Jefferson County Historical Society

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Lewis Kelly, deceased, late in the employ of the Iron Mountain Railroad
at De Soto, was born in the State of Pennsylvania in the year 1840. His
father, John Kelly, now of Peoria, Ill., immigrated to Illinois when Lewis 
was a small boy.  The latter was reared in Peoria, and received a common 
school education.  At the breaking out of the late war his patriotism 
and love of country was manifested in his speedy resolve to assist in 
subduing the rebellion.  He therefore enlisted in the Seventeenth Regiment, 
Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served faithfully for three years, 
participating in all the battles of his regiment from Port Gibson to the 
capture of Vicksburg.  His first railroad service was in the employ of 
the Chicago & North Western Railroad Company as fireman. In 1869 he 
located in De Soto and entered the employ of the Iron Mountain Railroad, 
where he continued the remainder of his life.  He filled the position of 
engineer for over twenty years, and so faithfully did he perform every 
known duty that he endeared himself, not only to his employers, but to all 
with whom he was associated.  August 12, 1867, he married Miss Mary Byers, 
a native of York County, Penn., and a daughter of John Byers, deceased.  
In the spring of 1887, Mr. Kelly's engine ran off of a bridge into a river 
carrying him with it, but two cars piled in upon the engine, pushing it out 
of the water so Mr. Kelly's head was above water; he was in reach of the 
limbs of a tree, which he seized and pulled himself up, and was thus 
rescued.  The cold contracted at this time seemed to affect his heart, 
and was the primary cause of his death, which occurred January 3, 1888.  
Mr. Kelly was a prominent member of the A. O. U. W., and was one of the 
oldest and most highly respected members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive 
Engineers of De Soto.