Monthly Archives: April 2013

Circa 1845 William & Esther O’Kelly

The story of the O’Kelly family in America begins with a romantic tale of a young couple whom bravely left their homes in Northern Ireland and sailed to America in search of the freedom to marry. As told through six generations, William O’Kelly and Mary Hester ‘Esther’ Swan left their homes in Ireland for love. He was said to have been the son of a wealthy Roman Catholic merchant in Belfast and she the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister. With anti-British sentiment, their grandchildren often repeated that, “their marriage would have been illegal in Ireland and the pair would have been shipped to the penal colony in Australia for the offense of their union.”
They married and settled in Port Gibson, Mississippi where the family multiplied and Williams’ business ventures prospered during the era of King Cotton. These hand painted photographs were taken during the height of their wealth and were a fashionable status symbol amongst the affluent. Their happy lives did not last long. Tragedies began to strike the family when three of their daughter’s died during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1853. Esther would later die in childbirth along with the infant and Williams’ fortunes would be completely wiped out by the defeat of the Confederacy and natural disasters.

William O'Kelly

William O’Kelly

Mary Hester O'Kelly

Mary Hester O’Kelly


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Filed under Mary Hester Swan, Photographs, William O'Kelly

1926 We buried my best friend here on Friday

New Orleans August 30 1926 to Monroe, Louisiana

Thomas Swan O’Kelly to his brother William Abram O’Kelly

Dear Brother,
Your letter received two days ago. Sorry to learn that you have had so much sickness, and thank God that you pulled through all right. I.L.Lyons Jr. who handles the real estate of the [Orleans] parish, thinks that he got $ 9,500 for that Washington street property.
We buried my best friend here on Friday, Mr. Theo Lyons. 74 years old, he had been sick for a long time, just gradually wore out. I see by the papers yesterday that Jennie is going to have quite a time traveling around on that legions business. Hope she does not have to strenuous a trip and get sick over it. We heard from Willis* on Saturday, he has come to Miami Florida in charge of one of those million dollar yachts belonging to some rich man in Pittsburgh, Pa. I do not think he likes the job, it is too garrish. His address is W. D. O`Kelly #150 S. E. First st. c/o A. H. Wagg Co. I hope he gets some money out of it , poor fellow has had a hard time of it. I think he has too much temper to hold any job long. He flies off the handle too quick. We are all in fine health at present and all join in much love and kisses to you all and many hugs for that blessed baby [Mary Linn O’Kelly] of course Jennie will come through New Orleans.
Your loving brother,
Tom O`Kelly

*Willis Depew O’Kelly, son of Thomas O’Kelly and Delia Dwyer. Born February 11th 1897 New Orleans. Died January 1st 1953 in Los Angeles.

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Filed under Jane Calderwood O'Kelly, New Orleans, Thomas Swan O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

Malinda’s Banking Checks 1891 & 1906

Malinda Check 1906





Malinda Check 1891





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Filed under Malinda Teresa Dull Van Emburgh

Circa 1920 Uncle Tom & Papa

Uncle Tom & Papa

Thomas Swan O’Kelly and his brother William Abram O’Kelly Sr.
Taken circa 1920 in front of the O’Kelly Home.

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Filed under Ouachita Parish, Monroe, Louisiana, Photographs, The O'Kelly Home, Thomas Swan O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

1898 St. Hyacinth’s Academy Card of Honor

Mary O'kelly St. Hyacinth Academy Card of Honor

Presented to Mary O’Kelly by Sister Ignatius Superior on behalf of St. Hyacinth’s Academy September 1898.

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Filed under Mary Catherine O'Kelly, Ouachita Parish, Monroe, Louisiana

1893 The Hamburger Company Distillers & Importers of Fine Liquors

This letter makes it clear that the Hamburger Company only, “wishes one representative in each city” and in Monroe, Louisiana, they chose the O’Kelly Store. This antique sales pitch has been stored amongst the family papers, but whether or not William chose to carry Hoffman House Pure Rye Whiskey is not known. I certainly would have liked to have inherited the company’s elegant Hoffman silver pitcher or even just one of the engraved whiskey glasses.

