Biography of Elmer Eugene Kelley

E. E. Kelley during his thirty years of residence in Kansas had played a varied and honorable part in affairs, as an educator, farmer, and, in more recent years, as editor and publisher. He is now head of the Toronto Republican and a former president of the Kansas State Editorial Association.

Taken in connection with what he had accomplished himself in life, Mr. Kelley may take a reasonable degree of pride in his American ancestry. The Kelley family goes back to Ireland. While the population of America was still straggling along the Atlantic coast in thirteen colonies, James Kelley emigrated from Ireland and settled in Virginia. His ardent sympathies with the cause of the country led him to take part in the Revolutionary war, and he served as an officer of a Virginia regiment.

William Kelley, a son of this revolutionary officer, was born at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1775. He, too, took a part in one of our nation’s wars, and having in the meantime moved from Virginia to Ohio he served in Company A of the First Ohio Militia during the War of 1812. He was with the troops under General Hull at Detroit, when that stronghold was surrendered to the British forces. He afterwards followed farming in Ohio, and moved from that state to Warren County, Indiana, where he died in 1863. William Kelley married Susan McPherson. She was an aunt of the Civil war hero, General McPherson, who was killed at Atlanta, Georgia.

Two of the ancestors of Mr. Kelley have been mentioned, and a third is another William Kelley, who was his grandfather. Grandfather William Kelley was born in the historic City of Chillicothe, Ohio, the first capital of that state, in 1815. He married Harriet Bateman, who was born in Ohio in 1817. Immediately after their marriage they set out for Indiana and settled on a pioneer farm in the northwestern part of that state. William Kelley was a farmer and died in Benton County, Indiana, in 1907. His first wife died in Tippecanoe County in 1845, and their only child was Albert Kelley, father of the Toronto editor. William Kelley married for his second wife Mary Alexander, who died in Benton County, Indiana, in 1867. The children of that union still living are: James A., a retired farmer in Benton County, Indiana; and Margaret, wife of A. A. Knaur, of Momence, Illinois. Grandfather Kelley married for his third wife Mrs. Elizabeth (Liptrap) Morgan. They had one child, Nettie, who is the wife of Jacob Rucker, and they live on their farm in Warren County, Indiana.

Warren County, Indiana, was the birthplace of Mr. E. E. Kelley. He was born September 13, 1861. His father Albert Kelley was born in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, February 22, 1840. He grew up in Tippecanoe County, but when a young man his parents removed to Warren County, and he married there. His active career was spent as a farmer. He had just arrived at young manhood when the war broke out, and in 1862 he volunteered his services and went out with Company I of the Seventy-second Indiana Infantry. He remained in service until July, 1865, and took part in that grinding struggle which marked the progress of the Union armies through the central part of the Confederacy. He fought at Murfreesboro, at Chattanooga, Chickamauga, in the advance upon Atlanta, received a dangerous wound at Resaca, was present at the capture and burning of Atlanta, and afterwards went back with General Thomas through Tennessee and participated in the bloody battles of Franklin and Nashville. At Resaca he had some ribs broken, and the injury shortened his life. He died in Warren County, Indiana, July 4, 1888. Politically he was a republican, served as assessor of his home township, and was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He married Rebecca McCleister. She was born in Fountain County, Indiana, in 1839, and died at Yates Center, Kansas, in 1909. Of their children E. E. Kelley is the oldest. Ida is the wife of Harry Evans, who for the past twelve years had been county superintendent of schools of Warren County, Indiana, and lives at Williamsport. Clint is a painter by trade and resided at Yates Center, Kansas. Rexford died at the age of twenty-two in Warren County, where he had begun his vocation as a farmer. Edith and Walter died in infancy.

Mr. Kelley grew up on the home farm in Warren County, Indiana, remaining there until he was eighteen. He acquired his early education in the public schools, and as soon as possible qualified for work in the schoolroom as a teacher and spent eight years in that occupation in his home county of Warren.

Mr. Kelley came to Kansas in 1887. His first location was at Toronto and he was principal of the local schools for six years. The following three years were spent as principal of the Chanute High School, and then for three successive terms he served as county superintendent of instruction. He was also for four years superintendent of schools at Neosho Falls. While teaching Mr. Kelley used his vacation seasons for farming and had maintained more or less active connection with the agricultural district of Kansas ever since he came to the state.

In 1909 Mr. Kelley returned to Toronto and in the fall of that year bought the Toronto Republican. The Toronto Republican is now in its thirty-fourth year. When it was established in 1883 it was known as the Toronto Topic. Its first proprietor was W. H. Jones. In 1888 the name was changed to the Toronto Republican, and in June, 1909, it consolidated under one proprietorship as the Toronto Republican-Record. It is one of the chief mediums of news in this section of Kansas, and also exerts an influence as a republican organ. It circulates over Greenwood, Woodson and Wilson and other counties. The paper had well equipped offices located on Main Street in Toronto.

Mr. Kelley served as president of the Kansas Editorial Association in 1914. He is himself a republican, a member of the Presbyterian Church and is affiliated with Woodson Lodge, No. 121, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Toronto. Among other interests he owned his home on Main Street in Toronto.

In 1882 in Warren County, Indiana, he married Miss Lillie Sutton, daughter of F. M. and Elizabeth (Shanklin) Sutton. Her parents reside at Toronto, Kansas, and her father though seventy-seven years of age is still practicing his profession as a lawyer. Mr. and Mrs. Kelley have six children, namely: Ruth, who is a graduate of the Yates Center High School, lives at home and assists her father in the office of the Toronto Republican. Marcia, who is teacher of Domestic Science in the high school at West Lebanon, Indiana. Albert, who is auditor of the Richfield Oil Company, and resided at Los Angeles, California. Elmer Eugene, a young newspaper man, whose career is briefly sketched in following paragraphs. Thomas, a printer living at Los Angeles, California. Katherine, a student in the high school at Toronto.

Mr. Kelley’s son Elmer Eugene Kelley was born at Chanute, Kansas, May 12, 1891. He was educated in the public schools of Yates Center and Toronto, graduating from the Toronto High School in 1907. After a year spent on his father’s farm he entered the service of the Santa Fe Railway Company and was employed in its station at Dodge City for two years. He joined his father on the Toronto Republican, gained his experience as a newspaper man in that plant, and in January, 1915, when he and his father bought the Livestock Belt at Madison, he took the editorial management. When they bought the Belt they immediately changed the name to the Madison News. The Livestock Belt was established in 1909 by Ed. A. Mebourn. It is a republican paper, with circulation in Greenwood and surrounding counties and had a well equipped plant.

Elmer Eugene Kelley is a republican, a member of the Fourth District Editorial Association and belongs to Madison Lodge, No. 196, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. He was married at Toronto May 27, 1914, to Miss Irma Pearl Cornette. Her parents, W. H. and Jane (Matlock) Cornette, reside at Toronto, her father being a veteran of the Civil war and a retired farmer. Elmer Eugene’s one child is Bonnie Jean Elizabeth, born July 23, 1916.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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