Category Archives: New Orleans

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


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



Leave a comment

Filed under Georgiana Dull Van Emburgh O'Kelly, James George O'Kelly, Jane Calderwood O'Kelly, Letters to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

1889 Note From Tom O’Kelly

I. L. Lyons Letterhead

New Orleans. Louisiana January 4, 1889 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Louisiana

Thomas O’Kelly to his sister- in-law Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

Dear Georgie, this package has just arrived, and in very bad shape. You must excuse Boots about not coming out, she has been laid up all the week with her tooth and when she had it pulled it was too late to come out to see you. I wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

Yours affectionately

Tom O’Kelly

Leave a comment

Filed under Georgiana Dull Van Emburgh O'Kelly, Letterheads, Letters to Hotel Dieu, Mary Catherine O'Kelly, New Orleans

1888 The children jumped with delight

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

Monroe, Louisiana December 19, 1888 to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Louisiana

My dear wife,

Your good letter came last night – we were all glad to hear that you were better. The children jumped with delight. You can only imagine how we were pleased to have such good news. I hope and pray that you may continue to improve and that gas will do you all the good the doctor thinks it will. I have heard of it before but did not know that is was used there.*

We are not going to forget that poor sick child so far away from home when Christmas time comes. We will send something if only a cake. I sent Tom [Thomas Swan O’Kelly] the turkey yesterday. He was a big fat fellow.

It is so cold I can hardly write, it is the coldest morning of the season. I hope it is warm and pleasant down there so you can take a little walk. Now darling take good care of your self and get all the benefit of the medicine so that you will soon get well and come back to your loving family. We miss you very much but we put that all aside waiting for you to get well.

Sonny [James George O’Kelly] seems to be the only one of the children to miss you now and then. He says I wish I could see Mama.

Keep up your spirits darling. We all pray that you may soon return to us.

All send love to you

Your affectionate husband

W.A. O’Kelly

* The “gas” treatments that Georgiana received is a medical procedure known as  artificial pneumothorax in which her lung infected with tuberculosis was collapsed and filled with nitrogen through a needle inserted into her chest.


Leave a comment

Filed under Georgiana Dull Van Emburgh O'Kelly, James George O'Kelly, Letters to Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, Ouachita Parish, Monroe, Louisiana, Thomas Swan O'Kelly, William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

1957 Invitation to the Louisiana Historical Society monthly meeting

1957 Louisiana Historical Society Monthly Meeting Invitation

Leave a comment

January 4, 2014 · 6:43 pm

Circa 1884 Great Jackson Route

Ticket envelope from the Illinois Central Railroad.

Illinois Central Railroad  






 Illinois Central Railroad

Leave a comment

Filed under Letterheads, New Orleans

Circa 1938 The O’Kelly ladies visit Jackson Square

Left to right: Mary, Mary Lin, Alice and Jennie O'Kelly

Left to right: Mary, Mary Lin, Alice and Jennie O’Kelly

Leave a comment

Filed under Jane Calderwood O'Kelly, Mary Catherine O'Kelly, New Orleans, Photographs

1853 Yellow fever strikes the O’Kelly family

Guardian Angel


New Orleans, 1853-04-10, Pg. 4 col. 4 On Friday evening the 8th Inst. MARGARET HAGGERTY, daughter of William and Hester O’Kelly, formerly of Port Gibson, Miss. aged 2 years and 4 months.

New Orleans, 1853-08-19, Pg. 2 col. 6 On Saturday, of yellow fever, MARY O’KELLY. Eldest daughter of William and Hester O’Kelly, formerly of Port Gibson. [Age 12]

New Orleans, 1853-09-04, Pg. 2 col. 6 ANNA BELLE, of yellow fever, daughter of William and Hester O’Kelly, formerly of Port Gibson. [Age 10]

Mary, Anna Belle, and Margaret O’Kelly were excluded from our family history and I was surprised to have found their death notices in the Daily Picayune. It was an accident really. I had only gone to the downtown library to photocopy another O’Kelly ancestors obituary when a severe thunderstorm struck. Waiting for the weather to clear, I scrolled through all of the microfilmed O’Kelly obituaries and death notices. My Grandmother had trained me to memorize our family tree in great detail and so I did not expect to find previously unknown ancestors, my search was just a whim. I discovered Anna Belle first and was left bewildered by her death notice.

I questioned my grandmother and she recalled that our ancestors had lost young girls to scarlet fever, but that was all of the information that her aunt Jennie had given. The sad story was buried, shortened and abridged by Jennie O’Kelly who’s self assigned duty was to maintain the O’Kelly family’s social standing. Aunt Jennie took great pains to emphasize that our ancestors were wealthy upon arrival and were not the “shanty Irish” who had been forced out of Ireland by the great famine. Yellow fever was blamed on poor immigrants of German and Irish heritage who were considered the lowest of races. Mosquito’s had been discovered to be the true cause in 1900, but Jennie feared lingering prejudices and convinced herself that it was to the benefit of the family to emphasize what model citizens our immigrant ancestors were while omitting innocent unpleasantries such as yellow fever.

Aunt Jennie did mention the yellow fever in her writings, when she recorded that her grandmother Hester died in 1853, “but not of yellow fever.” Jennie claimed that Hester died in childbirth delivering a boy named Hugh. The baby died shortly after birth and was said to have been laid to rest with his mother,”at the old cemetery on Washington street”. There is no death announcement or record of when and where Hester and Hugh were buried. Margaret and Mary’s burial place is also unknown. The death toll was so overwhelming in the summer of 1853 that many dead were placed in cemeteries with no ceremony or written record. At the peak of the scourge, anonymous bodies were piled high at cemetery gates and on street corners.  Anna Belle is the only O’Kelly whose final resting place was properly documented. There is nothing etched in granite, no headstone or family vault, but on September 3rd Anna Belle was laid to rest at the old cemetery on Washington street, more commonly known as Lafayette Cemetery #1. Only four members of the family survived the year, William and his three remaining children Tom, Jane and William.


Filed under Claiborne County, Mississippi, Mary Hester Swan, New Orleans, William O'Kelly