow to supply the needs of the household.

Before her marriage Mrs. Kelly was Miss Margaret Swaney, and she was born in Ireland in 1830. Two children were born of this marriage, Martha and Sarah. The elder daughter became the wife of Frank Fay, who was killed by the falling of a building in the San Francisco earthquake in April, 1906. The other daughter, Sarah, was first married to James Kelly, by whom she had six children, as follows: Charles, May, James, Sadie, Ethel (who died at the age of three years) and Dewey. Her second marriage united her with W. J. Gray.

Mr. Kelly passed away December 18, 1910, and is buried at Calvary Cemetery, Petaluma. After the death of her father Mrs. Gray was appointed administratrix of the estate. She now owns the homestead ranch and is devoting it to general farming and to the dairy and poultry business, in all of which lines she is meeting with success. The ranch is beautifully located on an elevation, from which one may obtain a splendid view of Petaluma valley and also the city, six miles away. Another attractive feature of the ranch is the lake upon it, which covers about three acres, surrounded by redwood trees, and here summer visitors in the valley enjoying bathing. Mrs. Gray is well known for her industry and honesty of purpose and is very charitable, always giving of her time and means to help any worthy person or public enterprise. The hill above her house on the ranch has been selected by the army for a government signal station. The family are communicants of the Catholic Church, attending the church at Petaluma.

Charles Kelly was a famous horse doctor in Sonoma county. Many horses were saved by his skill, from which, however, he derived little financial benefit.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011