Contra Costa County












JAMES KELLY.  Although a resident of this state for half a century and a farmer by occupation, James Kelly has turned his attention exclusively to grape culture since 1891, on his well-improved farm two miles southeast of Martinez, where he located about 1877 and now has one hundred and seventy-five acres, about fifty of which are in vineyard.


Born in county Antrim, Ireland, near the city of Belfast, January 1, 1837, Mr. Kelly is the youngest in a family of seven children born to Thomas and Mary (Coulter) Kelly, the former a native of Antrim and the latter of Scotch-Irish extraction.  The father was a farmer while a resident of his native land, but subsequently emigrated to America and spent the balance of his life in retirement, attaining the advanced age of eighty-five years.  His wife died in 1847.  Of the six sons and one daughter born to them but one is now living.  After the death of the mother the family left Ireland for a home in the United States, taking up their abode in Racine county, Wis., and it was in the log school houses in that county that Mr. Kelly’s education was completed, he having obtained his primary education in Ireland.  In 1854 he left his home in Wisconsin, crossing the plains to California in company with his brother Samuel, who had previously made the trip hither in 1850, but returned home in 1854 with such glowing accounts of the country that James was easily induced to accompany him.  Arriving in Contra Costa county the brothers at once engaged in the dairy business at Pinole, on the old Dr. Tennant ranch, continuing in that line of work until 1864.  Removing to the Rodeo valley at that time, they carried on general farming there for many years and in 1877 Mr. Kelly purchased the fine farm where he now resides.  About 1880 he erected a handsome residence in Martinez and made that his home for a period of ten years, for the purpose of giving his children proper educational advantages.  For fourteen years he was engaged in general farming in this section, but in 1891 he turned his attention exclusively to grape culture.


The home ties of Mr. Kelly date back to March 29, 1864, when he was united in marriage with Margaret J. Dowd, a native of Ireland, who accompanied her parents to the United States at a very early age, locating in Wisconsin in 1849.  Nine children blessed this union, six of whom are still living, as follows:  Mary A., wife of H. J. Curry; Alice E.; Margaret A.; George W.; Samuel Coulter; and Grace.  All reside in Martinez.  Mr. Kelly is a Republican in politics.  He has served as school trustee for years and as county supervisor from 1887 to 1891.  He is prominently connected with Martinez Lodge No. 90, A.O.U.W., of Martinez, and with Alhambra Grange of the same city.  In religious matters the family are members of the Catholic church.





[Inserted by D. Toole]




James Kelly’s obit is on Find-a-Grave without source.


1910 May 2, The San Francisco Call, P4, San Francisco, California


Kelly – At Vine Hill, near Martinez, Contra Costa county, April 30, 1910, James Kelly, beloved husband of Margaret Kelly, father of Mrs. H. J. Curry, Alice E., George W., Coulter S., Margaret A. and Grace Kelly, and brother of the late Samuel and Patrick Kelly.  Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral today (Monday), May 2, 1910, leaving the family residence at 10 a.m., thence to St. Catherine’s church, Martinez, where mass will be said, commencing at 10:30 a.m.  Interment Catholic cemetery, Martinez, Cal.


[These articles reference Margaret Kelly who died in 1916 as the daughter of James Kelly.]

1916 Oct 27, Oakland Tribune, P17, Oakland, California

Kelly – In Martinez, October 25, 1916, Margaret Kelly, beloved daughter of Mrs. Margaret Kelly and the late James Kelly, and sister of Mrs. H. J. Curry, Miss Alice E. Kelly, Mrs. Howard Veale, George and Coulter Kelly, a native of Martinez, Cal.  Funeral will take place Saturday, October 28, 1916, at 10 a.m., from the residence of H. J. Curry, thence to St. Catherine’s church, at Martinez, where high mass will be said.  Interment, Catholic cemetery, Martinez, Cal.


1916 Oct 29, Oakland Tribune, P46, Oakland, California

Kelly Funeral Large

Richmond, Oct 28 – One of the largest funerals in the history of Martinez took place this morning when the remains of Miss Margaret Kelly were laid to rest in the St. Catherine cemetery.  Rev. Henry Shaw officiated at the funeral services, which were held at the St. Catherine church.  Miss Kelley[sic] met her death in a runaway while on her way home from the county tar[sic] collector’s office, where she was employed.


1927 Apr 9, San Francisco Chronicle, P31, San Francisco, California

Mrs. Margaret Kelly Dies in Martinez

Martinez, April 8 – Mrs. Margaret J. Kelly, a resident of this city sixty-three years, died today at the home of her daughter, Mrs. H. J. Curry.  She was the widow of James Kelly, former Contra Costa county Supervisor, and was 80 years of age.  She is survived by a son, George W. Kelly, and three daughters, Mrs. Curry, Alice Kelly and Mrs. Howard Veale of Kenosha, Wisconsin.






Transcribed by Donna Toole.

­­­­Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1005-1006. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2016  Donna Toole.







Contra Costa County Biographies

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