CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

THE MILTON KELLY FAMILY

BEFORE CAMDEN

The Milton Kelly family's Camden story is similar to many others, in that they came to Camden prior to World War I and left during the Vietnam years. 

There were a number of Kelly families in Camden, typically of Irish descent, but ​this particular Kelly family ​can trace their roots through records all the way back to the 12th century in Exeter, Devon, England. As the family was an ancient and influential family in Devon, and one of the knighted families in service to the Crown, King James I called upon their sons to offer them land and concessions in his mission to colonize the New World. Around 1635, John Kelly, in his early 20s, sailed to Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and became one of the original settlers of the newly created settlement or plantation called “Newbury”, ​marrying Nancy Bishop and ​​constituting the first generation of Kellys in America. As someone wrote, “the settlers of Newbury were not religious enthusiasts nor pilgrims who fled from religious persecution. They were substantial, law abiding and loyal English tradesmen, of that staunch middle class that were the backbone of England.” 

The Kelly family flourished and expanded throughout the successive generations producing many branches and a number of famous people like Yellowstone Kelly, the Indian scout who served under General Miles during the “Indian Wars”. 

​They produced pastors, ministers, soldiers, merchants, scientists, inventors, ​men of law, ​ statesmen and patriots​, ​as in the 5th generation ​the patriot Moses Webster Kelly who became a Colonel and commanded the 9th New Hampshire Regiment in the Revolutionary War. His son became the Honorable Judge Israel Webster Kelly who had fought in the Oxford War under Alexander Hamilton and whose wife Rebecca Fletcher was sister to Grace Fletcher who married the famous statesman Daniel Webster. 

In the 7th generation, Captain Elijah Fletcher Kelly, who had married a Mary Barnes of Philadelphia, served in the Mexican War and was shipwrecked off the coast of Panama, where he contracted yellow fever. Captain Kelly died, leaving a widow with three children. These children first went to live with their grandfather the Hon. Israel Webster Kelly in New Hampshire and then when they got a little older, returned to their native city of Philadelphia where they lived in the household of Sarah Barnes, possibly a grandmother. One of the three children was Albert Livingston Kelly, who became a clergyman in the 1870s. He was the father of thirteen children, including Milton Adams Kelly, who moved moved to Camden around 1914. 

For clarity's sake, one must mention at the beginning that there were three Milton Kellys. Milton Adams Kelly was the first to come to Camden, arriving about the same time World War I was erupting in Europe. His son was Milton Edwin Kelly, who married Eva Roles in the early 1920s. The Roles family had built, owned, managed, and lived at the Roles Court Apartments on North 34th Street above Rosedale Avenue. Milton and Eva Kelly had a son, Milton William Kelly, a veteran of WWII.

The Kelly Family saga continues below

Milton Adams Kelly was born in Beverly, New Jersey on March 30, 1878 to Albert L. Kelly and his wife, the former Cecilia E. Walker. Albert Kelly was the son of Captain Elijah Fletcher Kelly, who died in Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1836 of yellow fever. Albert and his brother James were raised by relatives and were living in Philadelphia when the 1850 Census was taken. He married shortly before the 1860 Census was taken and moved to New Jersey after the birth of his son Ambrose in 1864. The 1870 Censes states that Albert was a "dealer in oils" and lived with Cecilia and their children in Beverly.

The 1880 Census shows the family still living in Beverly. Alfred's occupation at this point was listed as "missionary"

When the Census was taken in 1900 Milton A. Kelly was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 1456 North 11th Street with his father Alfred and brother Edwin. He was working as a 
boxmaker, most likely for the Walter B. Miller Co., located at 452 York Avenue in Philadelphia. The Walter P. Miller Co. was founded by in 1896 and manufactured paper boxes. By 1910 he had been promoted to foreman, and was superintendent of the factory by the time he registered for the draft in 1917 (or 1918).

Milton A. Kelly married Mary E. Skillman in Philadelphia shortly after the 1900 Census was taken. They were co-workers at the box-factory. Their marriage license was reported as being issued in the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 9, 1900. A son, Milton Edward Kelly, was born in 1903. 

Sadly, Mary Kelly passed away on July 13, 1905, leaving Milton to raise their son. On October 9, 1909 Milton A. Kelly married to Charlotte Maretta Raynor at the home of her parents in Manorville, Long Island, New York. The 1910 living at 5231 Delancey Street in Philadelphia with wife Charlotte and son Milton E. Kelly. As noted above he had been promoted to foreman and was rising in the hierarchy of his company's organization. A daughter Lillian came, and a son Edgar.

