Category Archives: Jane Calderwood O’Kelly

Born: August 1882 Monroe, Louisiana
Died: March 23, 1964

Daughter of William Abram O’Kelly Sr. and Georgina Dull Van Emburgh. Wife of Charles Monroe Mitchell.

Named for her paternal aunt, Jennie was the first child born to her parents nine months after their marriage. She may have been premature as she weighed only one pound at her birth and it seemed very likely that she would die. To keep baby Jennie alive, her grandmother Malinda boiled rice, strained it and fed the water to her in a bottle. Her mother was sick and in bed most of Jennie’s childhood until she died when Jennie was eight. I suspect that as the oldest girl, she must have had a hard time of it and took on a good deal of responsibility. With skills learned from her grandmother Malinda, Jennie took to caring for her Papa and younger siblings with all of the care of a little mother.

In 1891 Jennie entered school at St. Hyacinth’s Academy. She wrote of her teachers,”… the good Sisters, the Daughters of the Cross, I am filled with the deepest gratitude. It was in their school that Christian life was taught and exemplified, where the seed of faith and of all virtue was tenderly planted and nursed to bear fruits later.” She further wrote that, “The first great event in my school life was my first communion under Father Ludovic Enaut, a man of sainted memory who was a leader in civic and church affairs. The most important events of my high school days were what we called the Sister’s Exhibitions. These were the closing exercises on which the devoted Sisters labored long and hard to train us for those grand events in which each pupil did her best to excel in the part assigned. How we enjoyed them!” Jennie graduated St. Hyacinth’s on June 14th 1901 with honors in English along with one other student, Miss Emma McEnery. The title of Jennie’s graduation essay was, “When The Present Meets the Past, The Future Too Is There.”

Jennie went on to throw herself into so many interests that it hard to keep track. She was the first family genealogist and a member of several family heritage societies such as the Fort Miro DAR where she served as a prominent member. She belonged to both the Louisiana and New Orleans Historical Societies and along with Robert Dabney Calhoun is credited with doing some of the earliest research on Ouachita settlers. The Louisiana Historic Quarterly published a research essay that they wrote together called, ‘The Marquis de Maison Rouge, the Baron de Bastrop, and the colonel Abram Moorehouse – Three Ouachita Soldiers of Fortune: The Mason and Bastrop Land Grants.’ Jennie also wrote several historic interest pieces for the local newspapers as well as articles about the O’Kelly home. Jennie was not shy about speaking in public and was glad to do so when her particular interests were called upon. Several of her hand written speeches are part of the O’Kelly Family Collection. Jennie founded the Monroe branch of the Campfire Girls and with her sister owned a tract of land in North Louisiana they named Camp Bonaventure where the Campfire Girls went to commune with nature. She studied and befriended the local Native Americans and became an honorary member of the Chitimaches tribe.

Jennie was as fantastic dessert cook and some of her recipes survive, all calling for gratuitous amounts of liquor. A recipe for peach cobbler blended with moonshine is hand-written complete with directions of where in Ouachita to get said moonshine. My Mother has rather hazy memories of Aunt Jennie’s Christmas fruitcakes. Once the multitude-of-cakes were baked, they were arranged around the dining room table, chairs and any other available surface. For several weeks and several times a day, Jennie would circle around the cakes, saturating each with brandy until Christmas Eve when they were given to guests and friends. The children would help themselves to large slices of Jennie’s fruitcakes, which they all agree gave them a very funny feeling. Despite her zeal for baking with booze, Jennie O’Kelly was a confirmed teetotaler.

Like most O’Kelly’s, Aunt Jennie was prone to telling tall tales, and one was a ghost tale of her Uncle Henry O’Kelly who’s spirit she said wandered the O’Kelly land at night in search of gold and silver he had buried and lost during the Civil War. It seems that the tale of lost treasure had reached many ears and people were often found digging holes on the property in search of it. Home alone on one 1950’s afternoon, Jennie stepped onto the back porch and was more than annoyed to see a young man digging a hole on the property. She waved her arms and raised her voice hexing the man with an old Chitimaches curse that she claimed to have learned from their witch doctor. Scared out of his wits, the young man dropped his shovel while frantically running to his car and sped away in a panic. This incident was so wild that her nieces recall a newspaper article that was written about it, but do not agree on the particulars of the story. In one version, the man was driving away in wild terror and quite accidentally killed himself in a car wreck trying to flee the property. Another says that the young treasure seeker died less than a week after the incident of a sudden and unknown illness. Whichever account you choose to believe, the lesson is the same. Don’t mess with Jennie O’Kelly.

1889 Every thing is frozen tight.

Monroe, Louisiana January 28, 1889 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Louisiana

William Abram O’Kelly to his wife Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

My Darling,

Ma & Bootsy got home yesterday evening we were all very glad to see them. I think Bootsy is improved by her trip. She was so glad to get home and could hardly make enough of the baby. She had a great deal to talk about.

