Biography of Charles R. Kelsey

Among the more recent accessions to the town of Mountain Home is Charles R. Kelsey, a gentleman of large business experience, who, as a wholesale dealer in groceries and hardware and general merchandise, has already proved himself a potent factor in the business circles of his adopted county. Mr. Kelsey is a native of New York State, born in Delaware County, at Cannonsville. November 2, 1837, and in his veins flows the blood of French and German ancestors, who were among the early settlers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Michael B. Kelsey, was born in that city and counted among his relatives the distinguished family of Buchanans which furnished to the nation one of its presidents. Michael B. Kelsey was a prominent and successful farmer and stock dealer. He married Miss Phebe Galusha, who was also a representative of a distinguished eastern family. Both he and his wife were members of the Methodist church, and in county affairs he was active and influential, holding a number of official positions, including those of county commissioner and county sheriff. His wife died at the age of forty-five years and his death occurred when he had reached the advanced age of seventy-four. Their three children are all living at this writing.

Charles R. Kelsey acquired his education in Poughkeepsie, New York. At an early age he was taught to depend upon his own resources and when only a small lad entered upon his business career, as a newsboy, employing other boys to work for him and furnishing their outfits. Thus early he became self-reliant and also manifested a strong commercial instinct, which in later years has made him a leader in mercantile circles. After discontinuing the sale of papers, he was for some time a member of the Engineers’ Corps on the New York & Oswego Midland Railway. In 1875 he started for the Black Hills, but on reaching Cheyenne. Wyoming, he was induced to accept a position in the large business house of Max Meyer & Company in that city. For two years he was in Cheyenne, after which he was transferred to Omaha, Nebraska, where he served in the capacity of bookkeeper and cashier for a number of years, or until 1881, when he returned to New York City on a vacation. However, while there he became interested in a brokerage business, which he conducted with success for some time; but not desiring to remain in the east he again went to Omaha, where he once more entered the employ of the old firm, being at that time made manager of the extensive business.

Subsequently Mr. Kelsey opened a store of his own on the corner of Sixteenth and Cass streets, Omaha, and did a good business, but as competition was very strong and he had an excellent opportunity to sell out at a good profit, he disposed of his stock. In 1883 he went to Camp Clark, Nebraska, where he opened up a stock of general merchandise and from the start met with good success, his partner in the enterprise being Dennis Sheedy, vice-president of the Colorado National Bank and head of the Globe Smelting Company and the Denver Dry Goods Company. After two years spent there Mr. Kelsey removed to Miles City, Montana, and engaged in the manufacture of harness and saddlery, securing a large patronage and conducting a profitable business until 1887, when a severe winter caused the death of ninety per cent of the cattle of that state and changed the fortunes of many a man. This consequently brought on hard times, and Mr. Kelsey accordingly closed out his business, returned to Omaha, and again entered the employ of Max Meyer & Company as manager. Later he became a resident of Wyoming, where he engaged, in the coal business at Rock Springs until his removal to Mountain Home in 1896. Here, in September 1897, he established his present business, and as a wholesale dealer in hardware, groceries and general merchandise, he has built up an excellent business which enables him to furnish employment to ten men. He also has a branch store at Rocky Bar and at that place is engaged in gold-mining, being superintendent of the Commonwealth Gold Mining and Milling Company, which has a large and valuable plant. They employ fifty men and secure a high-grade gold ore from their mines.

In Omaha, Nebraska, January 1, 1881, Mr. Kelsey was united in marriage to Miss Althea Houck, a native of Pennsylvania and a relative of the Harrison family, to which two of our presidents have belonged. Mr. and Mrs. Kelsey have two children, a son and daughter, Herbert and Mary, the former, although still in his minority, having charge of the store at Rocky Bar and displaying excellent business ability in its management. Mr. Kelsey and his family are identified with the Episcopal Church. They have a delightful home, celebrated for its hospitality and good cheer, and with their many friends it is a favorite and popular resort.

In his fraternal relations Mr. Kelsey is a Mason and has taken all the degrees of the York rite and the thirty-second degree of the Scottish rite. He is deeply interested in the political questions of the day, closely studies the issues which concern the state and nation, and gives a loyal support to the Republican party. He was the chairman of the first Republican state con-vention of Wyoming, held at Laramie, and was for seven years county commissioner of Sweetwater County, Wyoming. He is also distinguished as a parliamentarian, and has written and published a volume on parliamentary usage. He is in the best sense of the term a self-made man. Starting out to earn his own living when a mere boy he has steadily worked his way up-ward, overcoming all difficulties and obstacles and taking advantage of all favorable opportunities for acquiring an honorable fortune. Tireless purpose, keen perception, honesty of purpose, genius for devising and executing the right thing at the right time, joined to every-day common sense, guided by great will power, these are the chief characteristics of the man.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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