Page 118, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




WILLIAM B. KELLEY, Iola's leading drayman and a gentleman who has established an enviable reputation for honesty, sobriety and public spirit, is a native of one of the southern states, having been born in Jackson County, Alabama, August 23, 1847. His ancestors were radically southern, having resided in that section for generations and having been introduced therein at so early a date that it is not positively known. Eli M. Kelley, our subject's father, was born in Walker County, Georgia, in 1823, and is a son of Marvel Kelley who died in that county in 1830. Eli M. Kelley has made the calling of his forefathers his life work. He resides in Butler County, Kansas, where he located in 1872 and is well known as a farmer and substantial citizen. He resided in Arkansas during the Civil war and, although in one of the hottest secession states he sided with the Union and entered the 2nd Arkansas cavalry and served nearly two years in the western army. Circumstances made him a Republican many years ago and he has not had occasion to depart from the faith. He married Elizabeth J. Reynolds in the State of Alabama. She died in Butler County, Kansas, October 16, 1893, at the age of sixty-six years. She was a daughter of Calvin Reynolds, a southern planter whose family home was in Tennessee. Eli Kelley's children are: William B.; Marvel C., of Butler County, Kansas: John M., of Iola; Pleasant S., of Western Kansas; Palestine, deceased, married John Hall and left a husband and one babe, George M., in Cowley County, Kansas. She died September 15, 1882, at the age of 21.

William B. Kelley came to manhood's estate chiefly in Arkansas. His father resided for a time in Green County, Missouri, and there our subject got his education in the district schools. When he reached his majority he began the battle of life as a farmer. He maintained himself at this for some years, even doing a little of it after his advent to Iola. He came to this point in 1875 and, although he claimed to be a farmer for fifteen years, he was not at all well known as such. In 1890 he saw an opportunity to engage in the dray business, with some promise of return, and he did so. But the dray business at that date in Iola's history was very light. In fact it can hardly be said to have reached the dignity of a business. But somehow Kelley found enough to do to keep the wolf from the door of a fair-sized family. He hauled everything, from junk to baggage and kept in the field so that when his town finally started in her career toward the skies he went with her. In a short time his single team was inadequate and he added another, and another, and finally two more until his yard and stables have something of the appearance of a metropolitan one. His original homestead has kept pace in the march of progress. At the beginning it contained one house and he has added more than one house for each team, on the same block.

In June, 1869, Mr. Kelley was married in Newton County, Arkansas, to Susan A., a daughter of John T. Spears, of South Carolina, a farmer and trader. The children of this union are: John M., Levi S., Ira D., and Agnes J., wife of James Dunfee.

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