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Clinton County >> 1911 Index

History of Clinton County, Iowa
ed. by P. B. Wolfe. 2 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: B. F. Bowen, 1911.


Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.


The present review deals with the life of a man who is a representative member of a family which has been prominent in Clinton county since the times of early settlement, whose ability and worth have placed them to the front in their undertakings.

David E. Kelly was born in Center township, Clinton county, Iowa, on December 23, 1867, the son of Robert Kelly, Sr., who was born in Pennsylvania in 1841, and Kathleen (Dillhammer) Kelly, also a native of Pennsylvania. Robert Kelly was the son of Adam Kelly, a well known pioneer of Clinton county, who took up government land in Center township in 1853. Robert was then twelve years old and grew to manhood on his father's farm, helping him to break the virgin soil and make a prosperous farm. When twenty-four he bought a farm of his own, and at the time of his death, in 1905, he owned four hundred and twelve acres in Lincoln township. He was a true stockman of the earlier days and spent most of his money and efforts in feeding cattle for market, from which he received large returns and made a financial success. As were all the Kellys, he was a member of the Presbyterian church.

David E. Kelly was the oldest of the family, and as a lad he had an instrumental part in his father's success. He had the following brothers: Samuel B., of Brooking, South Dakota; Richard deceased; Albert Burke, of France, Iowa; Robert Bruce, of Lincoln township, a farmer; and Lee C., who lives on the homestead in Lincoln township. David received a very liberal education, first attending the schools of his township, then of Clinton. He spent one year at the Northwestern Illinois College, at Fulton, Illinois; one year at Monmouth College, and one year at Dixon College. By this time he had learned telegraphy, which he followed for four years. Then he bought a farm of three hundred and twenty acres in Benton county, on which he lived eleven years, devoting most of his attention to feeding cattle. In January, 1907, he bought ten acres just west of Clinton, Iowa, in Lincoln township, and built for himself a modern residence, well furnished, and large and convenient barns. He lives here and supervises his farms, of which he owns one in Minnesota and one in Michigan, besides the one in Benton county. Though not engaged in active labor, he is yet a busy man, the supervision of his farms and other work keeping him employed most of his time.

On national issues Mr. Kelly is a Republican, but in local matters he votes for the best man, without regard to party. He has served as township trustee and held other minor offices. In religion he is a Presbyterian, and fraternally a member of the blue lodge of Masons. Mr. Kelly is a man of strong business ability and high intelligence. As appears above, he has unquestionably succeeded in life, and much of his success has been due to the fact that he has supplemented his native ability by unremitting hard work.

Mr. Kelly was married December 9, 1891, to Lucy O. Goddert, the daughter of John and Miriam (Honeyfield) Goddert both born in England. Mrs. Kelly was born December 9, 1861, in England and was two years old when her parents came to this country.

Mr. Goddert and family came to Iowa and settled in Floyd county and started farming. He farmed about fifteen years and then came to Clinton and started in the grocery business in Chancy, a suburb of Clinton. He was postmaster of that place at the time of his death in 1896, and his wife is still holding the position. Five children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Kelly, in order of birth as follows: Earl B., born May 10, 1895; Claud E., born October 10, 1896; Helen I., born March 23, 1903; Marvin L., November 25, 1905; Fern O., August 7, 1907.


Prominent among the prosperous and successful farmers and noteworthy citizens of Clinton county may be mentioned the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. He is a descendant of one of the best known and most esteemed families of the county, and is himself the owner of many acres of farming land, which he keeps in a high state of cultivation and which richly repay him for the labor and money expended on them. He is also largely concerned in the breeding and feeding of stock, which he has found profitable.

Lee Clair Kelly was born April 12, 1886, on the farm which he now owns, and is the son of Robert and Katherine (Billheimer) Kelly. Both his parents were natives of Pennsylvania and came to Iowa in 1851, locating first with Mr. Kelly's parents at Elvira. Later Robert Kelly came to Lincoln township and bought a farm of four hundred and ninety-two acres, on which he erected all the buildings save the old stone house how standing. He made the feeding of cattle his specialty, brought to bear on this subject brains and business-like methods, and made it pay him well. His entire time was given to his family and his farm. He died on January 23, 1906, at the close of a respected life. His wife also has departed this life. Of their nine children, five are living.

Lee Clair Kelly received his education in the Clinton public schools, and in the Clinton Business College, in which he took a complete course. He then returned to the homestead and remained with his father until the latter's death, after which the farm was divided, and Bruce Kelly took the west one-fourth, while Lee bought out the heirs to the remaining two hundred and fifty acres. This portion of the farm still bears the name of Meadow Brook farm, formerly applied to the whole by his father. He is carrying on stock feeding mainly, following in his father's footsteps, having thoroughly learned that branch of farming under the latter's able tutelage. Mr. Kelly is a Republican in politics, while in religion he is a member of the Clinton Presbyterian church.

