24, 1791 – January 21, 1875
Irad Kelley one of
Cleveland's first merchants, postmaster, real-estate investor, and
co-owner of Kelley's Island, was born in Middletown, Conn., to
Jemima Stow and Daniel Kelley. He moved to the Cleveland area ca.
1812, and opened his first store in Cleveland's first brick
building in 1814. When he became postmaster on December 31,1817,
the post office moved into his store. Annual receipts were $500,
of which Kelley got 25% as compensation for rent, fuel, and hiring
of a clerk. Kelley replaced his building in 1850 with the brick
Kelley Block, with the store on the first floor, and Kelley's
Hall, where concerts, lectures, and balls were held, on the upper
floor. In 1863, the building was renamed Athenaeum after the
theater located therein.
Kelley also worked as a sailor, and while commanding the ship the
Merchant, became acquainted with the Lake Erie Islands. In 1833,
he and his brother Datus began purchasing land on Cunningham's
Island at $1.50 per acre until they owned the whole island,
changing its name to Kelley's Island in 1840. They opened stone
quarries and made Kelley's Island famous for limestone, red cedar,
peach orchards, and vineyards.
In 1833, Irad helped establish the Cleveland Lyceum.
He ran unsuccessfully against Joshua Giddings for U.S.
Congress in 1850. He also wrote about a number of political
issues, including women's rights and railroad routes. He produced
political songs for the 1840 presidential candidate William Henry
Harrison. Kelley married Harriet Pease in 1819 and had 10
children: Gustavas, George, Edwin, Charles, Franklin, Martha,
Laura, William Henry, Mary Louisa, and Norman. Irad Kelley was
buried in Lake View Cemetery.
- Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve