This story posted features the KELLEY surname. The Kelley family lived in Plymouth County for several generations.




Yester Year Stories, Backed with Today's Research

Can anyone help with additional information about this letter and the "supposed" grandchild named Betty?


LeMars Globe-Post, March 27, 1933

Former Postmaster Hears From Mrs. D.W. Belt Jr. In Dallas

J. E. Kelley, formerly postmaster of LeMars, has received the following
letter. If anyone knows the persons asked for is requested to write:

Dallas, Texas
March 22, 1933
Mr. James Kelley,
LeMars, Iowa.
Dear Sir: I wrote you last week asking for the name of the postmaster at
LeMars in 1917. I take it, that you were the postmaster then by the reply I
received today.

My letter will be either of no importance to you or a great deal. I am
trying to locate the parents of my niece’s mother, the mother died in 1918.
I have raised this child, (my brother’s child.) She has reached an age,
where I think she should contact her grandparents not for any reason except
that she should know her mother’s family. My brother’s name is Harry
Simmons. All I ever knew was the first name of the wife (Ann.) I sincerely
hope this will end my search for (Betty) the child is most anxious to know
her family. The only thing I had to work on was an off-hand way. Years ago
Ann, I believe wrote me her father was postmaster at LeMars. If you are not
the father of this girl, this letter will seem utterly ridiculous to you.
The other information I have is that there was a large family of boys, 4 or
5, and two girls in this family. So perhaps, LeMars being a small place, you
would know of the family.

I sincerely hope I have not infringed on your time by such a disconnected
letter, but I have known of no other way. Hoping to have a reply at your
earliest convenience, I am respectfully, Mrs. W.D. Belt Jr., 6956 Lakewood
Blvd., Dallas, Texas.


Researcher Note: This published letter gives the writer's name as Mrs. D.W. Belt at the beginning and Mrs. W.D. Belt Jr. at the end of the letter. Now which is right?
Two More Newspaper Items found in 1937 that may shed some light on the 1933 letter written to former Postmaster James E. Kelley
LeMars Globe-Post, July 8, 1937
~Miss Kathleen Kelley left on Thursday morning for a trip to Bozeman, Mont.
~James E. Kelley returned on Tuesday from a month's visit to points in California.
LeMars Globe-Post, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 1937
~Mrs. Bertha Inmann and daughter, Betty, of Los Angeles, Calif., are visiting in the home of Mr. & Mrs. James E. Kelley.


KELLEY Family Notes Below [done Sept 2011] comprised by Plymouth Co. IAGenWeb's Linda Ziemann & Mary Holub--including links to more of the family history

Generation 1
James Cavanaugh Kelley
Born 12/25/1828; Died 1/31/1902 His Obituary

Married 9/1858 to Mrs. Anne Mee
Anne or Ann or Anna Mee Kelley born 4/10/1833 died 4/12/1918 Her Obituary

LeMars Globe-Post, December 7, 1901

James Kelley, who sold his farm in Grant township last fall to John Pagler for $70 per acre moved his family to LeMars on Thursday and has leased a cottage near St. James church and will make his home here. Mr. Kelley has been an industrious citizen for many years and it is pleasing to know that he can spend his declining years in comfort.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, May 2, 1905

Mr. and Mrs. M. F. Keough, of Sioux City, and F. P. Kelley, of Denver,
Colo., were visiting at the home of their mother, Mrs. James Kelley over

Children of James C. and Ann Kelley:

Matt B. Kelley d. 12/8/1900

Peter F. Kelley, living in Denver in 1902 and in Utica, N.Y. in 1918 His Obituary

Mary F. Kelley Keough, living in Sioux City in 1902 and in Little Falls, Minn. in 1918

Noret or Jane Kelley McAuliff, living in Preston Twp., Ply. Co. in 1902 and in Porterville, Calif. in 1918

*James Edward Kelley, living in Le Mars in 1902 and 1918

Generation 2
*James Edward Kelley (LeMars Postmaster 1915-1925 approx)

Born 7/16/1871; Died 10/28/1937 His Obituary

Married 7/21/1909 to Charlotte Esther Pearce
News Article about their marriage
Charlotte Esther Pearce Kelley born 3/6/1883 died 12/25/1975 Her Obituary

Children of James E. and Charlotte Kelley:

*James Pearce Kelley b. 25 Apr 1910; d. 30 Nov 1975 His Obituary

Kathleen Kelley Lentz b.14 Sep 1914; d. 14 Jan 2004 Her Obituary

Robert Francis Kelley b. 17 Sep 1919; d. 29 Jul 1939 His Obituary

Generation 3
*James Pearce Kelley (Judge in Le Mars)
Born 4/25/1910; Died 11/3/1995

Married 6/12/1940 to Helen Reidy
News Article about their marriage
Helen Reidy Kelley born 2/15/1914 died 10/9/1983 Her Obituary

Children of James P. and Helen Kelley:

*James M. Kelley, Born 3/7/1941; Died 8/17/2010 in Lincoln, Neb.

