Following the loss of the Confederacy, William was left bankrupt and forced to take a job as a store- clerk in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Working for another man was a great trial for hot-tempered William and took a grave toll on his nerves. While in the store, a forgotten outrage occurred causing William to stomp his foot straight through the floor and tightened his heart so that he suffered an attack that would end his life a few hours later. My Mother and I always thought of Rumpelstiltskin, driving his foot so far into the ground that he created a chasm and fell into it, never to be seen again.
The Port Gibson Enterprise of the 29th of November 1871
Sudden Death of an Old Citizen It is with regret that we recall, and many will read that Mr. William O`Kelly so long and well known in this community departed this life. He suffered an attack while apparently in his usual health, on last Wednesday evening about one o`clock, he called for someone to call for him quick and about three hours later passed quietly away. Mr. O`Kelly was one of Port Gibson`s oldest citizens and at one time was the owner of a great deal of property and was one of the most popular merchant – planters of this place before the Civil War. He has in his later years been the victim of many financial disasters which resulted in his fortunes being completely broken. He had not recovered from the recent disaster at Grand Gulf where the Mississippi River wiped out his remaining fortune which left him much depressed at times. He leaves two sons Thomas Swan, William Abram, one daughter Jennie and a brother Henry to mourn his death.