John Phillip Kelly Jr. and Michael Boyd Kelly didn’t know each other. John died 33 years before Michael was ever born. They could’ve been related, but only God or a family genealogist would know for sure.
I knew Mike Kelly from junior high and high school. He delivered the Anchorage Times newspaper going back to the days when I did. We’d bump into each other on occasion at the newspaper office. I considered him a friend and we often talked. He was one of those guys that everyone liked.
Johnny Kelly was a bit before my time. I came across his name while researching the Smoky Hill River in Kansas. This river runs through Salina in the western part of the state. Smoky Hill River is where Johnny met his demise. When I started reading the newspaper article dated August 2o, 1921, it was strangely similar to how my friend, Mike, died.
In one of my East High yearbooks, I keep newspaper clippings about Mike Kelly and his unfortunate accident. I was at Hope, Alaska that day with a friend, Jeff Thimsen, when Mike drowned. We saw the ambulance and police cars but didn’t realize it was him until returning home. Mike was gold mining with another friend of ours, Bill Lowe, and some of his pals when the incident occurred. Mike, Bill, Jeff, and I had only graduated from East High two months previous in 1972. It’s now coming up on 50 years since Mike’s death (August 20th).
Johnny Kelly has been gone for 101 years now. Reading about John’s death, I can feel the pain that his mom went through. I can’t imagine losing a child being that she’d already lost her husband. According to the article, Johnny Kelly was well liked in Salina, Kansas. I’m sure he was fun to hang out with. Michael Kelly fits the same mold.
I composed this piece as a way to remember them both. Everyone has a story to tell. Sadly, the only way John and Mike get to tell a small part of theirs, is from the grave.
Died – June 19, 1921