Biography - H R Kelley

H. R. KELLEY, Superintendent of Schools at Vienna, is a gentleman of broad culture, and of high reputation as a teacher, and is among the first of his profession in Johnson County, of which he is a native. He is a representative of one of the early pioneer families of the county, and was born November 3, 1851, in Tunnel Hill Township, of which his paternal grandfather, Benjamin Kelley, was an early settler. He had cleared and improved a farm in Tennessee prior to his migration to this State. Wishing to improve his fortunes, and hearing favorable accounts of the fertility of the soil and taking into account the cheapness of the land in its natural condition, he determined to found here a new home. He loaded his household effects into an ox-wagon and brought his family directly to Johnson County. He secured one hundred and sixty acres of land in the forest and entered with characteristic courage and vigor into his struggle with the forces of nature, and he experienced all the vicissitudes of pioneer life, but by hard and unremitting labor a fine farm was reclaimed from the wilderness. The grandfather died in Johnson County at a ripe age, and he is remembered and honored as one of the sterling pioneers of this section, who helped to lay the solid foundation of its present prosperity. His widow removed to the State of Kansas, and there died at a venerable age.
The father of our subject, Leander H. Kelley, is a native of Tennessee. He had but little opportunity to attend school, but he was naturally of an inquiring turn of mind and a good scholar, and succeeded in learning enough to constitute a fair education at the time, and was qualified to teach, in which occupation he engaged for a while. He married at the youthful age of twenty years, and then left the paternal home with his bride, Rhoda Webb, also from Tennessee, and began farming on a farm that he owned. He devoted his energies to its improvement, and then sold it and bought another in the same township (Tunnel Hill), which he still occupies. He is an experienced, capable farmer, thoroughly understanding the fundamental principles of his calling, and has a well-equipped farm, which he manages so as to obtain an assured income each year. He and his wife were blessed with twelve children: Evaline, who is living in Tunnel Hill Township; H. R.; Elisha, deceased; W. A., a farmer; John R., a farmer of Goreville Township; Thomas C., a missionary in the South; Alfred, who died in infancy; Melinda, who married Elder I. Smith and is now dead; Mary Jane, wife of John McCormack; Benjamin F., living on the old homestead; Martha, deceased; and Viola, who died in infancy.
The subject of this biographical sketch is the second child of the family. His boyhood was passed on a farm and he early became familiar with hard work. His tastes, however, were in the direction of scholarly pursuits rather than for the calling to which he was reared, and he devoted himself to his books, determined to secure an education. After leaving the public schools he attended school at Carmi a year, and made such rapid progress in his studies that he was well-fitted to undertake the responsibilities of a teacher, and at the age of nineteen entered upon his professional career. His first school was in his native township and was known as the Webb School, and he has been engaged in teaching most of the time since 1871 in his own neighborhood until the present, his twenty years' service so near home attesting strongly his worth as an instructor. His reputation as a thoroughly competent teacher won him the honor of a call to his present important position as Superintendent of the schools at Vienna, and he assumed the duties of his new office October 3, 1892. He is a progressive educator, keeping well abreast of the times in educational matters, and is well versed in modern methods of instruction. He is conscientious in his work, earnest and faithful in his teaching and, as he is yet a young man, life lies before him with fair promise of many years of usefulness in his chosen sphere of labor as one who is contributing to the elevation of society by fostering a love of learning in the minds of the youth of to-day and the citizens of to-morrow.
Our subject's happiness and well-being were materially enhanced by his marriage, in 1883, with Miss Allie Sumpter, of White County. Four children gladden their home: William Otto, Goldie Irene, Bessie May and Raoul Homer.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 205-206.

Templates in Time