Milton Adams Kelly first shows up in Camden City Directories in the 1915-1916 edition. He bought a newly-constructed home at 3007 Carman Street in East Camden, not long after the 1914 Camden City Directory was compiled. The Kelly family would occupy this home for many years thereafter.

The 1920 Census lists the Kellys at 3007 Carman Street as does the 1930 Census. Son Milton E. was already working as a clerk in a retail store. The 1930 Census shows Milton A. and Charlotte E. Kelly at 3007 Carman Street with their teenaged children Lillian and Edgar. Milton A. Kelly was still working at the box factory, and Charlotte worked as a "playground teacher". 

As stated above, Milton E. Kelly married Eva Mae Roles shortly after the 1920 Census. The Roles family owned and managed a four building apartment complex, Roles Court, on North 34th Street Street in East Camden. Both were quite young, and they lived with his parents for a time after the wedding. A serious young man for his age, he worked at a department store and had advanced in the business by 1930. When the Census was taken, Milton E. and family, which by then included sons Milton W., 5, and William R., 20 months, were living at 3014 Carman Street, across the street from his parents. A daughter, Doreen, was born in 1938.

Sadly, Milton A. Kelly passed away on October 17, 1932. He was buried at Monument Cemetery in Beverly, New Jersey near his parents and several of his siblings. 

The Kelly Family saga continues below

A FAMILY HISTORY

by William Roles Kelly

MY PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS

My Maternal Grandparents: Milton A. and Charlotte R. Kelly

I don’t remember a great deal about my grandfather, for he died in ’32 when I was barely 4 years old. But I do recall him as a smiling and gentle man. My memory is of a strong featured, rather handsome man, wearing glasses, and with wavy, grey-brown mixed hair.

He too would always slip your father and me a dime (a fortune then) when he visited. I remember a day with him, and my father, fishing at a place called “Green Creek” but not much else in the term of events.

He was the father of Milton E., Lillian (Jayne), presently living here on the island in East Hampton, and Edgar M, living in San Diego. I talk to them on the phone, and visit with Lillian periodically during the year. They were all close as brothers and sister, perhaps setting the priority for a later generation.

My ‘real’ paternal grandmother, Mary Skilman, (Milton’s mother) I never knew for she died of pneumonia shortly after watching a New Year’s Day parade in Philadelphia when my father was very young.

My grandfather, Milton A., remarried- a young Charlotte Raynor from Manorville, Long Island. From that marriage came Lillian and Edgar. Charlotte was a sweet, gentle person with a remarkably keen mind. She could quote chapter and verse on all aspects of family history. She loved antiques and would make gifts of beautiful little things to Carole and Doreen which they cherished.

She would speak in a measured, precise manner, considering each word carefully before dispensing it. Her diction was equally precise so that it was rarely necessary for her to repeat anything. Following the loss of her husband in ’32, she spent much of her life as a companion and practical nurse to elderly ladies. I shall always remember her in a starched, white dress that she would invariably wear while ‘on duty.’

Again, I don’t have ready date references, but I would guess that we lost her about nine years ago. I’m sure she went straight to heaven.

My mother, Eva Mae (Roles) was married at age 16 in 1923, definitely without the blessings of her parents. While always a little unsure of the exact circumstances, to my knowledge, my father saw some danger in a rival suitor, a young Mr. Hudson, who was not only tall and handsome, but had his own car. (My father had a bicycle.) He (Dad) pursued her ardently and was somehow able to persuade her to marry him. One day they took a trolley to Philadelphia, and then a train to somewhere on the outskirts, where for some reason a waiting period was not required. I believe they were wed in a brief ceremony right in the station. They got back on the train-returned to Camden and each to their own home. –Married in name only.

That same day, Will and Eva somehow found out and with fire in their eyes, came to the Carman Street house to confront my father, and of course his parents. I have no idea how, but they were persuaded to allow the marriage to continue. With that, Mae moved into Carmen Street with Milton and his family.

My father was 19 with a 16 year old bride. Your father was born 8/4/24 barely lasting out the 9 month ‘watching period’.

It was a good marriage. My father was a very mature 19, and my mother had a great sense of humor, with the ability to laugh at herself. 

As children, we didn’t have much in the way of material things, for it was during the depression- but Dad always had a job and we were never hungry even if we had holes in our shoes.

In my later years when I could look back from the vantage of age and experience, I was amazed at some of the things I put them through and still somehow retained their love and understanding. 

