Tombstones Have Errors, Too: Part Three

Tombstones Have Errors, Too: Part Three

PLEASE NOTE: Melody is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

This post contains affiliate links. When you click on these links and make a purchase, I earn a percentage of the sale which allows me to keep providing you great content for free on this website.


In the first post in this series, I told of Michael Kelly who committed suicide in 1881 and how that date differed from the tombstone.  In the second post in this series, I used city directories to see if I could establish connections between Michael, John, and Martin Kelly.  In this post, I’m going back to the census to see if I can find John Kelly.

I realized that all the John Kelly’s I found earlier were not the one I was looking for.  I went back to the 1880 Census and found the right ones:

At 632 Mission Street (aka Mission Road), lived John Kelley [sic] and his wife, Harriet E.   John is 40 and Harriet 36.  John is a saloon keeper.

There are 6 lodgers living with them and one of them is Michael Kelley[sic].  Michael is 27 years old and was born in Massachusetts, which matches my information.  He works as a clerk in a store.  That’s a different occupation than what is in the newspaper article and the city directories.  Someone named Patrick Fitzgerald is listed as the bartender.  Perhaps Michael needed a different occupation because of his disability.

I couldn’t find the Kelly’s in 1870 Census.  I get the feeling that John and Harriet married in between census years, though I have no proof of it.

I did find one more piece to the puzzle.  I found Harriet’s obituary.  It reads as follows:

Kelly–In this city, July 2, Mrs. Harriet E. C. Kelly, aged 36 years, 6 months, and 27 days.

It’s not much, but at least it proves the story told in the Daily Alta!

I’m still trying to find John Kelly’s obituary.  I would like that one bit of definitive information that says “John Kelly, brother of Martin Kelly.”  As yet, I don’t have it, though my instincts tell me I am right.  If John had no children, it would have been Martin or one of Martin’s children who took care of the burial proceedings.

The last year John Kelly appears in the city directories in 1889.  So, he died somewhere around 1889-1890.  I did several searches in the Daily Alta and the San Francisco Chronicle to no avail.  I tried the Call Monitor but the earliest editions on line start with 1890.   The only thing I found was that in 1890 Martin Kelly shot someone over money–and it wasn’t John Kelly.  Though it’s an interesting story to add to my family tree, it doesn’t tell me anything about his possible brother.  I have a feeling he died in 1889, simply because that year is not online.

I didn’t find Michael Kelly’s obituary in either the Chronicle or the Daily Alta.  It’s in the San Francisco Morning Call (or the Call Monitor) as it appears in an online index. However, no databases go that far back with the newspaper yet.  I am sure that will tell me whether this Michael is my Michael.

Until I have the one or both of those obituaries, I don’t have the proof I need.  My instincts tell me this is the right stuff.  How likely would it be that one Michael Kelly died on 8 July 1881 and another on 8 July 1882 in the same city with ties to boardinghouse and saloon owners on the same streets?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *