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Darlene E. Kelley
donkeyskid@webtv.net                              
May 12, 1999
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Historical Collections of Ohio
The Kelley Family Book compiled by Hermon Alfred Kelley   1897   
And Then They Went West
by Darlene E. Kelley    1998   
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    In 1860 Mr. Datus Kelley started the erection of a large stone hall
facing on Division Street, just back of the Island House which was then
his home,( Since then destroyed by fire.)  The building was admirably
adapted to the needs of the island people.  There had been no suitable
place for entertainments or public meetings until the erection of the
building, which was presented to the town and accepted by the trustees
with suitable ceremonies. The building was called the Town Hall or
Kelley's Hall and is a monument to Datus and Sarah (Dean) Kelley, his
wife, who joined him in the gift. The building was completed for use in
the fall of 1860.  We quote from account published in a Sandusky paper:
"October 26, 1860  a large company from Sandusky were invited to be
present.Datus Kelley and his wife sat upon the platform side by side.
The hall was dedicatd to Truth and Mr. Kelley stipulated that every
creed and doctrine should be allowed a hearing within its walls.' No
sect nor denomination shall for any length of time hold exclusive
privilege.  All amusement of a moral or genial nature are tolerated and
thus this ample and well arranged building with its pictures and organ,
becomes a central temple of instruction, amusement and good cheer; a
blessing and a help to all."
While the gift to the islanders was in fact made at that time, the deeds
were not given until after the death of Mr. Kelley.  His heirs carrying
out his wishes.  As the Hall was free to all to use, it was used by the
Catholics for entertainment purposes such as bazaars, socials and etc,
and by the Protestant churches for simular purposes and for religious
worship.  All public and parochial school commencements are held there.
The first and only public library on the island was lodged in the
basement of the hall until 1877, when it was moved to the basement of
the new Congressional church building, which was completed that year.
The first Protestant Englsh Church congregation was organized there in
1866 and the first baptisms in that church wre performed there. The Hall
was used temporaily as an Armory during the Civil War, and the Island
Military Company " Slept on their Arms" in the hall one night, ready to
repel expected invaders.  Many famous men have spoken in Kelley Hall.
Perhaps one of the finest things that occurred annually in the hall, was
kept up for over fifty years without interruption.  It is interesting to
know that the islanders always use cedar trees and when they leave the
island. can hardly reconcile themselves to the fir and spruce trees
customary elsewhere and many a cedar tree has been sent from the island
to those who think Christmas in complete without one.  Another annual
event, dating back to the Civil War, is the observation of Memorial Day.
Appropriate ceremonies are always observed, beginning at the Hall.
During 1860 there was formed a Horticultural Society, a Vocal Society
and the Kelley's Island Literary Society.  The meetings of all being
held in the school house on Division street. The " Islander " was a
weekly newspaper that the society edited for seventeen years during the
winter months.  The first edition being issued or read at the second
meeting of the Society which occurred December 22nd, 1860.  The paper
contained advertisements, local and foreign news, editorials, foreign
correspondence or letters from abroad. This paper or journal was written
in long hand and as but one copy was produced of each issue, it was not
passed  from hand to hand to be read at leisure, but the people met
every Saturday night to hear it read, and to discuss its contents at the
conclusion of the reading. Hearing the Islander read was not an
exclussive privilege but was free to all who cared to come.  The
discussions were conducted in according with parlimentary law, and were
remarkable for the fact very little hard feeling was engendered by the
debates.  There was the widest latitude allowed and every phaze of every
subject was written about and discussd.  Its motto was : 
" Independent in all things , neutral in none," was literally lived
lived up to. During the year 1862, prosperous times were enjoyed on the
island.  The grape crop was unusually good. The stone trade also good,
the demand exceeding the ability to supply.  The wood trade was not
brisk and the wood choppers were paid but one dollar and seventy-five
cents to two dollars per cord for chopping.  Land increased in value to
$500.00 per acre.  Captain Vessey was the contract mail carrier fot the
winter of 1863-64.  He sailed the little Zouave till ice formed.  The
first Sunday school was started in the summer of 1862.  The first church
building erected on the island was completed in 1863 by the Catholic
Congregation which was organized that year.  On April 8. 1863. was the
first day in the history of the island that a party (political) election
was held for township offices: Clerk, George P. Bristol; Trustees, E.L.
Kennedy. Wm. Becker, H.H. Woodford; Treasurer. Henry Lang; Constables,
John Stokes.and Fred Kelley.  There was no opposition and the ticket was
unanimously elected.  Henry Land resigned and A.S. Kelley was reinstated
to his old position as Township Treasurer.   

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