I do not know what the weather is going to do. It snows a little while and then stops and then snows again but it is too cold to snow much. As I write the sun is shining and it may clear off yet. Every thing is frozen tight.

Jennies cold was not so bad last night. I do not know yet what day I will go down but will try to go several days a head of time.

All send love to you

Your affectionate husband

William A O’Kelly

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Filed under Georgiana Dull Van Emburgh O'Kelly, Jane Calderwood O'Kelly, Letters to Hotel Dieu, Malinda Teresa Dull Van Emburgh, Mary Catherine O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Jr., William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

1889 Everything is dull here.

Monroe, Louisiana January 23rd, 1889 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Louisiana

William Abram O’Kelly Sr. to his wife Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

My Darling,

I have to say again I have heard nothing from you no news it is said is good news so I do not worry. I hope you are improving and that you and Ma are enjoying yourselves. Everything is dull here. Miss McCain is going to be married this evening to one of the Pritchards.

The children are doing tolerable well. Sonny and the baby both have bad colds. Jennie seems to be doing right well. The weather here is cold and threatening again. I am going to plant a few potatoes today. All send love to you Ma and Bootsey.

Your affectionate husband

William A. O’Kelly

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1889 It will be hard matter to get any good sausage

Monroe, Louisiana January 7, 1889 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Louisiana

William Abram O’Kelly to his wife Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

My Darling WIfe,

Your letter of the 3rd was not received until last night. We were impatient to hear from you and were very glad to get your letter. You say that I won’t acknowledge, but I have done so and when I don’t directly I write about something that you have said. It will be hard matter to get any good sausage, but we will try. We always have good butter and will try and send you some of both. There is to be a big circus and show here next Friday and Saturday and the children are very impatient for the time to come and I have promised to take all of them to see it.

We are having beautiful weather up here plenty of frost and ice in the mornings but clear and sun shining.

You do not say whether you are picking up any flesh or not tell us all about yourself. What you do and what you think for the least thing concerning you interests us more than you imagine. I thought I had told you that I would try to bring Jennie and Sonny with me. Ma has already had Jennie a nice dress made but finds a good deal of trouble in getting her a hat. I will get the boy a new suit. They talk a great deal about what they are going to do when they get to the city [New Orleans].

I got up about 5 o’clock yesterday morning and went hunting but did not kill anything. Yesterday Sonny and I went out in the fields and killed nothing. I let him shoot the gun twice and he thought he was a great hunter. At the first fire of the gun our dog ran off and left us he is what you call gun shy that is the reason Phillips gave him away.

The baby has another tooth coming through and he is very jealous about it. He will not let any one look in his mouth.

I heard the other day that the Cook’s were going to move from Minden to Bastrop. I got a letter from Tom yesterday he said your bundle was considerably torn up. I hope nothing was lost out of it.

We all send you all the love imaginable and kisses with out number. We hope to hear of your steady improvement.

Your affectionate husband

William A. O’Kelly

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Filed under Georgiana Dull Van Emburgh O'Kelly, James George O'Kelly, Jane Calderwood O'Kelly, Letters to Hotel Dieu, Malinda Teresa Dull Van Emburgh, Thomas Swan O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Jr., William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

1889 You need not fear that you are forgotten.

Monroe, Louisiana to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Louisiana January 5, 1889

William Abram O’Kelly to his wife Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

We have not received a letter from you since the one of the 2nd. I hope and pray that you are still improving. I hope you have received your package in good time and in good order. Ma did not now which pin to send you. I thought you wanted the jet one as it might be risky to send the gold one, but if you want that one I can send it. I sent the money to yesterday.

Darling we all want to see you very much, you need not fear that you are forgotten. We think of you a great deal, it is an old saying, “out of sight out of mind,” but it is not the case us who love you so much and we count the days when we can go down and bring you home well again.

If two or three days pass by without getting a letter from you Uncle wants me to go right down there to see what is the matter, but I tell him not to be uneasy, for sometimes I see by the date of your letters that they are several days old. I did not write to you this morning because I thought they did not deliver letters on Sunday.

Tom writes very cheerful in his letter but he did say, his wife has been sick . He said that was a fine turkey. We have not sent Jennie to school we thought we would wait until you came home. She is very anxious to go she says that she is tired of staying at home that she has had rest enough. I think I wrote to you the weights of all the children.

The Parkers[1] have moved to the house where the Lake’s used to own that is Col. Hall’s  [2] old house on this street near Boatner’s [3].

The children seem to be enjoying good health except the baby, he has a bad cold in the head and was quite restless last night but was better today. We had to get our old cow up again, as it was almost impossible to get milk that was fit for the baby to drink. He is the worst of all the children he fights like a little wild cat.

Mrs. Surghnor [3] has returned with Cora [4].

