Biography of R. P. Kelley

R. P. Kelley. While the law had been his profession and he had been a member of the Eureka Bar continuously since 1884, R. P. Kelley had found his time increasingly absorbed by his various business affairs and interests. Financial success had come to him in large measure, and he had property and business interests in diverse parts of the country. He had traveled considerably for recreation, had covered most of the states of the Union and Canada, and had well defined opinions on events and affairs outside of his immediate province.

Mr. Kelley is a native of New England and is of some of the stanch old New England stock. The original home of the Kelleys was in Newbury, England. His ancestors emigrated from there and in 1635 settled at Newbury, Massachusetts. The family afterward went to New Hampshire and from there to Newburg, Maine, in which town Rinaldo Paris Kelley was born July 25, 1850.

His father, Ariel Kelley, was born in New Hampshire in 1809 at Kelleyville, a place named for the family. He grew up and married in New Hampshire, but in 1833 moved to Newburg, Maine. He was an old New England schoolmaster, a preacher of the Baptist Church, and combined those vocations with farming. He was a whig in the early days and later affiliated with the republican party. He served as justice of the peace and was postmaster at Newburg Center, Maine, from the beginning to the end of Lincoln’s administration and until his death, which occurred at Newburg in 1876. Mr. Kelley had three brothers, who were soldiers in the Union army.

In his native village of Maine R. P. Kelley attended the public schools, receiving a high school training, and for two terms taught in that community. In 1870 he came west to Martinsburg, Keokuk County, Iowa, and followed farming and teaching there for two years. His early experiences had convinced him of the need for a higher education, and his mind was then set upon a legal career. Entering the Iowa State College at Ames, Iowa, he was graduated in the scientific course in 1875, and afterwards spent a year in the Iowa State University at Iowa City. In 1877 he graduated LL. B. from the Iowa College of Law at Des Moines. For the next 2½ years he practiced at Keota, Iowa, but in 1880 came to Kansas, locating in Osage County. Four years he spent in legal practice and also in the management of his ranch. In the fall of 1884 Mr. Kelley removed to Eureka, and for the past thirty-two years had conducted a general civil practice, handling on one side or another some of the most important litigation in the local courts. His offices are in the Eureka Bank Building.

In politics he is an independent republican. Politics had played no great part in his career, and he had frequently refused the urgings of his fellow citizens to become a candidate for office. The most important office he had held was as regent of the State Agricultural College at Manhattan. He is a Royal Arch Mason and is a demitted member from Zabed Council of Topeka.

On March 18, 1879, at Waterloo, Iowa, Mr. Kelley married an old schoolmate of Maine, Miss Harriet Whitney, daughter of Albert and Mary (Libby) Whitney.



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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