Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reassessing Some Assertions

Though the oldest child listed in the census records for the Patrick Kelly family of Fort Wayne was Frederick, we’ve already seen that he was actually Patrick’s stepson. After the arrival of the first child born to Patrick and EmmaKathryn, whom we met Sunday—the family was blessed with the child who was actually Patrick’s first son.

According to records from Saint Patrick’s Church, this son was baptized as John Clifford Kelley on May 6, 1902, shortly after his birth on April 26. Despite my assertion of a couple days ago regarding most godparents of that time period being family members, Clifford—as the family called him—had sponsors at his baptism whose names don’t fit into any family history reports I’ve been able to find: Clifford J. Moran and Mary Agnes Dalton. Perhaps there was a significance in the baby’s middle name being the same as his godfather’s first name—a story I’ll have to pursue at another time.

It hasn’t been easy, finding any records of this child’s early years. While other Kelly relatives had their names inserted in society page reports about birthday parties or first communions, Patrick’s son John Clifford either had an evil twin in town, or was up to no good at a very early age, based upon reports I could glean from the various Fort Wayne newspapers.

Of course, the frequent switch between spellings of Kelly versus Kelley, combined with the preferred usage of his middle name instead of his first name, John, added a challenge to that search.

What I did find, in The Fort Wayne News and Sentinel on May 24, 1918, probably was our Clifford Kelly, though. The page three insert in the Industrial News section simply mentioned,
Clifford Kelley has accepted a position in the small motor detail department of the Fort Wayne Electric works as bench and machine operator and has started on his new duties.

Some time before the end of 1920, though, the young Clifford found a more promising position with a company called either Dudlo or Dudio—the optical character recognition programs scanning old documents such as the books and newspapers of that time period driving me to distraction (not to mention, my own eyes, too). Even now, performing a Google™ search on the term yields results for each of the variations—both asserting it is Dudlo and Dudio.

Whatever the name, the enterprise was cutting edge for its time, and Patrick Kelly’s son Clifford became a small part of it.

That position didn’t last long, however, as I learned from an obituary appearing in The Fort Wayne News Sentinel on February 28, 1921. Whatever cut a successful young man down two months before his twentieth birthday made me realize I’ll have to revise another assertion I’ve made about this generation of the Kelly family: that life in this new century was going so much better than it had been in his parents’ era.

What could cause a young man to lose his life so soon? I wished that the death information provided in such services as FamilySearch.org still included scanned copies of death certificates, so I could observe the cause of death—as well as ascertain that illegible handwriting hadn’t been incorrectly transcribed. Now, all I could do was try to read between the lines in a brief obituary.

One clue I found was that Clifford had been hospitalized for six weeks before his passing. Thinking of the time period, I wondered, could it be due to the flu epidemic? Not being one for sterling memory when it came to high school history class (never could retain those dates), I had to look up when the devastating pandemic had occurred.

While the date range of the epidemic did indeed take in the year of 1920 at the tail end of its destruction, owing to another clue in the obituary, I realized Clifford lost his life due to a different cause.

The obituary mentioned that Clifford actually died at a hospital. Fortunately—though I found this somewhat unusual—the specific hospital was mentioned. Since the name of the hospital was not one I recalled from other family news, I once again tried my hand at genealogy-research-by-Google™.

The name of the facility was given as “the Irene Byron hospital.” Given that the family lived near downtown Fort Wayne—not to mention, that the family was Catholic—the presumed hospital of choice would have been Saint Joseph’s hospital, but evidently that was not the case for Clifford.

I found my first clue about this other hospital from a website page of Allen County's Health Department, which called it the Byron Tuberculosis Sanatorium. The facility was named in honor of Patricia Irene Byron, appointed Superintendent of the Allen County Tuberculosis Hospital, who subsequently served as a volunteer army nurse during World War I. She herself, apparently, contracted tuberculosis and died at Camp McArthur in Texas in 1918.

Following four months of illness, including the six-week hospitalization at the Sanatorium, Clifford became the first to leave the Kelly family home, the young, athletic man succumbing to the disease on February 28, 1921.  
            J. Clifford Kelly, 18-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Kelly, 831 Huestis avenue, died at 7 o'clock this morning at the Irene Byron hospital where he had been a patient for six weeks. He had been employed at the Dudio plant until his illness four months ago. He graduated from the St. Patrick's parochial school, and was a popular member of the Holy Name society and the Lyceum Athletic association.
            Surviving are the mother, and the father who is engineer at the No. 3 pumping station; four sisters, Catherine, Helen, Marie and Mildred, and three brothers, Fred, Emmet, and Stephen, all living at home.
            Funeral services will be held at the home Thursday morning at 8:30 o'clock and at the St. Patrick's church at 9 o'clock, with Rev. Joseph F. Delaney officiating. Burial in the Catholic cemetery.


  1. Intriguing tale. Every generation has its own set of troubles.

    1. Colleen, this certainly was a story that helped me exercise the ability to read between the lines.

      Sometimes, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if these young ancestors had not lost their life so early. A futile bit of daydreaming, I suppose, but one that surely comes of being part of a small family, myself...

  2. Like alcohol, TB seems to run in your tree. :(

    I don't think many of my ancestors had those lurking in the wings... they was prolly too ornery...

    1. I dunno, Iggy. I think I had quite a few of those ancestors, too, who were prolly too ornery!

  3. In the non-OCR sources, the company name is spelled Dudlo (DUDLO) - and they made "magnetic ignition coils." Given Clifford worked with small electrical motors, this "career change" makes sense - ignition coils are essentially small electrical motors that used to cause spark plugs to spark (they are rarely used now with the advent of "electronic" engine controls which use power transistors).


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