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Below is a family biography included in Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1903.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Elbert James Kelly, whose business is located at No. 106 North Saginaw street, is the leading undertaker in Pontiac. He was born in Bloomfield township, Oakland County, Michigan, October 23, 1851, and is a son of James Z. and Mary C. (Chamberlin) Kelly.

James Z. Kelly was born in Pontiac township, Oakland County, Michigan, and was a son of Hugh Kelly, one of the pioneers of this locality. Both father and son were carpenters and they erected many of the early buildings through this section. James Z. Kelly was known as Judge Kelly and was very prominent in the Masonic fraternity. He served as Masonic State lecturer for California and Nevada for several years, his death in 1878 occurring at Santa Cruz, where he was interred. The maternal grandparents of our subject were John and Rebecca (Wilson) Chamberlin. John Chamberlin, who was a farmer of Seneca County, New York, came to Oakland County about 1822 and took up government land. He made many trips between Bloomfield township and Detroit, walking the whole way to obtain family necessities. Mrs. James Z. Kelly was born on the same farm as was our subject, and died in 1876. Our subject has a twin sister, Mrs. Jerome W. Robbins of Pontiac, whose husband is a prominent attorney, formerly judge of the State Court of Mediation and Arbitration; and one brother, Fred A., born in 1853, who held a number of responsible positions at Buffalo, where he died five years ago.

Elbert James Kelly was but six months old when he came to Pontiac, and here he was educated primarily, finishing at the Ypsilanti Seminary. After five years spent at newspaper work, during which time he became widely acquainted, in 1874 he purchased a half interest in the Pontiac Bill-Poster, which is now the Oakland County Post, and in 1876 he became complete owner and acted as its very able editor and proprietor until 1890. He then sold out to a company headed by F. S. Fitch, formerly school superintendent at Pontiac, who, in turn, sold to Harry Coleman, the present proprietor. Mr. Kelly spent one year in business at Detroit and then returned to Pontiac and bought the undertaking business of E. H. Tompkins, one of the early business men of the place.

Mr. Kelly has introduced many innovations since he took charge of this business which is now conceded to be the best conducted of any in the county. In 1902 he introduced the first and now the only ambulance in the city, which is under the direct care of his son, C. J. Kelly. Our subject was the first undertaker of Pontiac to secure a State license from the State Board of Health. For the past 12 years he has been the official undertaker for the Eastern Michigan Asylum. He carries a very fine stock, uses all modern sanitary appliances and in every way is wholly up-to-date.

Mr. Kelly married a daughter of Simon Stowell, formerly a resident of White Lake township, Oakland County, and three children have been born to them, namely: C. J., who is an electrician; Mrs. H. B. Merritt, wife of a prominent shoe dealer of Pontiac; and Mrs. Howard K. McCotter, of Avon township, Oakland County. The family residence is at No. 217 North Saginaw street.

Mr. Kelly has always been more or less identified with city and county politics and was the Democratic alderman from the Fourth Ward for two years and in 1898 was elected mayor, to succeed Hon. F. H. Carroll, and served one year as coroner. For 36 consecutive years he has served in the Presbyterian Church Choir. Fraternally he is a member of 16 societies, including the Masons, Elks, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and others.

A portrait* of Mr. Kelly, executed from a photograph taken in the fall of 1903, accompanies this sketch, being presented on a preceding page.

*Editor's note: Portrait was included in the original printed book.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published in 1903. 

View additional Oakland County, Michigan family biographies here: Oakland County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Oakland County, Michigan here: Oakland County Michigan Map

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