The Hamburger Company

March 6, 1893

W. A. O’Kelly DEAR SIR: We enclose you a sample of our Annual Pass, to draw your attention to the bet selling Whiskey yet placed on the Market. “THE HOFFMAN HOUSE PURE RYE.”
We only wish one representative in each city, and would select you if possible.
We send with each barrel as shown by cuts below, one elegant silver pitcher, with brand engraved on both sides; one fine show card, one dozen Whiskey Glasses, with Brand engraved on them.
We will also send you 150 passes like sample to be distributed among your customers by you.
Twenty-five passes we will send to your leading customers like sample enclosed in circular within, names to be furnished by you. Theses 25 passes we will redeem from you at 15 cents each. This will at once introduce the Whiskey. This however only on the first order.
The Whiskey is guaranteed to be the very best blend of Fine Old Rye, and we can furnish you the names of hundreds of customers who are using the “HOFFMAN HOUSE PURE RYE” and none other. We will if desired furnish you sample free.
Our terms are 60 days acceptance, pr 2 per cent off on 10 days. Price $2.50 per Gall. Special quotation in 5 or 10 bbl. lots. We await your early rely either accepting or declining the proposition. We want only one representative in your city.
Please send the name of twenty-five of your best customers with the order, so the passes can be promptly mailed.
Yours Very Truly,
The Hamburger Co.

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Filed under William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

Letters from Logtown 1892-1893

Logtown was situated on the Ouachita river, south of Monroe, Louisiana. It was a small inland port of no notable history if not for the Logtown Plantation built by Jean Baptiste Filhiol, grandson of the founding father of Monroe. When Mattie Harrison married on February 10, 1892, she moved to the Logtown plantation where her husband William T. Simpson worked for the Filhiol family. Following her marriage,  Mattie wrote several letters to her aunt Malinda and all but the following three are too damaged to transcribe.

Log Town, Louisiana to Monroe, Louisiana February 13, 1892

Mattie Harrison Simpson to her aunt Malinda Dull Van Emburgh

Dear Aunt Linn,
It was a disappointment to me that I was unable to get around to see you again before I left, there were so many things to be attended to at the last that I was busy all the time. I was glad to see the children, and to get a chance to tell them good bye.

The flowers you sent me were so pretty. I appreciated them and wore the hyacinths in my hair and at my throat.
I hope you are feeling much better by now and will continue to improve. No one from home has written to me yet, am in hopes of getting a letter tonight.

Mrs. Brown and her daughter are so pleasant and kind to me, they treat me more as one of the family than as a stranger.
All the near neighbors have called on me already, they seem inclined to be sociable and friendly. I am sure I will be pleased with the place, you know it is such a change from the town life, I think it will do me good. I received some very pretty presents, one of them a suit of furniture, has not come yet, as it is from Mr. Filhiol I am sure it will be something nice.
When you get to feeling well again, and can spare a little time, i will be very glad to hear from you. Give my kind regards to William, my love to you and the children.

Your loving niece,
Mattie Harrison Simpson

At Home [Monroe] December 24, 1892

Dear Aunt Linn –
Your nice Christmas remembrance is just received and Mamma [Martha Dull Harrison] wishes to thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. We will call on Mis O`Kelly* early next week if the weather permits, we would both like so much to meet her.
With love and best wishes for a happy Christmas,
I remain your loving niece

Mattie H Simpson

*Possibly Delia Dwyer O’Kelly, wife of Thomas Swan O’Kelly.

Logtown, Louisiana to Monroe, Louisiana February 19, 1893

Dear Aunt Lin,
We so much regretted having to leave town without seeing yo again; we were intending to spend the day with you in a few days; I told mamma [Martha Dull Harrison] I felt like I hadn’t seen you at all that evening Mis O’Kelly left. We didn’t know we should leave so soon till Mr. Simpson [William T. Simpson] came Sunday Morning, he himself did not know it until the evening before. We would have gone around that evening, but Dr. Alexander spent the day with us and did not leave till nearly dark.

But I hope to see you soon, for we will be in touch either next Sunday or that following. We think of staying all night and returning Monday night, and of course I will manage to see you in that time.

We have got a real nice place down here, the house is not as good as we would like, but we are very comfortable. There is a large garden, orchard, of pear, plum, peach and apple trees, front and backyard and lot with a nice stable. We have a right good start in the garden, and I have some chickens and turkeys.

I wish you could see the baby now. She has improved so much and is so good. the best baby I ever saw, she couldn’t be better. We have decided to name her Jeanie for Mr. Simpson’s little sister. He loved the little thing so dearly, and thought she was such a lovely little child, both in face and disposition, that I was glad to name her that, and end the discussion.

We are going to have our pictures taken, all in a group. can’t afford a separate one for each of us. Mamma had a picture from Sister recently. herself with the six children grouped around her;it is so good, we will bring it to show you, as you will know just how they all look, for it is just exactly like them.

Baby is getting sleepy and tired, so I must quit now and take her. Our love to the children and kindest regards to William. Mr. Simpson send his kind regards to you.
Your loving niece,
Mattie H. Simpson

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Filed under Malinda Teresa Dull Van Emburgh, Ouachita Parish, Monroe, Louisiana, Thomas Swan O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Sr.