Jackson County

Biography - GEORGE H. KELLY

One of the nourishing villages of Saline county, Illinois, located on the Big Four Railroad, just fourteen miles southwest from Harrisburg, is that bearing the name of Stonefort, which name was given it from the remains of an old stone fort, erected some time during pioneer days, probably by the settlers or military to guard against the Indians. This village, which has advanced wonderfully during the past several years, is now the home of some of Saline county’s most progressive business men, and a leader among them may be found in George H. Kelly, proprietor of Stonefort’s largest business establishment. Mr. Kelly was born in Perry county, Illinois, August 23, 1865, and is a son of George W. and Mary A. (Harreld) Kelly.

George W. Kelly was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, and was married in Jackson county to Mary A. Harreld, a daughter of the Hon. James Harreld, an early dealer in general merchandise and lumber, who served as a member of the State Legislature during eight sessions when the State House was at Vandalia. His grandson still owns a land patent of 1839 for land in Union county, where his death occurred when he was well advanced in years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Lydia Swartz, died August 11, 1880, at the age of seventy-three years. Mr. Kelly, after marriage, enlisted in the Eighteenth Volunteer Infantry, for service in the Civil war, and after his first term of service was completed returned home, but eventually re-enlisted in the Eighty-first Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, becoming second lieutenant of his company. In the fall of 1863 he resigned his commission and became a government sutler at Vicksburg, but in the next year returned to his home and settled on a Perry county farm. In 1867 Mr. Kelly opened a general store at DuQuoin, Illinois, but in 1876 sold out and came to Stonefort, where in 1880 he established the business of which his son is now the owner. He died November 26, 1885, when still engaged in active work, and his widow still survives him, and is the owner of over eight hundred acres of land, which she looks after herself. Mr. Kelly was a popular member of the G. A. R., was an active Republican in politics, and a consistent member of the Baptist church, in which he was serving as a deacon at the time of his death. He and Mrs. Kelly had a family of four children: A. I., who is proprietor of a store in Chicago; Mary L., who conducts the Stonefort millinery store; Edith, a teacher of music at Portland, Oregon; and George H.

George H. Kelly received his education in the public schools of Stonefort, and was reared to the mercantile business, being ready to take up the work where his father left off at the time of his death. For three years following Mr. Kelly conducted the business for his mother, but in 1888 purchased the place, which at that time carried a stock worth three thousand dollars and did a yearly business of twelve thousand dollars. So rapidly has Stonefort grown since that time, due to the earnest, persevering work of such men as Mr. Kelly, that he now commands a yearly business of forty thousand dollars, and has a stock that could not be duplicated under twenty thousand dollars. An excellent farm of four hundred and sixty acres also belongs to Mr. Kelly, which he is devoting to general farming and stock raising, hired help being employed to look after this place and two cars of cattle being shipped to the big city markets each year. The large business done by the store necessitates the use of a double store building, where Mr. and Mrs. Kelly and three clerks are constantly kept busy waiting on a patronage that has grown swiftly and steadily as it recognized and appreciated the advantages of giving its trade to a store the principles of which have always been along the lines of honest dealing and fair values.

In 1890 Mr. Kelly was married to Miss Maria Joyner, of Stonefort, daughter of George W. Joyner, who carries on agricultural operations near the village. Mr. and Mrs. Kelly have had no children. He is a member of Oriental Consistory, Chicago, where he is also connected with the Medinah Temple of the Mystic Shrine, and also holds membership in Stonefort Blue Lodge, where he is past master and during 1887 and 1888 represented his local in the Grand Lodge of the state. Mr. Kelly owns a comfortable home in Stonefort, and he and his wife are prominent in social circles and have numerous warm friends.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 2, page 1057.

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