Mom always enjoyed being around young people, and 3007 Carman was always open house to our friends. She was so youthful in spirit that she was welcomed by our friends to join in our conversation, and indeed provided much of the laughter. She fed them, scratched their back and egos and listened to their problems with the girls. To this day, these same friends speak of her with much affection and the shaking of heads. We lost her in ’63, only 56 years old. We all were cheated.

Dad was different. His was a serious world. He had a family to support while doing a job that he came to despise. He was the comptroller in a Philadelphia dept. store – confined to a desk all day, and a stand up ride on the bus coming home. He would often arrive exhausted. It was standard procedure for him to take a short nap on the sofa before dinner, and we children didn’t make any noise at that time.

He always wore a suit, tie and fedora hat. I can see him even now, turning the corner, walking toward the house, slapping the inevitable “Philadelphia Evening Bulletin” against his leg as he walked.

Later, after he retired, and by now married to Doris, he really mellowed out. The tie went the way of the suit and hat. The only tie he would ever willingly wear again would be a western bola with a large turquoise set into a heavy silver mounting. Then living in Arizona or California, he dressed in jeans, soft collared shirts and either loafers or boots. The ‘real’ Milt came out in his obvious love and appreciation of family. He adored Carole, and she, him. It was a rather remarkable transformation in a short period of time and the subject of more than a few conversations with many chuckles. 

He thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with his painting and gardening. He taught Doris and she too became quite accomplished.

As your father was closer to his mother, I in turn became closer to my Dad. We had a warm and wonderful relationship, never afraid to hug and say ‘I love you’.

I could enjoy the pleasures he had attained in his retirement – the painting, the good friends, the nearness to family on the West Coast, and of course Doris who added years to his life.

And so when he died, I shed few tears, for I knew how he felt about all of us, and he in turn knew how much we loved him. As with Carole, I can think about your grandfather and smile.

Written by Bill Kelly for his niece, Carol Kelly, in the mid-1990's. Bill died in 2002. Carole was his wife. Kevin, his son and Robin, not mentioned, here, his daughter.-  Carol Kelly, February 2015 

Milton E. and Eva Kelly had moved to a house at 3302 Rosedale Avenue by the time the 1924 Camden City Directory was compiled. On August 4 of that year, their first child, son Milton William Kelly was born. Another boy, William Roles Kelly came in 1928, and a daughter, Doreen Maretta in 1938.

The 1927 Directory has them at 1311 Haddon Avenue in Camden's Parkside district. When the Census was taken in April of 1930 the Kellys were at 3014 Carman Street. By the end of 1930 they had moved to 2925 Carman Street. The 1936 NJ Bell Telephone Directory has them at 3016 Carman Street. By 1940 Milton E. Kelly and family had returned to 3007 Carman Street

Oldest son Milton W. Kelly was inducted into the United States Army on February 27, 1943. He trained as a rifleman and served in Europe with an armored infantry unit. On December 18, 1944 he was captured by German forces and was held in a Prisoner of War camp for 5 months. Many years later he wrote of his  experiences in the war, which can be read by clicking the link below

Private Milton W. Kelly's Wartime Experiences

On his rejoining American forces, Milton Kelly was promoted to Corporal and served as a military policeman until his discharge at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri in November of 1945. He then returned home to Camden. 

The 1947 City Directory has him living with his parents and siblings at 3007 Carman Street, working as a commercial artist. On October 18, 1947 he married Lillian "Jane" Engel and started a family. Jane was the daughter of George Engel and Mary Ann McKenna Engel Brown. The Engel family is best remembered for the bars they owned and operated in Camden, Pennsauken, and elsewhere. The McKenna family was also involved in the saloon business in Camden  during the late 1800s, this particular branch of McKennas are not related to the two other McKenna families that were in the bar business, the family that operated McKenna's Tavern at 7th and Pine Streets and the family that ran McKenna's Cafe at 319 Federal Street and later McKenna's Cafe at 650 Clinton Street. These two families do not appear to have been related to each other either.

Milton W. and Jane Kelly were living at the Roles Court Apartments when daughter Carol was born in 1949. A son, Brian was born not long afterwards. The Kelly family lived at Roles Court into the mid-1950s before moving away from Camden. Sadly, Brian D. Kelly died in September of 2014. Carol Kelly currently lives in Nice, France.

William Roles Kelly graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, served in the United States Army during the Korean War, then returned to Camden. He married Carole Ennis and this marriage produced a son, Kevin, and a daughter, Robin.