Michael F. Kelley

Patrick J. Kelley

John C. Kelley, Born 4/1/1944; Died 6/5/2007 in Madison, Wis. His Obituary

Nora K. Kelley Hegeman

Mary C. Kelley Brown

Ann Charlotte Kelley Pillai

Generation 4
*James M. Kelley

Born 3/7/1941; Died 8/17/2010 His Obituary

Married Carol J. (unknown); no children

Notes from researcher, Linda Ziemann--research done in Sept. 2011
-WHO might be the mother to the child, Betty? **SEE BELOW ...MYSTERY SOLVED
FACTS FROM THE LETTER that was mailed to James E. Kelley in 1933:
-Girl named Betty was left mother-less when her mother, the supposed Ann Kelley Simmons, died in 1918.
-The writer of the letter said she was raising the girl, Betty, who was her brother’s daughter and the daughter of Ann Kelley.
-The brother of the letter writer was Harry Simmons.
-The supposed mother died in 1918 and her maiden name was Ann Kelley.
-Ann Kelley told the writer of the letter years earlier that her father was at one time the postmaster in LeMars.
-The letter that was written seems to lend to the idea that Betty was a child in 1918. Was she?  
-The Postmaster of LeMars for several years (1915-into the 1920s) was James E. Kelley.
-His mother was Ann Nee Kelley, who died in 1918. In 1918 at the time of her death the WPA records state she was 85 years old. This elderly Ann Kelley is NOT LIKELY the mother of the child named Betty. 
-James E. Kelley was born in 1871.  His obit says he was married in July 1909.
-James E. Kelley had no daughter named, Ann. 
-James E. Kelley and wife DID have a daughter named Kathleen K. Kelley, who was not born until 1914.
-In July 1937 James E. Kelley made a month trip to CALIF and then about six weeks later, a woman and her daughter, named Betty, show up to visit in the home of Mr. & Mrs. James E. Kelley.  
-The visitors were from CALIF and the older woman with Betty has a different name than she did when the letter was written in 1933.  In four years time a woman could have a name change, because of another marriage.  And she moved from Dallas to California.  It sure could have happened that way without any problem.
-Searches for Harry  Simmons so far have turned up nothing.
-As I have gone over and over all of this (and I have scoured some Census records online, too) I keep wishing I could TALK to that lady from Dallas who wrote the letter and was raising Betty.  I would love to know when Betty was born and where???  Also what happened to the letter writer’s brother, Harry Simmons?  Where did he end up and why didn’t he raise his own daughter?  Where were Harry Simmons and Ann married? And were they actually married?  What caused Ann’s death in 1918?  All unanswered questions that will likely never be answered because there is noone to ask today in Sept. 2011.

-That letter does indicate, though, that the Postmaster Kelley’s family was likely not aware of the fact that Betty existed and she was being raised by her father’s family. Just that fact alone is a little strange.  If I had not found that brief news item that stated that a woman and her daughter Betty came to visit the couple, Mr. and Mrs. James E. Kelley in Sept. 1937, I would be under the impression that the letter was a hoax or prank.  But because James E. did go visiting to CALIF for a month in the summer of 1937 and then it appears that the letter writer & daughter Betty show up in LeMars for a visit by Sept 1937, I do think that James E. must have been convinced of some validity to Betty's relationship (albeit, though, he may not have been a grandparent to Betty.)  Maybe James E. Kelley and his wife were related in some other way to the Ann Kelly that did give birth to Betty? Is there anyone out there that might know? We are listening.

Further Investigation from a "Viewer"--research done in Sept. 2016/MYSTERY SOLVED
As I read the letter sent to James E Kelly, Postmaster in 1933, I'm inclined to think research has been led astray by the fact that he was postmaster at the time.  I find that reports the birth of Betty A Simmons on 18 December 1917 to one Harry Simmons and his wife, the former Alice Ann Reese.  The birth is recorded as having taken place in Le Mars, Plymouth, Iowa, United States.  Betty would have been approaching 16 years of age at the time of the letter, so one could well imagine her interest in finding her grandparents.  
Memorial Cemetery, Le Mars, for one Alice Ann Simmons, born in 1898 and deceased 20 Jan 1920.  The decedent may well have been the mother of the child; her death accounting for Betty having been cared for by her aunt.  The LeMars Sentinel newspaper (January 23, 1920) does carry an obituary for the deceased, Mrs. H. M. Simmons—however, the content of the obituary is quite illegible on the old microfilm.
Further comments on Betty Simmons:  The cemetery record indicates Alice Ann, whom I suppose to be her mother, was born as a Rees in May, 1898.  The 1900 census of Elgin township conducted in June, 1900, listing the family of Edward J and Sarah A "Rees", and including one Alice Ann Rees age 2.  Both Edward J Rees and Sarah A Rees appear to have been buried in Memorial Cemetery, Le Mars, also.
None of this accomplishes anything for Betty's benefit at this time, but the mystery of her maternal ancestry may have been solved.  ~R. Stahlberg, Waverly, Iowa

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