Meet the Family

MEET THE FAMILY: Tales of Pioneers, Courtships, and Scandals                              

Tales of Pioneers, Courtships, and Scandals

William Henry Kelly, 1821 – 1895

William Kelly
William Henry Kelly was born on Prince Edward Island in Canada and was one of eight children born to Peter and Elizabeth Kelly. William left Prince Edward Island in 1844 to work in Maine; then he worked in Bermuda in 1850 before setting out for California, with his brother James, in search of gold.

The two brothers set up a store in Panama on the Chagres River. Unfortunately, James Kelly died in of cholera in 1851. After his brother’s death, William continued on to California where he found work as a ship builder in Benicia. In 1852, William joined the crew of the ship Ontario as a carpenter and set sail for the Mendocino Coast. He arrived here on July 19, 1852 and began working for the California Lumber Manufacturing Company. Working his way up, William grew wealthy and his business endeavors prospered.

In 1855 William returned to Prince Edward Island and married Eliza Lee Owen. They had 4 children: Daisy, Elise, Otis, and Russell.

Elizabeth Lee Kelly (Nee: Owen) 1825-1914

Eliza Kelly
Eliza Lee Owen was born in Cardigan on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Eliza spent her childhood and adolescence in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island until she married William Henry Kelly in June of 1855. That same year, Eliza made the long journey from Prince Edward Island to Mendocino with her new husband.

Eliza Owen Kelly arrived in Mendocino on August 29, 1855. She spent the rest of her life here, raising 4 children and becoming a prominent member of the community. Eliza was especially generous to the Mendocino Baptist Church (which was built by her husband William). Eliza was one of the first settlers of Mendocino and, upon her passing, her obituary appeared on the front page of the Mendocino Beacon.

Emma Shirley “Daisy” Kelly, 1859 – 1953

Daisy Kelley
Daisy was the oldest child of Kelly family. Daisy spent most of her adolescent life traveling, socializing, visiting her relatives in San Francisco, and attending a school for girls in Benicia, California. At the age of 20 she married Alexander MacCallum, who was 27. At that time, Alexander was the bookkeeper for the businesses of Daisy’s father, William Kelly. Daisy had two children with Alexander: Jean and Donald.

While married to Alexander, Daisy lived in many places, including San Francisco. Daisy witnessed the great 1906 earthquake that damaged much of the city; she even helped with the extensive recovery efforts. The most important of her residences was the MacCallum House in Mendocino, now a famous hotel.

After the death of her husband in 1908, Daisy moved back to Mendocino where she became a prominent member of the community. She was also a foster mother to her niece Gwen MacCallum. Daisy was known for her interests in the local Pomo indigenous populations, flowers (especially roses), books and various charities. Daisy lived out the rest of her life in the MacCallum House in Mendocino.

Note: Following the death of William Kelly, Daisy Kelly MacCallum changed the spelling of the name, adding the “e,” sometime after her return to Mendocino in the mid 1900s

Russell Blair Kelly, 1863 – 1887

Russell Kelly
The first-born son had heart and respiratory problems even as a child.

Russell was known to have generally poor health. Despite this, he traveled when his health allowed. The Mendocino Beacon even reported Russell as having almost completed building a boat called the Nancy Lee in 1881. On July 11, 1885 Russell (along with Ella Lansing) led the grand march at the School Ball.

Due to his health, Russell lived his entire life in Mendocino with his parents. Russell Blair Kelly died of tuberculosis at the age of 23. Although Russell had a short life due to his poor health, the few facts we know about him reflect that he was a poised young man of wealth.

Elise Abigail Kelly, 1866 – 1951

Elise Kelly
Elise was the third child of the Kelly family. She was born February 26, 1866. Elise also attended the school for girls in Benicia and spent a lot of time in San Francisco with her Aunt Abigail Blair, enjoying high society life and, like most of the Kelly children, a great deal of travel.

Elise married Louis Philippe Drexler on January 4, 1893 at the age of 27. Louis was a 55 year old millionaire from Virginia, operating in San Francisco. Elise moved away from her native Mendocino to live in San Francisco with her new husband. When Louis died in 1899, Elise continued to live in their San Francisco home until it was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. In 1913, Elise moved into a home she built in Woodside, south of San Francisco. She eventually sold that home, building another house on Pacific Ave in San Francisco, which she disliked until the day she died.

After the death of her husband, Elise became a prominent philanthropist and significant property owner in San Francisco. She also involved herself in local social causes including endowing the Convalescent Hospital and School for Crippled Children in Palo Alto, California.

Otis William Kelly, 1869 – 1937

Otis Kelly
Otis was the last of the Kelly children. Few facts are known about Otis Kelly; however, what is known can paint a rough picture of the youngest Kelly child. At one point in time, Otis attended Laurel Hall College of San Mateo. In September of 1894, Otis accepted a position with an electric light company in San Francisco. Although there is very little mentioned about jobs he had, Otis could have easily made a living later in his life from the properties left to him by his father.

Otis married Miss Annie McGuire on May 29, 1897. With her, Otis had 8 children: Lloyd “Otis” Drexler, Richard Leigh, Carroll Vincent, James Emmet, Mervin Francis, Katherine Rose, Gordon Philip, and Margaret Elise. Otis and Annie raised their children in San Francisco. This photo depicts Otis in his older years. There is only one photo of Otis as an infant, and none of him during his childhood. Otis Kelley’s grandchildren and great grandchildren are the only descendants left of the William and Eliza Kelley family. Many are still living in the San Francisco Bay Area.