Tuesday, September 3, 2013

His Father, John Kelly

You may have been wondering, through the last few days of this series of posts, why I’ve been putting such emphasis on ascertaining that I have the correct Timothy, son of John Kelly.

Of course, I have some simple genealogical reasons. For one thing, with a name as common as John Kelly is, it pays to insure no doubles are being confused for one another.

I have another reason, however, for this excruciating level of tedium. I already know there are others with the name Timothy Kelly. There is one in particular about whom I’d like to know more—much more. I’ll get to the reason for my need to know in a few days, but I have to explain some other details first. Consider this post part of the prep work for a future quest.

In reading everything I could find about the death of Timothy Kelly, brother of our ancestor Catherine Kelly Stevens, I want to be sure he was the right Timothy Kelly—son of Catherine’s father.

I know there was wording to that intent in a newspaper report apparently first issued on Thursday, January 20, 1876, in the Fort Wayne Sentinel—which, however, I could never find. A reprint in the Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel on the following Wednesday, January 26, informed readers of that original source, and updated the report with the coroner’s jury decision we discussed yesterday.

Well, you know how I feel about the sanctity of facts found in newspapers. Consider this a chance to feel validated that we have the right young man. After all, the reporter mentioned twice in the body of the text that the tragic young Timothy was son of John Kelly.

I can’t be satisfied, however, with this sole entry. As you’ll see in the next few days, we’ll attempt to track down other ways to verify his identity—and discover some other abnormalities about the family record in the process.

It doesn’t help my confidence level, though, in comparing the news report of the incident, below, with that outlined in yesterday’s excerpt. On the side of minutiae, see how the shooter’s name was spelled differently in today’s segment than it was in yesterday’s report? Picky, I know. But then, I have to contend with “Kelly” versus “Kelley,” too. We’re talking possibility of mistaken identities here. After all, never forget this is the city whose newspapers reported that John Kelly Stevens and wife Theresa were proud parents of a baby girl when no such event ever took place. I’ll take my warning about chances for mistaken identities here with my first serving, thank you.

More to the point about newspaper unreliability, though, is the totally different take on the events leading up to the shooting. Granted, a “scuffle” over a swiped newspaper could also have happened, along with a circle of buddies convening to compare recent purchases of handguns. But the editorial slant of each scenario seems to somewhat exclude the possibility of the other.

Which one was the real sequence of events? While I’ll likely never know, this question serves to remind me to keep looking askance at anything discovered regarding family history, when stumbled upon in a newspaper.

Always check twice—or more—before considering it a fact properly verified.
            Another terrible accident took place last evening, resulting from the careless use of fire arms. Fred Gorsline, one of the carrier boys employed at this office, while passing over his route in the sixth ward, stopped at a grocery to converse with a number of his young friends. While they were talking a revolver was produced and carelessly passed around among them. Young Gorsline then took one out of his pocket and passed it to his friends while he looked at theirs. Both revolvers were said to be unloaded, and Gorsline very foolishly pointed the one in his hands at a lad named Timothy Kelly (employed in the store). The revolver snapped twice, but the third time a ball was discharged from one of the chambers which lodged in young Kelly's forehead, inflicting a wound which subsequently proved fatal. The boys were terribly affrighted, but they picked up their prostrate comrade, washed off the wound, and conveyed him to the house of Mrs. Mary Nebble, corner of Hoagland avenue and Bass streets. The unfortunate lad was afterwards taken to the residence of his father John Kelly, No. 81 Hoagland avenue. Physicians were summoned who at once pronounced the wound fatal. The hemorhage was excessive, and a careful probing of the wound failed to discover the ball. The boy when first shot was asked if he was killed, and replied "No" after which he never spoke again. He died at 3 o'clock this morning. Young Kelly was a bright industrious lad, and was the son of John Kelly, a laborer employed about the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Chicago shops. Gorsline is also a faithful, well-behaved lad. He is the son of S. L. Gorsline, of No. 198 Lafayette street, who is employed as foreman in the Toledo, Wabash and Western yard. Mr. G. of course feels terrible over the result of his son's carelessness. He did everything in his power last evening in aid of young Kelly, and has volunteered to pay all of the funeral expenses.


  1. *shakes head*

    This surely could have been avoided/prevented and is so stupid that it happened. Humans claim to be intelligent, but some days I wonder...

    1. That's pretty much the take in the newspaper where I found the article. What I left out were the paragraphs devoted to saying that very thing, and promoting opinions on what could be done for future preventive measures, both in families and in public policy.

      Of course, from my perspective, the part that hurt was reading that report and realizing it was talking about part of our own family...oh, how that family must have felt after that long night of waiting...

  2. Replies
    1. It's interesting--in a very detached sort of way--to see what people from different eras considered appropriate topics and details to include in public reports. This 1876 report certainly had a "quaint" way of putting some things, graphic to excess in other ways for a newspaper. I wonder if, death being more commonly observable in that time period, people didn't consider it out of place then to include such details.


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