On May 31, 1906, Lee C. Kelly was married to Tirzah Foster, who was born in Pennsylvania, but was then a resident of Clinton county. One child, a sweet little daughter, Dorothy Elizabeth, has been born to their union. Mr. Kelly is a young man of sterling character and much ability, which he has already proved, and with his excellent prospects, promises to live a life of much worth both to himself and to his community.


Holding worthy prestige among the young and enterprising farmers of Lincoln township, Clinton county, Iowa, is Robert Bruce Kelly, a very worthy representative of one of the best known and highly honored families in this section of the county, whose reputation for probity and industry he has ever sought to bear aloft.

Mr. Kelly is a native of the township where he now resides, his birth having occurred here on September 11, 1881, and he is the son of Robert Kelly, Sr., who was born in Pennsylvania in 1841, and who married Kathleen Dillhammer, who was also born in the old Keystone state, in 1848. The paternal grandfather, Adam Kelly, was among the pioneers who came to Center township, Clinton county, Iowa, in 1853 and took up government land. At that time Robert Kelly, Sr., was twelve years of age, and he grew up on the home place, assisting his father to overcome the difficulties incident to the life of all first settlers. When twenty-four years of age he bought a farm of his own and devoted his life to agricultural pursuits, becoming well fixed, and at the time of his death, in 1905, he was the owner of four hundred and twelve acres in Lincoln township, his farm being one of the best improved and most desirable in the community. Although he carried on general farming on an extensive scale, he was mainly a stock man, spending the major part of his time feeding cattle for the market, making most of his ample competency in this manner. He became widely known in the eastern part of this county as a stock man and he had the respect and confidence of all who knew him He was a member of the Presbyterian church. His family consisted of the following children, given in order of birth: David Eldrid, who is now living retired near Clinton; Samuel B. lives at Brookings, South Dakota; Richard is deceased; Albert Burke, of France, Iowa; Robert Bruce, of this review; Lee C. is living on the home farm.

Robert B. Kelly, of this sketch, received his education in the public schools of Hampshire township, also spent four terms at Dixon College, where he applied himself very carefully to his textbooks and made a splendid record. After leaving college he returned to his father's farm and when only eighteen years of age he began renting land of his father, continuing in this manner for four years. Then he went to western Iowa, locating near Laporte City, where he rented a farm. Upon the death of his father in 1905 he returned to Clinton county and received his share of the estate. In February, 1909, he built a large, attractive, substantial and modern dwelling and convenient and well equipped barns, all down the road west of the old homestead, and here he is making his home, being exceptionally well fixed for a young man, and he has brought his place up to a high grade of improvement in every respect. He calls the place "Fair View," which name is very apropos, as all who have seen this very desirable and well-kept farm well know. It is the very best of Iowa soil and the buildings are new and tastily arranged. Mr. Kelly is a member of the First Presbyterian church of Clinton.

On March 2, 1904, Mr. Kelly was married to Pearl Hazel Pierson, who was born February 9, 1886, in this county, a lady of such estimable traits of character that she has always been popular with a wide circle of friends; she is the daughter of Elwood and Sadie Pierson. Her father was born in Ohio, coming to Clinton, Iowa, later in life, where he worked as switchman in the Northwestern yards. For further facts concerning the early history of the Kelly family the reader is directed to the sketch of Samuel H. Kelly, of Elvira, Iowa, appearing on another page of this work.


A well known and honored representative of the Kelly family in Clinton county is Samuel S. Kelly, of Elvira, Center township. He was born February 23, 1849, in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. He was two years of age when his parents made the long overland journey to Iowa bringing him to a new country. They started life in early-settler fashion and here he grew to maturity, assisting with the work in developing a farm in the wilderness or, more properly, perhaps raw prairie. He is the son of Adam and Elizabeth Kelly. It was in April, 1851, that they located in Clinton county. The father was born October 11, 1814, and the mother's birth occurred on August 25, 1816. They settled in section 16, Center township, on the same section and adjoining the farm now owned by Samuel S. Kelly. It contained two hundred and eighty acres, which was brought up to a high state of cultivation and a good home was established. The death of the father occurred on January 23, 1906, and that of the mother in 1848.

Samuel S. Kelly received a good common school education and he grew to maturity on the farm. He was married on December 16, 1869, to Anna M. Smith, daughter of Jeremiah and Jane Smith.

Samuel S. Kelly is a farmer and stock raiser by occupation and he has been very successful in his life work. He is a member of the United Presbyterian church and politically he is a Republican. In his family were seven children, named as follows: Ida M. Reed, Herbert, Hattie Pearson, Essa and Irma are at home; Carrie and Cora are deceased.