Nelson Kelley
Morris Co. Up


Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. II., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899.

The senior member of the firm of N. KELLEY & Son, general merchants Chatham, our subject was born in the town which is still his home, in June, 1831, his parents being William and Nancy (LUM) KELLEY. The former, son of Thomas KELLEY, was born in Chatham, in 1803, was there reared and learned the hatter's trade, which he followed during his active life. He married Miss LUM, a daughter of Israel and Phoebe (PIERSON) LUM, and they became the parents of five sons and one daughter:

  • Nelson;
  • Harvey, deceased,
  • Margaret, who died in infancy;
  • Charles, of Summit;
  • Frank, deceased; and
  • William, of Chatham.

In his political views the father of this family was a Democrat. His death occurred in 1865, and his wife passed away in 1886, at the advanced age of eighty-six years.

Having acquired a good practical education in the common schools, Nelson KELLEY, at the age of seventeen, entered upon a four-years apprenticeship at the millwright's trade, and after attaining his majority followed that pursuit for some years. He was then obliged to abandon that pursuit on account of ill health, and in 1866 he turned his attention to the grocery business, beginning operations along that line on a very limited scale. He opened his store in a little room eleven by fourteen feet, the furnishings of which were two barrels and two boards. As his patronage increased he enlarged his stock in trade, and in 1878 he was joined by his son, under the firm style of N. KELLEY & Son. In 1882 they added to their groceries a stock of men's furnishing goods and boots and shoes. They have now a very liberal patronage, carry an excellent line of the different commodities which they handle, and well deserve to be ranked among the progressive, enterprising business men of this section of the county.

They have also added to the welfare of the town by erecting a number of buildings. They built their house on Main street, a short distance west of Fairmont avenue, and later moved their first store-house to what was then the corner of Main street and Budd lane, continuing in that building throughout the remainder of the year. They then located in more commodious quarters, having in the meantime erected a new store building, and when they vacated the one which they had formerly occupied they rented it for a drug store---the first of the kind in the place. The residence of Mr. KELLEY is now on Budd lane.

On the 25th of August, 1853, Mr. KELLEY was united in marriage to Miss Lydia J. WONDERLEY, a native of Sussex county, New Jersey, and a daughter of Silas and Susan (SANDERS) WONDERLEY, the former a native of Chester, New Jersey. Her paternal grandfather was lost at sea while returning to America from Germany, his native land. Silas WONDERLY died in Newark, in December, 1881, at the age of sixty-nine years, and his wife was called to her final rest in November, 1882, at the age of seventy-one. Mr. and Mrs. KELLEY became the parents of two children, but

  • Caroline died at the age of two years and two months.

The son,

  • Frank, is now associated with his father in. business.

Mr. and Mrs. KELLEY have been members of the Methodist Episcopal church since youth and the former is serving as church steward. They take a very active part in church work and are consistent and faithful representatives of that denomination.

This biography was scanned and contributed by Catherine Smith DeMayo.


This page was last modified on:  01 January, 2014

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