We’ve spent the last few months winding our way through the stories of all the children and grandchildren of John T. and Johanna Falvey Kelly—with the exception of one.
That one was the last of John and Johanna’s own children, a man who remained single and childless during his relatively brief life of forty nine years.
That last child carried the same name as the one who started this whole project off—John Kelly—though he sported a different middle initial. What that “J” stood for in the younger John Kelly’s name, I’ve not been able to uncover, nor have I found much else to help us get to know this man.
The younger John was the second and last of the children born to John and Johanna after their arrival in the New World. Following in the footsteps of his own father—as well as the many distantly-related Irish immigrants then arriving in Fort Wayne—the younger John sought employment in the “Pennsylvania shops.” Part of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, his most recent position had been that of freight conductor.
It has been difficult trying to uncover any further information on the man. As you can imagine, there are—and were—a lot of John Kellys out there, and a search through the newspaper collections online yielded literally hundreds of fruitless leads. To be able to understand the choices he made that led to the life path that became his would take much more than what is now available to me. With a life as obscure as that which this man led, I may never know much more about his story than can be found in his brief obituary which appeared in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
Living in his parents’ home at 1919 Hoagland Avenue—eventually becoming the home of his sister and brother-in-law, Patrick and Mary Phillips—John Kelly lived a life residing within the same four walls from cradle to grave, from an undisclosed day in February, 1876, to the afternoon of March 12, 1925.
John J. Kelly, aged 49, died of a complication of diseases at 4:30 o'clock Thursday afternoon at the home of his sister, Mrs. Mary Phillips, 1919 Hoagland avenue. Mr. Kelly was a lifelong resident of this city and died in the house where he was born. He had been employed as a freight conductor by the Pennsylvania railroad and was a member of St. Patrick's Catholic church and of the Holy Name society. He was also a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen. One sister, Mrs. Phillips, and one brother, Patrick, survive.