Friday, July 13, 2012

Grandpa Kelly?

Dear Grandpa Kelly,
I hope you don't mind my calling you Grandpa. My husband is your grandson Edward William Kelly born in Philadelphia ten years to the day after you died. You were only 42, that's way too young to die, and left behind a wife and six children. My husband's parents divorced when he was about 10, and he did not have much contact with his father, your son Edward Ebert, after the split. We had never seen a photo of you until your daughter Dot's son Dan Foley gave us one this summer.

From your World War I draft card, we know you were born on 15 Oct 1896. We also have a physical description. The registrar described you as brown haired, brown eyed, of medium height and slender. You had no physical disqualifications.
Page 1 of World War I Draft Card

Page 2 of World War I Draft Card

We know you were working as a shipbuilder at Hog Island in Philadelphia and you were already married to Alice Mae Hanna. You were also living on N. Conestoga Street in Philadelphia, the same street where you were living at the time of your death. In the 1920 and 1930 census, your occupation is listed as tapestry weaver.

You were the fourth child of John Joseph Kelly and his wife Mary Gertrude Carroll and you grew up in what today is called the "Carroll Park" neighborhood of west Philadelphia, a predominantly Irish enclave. Yes, Carroll Park is named for your grandfather, but that is a story for another time. Your father worked as a bartender at the family saloon at 5535 Haverford Avenue started by your grandfather Samuel Lawrence Kelly.

We were hoping that your death certificate would clear up some of the family stories about how you met your demise. Some have said that you were the victim of an automobile "hit and run", others that you were involved in a bar-room brawl (perhaps at the family saloon) which spilled out into the street. Unfortunately, the death certificate did not provide the answers we were hoping for. They held an inquest as to the cause of your death and declared "injury to head received in unknown manner. Found lying in the street in front of 610 N. 55th Street on 17 Sep 1939." You were no more that six blocks from home and less than three blocks from the saloon. What a shock it must have been for your wife and children. We don't have any information about how they were notified. Alice provided the information for your death certificate.

Your grandson had a career in the U. S. Navy, which took us all over the country and the world. We've moved more than 20 times. I'm certain that seems as foreign to you as living your entire life in a 10 square block area of Philadelphia seems to us. We will continue to search for information about your life and share findings with the clan you left behind.

Today you rest at Holy Cross Cemetery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania with your daughter Marie, her husband John J. Beaumont, and your sons William and Edward.

We wish you peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment