George Addison Kelly, early manufacturer, son of Jacob and Anna (Gregg) Kelly, was born on October 17, 1832, in Greene County, Tennessee. About 1849 he moved with his father to a homestead grant in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. Three years later he arrived in Jefferson, Texas, as mate on a steamship. Soon he became foreman over the slaves at the small iron foundry that John A. Stewart was operating at Four-Mile Branch west of Jefferson. Stewart's chief item of manufacture was a crude plow, but Kelly realized the possibilities of a large trade in cowbells and country hollow ware and persuaded the firm to make them. In 1854 he made a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, to learn better methods of manufacturing and brazing the bells. There he became acquainted with improved methods in all foundry work, and his experience proved extremely valuable to the firm, which could not supply the constantly growing demand for sandy-land plows. In 1858 the business became known as Kelly and Stewart, and upon the death of Stewart in 1860, Kelly became sole owner of the plant.
In 1861, with the outbreak of the Civil War, Kelly, as captain, organized and equipped a company for the Confederate Army. When the Confederacy decided that he could render greater services as a manufacturer than as a soldier, he was ordered to remain with his plant and make military supplies. After the war he was the proprietor of a weekly journal, The Home Advocate, published in Jefferson from January 1869 at least through January of 1871; the paper featured articles on Christianity, education, agriculture, and the development of local businesses. After the foundry and factory were partially destroyed by fire, in 1882 Kelly moved what he was able to salvage to Longview and organized the Kelly Plow Company. He married Lucy Anne Stewart; the couple had three sons and four daughters. Kelly was a Methodist and Mason. For four years he was mayor of Longview. He died there on October 2, 1909, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Kelly, George Addison,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 30, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
February 1, 1995