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O'Kelley, John

Posted by ceddleman 
O'Kelley, John
March 05, 2007 06:30PM
HISTORY OF KENTUCKY AND KENTUCKIANS, E. Polk Johnson, three volumes, Lewis
Publishing Co., New York & Chicago, 1912. Common version,
Vol. III, pp. 1297-98. [Boyd County]

JOHN O'KELLY, of Ashland, Boyd county, Kentucky, is a loyal and public
spirited citizen and is decidedly one of the most enterprising
manufacturers and business men of this section of the fine old Blue Grass
state. He is president of the O'Kelly Brick Company and is president and
general manager of the John O'Kelly Construction Company, both of which
concerns were exploited and incorporated by him.
A native son of Ashland, Mr. O'Kelly was born on the 30th of April,
1860, and is a scion of fine old Irish stock. His parents, Michael and
Margaret (O'Kelly) O'Kelly, were both born in Galway county, Ireland, the
former in 1822 and the latter in 1825. The father was reared to maturity
on a farm in his native land and when twenty-three years of age, in 1845,
he decided to seek his fortunes in the New World, emigrating to the United
States in the year 1845. He embarked on a sail boat and spent six weeks on
the voyage, eventually landing at New Orleans, Louisiana, whence he went to
Mobile, where he remained for a short time. About 1852 he came to Kentucky,
locating in Mason county, where he secured a position in connection with
railroad construction, having charge of men for contractors on one of the
railroads. Subsequently he established his home at Maysville and in 1854
he came to Ashland, which town was just being platted. Here he engaged in
the general contracting work on his own responsibility and continued to be
identified with that line of enterprise until his death. At times he
carried on extensive business projects, including railroad work, streets,
country roads, etc. For about twenty years he was interested in general
merchandise business at Ashland. While at Maysville, Kentucky, he met and
married his wife, who was a neighbor and playmate of his youth in Ireland.
Michael O'Kelly was summoned to the life eternal on the 25th of July,
1895, at the age of seventy-three years, and his cherished and devoted
wife, who long survived him, passed away on the 12th of March, 1907, at
the age of eighty-two years. Mr. and Mrs. O'Kelly became the parents of
seven children, five of whom are living.
John O'Kelly was the fifth in order of birth in a family of seven
children and he received his early educational training at the parochial
schools of Ashland. While still a youth he was associated with his father
for a couple of years in contracting work and later he entered a nail mill,
where he worked as nail feed for about four years. On attaining to his
legal majority he began to do contract work on his own account and for
two years he was in partnership with the late Judge Savage. During 1884-5
Mr. O'Kelly had charge of the city street department, having been appointed
to that position by the city council. In 1886 he engaged in the livery and
ice business, in which enterprise he was eminently successful, following
the same for some eight years. In 1895 he purchased the harness and buggy
business from John B. Sanford and operated the same for four years, and in
the meantime, in 1897, he became the owner of a small brick yard, which
has since been developed into an immense, thriving concern. In 1905 the
manufacturing of fire brick was added to the latter project and at the
present time, in 1911, the daily capacity of the brick plant is twelve
thousand fire brick and thirty thousand red brick. It is a macadam brick
manufacturing plant and the article produced is of the very best quality,
the business territory covering northeastern Kentucky and West Virginia.
The market for the fire clay and the fire brick is principally in the
south, largely Alabama and Georgia, although some shipments are made to
Illinois. The plant was operated in the name of John O'Kelly until 1905,
when it was incorporated under the laws of the state with a capital stock
of fifty thousand dollars, its first official corps consisting of: James
O'Kelly, president; Edward O'Kelly (deceased), vice president and general
manager; Thomas J. Brady, secretary and treasurer. The board of directors
was as follows: John O'Kelly, T. J. Brady, Edward V. O'Kelly and J. M.
Hutton. At the present time that the above company was formed Mr. O'Kelly
organized the John O'Kelly Construction Company, with a capital stock of
twenty-five thousand dollars, for the purpose of building street railways,
streets, sewers, etc. the latter concern was the out-growth of the
contracting business which Mr. O'Kelly had carried on for a number of
years, during which time, in 1901, he constructed the electric car line
from Parkersburg, West Virginia, to Marietta, Ohio, connecting those two
places with a splendid rapid transit line. The Construction Company of
which Mr. O'Kelly of this sketch has always been the head has successfully
engineered many large contracts in general railway contracting in steam
and electric lines, and it is one of the best known concerns of its kind
in the state.
In his political convictions Mr. O'Kelly has always been aligned as
a stalwart in the ranks of the Democratic party, in the local councils
of which he has long been an important and active factor. In 1885 he
was appointed deputy county clerk, in which office he served with the
utmost proficiency for two years, at the expiration of which he resigned
in order to accept the position of deputy sheriff. In the latter capacity
he served for four years when, in 1892, he was elected sheriff of Boyd
county. In 1894 he was candidate for re-election to the office of
sheriff but owning to the normal Republican majority in this section he
met with defeat. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Knights of
Columbus and in his religious faith he is a zealous communicant of the
Catholic church. Mr. O'Kelly's remarkable success in life is the outcome
of his own well directed endeavors. He is a man of of marked business
ability, great thrift and unusual perseverance--a veritable captain of
industry. As a citizen, business associate and friend his life has been
irreproachable and he is extensively known as a man of high ideals and
fine moral fiber.
On the 25th of October, 1886, was solemnized the marriage of Mr.
O'Kelly to Miss Margaret Moriarity, a native of Ashland and a daughter of
Patrick Moriarity, who was long a pioneer citizen and well known business
man in Boyd county. Mr. and Mrs. O'Kelly have two children, concerning
whom the following brief data are her incorporated--Edward V., who is now
associated with his father in business, was graduated in the local
parochial schools and in Georgetown University, at Washington, D. C.; and
Marguerite, who is now attending the Winona Seminary, at Winona, Minnesota.
Mrs. O'Kelly is a woman of inherent graciousness and refinement and she is
also a communicant in the Catholic church.
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