Doreen Kelly graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1956 and married Robert Mignogna. They made their first home at 3081 Carman Street. The Mignognas had two daughters, Kathleen and Karin. By 1970 they had left Camden. The Mignognas lived in Cape May, New Jersey in the mid-1970s.

Eva Roles Kelly died February 6, 1963. Milton E. Kelly retired and eventually moved out of state. He and second wife Doris were residents of San Diego, California when he passed away on January 3, 1984.

The 1969 Camden City Directory shows that his son William R. Kelly, was still in the house at 3007 Carman Street. A job transfer necessitated a move out of state in the early 1970s. He settled in Long Island and passed away in 2002. 

Doreen Kelly got married a second time in the 1990s, to the late Roger Schwingler. She currently lives in California. 

Rev. Albert Livingston Kelly

Cecilia E. Walker Kelly


Laura Kelly

 


Mary E. Skillman Kelly Mary E. Skillman Kelly & Milton Adams Kelly

Philadelphia Inquirer * July 13, 1905

Men: Paul Kelly, Albert Kelly, Milton Adams Kelly, Edwin Kelly
Women: 
Ada (Mrs. Edwin), Charlotte Raynor Kelly (Mrs. Milton),  Bertha (Mrs. Paul) 
Baby: Lillian, daughter of Milton A. Kelly. 
Boy in light clothing: Milton E. Kelly


Men in Suits: Edwin Kelly - Paul Kelly - Milton A. Kelly


Men in Suits: Milton E. Kelly - Paul Kelly - Milton A. Kelly


Milton A. Kelly

Milton E. Kelly

Milton W. Kelly
circa 1925

 

Left: 
Milton W. Kelly & William R. Kelly
rear of 3007 Carman Street
circa 1936

Below: 
William R. Kelly, Milton E. Kelly
& Milton W. Kelly
circa 1940


Camden Courier-Post * October 7, 1937
Miss Dorothy Pancoast - Mrs. Edith Louise Schaeffer Eichel - Mrs. Eva Mae Roles Kelly

 

Camden High School
June 1942
Purple and Gold Yearbook

 

 

Doreen Kelly
&
Eva Mae Kelly
circa 1943

Private Milton W. Kelly
circa 1943


Last Leave Before Going Overseas

Left: William R. Kelly
Eva E. Roles
Private Milton W. Kelly

Roles Court Apartments
108 North 34th Street
Camden, New Jersey
circa 1944

 

Private Milton W. Kelly
Private Milton W. Kelly & Eva E. Roles

Private Milton W. Kelly
U.S. Army
Separation Qualification Record

Wedding
of
Milton W. Kelly
&
Lillian Jane "Jane" Engel

Asbury Methodist Church
Camden, New Jersey
October 18, 1947


Re. C. Courtney Hayward - Milton W. Kelly - Jane Engel Kelly - Virginia Brennan

Milton E. Kelly - Doreen Kelly - Eva Mae Kelly - Milton W. Kelly - Jane Engel Kelly -  Virginia Brennan
William R. Kelly - Catherine Risley McKenna Maguire - Mildred McKenna Engel - Eva E. Roles - William J. Roles


Carol Kelly,
Jane Kelly, Eva Roles

1949


1949

Ruthie Reeves
Doreen Kelly
Carol Kelly

 


Christmas 1950 - Eva Roles - William J. Roles - Carol Kelly
Eva E. Roles - William J. Roles - Carol Kelly

 

1950

Carol Kelly

 

 

 


Christmas 1950

Eva Roles
William J. Roles
Carol Kelly


100 Block of North 34th Street

1951

Carol Kelly
Jane Kelly

 


 
left to right, top row: Jane Kelly, Bill Petris - Betty Reeves Petris - Ruthie Reeves
Bottom row: Doreen Kelly holding Carol Kelly - Richard Reeves.

Dudley Grange - 1952
Milton, Jane, & Carol Kelly 


Roles Court Apartments - 100 Block of North 34th Street - 1952
Carol Kelly - Eva Mae Roles Kelly - Brian D. Kelly

Roles Court Apartments - 100 Block of North 34th Street - 1952
Carol Kelly - Brian Kelly - Jane Kelly

Roles Court Apartments - Summer - 1954
Front: Carol Kelly - Unknown Neighbor Child - Brian Kelly - Jane Engel Kelly
Rear: Unknown

3007 Carman Street

1950s


Christmas Eve - 1955
William R. Kelly - Kevin Kelly - Brian Kelly
Carol Kelly - Milton W. Kelly

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