I hope you have takes advantage of any good weather you have had to go about a little. I would like you to see something of the city you would find a great deal interest you. You must get all the strength you can so that you will be able to go about with us to see the sights when we come down, for I will want to take you everywhere that there is anything to be seen.

All send love to you,

Your affectionate husband

W. A. O’Kelly

[1 ]Daniel Peyton Parker and his wife Francis Elizabeth ‘Fannie’ Beasely who was Georgiana’s cousin.

[2] F. A.  Hall b. abt. 1819 New York. Address – 141 North Sixth Street, Monroe, Louisiana.

[3] Charles Jahleal Boatner b. 1849 d. 1903 and his wife Fannie Rowena Mayo b. 1851 d. 1923.

[4] Martha Francis “Mattie”  Joiner, born Feb 13, 1833 d. March 29, 1920 Monroe, Louisiana. Wife of Lloyd Walter Surghnor. Author of Uncle Tom of the old South: A story of the South in Reconstruction Days, published 1897

[4] Corrine Surghnor b. 1870 d. 1905, daughter of Lloyd Walter Surghnor and Martha Francis “Mattie”  Joiner. Wife of Conrad Fountlerloy.

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Filed under Georgiana Dull Van Emburgh O'Kelly, Henry O'Kelly, Jane Calderwood O'Kelly, Letters to Hotel Dieu, Malinda Teresa Dull Van Emburgh, Ouachita Parish, Monroe, Louisiana, Thomas Swan O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Jr., William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

1889 I hope you are taking all the exercise you can

Monroe, Louisiana January 3, 1889 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Louisiana

William Abram O’Kelly to his wife Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

Darling,

I send by express today the package you ordered. I will send it to Tom’s care. I got a letter from Tom yesterday. He said that old turkey was a fine one. Jennie sends you a couple of gum pictures. She thinks they are the greatest things in the bundle.

I will send the money by tomorrows mail and I hope it well get there in good time.

Miller got back yesterday morning he enjoyed his trip very much.

I hope you are taking all the exercise you can, if you are afraid to go out on the [street] car by yourself you could walk about the yard and now and then take a walk on the street probably as far as the Market.

The children all seem to be doing well. Jennie was snoring this morning. She has a cold in the head.

Sonny was very much disappointed at Miller’s return. He wanted to do the clerking himself.

Now my precious I want you to take good care of yourself and get well as fast as you can. Make up your mind to do that and then do all the doctor tells you so that when I come after you next month we can take a good look at the city before we come back.

God bless you darling

Your affectionate husband

William A. O’Kelly

 

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1888 I try to bear it patiently

Monroe, La December 31, 1888 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans Louisiana

Malinda Dull Van Emburgh to her daughter Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

Dear Daughter

I wrote you a few lines to let you know how all your children are. The baby is growing fast and can eat everything that we give him and does not have collic and is getting so strong Aunt Mary and I can hardly hold him when he gets mad and all the other children keep well.

I am very sorry you improve slowly but you can hardly expect to improve much in a month and expect you fret so it weakens you and that keeps you from doing so well. I so much wish I could see you to see if you are looking any better than when you left home but time goes by so fast and spring will soon be here with pleasant weather and then you can come home and if you can’t come I will go to you with all the children and stay with you on the cot or rent a house and do our own house keeping. I hope to hear from you soon and am glad and very thankful that Mrs. Kline comes to see you . If you want any fresh butter or eggs I will send you some or anything you want let me know and I will try to get it for you. Sister Martha [Martha Dull Harrison] sais she would like to see you.

Mr. Sam Powel lost his life on the boat. I am so glad the disaster did not occur when you were on board.*

Times seems so lonely with out you but I try to bear it patiently and hope you will do the same. William reads all your letters to us all and addresses all my letters for me. I hope the weather will be good and you can go out as I think that will keep your mind imployed and keep you from grieving so much about home. Hoping you are feeling better this morning. I close the baby plays on the floor a good deal and enjoys it very much. Bootsey keeps well and Jennie and Sonnie are as heavy as lead.

Your Mother

*Burning of the John H. Hanna.

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1888 I wish I could see Mamma

Monroe, La December 29, 1888 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans

William Abram O’Kelly to his wife Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

Darling,

We received another letter from you last night and were glad to hear that you had been so long with out a back set. Yesterday was a beautiful cold day but this morning it woke up sleeting afterwards turned to rain and now it is threatening and cold. Ma took the children up town shopping Thursday evening yesterday Jennie went back and bought her a doll. Sonny seems to be the only one of the children to miss you. A day does not go by without his saying something about you or he will come up and lay his head in my lap and say I wish I could see Mamma don’t you Pop. All send love to you. I hope Tom is not going to be sick.

Your affectionate husband

William O’Kelly

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Filed under Georgiana Dull Van Emburgh O'Kelly, James George O'Kelly, Jane Calderwood O'Kelly, Thomas Swan O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Sr.