Sunday, January 4, 2009

William Kelly, Builder of the Marblehead Lighthouse

William Kelly was born in Ireland in 1779. His first wife was Jane Reid, and his second wife was Lydia Hartshorn. William and Jane had eight children, and after Jane's death, William and Lydia Kelly had five children.

In the early 1800's William Kelly emigrated to the United States. He moved to Sandusky in 1818, where he was the city's first stone mason. William Kelly is best known for his work building the Marblehead Lightouse. The structure was begun in 1821. It is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes. Below is a photograph of the lighthouse in the winter months.

William died on December 7, 1867. He is buried in Section 2 of Oakland Cemetery. A collection of William Kelly's original account books are held by the R. B. Hayes Presidential Center. An excellent biographical sketch is also found on the R. B. Hayes web site.

A granddaughter of Mr. Kelly was Mrs. Eunice Brown Dewitt, who was a tireless worker on the home front during World War One.


JoLyn said...

Very interesting article and photos!

Dorene from Ohio said...

Thank you so much!

Nathan Crook said...

Hi Dorene,

This is a very interesting post—thanks for directing me to it. I'm originally from the west and my family and I used to make an annual Memorial Day weekend trip to Newport, Oregon (the terminus of US 20) to visit lighthouses along the Oregon coast. Since moving to Ohio, the Marblehead Light has become a daytrip destination and we especially enjoy stopping in at Jolly Roger’s for perch and shrimp.

All my best,


Dorene from Ohio said...

Nathan -
My husband and I adore the "Jolly Roger" - - you just can't beat the perch there!

Unknown said...

Thank you, this is interesting to us - my whole family is from Ohio many generations back. My brothers Bob and Marty Jacobsen tell us that our father: Lester Hartshorn Jacobsen is descended from Fletcher Hartshorn, and he from William Kelly. So that we are 4 x great grandchildren of William Kelly. Further, that one of his sons married on of the Lighthouse keeper's daughters - Benajah Wolcott - thus tying us to him also. Our Irish ancestors came here very early, I understand - and that William got this land for fighting in the War in CT - 1814 maybe Spanish Am. ? Got to look that up.

Dorene from Ohio said...

Anne, I don't know a lot of specific details about William Kelly's military past, but both he and Benajah Wolcott were very influential in the early history of Ottawa County and the Firelands area! Have you been to the Marblehead Lighthouse? You can tour it, as well as the home of Benajah Wolcott during the summer months. It is a wonderful vacation spot!

deb said...

This was an interesting article. To Anne who posted on April 3, 2011, you are a direct descendent of William Kelly, but not through Fletchter Hartshorn. Your line runs by way of Fletcher's brother Isaac Hartshorn through his only daughter Jessie, who married Lewis Jacobson. Fletcher & Isaac's father was Wyatt who was married to William Kelly's daughter Jane (their mother) and Wyatt's sister Lydia was William's second wife. William's young son & Jane's younger brother, John Reid Kelly was about 12 when he helped William build the lighthouse. William also built the Lighthouse Keepers house. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, which saved him during the Irish Rebellion in the late 1790's.